This morning I woke up to a not so great ✉ from a PR I submitted the day before; it read something like this:

I can build in the simulator perfectly fine but trying to get a build onto a device this morning was not happening at all

And with that I started my day trying to figure out what was going on.

The culprit

It wasn’t hard to determine what was the issue given that the console was spitting the following message:

dyld: Library not loaded: @rpath/AFNetworking.framework/AFNetworking
  Referenced from: /var/mobile/Containers/Bundle/Application/6C4D36F9-6481-434C-8713-18EC38A0FBF6/<appname>.app/<appname>
  Reason: image not found

It was pretty straight forward, @rpath was borked.

@rpath errors

If you’ve had the delight of actually play around with Swift and Dyanmic Frameworks you’ve more than likely came across at least one @rpath error.

What this means basically is that either your runtime path(s) are borked or that your frameworks are not getting copied/embedded into the Frameworks «section» of your application (let’s leave it like this for simplicity’s sake).

«Fixing» the issue

I went on to check the runtime paths and sure as hell everything was correct, without much to worry about I turned to check if my frameworks were being copied/embedded to their respective places and sure they were…

I was starting to worry and also running out of ideas so I decided to check my CocoaPods definition and I noticied a couple of things with how the Podfile was structured.

I decided that this was a chance as good as any to refactor the Podfile and also fix the issue. And with this in mind I separated the pods by target and also created some «shared pods» definition; added some :exlusive => true decorations here and there and voilá! I was ready for the test.

$ pod install

Compile and 💥 … did not work…

Turning to almighty and wise internet

After successfully failling at fixing the issue I turned to old and wise internet just to bump my head against a wall multiple times…

Pre, During and Post Frustration

Closing to 7 or so hours I decided to do what I think I should have done from the beginning… created a new empty project; bare bones with only the Podfile being an complete replica of the failing project.

$ pod install

And lo and behold… the project compiles and runs on my device as expected…

That was equal parts promising and infuriating… Since I didn’t want to move everything to a new clean project (and more so I shouldn’t need to do that) I decided to check for differences between @rpath in both projects.

After some time both projects looked the same and I even added some «missing» build phases (run scripts from CocoaPods) to my original project and some missing header paths.

Everything was looking nice 🌅… until I decided to run on my device and faced the same issue…


After checking the error it looked like the same but slightly different… so minuscule that it was actually key to find the answer…

The current error was the following:

dyld: Library not loaded: @rpath/Pods.framework/Pods

While in theory it was the same; it actually conveyed a totally different meaning.

Looking at CocoaPods issues I came accross this one that suggest the following:

Okay, fixed. The issue was the Pods.framework was set to required and not optional. It wasn’t being copied to device by the .sh script and so the app crashed. Setting this to optional fixed the issue.

Withouth giving it much thought I went to my original project… marked Pods.framework as «Optional»… compile… run… 🎉

The application was running smoothly on my 📱…

Take Aways

This issue turned out to be a terrible waste of time but also helped me rearrange my list of steps to follow when debugging errors that should be «obvious» from experience.

If after failing to due what experience tolds me is the answer; try to replicate the issue on a newly created project (or as clean as possible).

If you succeed in reproducing you are unto something new; if not then your project is borked and you now have a clean and functional project to compare and take bits from here and there.