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Passing User Variable to xcodebuild

Building app in command line with xcodebuild can be sometimes incredibly difficult. You can use Facebook’s xctool to replace xcodebuild, but I prefer to stick with Apple’s original tools.

My last isssue with xcodebuild was to pass a custom user variable at compile time. I wanted my compilation command to be something like:

clang MyAppDelegate.m -DUSE_SETTINGS_XY=42-o MyAppDelegate.o

where USE_SETTINGS_XY is my custom settings that I can change before compilation.

Passing this custom variable from xcodebuild to the linker was really not simple. If you want to do this, just follow this how-to.

Using xcodebuild, a command line looks like:

xcodebuild \
    -project MyApp \
    -scheme MyApp \
    -sdk iphoneos6.1 \
    -configuration Release \

You can then pass any custom environment variable:

xcodebuild \
    -project TestPreprocessor \
    -scheme TestPreprocessor \
    -sdk iphoneos6.1 \
    -configuration Release \

But that is not sufficient for xcodebuild to translate this in a -DUSE_SETTINGS_XY=42. To do this, in your Xcode project, select your target, then ’Build Settings’ and add in the ’Preprocessor Macros’:



You can then call xcodebuild with different values for your custom setting:

xcodebuild …  USE_XY_SETTING=3 build


xcodebuild …  USE_XY_SETTING=4 build

One last thing, you must give a default value to your custom setting, so your project can still be build with Xcode IDE. In your Xcode project, select your target, then ’Build Settings’ and in the right corner click on ’Add Build Setting’:

Add build setting

Select ’Add User-Defined Setting’ and USE_XY_SETTING=DEFAULT_VALUE.


When you will build with the Xcode IDE, you will use DEFAULT_VALUE, and when you will build with xcodebuild, you will use the value pass in the command line argument.

From jc.

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