Code Quality Rank: L4
Programming language: Objective-C
Tags: Tools    
Latest version: v1.0.9

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[idb logo](docs/assets/idb_logo_color.jpg)

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 has a “companion” that runs on macOS and a python client and cli that runs anywhere. This enables scenarios such as a “Device Lab” within a Data Center or fanning out commands to large numbers of iOS Simulators.
  • Simple Primitives. idb exposes granular APIs that enable building more sophisticated workflows on top. This means you can use idb from an IDE or build an automated testing scenario that is more than just running a set of tests. All of these primitives are consistent across OS Versions and between Simulators and Devices. The cli is intended to also be easy to use for humans as well as automation, as such it provides terse and self-documenting commands.
  • Exposing missing functionality. Xcode has a number of features that aren't available outside it's own UI. idb exposes many of these features so that they can be used within other GUI-less automation.

idb is largely built from the FBSimulatorControl and FBDeviceControl Frameworks, contained within this repository. These Frameworks can be used independently of idb, but 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 a bit more about what idb is and why we built it. A recording of the talk is available here.

Quick Start

Under Construction please bear with us. the quick start steps might not be working for you yet.

idb is made up of 2 parts, 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 fbidb.io 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
com.apple.Maps | Maps | system | x86_64 | Not running | Not Debuggable
com.apple.MobileSMS | MobileSMS | system | x86_64 | Not running | Not Debuggable
com.apple.mobileslideshow | MobileSlideShow | system | x86_64 | Not running | Not Debuggable
com.apple.mobilesafari | MobileSafari | system | x86_64 | Not running | Not Debuggable

launch will launch an application the application:

$ idb launch com.apple.mobilesafari

Head over here 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 fbidb.io


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](.github/CONTRIBUTING.md) to learn about our development process.


[idb is MIT-licensed](LICENSE).

*Note that all licence references and agreements mentioned in the FBSimulatorControl README section above are relevant to that project's source code only.