Connecting APIs: How to integrate a JSON framework with iOS

Apple now supports two developmental languages. This means integrating JSON with iOS isn't as difficult as it might seem. Expert Matthew David explains further.

The standard format connecting APIs with a device is through using a JSON constructed package. A JSON framework is a JavaScript model applied to creating a packet of structured data. There are other formats -- OData, SOAP, XML -- but JSON is the leader.

Apple's iOS now supports Objective-C and Swift as two different development languages that can be used to create solutions. The good news is that you can use frameworks written in either language and shared across projects. This means that you can use older Objective-C frameworks in a Swift project. There are essentially two steps to connecting to a JSON framework for iOS: First, identify the API that will be utilized, and then parse the JSON.

Connecting to JSON API

Connecting to an API is the first step needed to pull an API into the project you are working on in Xcode. The NSJSONSerialization Class is required to connect to an API. The class works for both Objective-C and Swift.

How to parse JSON with Frameworks for iOS

You can write your code to integrate JSON APIs into your project or, to speed up your development, you can use one of the following frameworks (all of which can be found here):

  • JSONModel -- an Objective-C framework
  • JSONAPI-ios  -- an Objective-C framework
  • ObjectMapper -- a Swift framework
  • Spine -- a Swift framework
  • SwiftyJSON -- a Swift framework

But do you need a JSON framework for everything? It depends on the type of project you are developing. The recommendation is to use a framework if you are extending an older Objective-C project. For a new, Swift 2.0 project you do not need to use a framework. The code is not too complex. Roadfire Software has a great tutorial to get you started.

What to do next?

Up to this point, a project is both connected to an API and has parsed the data. Now what? This is the fun part. Now you can manage the data how you like in an Xcode project. This may include mapping directions, connecting business processes or any of the thousands of public and private APIs available to iOS developers. The speed with which a solution you can create a project is exponentially increased through the use of APIs in iOS.

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