Theos

A cross-platform build system for creating iOS, macOS, Linux, and Windows programs.

New Instance Creator (NIC)

NIC is the New Instance Creator (you can call him Nicolas!). It provides a way to create projects (“instances”) based on templates. Theos comes with a handful of useful templates and others are available from various developers in the community.

See also iPhone Dev Wiki: NIC.

Usage

Most commonly, NIC is used interactively like so:

~$ $THEOS/bin/nic.pl
NIC 2.0 - New Instance Creator
------------------------------
  [1.] iphone/activator_event
  [2.] iphone/activator_listener
  [3.] iphone/application
  [4.] iphone/application_swift
  [5.] iphone/application_swiftui
  [6.] iphone/control_center_module-11up
  [7.] iphone/cydget
  [8.] iphone/flipswitch_switch
  [9.] iphone/framework
  [10.] iphone/library
  [11.] iphone/notification_center_widget
  [12.] iphone/notification_center_widget-7up
  [13.] iphone/null
  [14.] iphone/preference_bundle
  [15.] iphone/preference_bundle_swift
  [16.] iphone/safari_extension
  [17.] iphone/theme
  [18.] iphone/tool
  [19.] iphone/tool_swift
  [20.] iphone/tweak
  [21.] iphone/tweak_swift
  [22.] iphone/tweak_with_simple_preferences
  [23.] iphone/xpc_service
  [24.] iphone/xpc_service_modern
Choose a Template (required): 20
Project Name (required): Example
Package Name [com.yourcompany.example]: dev.theos.example
Author/Maintainer Name [Craig Federighi]: Craig Federighi <notfederighi@theos.dev>
[iphone/tweak] MobileSubstrate Bundle filter [com.apple.springboard]:
[iphone/tweak] List of applications to terminate upon installation (space-separated, '-' for none) [SpringBoard]:
Instantiating iphone/tweak in example/...
Done.

~$ cd example

~/example$ ls
Example.plist  Makefile  Tweak.x  control

Where there is a default value displayed in [square brackets], you can simply press return without entering a value and the default will be used. It is highly recommended that the author value is formatted like Your Name <yourself@example.com>, as this will make it possible for users to easily contact you about bugs and other questions.

In almost all cases you can type make from within your new project directory and it will build successfully (assuming Theos is set up correctly). The resulting binaries most likely won’t do anything – this is the fun part that’s completely up to you!

The following command line arguments are supported. Note that providing arguments does not guarantee NIC will not prompt for extra information.

  • -t --template string. The name of a template to use, as displayed in the template selection list. Use only this or --nic at a time.
  • --nic string. The path to a .nic.tar or .nic template to use. Use only this or --template at a time.
  • -n --name string. The name of the project.
  • -p --packagename string. The package identifier to use.
  • -u --user string. The author value to use.

Included templates

  • activator_event: an event for Activator.
  • activator_listener: a listener for Activator.
  • application: a standard iOS app (for unsandboxed jailbreak use).
  • application_swift: a standard, Swift-based iOS app (for unsandboxed jailbreak use).
  • application_swiftui: a standard, SwiftUI-based iOS app (for unsandboxed jailbreak use).
  • control_center_module-11up: a custom control center module for iOS 11+ deployed via CCSupport.
  • cydget: a Cydget lock screen plugin.
  • flipswitch_switch: a switch for Flipswitch.
  • framework: a framework to be used by other developers.
  • library: a linkable library (e.g. /usr/lib/libblah.dylib).
  • notification_center_widget: an iOS 5 – 6 Notification Center Today widget.
  • notification_center_widget-7up: an iOS 7 – 9 Notification Center Today widget.
  • null: a blank project with no code. Facilitates creation of a custom stage for non-code-based packages.
  • preference_bundle: a PreferenceLoader preference bundle subproject.
  • preference_bundle_swift: a Swift-based PreferenceLoader preference bundle subproject.
  • theme: a means of easily packaging your theme into a .deb using Theos’ packaging functionality.
  • tool: a command line tool (e.g. /usr/bin/blah).
  • tool_swift: a Swift-based command line tool (e.g. /usr/bin/blah).
  • tweak: a Cydia Substrate-based Objective-C tweak.
  • tweak_swift: an Orion-based Swift tweak.
  • tweak_with_simple_preferences: a Cydia Substrate-based tweak with a basic preference bundle.
  • xpc_service: a C-based XPC service.
  • xpc_service_modern: an Objective-C-based XPC service.

This is just the list of templates Theos comes with. Far more is possible with Theos than you can find in the list above, and these templates serve only as starting points to develop a working product without having to deal with various bits of boilerplate.

.nicrc

NIC reads configuration data from ~/.nicrc. This file uses a simple key-value format, key = "value". Values must be enclosed in quotes, even if it is a number.

Instance Metadata

  • package_prefix string. The prefix to use by default for reverse DNS package identifiers. The default is com.yourcompany. For example, setting package_prefix = "ws.hbang" and creating a new project called “Example Instance” will make the default package identifier ws.hbang.exampleinstance.
  • skip_package_name bool. Whether to prompt for a package identifier, or just always use the one generated by NIC. Most likely you also want to set package_prefix if you use this. The default is 0.
  • username string. The value to use as the author/maintainer of new instances. Setting this will cause NIC to skip asking for the author name. It is recommended to also include an email address enclosed in angle brackets. The default is the name of the currently logged in user. Example: username = "HASHBANG Productions <support@hbang.ws>".

Theos Reference

  • link_theos bool. Whether to use a theos symlink that points to the location of Theos, or to rely on the $THEOS environment variable. The default is 0. This is changed from the original Theos, which uses a default of 1. If this is undesirable, you may set this back to 1.
  • ignore_parent_theos bool. When link_theos is set to 1, and an instance is being created within a parent instance, use the destination of the parent theos symlink when creating the child one. If ignore_parent_theos is set to 0, the value of $THEOS will be used instead. The default is 0.

Building templates

Templates are in the .nic.tar format – a standard tar archive with a layout recognisable by NIC.

Theos comes with additional scripts alongside NIC: nicify.pl and denicify.pl. These respectively create and extract .nic.tar files.

~$ $THEOS/bin/denicify.pl $THEOS/templates/ios/theos/tweak.nic.tar tweak

~$ ls tweak/
@@PROJECTNAME@@.plist  Makefile  Tweak.xm  control  pre.NIC  theos

# modify the template…

~$ $THEOS/bin/nicify.pl tweak/
[warning] Using legacy pre.NIC as ./NIC/control.
[info] 6 entries.
[info] 1 prompt.
[info] 0 constraints.
[info] Archived template "iphone/tweak" to iphone_tweak.nic.tar.

~$ ls *.nic.tar
iphone_tweak.nic.tar

The predecessor to .nic.tar was .nic, a plain text file. It was upgraded to the current tar-based format to allow greater fidelity, such as the preservation of file permissions, and inclusion of binary files.