inheritance – Abstract classes in Swift Language

inheritance – Abstract classes in Swift Language

There are no abstract classes in Swift (just like Objective-C). Your best bet is going to be to use a Protocol, which is like a Java Interface.

With Swift 2.0, you can then add method implementations and calculated property implementations using protocol extensions. Your only restrictions are that you cant provide member variables or constants and there is no dynamic dispatch.

An example of this technique would be:

protocol Employee {
    var annualSalary: Int {get}

extension Employee {
    var biweeklySalary: Int {
        return self.annualSalary / 26

    func logSalary() {
        print($(self.annualSalary) per year or $(self.biweeklySalary) biweekly)

struct SoftwareEngineer: Employee {
    var annualSalary: Int

    func logSalary() {

let sarah = SoftwareEngineer(annualSalary: 100000)
sarah.logSalary() // prints: overridden
(sarah as Employee).logSalary() // prints: $100000 per year or $3846 biweekly

Notice that this is providing abstract class like features even for structs, but classes can also implement the same protocol.

Also notice that every class or struct that implements the Employee protocol will have to declare the annualSalary property again.

Most importantly, notice that there is no dynamic dispatch. When logSalary is called on the instance that is stored as a SoftwareEngineer it calls the overridden version of the method. When logSalary is called on the instance after it has been cast to an Employee, it calls the original implementation (it doesnt not dynamically dispatch to the overridden version even though the instance is actually a Software Engineer.

For more information, check great WWDC video about that feature: Building Better Apps with Value Types in Swift

Note that this answer is targeted at Swift 2.0 and above

You can achieve the same behaviour with protocols and protocol extensions.

First, you write a protocol that acts as an interface for all the methods that have to be implemented in all types that conform to it.

protocol Drivable {
    var speed: Float { get set }

Then you can add default behaviour to all types that conform to it

extension Drivable {
    func accelerate(by: Float) {
        speed += by

You can now create new types by implementing Drivable.

struct Car: Drivable {
    var speed: Float = 0.0
    init() {}

let c = Car()

So basically you get:

  1. Compile time checks that guarantee that all Drivables implement speed
  2. You can implement default-behaviour for all types that conform to Drivable (accelerate)
  3. Drivable is guaranteed not to be instantiated since its just a protocol

This model actually behaves much more like traits, meaning you can conform to multiple protocols and take on default implementations of any of them, whereas with an abstract superclass youre limited to a simple class hierarchy.

inheritance – Abstract classes in Swift Language

I think this is the closest to Javas abstract or C#s abstract:

class AbstractClass {

    private init() {


Note that, in order for the private modifiers to work, you must define this class in a separate Swift file.

EDIT: Still, this code doesnt allow to declare an abstract method and thus force its implementation.

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