September 30, 2020

610 words 3 mins read

Build for iOS

Build for iOS

Are you familiar with iOS development environment and interested to learn more while helping the project?

How to build the iOS app:

1) Build the LibreOffice core code

First you need to build the LibreOffice core code for iOS. Put in your autogen.input something like this:


and build “normally”. (Naturally, no unit tests will be run when cross-compiling LibreOffice.) Of course there is no requirement to use those –enable options; as a minimum, just --with-distro=LibreOfficeiOS should work.

This will produce a large number of static archives (.a) here and there in instdir and workdir, but no app that can be run as such. (You can see a list of them in workdir/CustomTarget/ios/ios-all-static-libs.list)

2) Build COOL Dependencies


2.1) Get the source poco library at 2.2) Unpack

2.3) Compile

./configure --config=iPhone --static --no-tests --no-samples --omit=Data/ODBC,Data/MySQL --prefix=$HOME/poco-ios-arm64
make POCO_TARGET_OSARCH=arm64 -s -j4
make POCO_TARGET_OSARCH=arm64 install

This will install the poco static libraries and headers to your $home directory into poco-ios-arm64 directory. You can change the directory to your wishes, but by installing it this way into a directory in $HOME it doesn’t pollute your root directories, doesn’t need root permissions and can be removed easily.

If compiler can’t find <string.h> you need to install:

open /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools/Packages/macOS_SDK_headers_for_macOS_10.14.pkg

3) Clone Online on a Mac

Do a separate clone of the online repo on macOS, but don’t do any, configure, or make, or open the Mobile Xcode project there yet. We call this the app folder.

4) Clone Online on a Linux machine

Do a separate clone of the online repo, run, and configure it with the –enable-iosapp option:

./configure --enable-iosapp --with-app-name="My Own Mobile Office Suite"

Then run make. That will produce files in loleaflet/dist, nothing else. Copy those to the corresponding folder in the app folder from step 2. This is how I do it:

make clean && make && tar cf - loleaflet/dist | ssh misan.local 'cd lo/online-ios-device && rm -rf loleaflet/dist && tar xvf -'

where misan.local is the macOS machine where I build the app, and ~/lo/online-ios-device is the app folder from step 2.

Then back to the Mac:

As you were able to build LibreOffice in step 1, you must already have GNU autoconf installed on the Mac. Install also GNU automake and libtool. Preferably from sources, to make sure a potential installation of brew or similar will not pollute your environment with unknown stuff.

As GNU libtool will be needed only for a very minimal part of the build (running the script, but not anything else), it’s safest to install it somewhere that is not in your $PATH. Let’s say /opt/libtool. (Installing Automake in the default /usr/local, which is in $PATH, is less risky.)

Run the script in the app folder, with GNU libtool available, for instance:

PATH=/opt/libtool/bin:$PATH ./
  1. In the app folder from step 2, edit the ios/Mobile.xcodeproj/project.pbxproj file in your favourite text editor. Change LOSRCDIR and all instances of “../ios-device” to refer the the LibreOffice core source directory from step 1.

  2. In the app folder, run:

./configure --enable-iosapp --with-app-name="My Own Mobile Office Suite" --with-lo-builddir=$HOME/lode/dev/LO --with-poco-includes=$HOME/poco-ios-arm64/include --with-poco-libs=$HOME/poco-ios-arm64/lib

The configure script puts the app name as the CFBundleDisplayName property into the ios/Mobile/Info.plist file, and sets up some symbolic links that point to the LibreOffice core source and build directories (which typically will be the same, of course).

  1. Before opening the Xcode project for the first time

    • seriously consider disabling source code indexing, this spawns a vast number of git processes, and consumes huge amounts of CPU & memory:

    Xcode -> Preferences, "Source Control", uncheck "Enable Source Control"

  2. Now you can open the Mobile Xcode project, build it, and run it.