1. Ronald Oussoren
  2. pyobjc


pyobjc / Doc / structure.txt

Structure of the PyObjC package


This document gives an overview of the PyObjC for developers (of the package).

One of the sections describes how all of it works, and some of the limitations.

This document is a incomplete, it should be updated.


Classes are scanned for methods when the Python wrapper for a class is created.
We then create Python wrappers for those methods. This way users can use the
normal Python introspection methods to check which methods are available.

There are several occasions when these method tables are rescanned, because
classes can grow new methods when categories are loaded into the runtime.
Additionally, it is known that some Cocoa frameworks in Mac OS X change
their method tables when the first instance is created.


It is possible to subclass Objective-C classes from Python.  These classes
end up in a structure containing both a Python type object and an Objective-C
class.  Instances of these classes also contain both a Python instance and
an Objective-C object.

The first Python subclass of an Objective-C class introduces a new instance
variable in the Objective-C object to store the pointer to the Python half of
the cluster.  This variable is always referenced by name.  The Python half is 
a subclass of ``objc_object`` that already contains a pointer to an Objective-C 
object.  This first subclass also introduces a number of class and instance
methods that the PyObjC bridge uses to maintain the illusion of a single
object on both sides.  Check class-builder.m for details.

Directory structure


  Example scripts and applets.

  The pure Python parts of the packages that comprise PyObjC.  Currently
  contains the packages 'objc', 'PyObjCScripts', 'PyObjCTools' and the
  semi-automatically generated wrappers for the 'AddressBook',
  'AppKit', 'ExceptionHandling', 'Foundation', 'InterfaceBuilder', 'Message',
  'PreferencePanes', 'ScreenSaver', 'SecurityInterface' and 'WebKit'

  Extension modules related to the packages in 'Lib'.

  Scripts used during building and/or development of PyObjC.

Installer Package/
  Resources used for building the Apple Installer packages.

ProjectBuilder Extras/
  Project Builder templates and syntax specifications for PyObjC development.

  Xcode templates for PyObjC development.

  A local copy of libffi, the Foreign Function Interface library used by

  Modules used by setup.py for building and distributing PyObjC.

  Local copies of Python packages and modules used by PyObjC that are not
  expected to be found in the minimum supported version of Python.  These
  are not automatically installed by setup.py, but some may be included in
  a bdist_mpkg installer (currently, just py2app).

Reference counts

The Objective-C rules for reference counts are pretty easy: A small number
of class methods (``alloc``, ``allocWithZone:``, ``copy``, ...) transfer
object ownership to the caller.  For all other objects you have to call
``retain`` if you want to keep a reference.  This includes all factory
methods, such as ``[NSString stringWithCString:"bla"]``!

When programming Cocoa in Python, you rarely need to worry about
reference counts: the ``objc`` module makes this completely transparent to
user.  This is mostly implemented in ``[de]pythonify_c_value``. Additonal
code is needed when calling methods that transfer ownership of their return
value (as described above) and when updating a instance variable in an
Objective-C object (retain new and release old, in that order). Both are


Python ``unicode`` instances are automatically converted to ``NSString`` and
back.  An ``NSString`` is represented in Python as a subtype of ``unicode``:
``objc.pyobjc_unicode``.  This performs a conversion, because Python's
``unicode`` type is immutable, but it also maintains a *reference* to the
original ``NSString``.  Currently, the conversion is done using UTF-8 for
exchange, because the internal representation of ``unicode`` is dependent on
compile time settings.

The original, unwrapped, ``NSString`` instance is accessible from Python
with the ``nsstring()`` method of ``objc.pyobjc_unicode``, primarily used
to access an updated copy of an ``NSMutableString``'s contents.  Since
PyObjC 1.2, ``NSString`` and ``NSMutableString`` methods are available from
the ``objc.pyobjc_unicode`` object, though they do not show up via Python's
introspection mechanisms.

For legacy and convenience, Python ``str`` instances are automatically coerced
to ``unicode`` when they cross the bridge using the same mechanism that
automatically converts from ``str`` to ``unicode`` (using 
``sys.getdefaultencoding()``).  This automatic conversion can cause terrible
things to happen at runtime that are hard to test for, so you may enable an
``objc.PyObjCStrBridgeWarning`` at each coercion attempt by calling
``objc.setStrBridgeEnabled(False)``.  To promote this warning to an exception,
see the documentation for the ``warnings`` module in the standard library.