CocoaPods for Enterprise

A practical example of using CocoaPods for enterprise projects.

The “Enterprise” definition isn’t that clear and is not something standard. I will define it as follows.

  • Enterprise is a company that builds more that one app on the same platform.
  • Has a large number of in-house libraries and modules.
  • Has a rather complex project configuration.

The challenge is to adopt CocoaPods for such projects. This is actually more of a case-study than success story of adopting CocoaPods.


One thing that “complex” project setup means is extensive use of xcconfig files. The problem is that CocoaPods generates it’s own xcconfigs and expects them to be applied to project target. If it detects existing xcconfigs it displays a warning in the end of generation step. Solution is to follow the advise and include Pods xcconfig in the very last xcconfig file which is applied to a target.

// Pods
#include "Pods/Target Support Files/Pods/Pods.debug.xcconfig"

Make sure you do that for all targets and all configurations.


This is next issue which is known to CocoaPods users.

The problem is that CocoaPods assumes it’s the only thing in the world using xcconfigs. So it never ever uses $(inherited) thus it doesn’t pick up any of the previous definitions when included into other xcconfigs.

One of the solutions is to patch Pods xcconfig files as part of pod update or pod install command. This is what post-install hooks are for. Consider this example

# Podfile for Project with xcconfig files
source ''

platform :ios, '7.0'

link_with 'TargetName'
pod 'Facebook-iOS-SDK', '~> 3.20.0'

post_install do |installer|
    puts "Running post install hooks"
    puts "Patching Pods xcconfig files"
    workDir = Dir.pwd
    installer.project.targets.each do |target|
        target.build_configurations.each do |config|
            xcconfigFilename = "#{workDir}/Pods/Target Support Files/Pods/Pods.#{}.xcconfig"
            xcconfig =
            # insert $(inherited) for HEADER_SEARCH_PATHS and OTHER_LDFLAGS, make sure there's only one occurrence
            patchedXcconfig = xcconfig.gsub(/HEADER_SEARCH_PATHS = (?<first>[^\$])/, 'HEADER_SEARCH_PATHS = $(inherited) \k<first>').gsub(/OTHER_LDFLAGS = (?<first>[^\$])/, 'OTHER_LDFLAGS = $(inherited) \k<first>')
  , "w") { |file| file << patchedXcconfig }

The post_install hook iterates through all targets, figures out the full path to generated Pods xcconfig and patches it by prepending $(inherited) for all occurrences of HEADER_SEARCH_PATHS and OTHER_LDFLAGS.

Git Submodules and Proxy

This is another issue that may happen in “enterprise” environment, especially if proxy is involved. CocoaPods is not able to checkout pods with submodules. An example of a pod with such problems is Facebook SDK.

To avoid this problem in the first place I would recommend to use pods with static frameworks instead of those that clone whole source base. Well, not for all pods, but this is often useful for 3rd party SDKs that are not updated often. This is what pods like Flurry, Crashlytics and others do. For some reason Facebook doesn’t have official podspec for framework only, but nothing stops you from creating one yourself and host it in-house.

If you have to have those submodules, use the following git trick:

git config --global url. git://

See discussions on StackOverflow and this post. This command will modify your .gitconfig by adding this line

[url "https://"]       insteadOf = git://

This will solve submodule issue and is much easier than other workarounds like messing up with proxy stuff and tools like socat.

Git Submodules for Internal Components

Another blocker for migration is all those internal libraries you already use as submodules in your project. You still want to be able to change their code right inside submodule directory and work with git in-place. With pure CocoaPods approach this is not possible since all your changes will be reset on next pod update.

However, there’s a beautiful work-around that allows you to benefit from both worlds (submodules and pods). Here’s a great article on the matter.

The idea is to use so called Development Pods. That means in your Podfile you specify the path to a submodule directory which has podspec file. This way CocoaPods ignores version information in podspec and uses latest files from submodule directory to generate pods. You get all the benefits of working with submodules code directly and then get all the flexibility of CocoaPods approach.

Build Problems

Final paragraph is related to building projects with xcodebuild from command line. This is what happens on CI box after all.

If you try to run your old scripts which use custom configuration build directory you may run into link errors with Xcode not being able to find library file for Pods (libPods.a). Tools like xctool have this problem fixed, but I recall earlier version of xctool being prone to the same problem.

The solution is twofold.

  • If specifying custom CONFIGURATION_BUILD_DIR then make it an absolute path
# Bad.

# Good.
  • If overriding CONFIGURATION_BUILD_DIR you must also specify OBJROOT, SYMROOT and DSTROOT and make sure all those are absolute paths as well
# Example.
OBJROOT=$(pwd)/build SYMROOT=$(pwd)/build DSTROOT=$(pwd)/build
# Example of complete build command.
xcodebuild clean build \
  -workspace Sandbox-ObjC.xcworkspace \
  -scheme Sandbox-ObjC \
  -configuration Release \
  OBJROOT=$(pwd)/build \
  SYMROOT=$(pwd)/build \

Published: February 15 2015

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