Xcode 8.3: better in parts, more confusing in others

Xcode 8.2.1 had some infuriating and intensely frustrating problems. Now that Xcode 8.3 is available, and claimed to address problems with management of signing certificates and more, I thought I’d take it for a quick spin, to see what has changed.


The answer on certificate management is yes, Apple has changed this, but it’s also a lot more confusing, and if you’re not careful, you’ll end up with more certificates than you need.

There’s just one of me, but for some reason Xcode thinks that I’m a Personal Team, as a User, and an Agent. In Xcode 8.2.1, my certificates existed for the User, but any attempt to get information about certificates for the Agent failed.

In 8.3, those two entities now offer different (and apparently valid) certificates, with the more complete set being assigned to the Agent. I have no idea why that is, and there doesn’t seem to be anything that I can do about consolidating my certificates into my single developer account.

In 8.2.1, I couldn’t get Xcode to apply for certificates at all, so I had to obtain those manually. In 8.3, the + tool at the foot of the Manage Certificates sheet will obtain you a certificate before you’ve even realised that you had asked for one. A little popup menu curiosity, and I now seem to have three macOS Development Certificates, so I’m unsure which to use.

There is also disappointment for anyone hoping to develop for El Cap and earlier: runtime options for Swift are still confined to macOS 10.12, and I suspect trying to add support for El Cap from an earlier version of Xcode is going to be as doomed to failure now as it was in 8.2.1.

One other bug which I checked was Interface Builder’s inability to save and restore the layout of lines in views: that remains, unfixed.

For the Swift developer, Xcode 8.3 brings version 3.1 of the language. At the moment, two days after updates to the online versions of Apple’s reference books on Swift, neither is available in the iBooks Store. To be more precise, iBooks offered me the updates, then decided that they weren’t available. So although the versions shown in the iBooks Store claim to have been updated for version 3.1, those may not yet be available.

For the moment, at least, it’s hard to see what benefits come with Xcode 8.3, apart from being able to obtain signing certificates from Xcode. The best place to see a short summary of the changes which come in Swift 3.1 is probably here, with a more detailed account here by Cosmin Pupăză.