Using C Libraries in Swift

Recently, in one of my project, I got a requirement to sign all API requests with HMAC MD5.

Time to embrace Apple’s Cryptographic Libraries.

There are many open source codes and tutorials available to accomplish it. I found below code by googling, thanks for someone who written this piece of code,

import Foundation
import CommonCrypto
enum HMACAlgorithm {
    case MD5, SHA1, SHA224, SHA256, SHA384, SHA512
    func toCCEnum() -> CCHmacAlgorithm {
        var result: Int = 0
        switch self { 
        case .MD5:
          result = kCCHmacAlgMD5
        case .SHA1:
          result = kCCHmacAlgSHA1
        case .SHA224:
          result = kCCHmacAlgSHA224
        case .SHA256:
          result = kCCHmacAlgSHA256
        case .SHA384:
          result = kCCHmacAlgSHA384
        case .SHA512:
          result = kCCHmacAlgSHA512
        return CCHmacAlgorithm(result)
    func digestLength() -> Int {
        var result: CInt = 0
        switch self {
        case .MD5:
          result = CC_MD5_DIGEST_LENGTH
        case .SHA1:
          result = CC_SHA1_DIGEST_LENGTH
        case .SHA224:
          result = CC_SHA224_DIGEST_LENGTH
        case .SHA256:
          result = CC_SHA256_DIGEST_LENGTH
        case .SHA384:
          result = CC_SHA384_DIGEST_LENGTH
        case .SHA512:
          result = CC_SHA512_DIGEST_LENGTH
        return Int(result)
extension String {
    func encrypt(algorithm: HMACAlgorithm, key: String) -> String {
        let str = self.cStringUsingEncoding(NSUTF8StringEncoding)
        let strLen = UInt(self.lengthOfBytesUsingEncoding(NSUTF8StringEncoding))
        let digestLen = algorithm.digestLength()
        let result = UnsafeMutablePointer<CUnsignedChar>.alloc(digestLen)
        let keyStr = key.cStringUsingEncoding(NSUTF8StringEncoding) 
        let keyLen = UInt(key.lengthOfBytesUsingEncoding(NSUTF8StringEncoding))
        CCHmac(algorithm.toCCEnum(), keyStr!, Int(keyLen), str!, Int(strLen), result)
        let data = NSData(bytesNoCopy: result, length: digestLen)
        return data.base64EncodedStringWithOptions(NSDataBase64EncodingOptions())

Module Mapping

Everything is fine so far, isn’t it? The trouble comes when you import Common Crypto library into you code. You will see the below error,

Common Crypto Error

This is because swift compiler cannot find the CommonCrypto module because it is a C library. Again I googled for the solution and I found lots of answers which confused me even more. After a lot of trial-error I found a solution that works for me.

The solution is to help the swift compiler to find where the CommonCrypto library is located in your SDK path. In other words we need to map any C libraries to swift compiler.

Follow the steps below,

  1. Create a directory inside your project directory. The name of the your newly created directory must be the library name that you wanna use, in this case it is CommonCrypto.
  2. Create file inside the directory you have created.
  3. Add the below code inside file,
module CommonCrypto [system] {
    header “/Applications/”
    link “CommonCrypto”
    export *

So you project directory structure would looks something like this,

Module mapping directory structure
Note: You don’t have to add these files in you project. Just create a directory and a map file.

Project Settings

Now that you have your mapping files ready, we have to add that directory’s path, in Import Paths under Search Paths section in your Build Settings.

Add Import Path
Note: Since I have added CommonCrypto directory as a root level directory, I didn’t include the full path. Use $SRCROOT as a prefix if you created CommonCrypto directory in different location.

Finally added $(SDKROOT)/usr/lib/system in your Library Search Paths under Search Paths section in your Build Settings

Add Library Search Path

Thats it, now your should be able to use CommonCrypto C Library in your swift project.

Sample Encryption Code,

print(“Hello World”.encrypt(HMACAlgorithm.MD5, key: “SecretKey123”))


  1. Create a directory with your library Name
  2. Add inside that directory
  3. Add that directory in Import Paths
  4. Add $(SDKROOT)/usr/lib/system in Library Search Paths
  5. Build and Run

I have attached a sample project in github.