NEW: My new book Pro SwiftUI is out now – level up your SwiftUI skills today! >>

What’s the difference between a protocol and a class?

Swift version: 5.6

Paul Hudson    @twostraws   

When writing protocol-oriented Swift, protocols and classes become fairly similar, but they are never the same.

In their basic form, a protocol describes what an unknown type of object can do. You might say it has two or three properties of various types, plus methods. But that protocol never includes anything inside the methods, or provides actual storage for the properties.

In a more advanced form, you can write extensions on your protocols that provide default implementations of the methods. You still can’t provide storage for properties, however.

In comparison, classes are concrete things. While they might adopt protocols – i.e., say they implement the required properties and methods – they aren’t required to do that. You can create objects from classes, whereas protocols are just type definitions. Try to think of protocols as being abstract definitions, whereas classes and structs are real things you can create.

Hacking with Swift is sponsored by Play

SPONSORED Play is the first native iOS design tool created for designers and engineers. You can install Play for iOS and iPad today and sign up to check out the Beta of our macOS app with SwiftUI code export. We're also hiring engineers!

Click to learn more about Play!

Sponsor Hacking with Swift and reach the world's largest Swift community!

Available from iOS 8.0

Similar solutions…

About the Swift Knowledge Base

This is part of the Swift Knowledge Base, a free, searchable collection of solutions for common iOS questions.

BUY OUR BOOKS
Buy Pro Swift Buy Pro SwiftUI Buy Swift Design Patterns Buy Testing Swift Buy Hacking with iOS Buy Swift Coding Challenges Buy Swift on Sundays Volume One Buy Server-Side Swift Buy Advanced iOS Volume One Buy Advanced iOS Volume Two Buy Advanced iOS Volume Three Buy Hacking with watchOS Buy Hacking with tvOS Buy Hacking with macOS Buy Dive Into SpriteKit Buy Swift in Sixty Seconds Buy Objective-C for Swift Developers Buy Beyond Code

Was this page useful? Let us know!

Average rating: 3.6/5

 
Unknown user

You are not logged in

Log in or create account
 

Link copied to your pasteboard.