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iOS debug bridge

Project description


idb logo

The “iOS Development Bridge” or idb, is a command line interface for automating iOS Simulators and Devices for development. It has three main goals:

  • Remote Automation: idb is composed of a "companion" that runs on macOS and a python client that can run anywhere. This enables scenarios such as a "Device Lab" within a Data Center or fanning out shards of test executions to a large pool of iOS Simulators.
  • Simple Primitives: idb exposes granular commands so that sophisticated workflows can be sequenced on top of them. This means you can use idb from an IDE or build an automated testing scenario that isn't feasible with default tooling. All of these primitives aim to be consistent across iOS versions and between iOS Simulators and iOS Devices. All the primitives are exposed over a cli, so that it easy to use for both humans and automation.
  • Exposing missing functionality: Xcode has a number of features that aren't available outside it's user interface. idb leverages many of Private Frameworks that are used by Xcode, so that these features can be in GUI-less automated scenarios.

idb is built on top the FBSimulatorControl and FBDeviceControl macOS Frameworks, contained within this repository. These Frameworks can be used independently of idb, however idb is likely to provide the simplest install and the most sensible defaults for most users.

We've given a talk about idb at F8, so that you can learn more about what idb is and why we built it. A recording of the talk is available here.

Quick Start

idb is made up of 2 major components, each of which needs to be installed separately.

idb companion

Each target (simulator/device) will have a companion process attached allowing idb to communicate remotely.

The idb companion can be installed via brew or built from source

brew tap facebook/fb
brew install idb-companion

Note: Instructions on how to install brew can be found here

idb client

A cli tool and python client is provided to interact with idb.

It can be installed via pip:

pip3.6 install fb-idb

Note: The idb client requires python 3.6 or greater to be installed.

Please refer to for detailed installation instructions and a guided tour of idb.

Once installed, just run the list-targets command which will show you all the simulators installed on your system:

$ idb list-targets
iPhone X | 569C0F94-5D53-40D2-AF8F-F4AA5BAA7D5E | Shutdown | simulator | iOS 12.2 | x86_64 | No Companion Connected
iPhone Xs | 2A1C6A5A-0C67-46FD-B3F5-3CB42FFB38B5 | Shutdown | simulator | iOS 12.2 | x86_64 | No Companion Connected
iPhone Xs Max | D3CF178F-EF61-4CD3-BB3B-F5ECAD246310 | Shutdown | simulator | iOS 12.2 | x86_64 | No Companion Connected
iPhone Xʀ | 74064851-4B98-473A-8110-225202BB86F6 | Shutdown | simulator | iOS 12.2 | x86_64 | No Companion Connected

list-apps will show you all the apps installed in a simulator:

$ idb list-apps --udid 74064851-4B98-473A-8110-225202BB86F6 | Maps | system | x86_64 | Not running | Not Debuggable | MobileSMS | system | x86_64 | Not running | Not Debuggable | MobileSlideShow | system | x86_64 | Not running | Not Debuggable | MobileSafari | system | x86_64 | Not running | Not Debuggable

launch will launch an application the application:

$ idb launch

Head over to the main documentation for more details on what you can do with idb and the full list of commands.

Building from Source

idb is made up of 2 parts.

To build the python part make sure you are in the root of the repo and run:

pip3 install .

To build the objective-c/c++ part:

Make sure you have installed gRPC dependencies: brew tap grpc/grpc && brew install grpc

open idb_companion.xcworkspace

This will open an Xcode project that you can build and run.

After opening the Xcode project you will need to add a --udid argument for launch.

  • Get the UDID of either your device or simulator
    • Window -> Devices and Simulators
    • Select the device or simulator you care about
    • Copy the value in the Identifier section of the header
  • Project -> Scheme -> Edit Scheme (or cmd + <)
  • Run -> Arguments
  • Click the + under the Arguments Passed on Launch section
  • Enter --udid <UDID copied above>
  • Run the idb_companion target on My Mac

Once idb_companion has launched, search the console output for the word "port", there will be a few entries and there should be a port number on the same line. Copy that value as you will use it to attach the idb python client to the idb_companion gRPC server.

$ idb connect localhost <Port # from above>

Now you can execute any idb commands and it will go through the idb_companion started by Xcode which is now debuggable.


Find the full documentation for this project at


We've released idb because it's a big part of how we scale iOS automation at Facebook. We hope that others will be able to benefit from the project where they may have needs that aren't currently serviced by the standard Xcode toolchain.

Code of Conduct

Facebook has adopted a Code of Conduct that we expect project participants to adhere to. Please read the full text so that you can understand what actions will and will not be tolerated.

Contributing Guide

Read our contributing guide to learn about our development process.


idb is MIT-licensed.

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