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One of my wishes for last year’s WWDC was that we’d see Xcode level up its support for projects opened from a Package.swift file. Compared to working with an xcodeproj or xcworkspace project, it can feel a little bit like you’re using “Xcode Lite” when working on a Swift package or server-side Swift project.

So, I was delighted to come across SE-0303 – Package Manager Extensible Build Tools, currently in review. It proposes a new plugin target type in a Swift package used to invoke custom commands during a build. The most obvious benefit of this would be to finally allow tools like SwiftLint to be used with Package.swift projects, but many other use-cases are immediately apparent.

SE-0303 has significant implications for those of us working with Swift on the Server too. Most notably, allowing our front-end (CSS/JS) build process to become part of the core product build process, rather than being off to one side. I have lots of thoughts around integrating existing web technologies with server-side Swift, but they will have to wait for another day!

It still feels strange to have two entirely different ways of managing a Swift project inside one tool, though. I’m sure there were many good reasons for the decision, but it is a curious one! I’m hopeful that SE-0303 will not stand alone and that some of the goodies that the Xcode team will unveil in a few months move us towards a more unified set of tools between these two ways to organise Swift projects.

Dave Verwer

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