Just write it in C and wrap it in Python… I want to see you struggle


I recently worked on a project that required seamless integration between a Swift Framework and Python. Options like PyObjC exist for simple integrations, but if the Swift code needs to be bundled up, or if you’re working on larger projects, the best option is to “wrap it up”.

There’s no direct way to make Python bindings for Swift, but we can wrap C/C++, for example with PyBind11, and expose the Swift functions as C symbols with @c_decl (which is stil undocumented and unofficial).

You can find the full project code on Github


  • Python 3.10: I encountered build errors when using Pybind11 + Python 3.11 (see the issue here), so for now, use an environment with Python 3.10 activated.
  • XCode and XCode Command-line Tools (xcode-select --install). Needed for compiling the Swift code.

Exposing a Swift Function

First, let’s create a file called main.swift with the following contents:

// The Swift Function
public func add(a: Int, b: Int) -> Int {
    return a + b

When compiling this file, we can emit a dynamic library with symbols for invocation with C:

swiftc main.swift -emit-library

This will emit a file called libmain.dylib, which we can wrap as a regular C library with Pybind11.

Wrapping the Dynamic Library with Pybind11

Although there is extensive documentation available, the process can often be cumbersome. I really recommend using a LLM of your choice to generate the bindings.

First, install Pybind11 to your environment:

pip install pybind11

Then, let’s add the bindings in a file called bindings.cpp

#include <pybind11/pybind11.h>

namespace py = pybind11;

// C++ wrapper for the Swift function
extern "C" {
    int add(int a, int b); // Declaration of the Swift function

PYBIND11_MODULE(example, m) {
    m.def("add", &add, "A function that adds two numbers");

Building the Python Project

To bind everything together, create a setup.py file and declare the extension:

from setuptools import setup
from pybind11.setup_helpers import Pybind11Extension

ext_modules = [


Note that you also need a pyproject.toml with the set requirements if you want it to build correctly with pip. If you don’t, you will get an no module named pybind111 when installing. Put the following in your pyproject.toml2:

requires = ["setuptools>=42", "wheel", "pybind11~=2.6.1"]
build-backend = "setuptools.build_meta"

We can now install our little package. This will build the wrapper with the naming mymodule.cpython-310-darwin.so and place it in the active directory.

pip install -e .

Verify that you have all the files needed:

$ ls

Using the Module

The built library can now be directly imported into Python. Fire up a Python shell in the project directory and validate it with:

>>> import mymodule
>>> mymodule.add(2,2)

Success! This is the first baby step for wrapping Swift for use in Python. There’s so many gotcha’s and obstacles ahead, but it will be worth it in the long run!

Find the complete project on Github.

Next Steps

Wrapping a single file in Swift is a nice example, but for real use cases, you will want to do it for a whole Framework with dependencies set up in XCode. It’s certainly possible, and I might do a write-up on that subject one day. Essentially you can export all public symbols from the Framework using the _cdecl method described above, and link the static object output within the .framework product to the Pybind11 Extension.

I hope this little write-up can help you save some time in your next project. Good luck (you need it)!