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What is a selector?

Swift version: 5.1

Paul Hudson    @twostraws   

Selectors are effectively the names of methods on an object or struct, and they are used to execute some code at runtime. They were common in Objective-C, but the earliest versions of Swift didn't include some core selector functionality so their use declined for a while. That functionality (things like performSelector(inBackground:)) has since been restored.

In Swift, selectors are most commonly found when working with the target/action paradigm that you find in classes such as Timer and UIBarButtonItem. For example, when you create a timer you need to tell it who to notify when the timer fires (the target) and what selector should be called (the action). The same goes for bar button items: when the button is tapped, what selector should be called, and on what object?

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Available from iOS 7.0

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