Latest 0.2.0
License MIT
Platforms ios 8.0, osx 10.11, requires ARC
Frameworks Foundation
Authors ,

CI Status
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DataMapper is a framework for safe deserialization/serialization of objects from/to different data representation standards (as of now we support JSON but others can be added easily).

Among its advantages belongs:

  • Easy to use API
  • Compile time safety (as much as possible)
  • Support for custom Serializers (allows you to simply change data representation format by implementing one class)
  • Polymorph
  • Thread safety (depends on your usage)
  • Support for one direction use (if you don’t need the other one, you don’t have to implement it)


List of all changes and new features can be found here.


  • Swift 4
  • iOS 8+



DataMapper is available through CocoaPods. To install
it, simply add the following line to your test target in your Podfile:

pod "DataMapper"

This will automatically include every subspec (Core and all Serializers).

If you want DataMapper without serializers (you have your own implementation), use:

pod "DataMapper/Core"

Each implementation of serializer has its own subspec. For example:

pod "DataMapper/JsonSerializer"

These subspecs have Core as dependency, so there is no need to specify it explicitly.


Below is complete list of all features this library offers and how to use them. Some examples of usage can be found in tests.

Used terminology:

  • mapping – either deserialization or serialization
  • Map protocol – Deserializable, Serializable or Mappable

Quick overview

            "number": 1,
            "text": "A"
        }, {
            "number": 2,
            "text": "B"
    let inputData: NSData = ... // Some data in JSON to be deserialized.

    let objectMapper = ObjectMapper()
    let serializer = JsonSerializer()

    // Deserialization
    let type = serializer.deserialize(inputData)
    let objects: [MyObject]? = objectMapper.deserialize(type)

    ... // Do some stuff with objects.

    // Serialization
    let changedType = objectMapper.serialize(objects)
    let outputData = serializer.serialize(changedType)

    // Can be deserilized and serialized.
    struct MyObject: Mappable {

        var number: Int?
        var text: String?

        init(_ data: DeserializableData) throws {
            try mapping(data)

        mutating func mapping(_ data: inout MappableData) throws {

    // Can be only deserialized.
    struct MyDeserializableObject: Deserializable {

        let number: Int?
        let text: String?

        init(_ data: DeserializableData) throws {
            number = data["number"].get()
            text = data["text"].get()

    // Can be only serialized.
    struct MySerializableObject: Serializable {

        let number: Int?
        let text: String?

        init(number: Int?, text: String?) {
            self.number = number
            self.text = text

        func serialize(to data: inout SerializableData) {


SupportedType creates intermediate level between ObjectMapper and Serializers. It is an enum like structure (for performance reasons implemented using class) representing basic data types (null, string, bool, int, double, array, dictionary). Each type has associated property which return its value if it is correct type or nil otherwise. With small exception for null whose property is named isNull and returns Bool.

extension SupportedType {

    var isNull: Bool 

    var string: String?

    var bool: Bool?

    var int: Int?

    var double: Double?

    var array: [SupportedType]?

    var dictionary: [String: SupportedType]? 

    mutating func addToDictionary(key: String, value: SupportedType)

For example:

let type: SupportedType = .string("A")
type.string // "A"
type.number // nil

addToDictionary adds the key value pair to the dictionary. If the current type is not a dictionary, then it is replaced with a new dictionary.

SupportedType can be created using these static methods:

extension SupportedType {

    static var null: SupportedType

    static func string(_ value: String) -> SupportedType

    static func bool(_ value: Bool) -> SupportedType

    static func int(_ value: Int) -> SupportedType

    static func double(_ value: Double) -> SupportedType 

    static func array(_ value: [SupportedType]) -> SupportedType

    static func dictionary(_ value: [String: SupportedType]) -> SupportedType

    static func intOrDouble(_ value: Int) -> SupportedType 

intOrDouble handles the problem of numbers being ambiguous when represented as text. For example: 1 is Int or Double. If intOrDouble(1) is used to create SupportedType, then both .int and .double returns 1. On the contrary if you use .int(1), only .int returns 1 and .double returns nil.


final class ObjectMapper {

    func serialize<T: Serializable>(_ value: T?) -> SupportedType

    func deserialize<T: Deserializable>(_ type: SupportedType) -> T?

    // + other overloads for supported types mentioned below

ObjectMapper maps objects to SupportedType. It has two types of methods:

  • serialize – Takes Swift objects and transforms them to SupportedType.
  • deserialize – Takes SupportedType and transforms them to Swift objects.

Supported Swift types:

  • T?
  • [T]?
  • [String: T]?
  • [T?]?
  • [String: T?]?

where T conforms to the Map protocol (depends on the method). If T does not conform to this protocol, you need to pass the instance of Transformation as the second parameter named using.

As you can see deserialize always returns an optional type. nil is returned if SupportedType is .null or cannot be converted to T.

serialize accepts both optional and non optional types. If nil is passed then the result SupportedType is .null.

[T]? differs from [T?]? in deserialization. If one of the elements from array is nil (SupportedType is .null or the object cannot be deserialized) then everything is discarded and nil is returned. In case of [T?]? nil value will be added to the array. The same applies to the dictionary.


protocol Serializer {

    func serialize(_ supportedType: SupportedType) -> Data

    func deserialize(_ data: Data) -> SupportedType

Serializer represents some object which maps SupportedType to NSData. You don’t have to implement Serializer in order to map SupportedType to NSData, but it is recommended because then the object can be used in other libraries. (This protocol only provides standardized API.)

Sometimes (almost always) it is easier to work with String instead of Data. So we added extension methods to Serializer:

extension Serializer {

    func serialize(toString supportedType: SupportedType) -> String

    func deserialize(fromString string: String) -> SupportedType

Note: String is converted to Data (and back) using UTF-8 coding.


protocol TypedSerializer: Serializer {

    associatedtype DataType

    func typedSerialize(_ supportedType: SupportedType) -> DataType

    func typedDeserialize(_ data: DataType) -> SupportedType

Extends Serializer with generic type and methods. Sometimes you may get data from another library not as NSData but, for example, as JSON (Any with specific structure) and transforming them back and forth is not good for performance.

 Pre-implemented Serializers


As its name suggests it works with JSON. It conforms to TypedSerializer protocol and the DataType is Any. Requirements for the data format (Any or NSData) are the same as in NSJSONSerialization.

Map protocol


protocol Deserializable {

    init(_ data: DeserializableData) throws

Allows object conforming to this protocol to be deserialized from SupportedType using ObjectMapper. In this init you need to initialize the object using DeserializableData (see DeserializableData). If for some reason the object cannot be created (wrong data), then throw DeserializationError.


protocol Serializable {

    func serialize(to data: inout SerializableData)

Allows object conforming to this protocol to be serialized to SupportedType using ObjectMapper. In serialize set data you want to serialize (it does not have to be everything) to SerializableData (see SerializableData).

Warning: This method can easily break thread safety if serialized data are mutable (immutability and structs are your friends here).


protocol Mappable: Serializable, Deserializable {

    mutating func mapping(_ data: inout MappableData) throws

Mappable protocol combines both Deserializable and Serializable. It provides default implementation for serialize but init needs to be implemented by hand, usually like this:

struct SomeObject: Mappable {

    init(_ data: DeserializableData) throws {
        try mapping(data)


This also means that the object has to be initialized before calling the mapping method.

If you change the default implementation of init or serialize, do not forget to call try mapping(data) (in init) or mapping(&data) (in serialize).

In mapping you have access to MappableData (see MappableData) which allows you to specify how to map object at one place. For this the fields must be mutable. Immutable fields needs to be defined separately in init and serialize like so:

struct SomeObject: Mappable {

    let constant: Int?
    var variable: Int?

    init(_ data: DeserializableData) throws {
        constant = data["constant"].get()

        try mapping(data)

    func serialize(to data: inout SerializableData) {


    mutating func mapping(_ data: inout MappableData) throws {

Throws works the same as in Deserializable.

Warning: Same problems with thread safety as in Serializable.


They are used in corresponding methods in the Map protocols. They provide many overloads of one specific method and a subscript. The subscript is used as a key in a dictionary and it can be nested like so:

data[["a", "b"]]
data["a", "b"]

These all mean that data corresponds to a dictionary with the key "a" which is another dictionary with the key "b".

The specific method has overloads for the same types as ObjectMapper with the same behavior (see ObjectMapper) and for each of them there are three choices:

  • same as in ObjectMapper – works with optional type, nil represents .null
  • try – works with non optional type and throws exception if .null is found
  • or – works with non optional type and replaces .null with value from or.


DeserializableData is used in init in Deserializable. The method is named get and it retrieves values from data. Usage:

    let value: Int? = data["value"].get()
    let value: Int = try data["value"].get()
    let value: Int = data["value"].get(or: 0)

    let value: X? = data["value"].get(using: XTransformation())
    let value: X = try data["value"].get(using: XTransformation())
    let value: X = data["value"].get(using: XTransformation(), or: X())


SerializableData is used in serialize in Serializable. The method is named set and it sets values to data. Usage:


    data["value"].set(value, using: XTransformation())

Note: set does not have overloads for try and or (there is no need to because it accepts both optionals and non optionals).


MappableData is used in mapping in Mappable. The method is named map and it either behaves like get or set depending on the context. Usage:

    data["value"].map(&value) // var value: Int?
    try data["value"].map(&value) // var value: Int
    data["value"].map(&value, or: 0) // var value: Int

    data["value"].map(&value, using: XTransformation()) // var value: X?
    try data["value"].map(&value, using: XTransformation()) // var value: X
    data["value"].map(&value, using: XTransformation(), or: X()) // var value: X

Note: try and or affects result of map only in deserialization.


Transformations provide another way of specifying how an object should be mapped. They are used to either override behavior of methods in the Map protocol or to allow mapping of type which does not conform to the Map protocol.

There are three types of them: DeserializableTransformation (only for deserialization), SerializableTransformation (only for serialization) and Transformation (both). Also all of the specialized implementations (AnyTransformation, SupportedTypeConvertible, …) have three versions with corresponding name.

Best way to learn how to create a new one is to look at existing code.

Pre-implemented Transformations

  • EnumTransformation – uses RawRepresentable
  • URLTransformationString to NSURL (using of relative or absolute path can be specified in init)

Date types

  • CustomDateFormatTransformationinit with formatString used as NSDateFormatter.dateFormat
  • DateFormatterTransformationinit with NSDateFormatter
  • DateTransformationDouble as timeIntervalSince1970
  • ISO8601DateTransformationString in ISO8601 format

Value types

  • BoolTransformation
  • DoubleTransformation
  • IntTranformation
  • StringTransformation


AnyTransformation represents Swift pattern for using protocols with associated types as variable types. To convert any instance of Transformation to it, simply call transformation.typeErased(). This is often needed in specialized implementations of Transformation mentioned below.

Note: AnyTransformation has variants for only deserialization or serialization, which also have method typeErased(). So sometimes it may be necessary to specify output type of this method explicitly. For example:

let transformation = IntTransformation()

let anyTransformation: AnyTransformation = transformation.typeErased()
let anyDeserializableTransformation: AnyDeserializableTransformation = transformation.typeErased()
let anySerializableTransformation: AnySerializableTransformation = transformation.typeErased()


Extending type with SupportedTypeConvertible provides default implementation of the Map protocol if there already is Transformation for that type. All value types with transformations and NSURL conforms to this protocol.

Here is an example implementation for Int:

extension Int: SupportedTypeConvertible {

    static var defaultTransformation = IntTransformation().typeErased()

Note: This allows types like Int to be used directly in ObjectMapper without need to pass the transformation.


CompositeTransformation allows you to reuse already existing Transformation to transform the value of the type TransitiveObject to/from SupportedType. Then you only need to write code for converting that TransitiveObject to/from Object.


DelegatedTransformation is similar to CompositeTransformation in that it uses another Transformation, but there is no other conversion after that. Typically this is used to specialize more generic Transformation. For example this is implementation of ISO8601DateTransformation:

struct ISO8601DateTransformation: DelegatedTransformation {

    typealias Object = Date

    let transformationDelegate = CustomDateFormatTransformation(formatString: "yyyy-MM-dd'T'HH:mm:ssZZZZZ").typeErased()

Because there is already CustomDateFormatTransformation which handles transformation to/from .string, it is not necessary to implement it again here. It is sufficient to specify the format used.


protocol Polymorph {

    /// Returns type to which the supportedType should be deserialized.
    func polymorphType<T>(for type: T.Type, in supportedType: SupportedType) -> T.Type

    /// Write info about the type to supportedType if necessary.
    func writeTypeInfo<T>(to supportedType: inout SupportedType, of type: T.Type)

Polymorph represents an object that can decide (at runtime) to which object should be the data deserialized and what metadata should be kept about the object concrete type when being serialized to SupportedType.

To use Polymorph initialize ObjectMapper with it. For example:

let objectMapper = ObjectMapper(polymorph: StaticPolymorph())

There is, at the moment, only one implementation (StaticPolymorph) but once Swift adds reflexion, we will implement new one (dynamic). Also feel free to implement your own polymorphism if ours is not universal enough for you. In extreme cases you may even want to "hardcode" which types should be used.

Example of what can polymorph do:

class A: Mappable {

    let value: Int?

class B: A {

    let text: String?

struct MyPolymorph: Polymorph {

    // If B is castable to T and supportedType contains a dictionary with key "type" and the value "B", then the type to use is `B`, otherwise does nothing.
    func polymorphType<T>(for type: T.Type, in supportedType: SupportedType) -> T.Type {
        if let bType = B.self as? T.Type, supportedType.dictionary?["type"]?.string == "B" {
            return bType
        return type

    // If T is B, write info about it into supportedType.
    func writeTypeInfo<T>(to supportedType: inout SupportedType, of type: T.Type) {
        if type == B.self {
            supportedType.addToDictionary(key: "type", value: .string("B"))

let objectMapper = ObjectMapper()
let objectMapperWithPolymorh = ObjectMapper(polymorph: MyPolymorph())

let aType: SupportedType = .dictionary(["value": .int(1)])
let bType: SupportedType = .dictionary(["value": .int(2), "text": .string("text"), "type": .string("B")])

// Deserialization
let aObject: A? = objectMapper.deserialize(aType) // A(value: 1) - no surprise here
let bObject: A? = objectMapper.deserialize(bType) // A(value: 2) - the rest of the dictionary is ignored

let aPolymorphic: A? = objectMapperWithPolymorh.deserialize(aType) // A(value: 1) - again the same result
let bPolymorphic: A? = objectMapperWithPolymorh.deserialize(bType) // B(value: 2, text: "text") - this time the polymorph comes into play

// Serialization
objectMapper.serialize(aObject) // .dictionary(["value": .int(1)])
objectMapper.serialize(bObject) // .dictionary(["value": .int(2)])
objectMapperWithPolymorh.serialize(aPolymorphic) // .dictionary(["value": .int(1)]) - so far no difference

objectMapper.serialize(bPolymorphic) // .dictionary(["value": .int(2), "text": .string("text")])
objectMapperWithPolymorh.serialize(bPolymorphic) // .dictionary(["value": .int(2), "text": .string("text"), "type": .string("B")]) - type is added


StaticPolymorph resolves types by looking into SupportedType for dictionary entries with the specific key (which key is used is determined by object type at input). Then the value for that key is compared to names of known types. If match is found than the correct type is return otherwise it returns the input type. When serializing the StaticPolymorh adds into SupportedType the key value pair that corresponds to the serialized type.

StaticPolymorph affects only objects which implement the Polymorphic protocol. For other types polymorphType returns the input type and writeTypeInfo does nothing.

Note: Implementing Polymoprhic is not enough for an object to be used in ObjectMapper. To solve this, there are type aliases that combines Polymorhic with the Map protocol: PolymorphicDeserializable, PolymorphicSerializable and PolymorphicMappable.

Note: Limitation of StaticPolymorph is that only classes can be used. It is not possible to use a protocol and structs.


Polymorphic is defined like this:

protocol Polymorphic: AnyObject {

    static var polymorphicKey: String { get }

    static var polymorphicInfo: PolymorphicInfo { get }

polymorphicKey represents the key mentioned above. (Where to look for a name of the type.) polymorphicKey can be overriden. That allows each type to be identified with the key and name combination. It is not defined what happens if more than one key is present in SupportedType with valid names! There can be multiple subtypes with the same key or name as long as the combination is unique.

polymorphicInfo defines the type name and its subtypes (they don’t have to be direct subtypes). It cannot be checked if these types are really subtypes but this won’t be a problem if you use GenericPolymorphicInfo which does that check. If registered subtype is not a real subtype then StaticPolymorph will ignore it (but don’t rely on this behavior). When StaticPolymorph resolves subtypes it relies only on information provided by polymorphicInfo, so subtypes which are not registered in input type (or in registered subtype) don’t exist for it. To prevent potential misuse it is prohibited to use Polymorphic as input type if it does not override polymorphicInfo (as is seen in the example below).

Polymorphic provides method createPolymorphicInfo() which returns GenericPolymorphicInfo. This method has optional parameter name which represents the polymorphic name of the type (default value the is real name of the type). GenericPolymorphicInfo allows you to register subtypes with overloads of register() and with() (with() returns self to allow chaining).


class A: Polymorphic {

    class var polymorphicKey: String {
        return "K"

    class var polymorphicInfo: PolymorphicInfo {
        return createPolymorphicInfo(name: "Base").with(subtypes: B.self, D.self)

class B: A {

    override class var polymorphicInfo: PolymorphicInfo {
        return createPolymorphicInfo().with(subtype: C.self)

class C: B {

    override class var polymorphicKey: String {
        return "C"

class D: C {

    override class var polymorphicInfo: PolymorphicInfo {
        return createPolymorphicInfo()

Note: This example omits implementation of the Map protocol.

There are few things to notice.

  1. C overrides polymorphicKey that means: A and B have the key "K" and C and D have the key "C". So SupportedType.dictionary(["C": .string("C")] represents C but SupportedType.dictionary(["K": .string("C")] means nothing in this context.
  2. A has explicit name "Base". So SupportedType.dictionary(["K": .string("Base")] represents A.
  3. C does not override polymorphicInfo. This means that C cannot be used as the input type (exception will be raised) but D can be, even though it won’t ever resolve to another type.
  4. D is registered in A not B. Because of that, B does not know about D. So if B is the input type, you can never get D as subtype.
  5. A knows about C because it is register in B which is registered in A.

Thread safety

DataMapper is designed to be used on the background thread (default implementation is thread safe). If you want to use it that way you need to make sure that implementations of all methods from the Map protocols are thread safe as well (or that the objects you are using cannot be used at two threads simultaneously). Your custom implementations of protocols like Serializer, Polymorph, Transformation etc. must be thread safe too.


This library uses semantic versioning. Until the version 1.0 API breaking changes may occur even in minor versions. We consider the version 0.1 to be prerelease, which means that API should be stable but is not tested yet in a real project. After that testing, we make needed adjustments and bump the version to 1.0 (first release).


Used libraries in tests


DataMapper is available under the MIT License.

Latest podspec

    "name": "DataMapper",
    "version": "0.2.0",
    "summary": "Universal object deserialization/serialization in Swift.",
    "description": "DataMapper is a framework for safe deserialization/serialization of objects from/to different data representation standards (as of now we support JSON but others can be added easily).",
    "homepage": "",
    "license": "MIT",
    "authors": {
        "Tadeas Kriz": "[email protected]",
        "Filip Dolnik": "[email protected]"
    "source": {
        "git": "",
        "tag": "0.2.0"
    "social_media_url": "",
    "requires_arc": true,
    "platforms": {
        "ios": "8.0",
        "osx": "10.11"
    "frameworks": "Foundation",
    "pushed_with_swift_version": "3.0",
    "subspecs": [
            "name": "Core",
            "source_files": "Source/Core/**/*.swift"
            "name": "JsonSerializer",
            "dependencies": {
                "DataMapper/Core": []
            "source_files": "Source/JsonSerializer/**/*.swift"

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