The Swift Reflection API and what you can do with it

How to use a Mirror

released Fri, 01 Mar 2019
Swift Version 5.0

How to use a Mirror

So we have our myMirror instance variable that reflects our Bookmark. What do we do with it?

These are the available properties / methods on a Mirror:

  • let children: Children: The child elements of our subject
  • displayStyle: Mirror.DisplayStyle?: The display style of the subject
  • let subjectType: Any.Type : The type of the subject
  • func superclassMirror() -> Mirror?: The mirror of the subject's superclass

In the next step, we will analyze each of these.


This is easy. It will just return a case of the DisplayStyle enum. If you're trying to reflect over an unsupported type, you'll get an empty Optional back (as explained above).

print (aMirror.displayStyle)

// prints: Optional(Swift.Mirror.DisplayStyle.struct)


This returns a AnyCollection<Child> with all the children that the subject contains. Children are not limited to entries in an Array or Dictionary. All properties of a struct or class, for example, are also children returned by this property. The protocol AnyCollection means that this is a type erased Collection.

for case let (label?, value) in myMirror.children {

     print (label, value)



//: store main.BookmarkStore

//: title Optional(\"Appventure\")

//: url

//: keywords [\"Swift\", \"iOS\", \"OSX\"]

//: group tech


This is the type of the subject:


//prints : Bookmark

print(Mirror(reflecting: 5).subjectType)

//prints : Int

print(Mirror(reflecting: \"test\").subjectType)

//prints : String

print(Mirror(reflecting: Null()).subjectType)

//print : Null

However, the Swift documentation has the following to say:

This type may differ from the subject's dynamic type when self is the superclassMirror() of another mirror.


This is the mirror of the superclass of our subject. If the subject is not a class, this will be an empty Optional. If this is a class-based type, you'll get a new Mirror:

// try our struct

print(Mirror(reflecting: aBookmark).superclassMirror())

// prints: nil

// try a class


// prints: Optional(Mirror for Store)