Swift – Using a dispatch_once singleton model in Swift

dispatchsingletonswift

I'm trying to work out an appropriate singleton model for usage in Swift. So far, I've been able to get a non-thread safe model working as:

class var sharedInstance: TPScopeManager {
    get {
        struct Static {
            static var instance: TPScopeManager? = nil
        }

        if !Static.instance {
            Static.instance = TPScopeManager()
        }

        return Static.instance!
    }
}

Wrapping the singleton instance in the Static struct should allow a single instance that doesn't collide with singleton instances without complex naming schemings, and it should make things fairly private. Obviously though, this model isn't thread-safe. So I tried to add dispatch_once to the whole thing:

class var sharedInstance: TPScopeManager {
    get {
        struct Static {
            static var instance: TPScopeManager? = nil
            static var token: dispatch_once_t = 0
        }

        dispatch_once(Static.token) { Static.instance = TPScopeManager() }

        return Static.instance!
    }
}

But I get a compiler error on the dispatch_once line:

Cannot convert the expression's type 'Void' to type '()'

I've tried several different variants of the syntax, but they all seem to have the same results:

dispatch_once(Static.token, { Static.instance = TPScopeManager() })

What is the proper usage of dispatch_once using Swift? I initially thought the problem was with the block due to the () in the error message, but the more I look at it, the more I think it may be a matter of getting the dispatch_once_t correctly defined.

Best Solution

tl;dr: Use the class constant approach if you are using Swift 1.2 or above and the nested struct approach if you need to support earlier versions.

From my experience with Swift there are three approaches to implement the Singleton pattern that support lazy initialization and thread safety.

Class constant

class Singleton  {
   static let sharedInstance = Singleton()
}

This approach supports lazy initialization because Swift lazily initializes class constants (and variables), and is thread safe by the definition of let. This is now officially recommended way to instantiate a singleton.

Class constants were introduced in Swift 1.2. If you need to support an earlier version of Swift, use the nested struct approach below or a global constant.

Nested struct

class Singleton {
    class var sharedInstance: Singleton {
        struct Static {
            static let instance: Singleton = Singleton()
        }
        return Static.instance
    }
}

Here we are using the static constant of a nested struct as a class constant. This is a workaround for the lack of static class constants in Swift 1.1 and earlier, and still works as a workaround for the lack of static constants and variables in functions.

dispatch_once

The traditional Objective-C approach ported to Swift. I'm fairly certain there's no advantage over the nested struct approach but I'm putting it here anyway as I find the differences in syntax interesting.

class Singleton {
    class var sharedInstance: Singleton {
        struct Static {
            static var onceToken: dispatch_once_t = 0
            static var instance: Singleton? = nil
        }
        dispatch_once(&Static.onceToken) {
            Static.instance = Singleton()
        }
        return Static.instance!
    }
}

See this GitHub project for unit tests.