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Create a Singleton class

To create a singleton class that instantiates via +sharedInstance, you merely adopt the MulleObjCSingleton protocol and you are done.

@interface Foo : NSObject < MulleObjCSingleton>

@implementation Foo

That’s because MulleObjCSingleton is a protocolclass.

If you subclass a singleton class, your subclass should also adopt MulleObjCSingleton. Now your class will create a new shared instance. Otherwise your subclass would be ignored by sharedInstance. Your subclass singleton will now coexist with the base class singleton.


Change name of the initializer

If you want to use a different name than +sharedInstance add this to your class:

+ (instancetype) myInit
   return( MulleObjCSingletonCreate( self));

Init the singleton differently

Usually the singleton will be allocated with -init. You can override -init for the singleton instance with -__initSingleton. This could be useful, if your singleton needs a special setup and you have a not-so-true singleton class like NSNotificationCenter, which can instantiate other instances.

Prevent other instances of the same class

“Poison” the -init method by returning the singleton instead. Initialize the singleton with -__initSingleton. As a result you can now expect to be able to use pointer equality for -isEqual: comparisons.

- (id) init
   Class   cls;

   cls = MulleObjCGetClass( self);
   [self release];
   return( [MulleObjCSingletonCreate( cls) retain]);

- (id) __initSingleton
   return( self);

Technical considerations

Infinitely retained

A singleton is infinitely retained. If you know you are dealing with a singleton, you do not have to retain or release this. It isn’t really recommended to exploit this, as it makes the code more brittle.

Thread safety

The actual creation of the singleton instance is thread safe, there are no duplicate instances in multiple threads.


Usually singletons aren’t releases. Under a test environment, the universe will be shutdown in an orderly fashion and your singleton will be release.

If you want to leak-check within the test though, the singleton will appear as a leak. To circumvent this you can set the environment variable MULLE_OBJC_EPHEMERAL_SINGLETON to YES. The singleton will be now be created in a thread-unsafe manner and will only last as long as the enclosing NSAutoreleasePool.

Tags: runtime