unit and acceptance testing, automation, productivity

A caveat when upgrading a Podfile

I recently went through the process of upgrading a Podfile from a legacy codebase and bumped into an issue with a very simple solution, for those who understand how CocoaPods works under the hood.

I made an example project to show the behaviour, check it out here.

The Podfile looked like this:

link_with ['MyProject', 'MyProjectTests']

pod 'AFNetworking'
pod 'Kiwi'

(it was actually longer an messier, with random newlines a lot of pods commented out, but no need to inflict you with that)

Apart from the obsolete Podfile style, there's one big issue; Kiwi should be linked only in the test target, as it is a testing framework.

Updating the Podfile into a more semantic and not leaky one was simple:

target :MyProject do
  pod 'AFNetworking'

target :MyProjectTests, :exclusive => true do
  pod 'Kiwi'

So far so good, but at that point after running pod install the project didn't build anymore! The error was:

ld: library not found for -lPods
clang: error: linker command failed with exit code 1 (use -v to see invocation)

This happens to be a pretty common error, specially for newbies, and in the CocoaPods Troubleshooting page there's a solution for it...

...that in our case doesn't work!

After a non irrelevant amount of time spent deleting Derived Data and googling I went back to the error and asked myself: what does library not found for -lPods mean? It means that something that should be there is not there anymore! And what's missing?__ library not found. _And where are the libraries? In the "Link Binary With Libraries" section of the target build phase. Daaah.

So I took a look at the "Link Binary With Libraries", this is what I found:

Link Binary With Libraries for the updated project

If we'd rolled back to the previous version we'd seen this:

Link Binary With Libraries for the obsolete project

Mmm... what is that new libPods-MyProject static library?

And then I looked at the Pods project:

Linked Frameworks and Libraries for the updated project

Can you spot it? There is no Pods target!

And here the solution to the problem: the linker cannot find libPods because there is no libPods at all, not anymore. It is just a memory of the previous configuration that CocoaPods didn't remove.

I removed libPods.a from the "Linked Frameworks and Libraries" and everything was running smoothly again.

An extra thing: the same operation needs to be done for the tests target, beacuse of the link_with ['MyProject', 'MyProjectTests'].

Another extra thing: this memory of libPods" error happens when you change the name of the target as well.

Link Binary With Libraries after changing the target name

As we develop advanced badass systems we rely on many tools and frameworks, to delegate work to someone that knows how to do it better. Knowing how those we rely most heavily upon work on a level that is deeper than what's written in the README is invaluable to save time debugging and to get the most out of them.

I challenge you to spend some time reading the source code of one of the tools you use the most. Have fun!

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