1. Launch screen comes up--this is controlled by the platform. Appears even before the first line of the entry point of the application. "Launch screens in XCode" covers options as of June 2021:

    1. Storyboard (default): LaunchScreen.storyboard in scaffolded app. The ViewController defined in here cannot have a non-default UIViewController associated with it--compile-time error.
    2. A plist configuration in which you can set:
      1. An image
      2. Whether the launch image should respect the safe area insets
      3. A background color
      4. Nav bar visibility
      5. Tab bar visibility
      6. Toolbar visibility
      7. Launch screen configuration per URL scheme

      Apparently 4/5/6 are still somewhat "under development" according to that blog.

      Launch screen images are also apparently cached by iOS. Undocumented hack (not tested on iOS 14+) that might work to delete the cache:

      public extension UIApplication {
          func clearLaunchScreenCache() {
              do {
                  try FileManager.default.removeItem(atPath: NSHomeDirectory()+"/Library/SplashBoard")
              } catch {
                  print("Failed to delete launch screen cache: \(error)")
  2. Entry point

    • iOS finds the compiled binary inside the app's bundle via the Info.plist file, "Executable file" key (CFBundleExecutable); by default this comes from the EXECUTABLE_NAME environment variable
    • Obj-C entry point is main, written by the developer
      int main(int argc, char* argv[]) {
          @autoreleasepool {
              return UIApplicationMain(argc, argv, nil, NSStringFromClass([AppDelegate class]));
    • Swift entry point; entry point is auto-generated, calling UIApplicationMain using class annotated by @main as the class to pass in as the fourth argument.
      • If we want to control that, create a main.swift (name is important, it gets special dispensation from the compiler to have top-level statements/expressions), and do the same as above:
        import UIKit
            CommandLine.argc, CommandLine.unsafeArgv, nil, NSStringFromClass(AppDelegate.self)
      • In Swift 5.3/XCode 12, we can also @main a type and give it a static main() function:
        struct Program {
            static func main() -> Void {
                    CommandLine.argc, CommandLine.unsafeArgv, nil, 
  3. UIApplicationMain (assuming the app supports scenes (Info.plist contains an "Application Scene Manifest" dictionary and the code has classes and protocols whose names begin with UIScene) and the app has a main storyboard):

    1. ... creates the shared application instance and binds it to UIApplication.shared
    2. ... creates the application instance's delegate
    3. ... invokes the app delegate's application(_:didFinishLaunchingWithOptions:).
    4. ... creates a UISceneSession, a UIWindowScene, and the app's scene delegate (Info.plist)
    5. ... loads the storyboard to find the initial view controller (storyboard entry point) and instantiates it (UIStoryboard(name:bundle:).instantiateInitialViewController())
    6. ... creates the app's window; assigns it to the scene delegate's window property; assigns the initial view controller to the window instance's rootViewController property. This view controller is now the app's root view controller.
    7. ... calls the scene delegate's scene(_:willConnectTo:options:)
    8. ... calls the UIWindow's makeKeyAndVisible to make the window visible. This causes the window to turn to the root view controller and tell it to obtain its main view (from a nib or nib inside a storyboard, typically) and then call its viewDidLoad method.
  4. Enter the event loop

App without a storyboard

Create new Xcode project ("TrulyEmpty").

  1. Edit the target: In the General pane, select "Main" in the Main Interface field and delete it. (Press Tab to set the change)
  2. Info.plist: select "Storyboard Name" (Application Scene Manifest -> Scene Configuration -> Application Session Role -> Item 0 (Default Configuration)) and delete it; delete the entire thing (the key/value pair), not just the value stored there
  3. (Delete Main.storyboard file from the project--it will be ignored regardless if present.)
  4. SceneDelegate.swift: edit scene(_:willConnectTo:options:) to look like:
    func scene(_ scene: UIScene,
                willConnectTo session: UISceneSession
                options connectionOptions: UIScene.ConnectionOptions) {
        if let windowScene = scene as? UIWindowScene {
            let window = UIWindow(windowScene: windowScene)
            window.backgroundColor = .white
            window.rootViewController = ViewController()
            self.window = window

TODO: Create an app where there's a main storyboard but sometimes is ignored at launch time (step 4 above), such as displaying a login screen.

TODO: How does the splash screen storyboard play into this?

Tags: platform   ios  

Last modified 03 May 2022