Advanced and Practical Enum usage in Swift


released Fri, 01 Mar 2019
Swift Version 5.0


Enums are a great use case for games, where many entities on screen belong to a specific family of items (enemies, obstacles, textures, ...). In comparison to native iOS or Mac apps, games oftentimes are a tabula rasa. Meaning you invent a new world with new relationships and new kinds of objects, whereas on iOS or OSX you're using a well-defined world of UIButtons, UITableViews, UITableViewCells or NSStackView.

What's more, since Enums can conform to protocols, you can utilize protocol extensions and protocol based programming to add functionality to the various enums that you defined for your game. Here's a short example that tries to display such a hierarchy:

enum FlyingBeast { case dragon, hippogriff, gargoyle }

enum Horde { case ork, troll }

enum Player { case mage, warrior, barbarian }

enum NPC { case vendor, blacksmith }

enum Element { case tree, fence, stone }

protocol Hurtable {}

protocol Killable {}

protocol Flying {}

protocol Attacking {}

protocol Obstacle {}

extension FlyingBeast: Hurtable, Killable, Flying, Attacking {}

extension Horde: Hurtable, Killable, Attacking {}

extension Player: Hurtable, Obstacle {}

extension NPC: Hurtable {}

extension Element: Obstacle {}