Is it worth it to create static libraries for iOS?

There is code that I want to include in most of my projects. Things like AFNetworking, categories for CoreData and unit testing, etc.

It seems logical to include all of these in a static library, and then use it in each project. I've noticed though, that many third-party libraries (like AFNetworking, and it's predecessor ASIHTTP) are included in projects by copying over all of their source files and then manually linking the necessary libraries to the project target.

This seems to me like the easiest way. It took a fair amount of time to figure out how to include an existing static library into a project. Even after I knew how, it still seems like a pain to do it for every new project. Also, the header search paths that you specify are to a local directory with the static library's files. Wouldn't it be easier, and is there a way, to copy the static library's files into the project? This is the same idea as including the class files directly like most libraries seem to do already, but it would be more organized because everything would be lumped into one library project, instead of having class files everywhere and having to include every one of them.

Static libraries feel like they should be the right way to go. Make a library that can be used with all projects that includes classes that every project will need. Makes sense. I am just conflicted because it seems like the right way to go is to leave everything out of a 'formal' library, and just copy over all of the class files instead.

I guess I am just looking for what experienced developers find to be the best option.


I would be among the first to admit that the process of referencing a static library in Xcode is not entirely intuitive. However, using a static library is the best option, without a doubt.

The main reason is maintainability: when you copy source code of a library to many places, you must remember to update all of them to the latest code when you upgrade to the next version of the library. This may be a rather error-prone process, especially when the underlying library source changes significantly (e.g. new files are added, old files are renamed, etc.)

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