Turnpike IOS Documentation

Getting Started

Turnpike was developed by URX to enable mobile deeplinking in apps.

Turnpike’s Core Responsibilities

  • mapping-routes either defined routes or a default / 404 not found route
  • route-requests provide a consistent representation for processing incoming routes and URLs
  • filter-chains to decouple request processing from routing logic

Mobile Deeplinking with Turnpike

Turnpike lets you map deeplink URI routes to in-app actions.

[Turnpike mapRoute:@"product/:product_id" ToDestination:^(TPRouteRequest *request) {
    [Products displayProductWithId:[request.routeParameters valueForKey:@"product_id"]];

Turnpike allows the creation of filters to centralize the processing logic for incoming requests.

[Turnpike appendAnonymousFilter:^(TPRouteRequest *request, TPFilterChain *filterChain) {

After filter processing, Turnpike resolves route requests to their final in-app destinations.

[Turnpike resolveURL:[NSURL urlWithString:@"product/1988"]];

First Steps with Turnpike

The Turnpike SDK can be obtained via GitHub, and we recommend keeping Turnpike updated via Git.

The next step is to enable deeplinking within your app <enabling-mobile-deeplinking>, and integrate Turnpike at the deeplink entry point.

Next, feel free to read on below about Turnpike’s capabilities!

Turnpike Request Lifecycle

When resolving deeplink URI’s, Turnpike takes the following steps:

  • Searches for a matching defined route, and falls back on the default route if no match is found.
  • Applies each filter in the filter chain to the created TPRouteRequest object.
  • Invokes the callback associated with the matched (or default) route.


This installation tutorial will show you how to add URX Turnpike to an existing project, and how to keep it up-to-date.


With Turnpike, we’ll be using Git to manage versions. If you haven’t used Git before, we recommend running through a quick Git tutorial. You must have Git installed to complete this tutorial.

Step 1: Add your Project to Workspace

Note: You may skip to step two if you are already developing your App in a workspace.

Starting with Xcode 4, Apple introduced the concept of Workspace management. This took the prior concept of Project Management, and allowed encapsulated projects, and shared documents, to exist in a space together so you can work on, and reference them, simultaneously. Projects in a Workspace also share a build directory, making it easy to link to binaries of projects in the workspace.

To start, create a folder to house our workspace. Because my app is called TestApp, I will create a folder called TestAppWorkspace, where all my dependencies will live. However if you have a single code base for multiple apps, you may want to have all of your apps in the same Workspace. I only have one, so this will be TestAppWorkspace.

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In Xcode, Go to File->New->Workspace, or press Control + Command + N, to create a new Workspace, and save it in the folder we just created with the name of your Workspace.

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Now that you have a Workspace, we need to put some projects into it! Lets start with your existing project.

Before we add it to the Workspace in Xcode, let’s move the project folder into the Workspace folder, just to keep the organization cleaner and not have your Workspace’s managed projects all over the place

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Go to File->New->Add Files to “TestAppWorkspace” (where “TestAppWorkspace” is your workspace), or press Option + Command + A, and you’ll be able to select files. Navigate to your App’s .xcodeproj file and select that. Make sure “Copy items into destination group’s folder (if needed)” is checked, and click add.

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Step 2: Add Turnpike to Workspace

Now that you have your project in a workspace, open your Terminal and navigate to your Workspace folder. Once there, run git submodule add https://github.com/URXtech/turnpike-ios.git turnpike-ios. This adds the latest turnpike-ios repository as a submodule to your project. (Git submodules are an alternative to cloning repositories. You can read more about them here.) Now you should have the latest stable version of URX Turnpike (for iOS) in your Workspace Folder.

Note: If you have already submoduled a version of Turnpike, skip to the last step on maintenance to update it before continuing.

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Next we need to add the Turnpike project as we did for our own App, so in Xcode, go to File->New->Add Files to “TestAppWorkspace” (where “TestAppWorkspace” is your workspace), or press Option + Command + A, and this time select Turnpike.xcodeproj in the turnpike-ios folder.

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Step 3: Test & Compile Turnpike

First we want to compile Turnpike into a binary. On the top bar of the editor window, under “Scheme”, select “Turnpike”, and select a simulator to run on. Try giving the tests a run (Command + U), and the console should report that everything ran fine.

Although running the test involved Build Phases, we didn’t get a binary from it, as evidenced by expanding the Products group in the Turnpike project, and seeing that libTurnpike.a is red, meaning Xcode can’t find it.

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With static libraries, like Turnpike, tests can only be performed on the simulator, while binaries can only be compiled by targeting actual device architecture, so select “iOS Device” under Turnpike’s schema (“iOS Device” may have the name of your iOS device if it’s plugged into your computer), and build Turnpike (Command + B). libTurnpike.a should now be black.

Step 4: Linking to Turnpike Binary and Headers

This next part is a little more complicated, but follow along, and it’ll be easy.

Now that it’s built we need to tell our own App to use Turnpike. First lets point to Turnpike’s headers so Xcode can know about them and not get upset when we claim they exist.

In Xcode, click on your project settings, and select your “Project” (not “Target”). Select the “Build Settings” tab and in the search field, search for “User Header Search Paths”. You should see “User Header Search Paths” show up. Double click on the rightmost portion of this row to bring up a box with little + and - buttons. Hit the + button and type ../turnpike-ios/Turnpike (assuming your project is in the Workspace directory, as it should be if you followed along).

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Next, in your project settings, select your “Target”, and select the “Build Phases” tab. In your “Link Binary With Libraries” phase, hit the + button and select libTurnpike.a from the list (under Workspace).

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Step 5: Adding a Custom URL Scheme

If your app doesn’t yet have a custom URL scheme you’ll need to have your app register for one on the user’s device. Fortunately, this is now easier than ever in Xcode. In your app’s project settings, select your “Target”, and click on the info tab. There, you should expand the “URL Types” section. If you already have a custom URL registered, you’ll see it there, and if not, this will be empty and say “No URL Types”.

Click the + button to create a new URL Type. Most of this is not important to us, as it deals with file handling. What is important is the Identifier and URL Schemes fields.

For both these fields, you want to enter your App’s Bundle Identifier in reverse domain name style. This is recommended practice by Apple (although even they are guilty of not doing this in their sample app) as behavior for collisions is undefined. You can find your bundle identifier by switching to the “Summary” tab in your “Target”.

Note: Even if you already have a URL schema registered, we recommend you register one in the reverse domain name style and use that one for creating deep links. This will prevent any non-malicious collisions, and is what we recommend as best practice.

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Step 6: Setting up Turnpike in your App

The hard part is all finished, now you just need to tell your app what routes you want to register and when to invoke a route.

Open up your AppDelegate.m file (in my case TAAppDelegate.m), and under the first #import statement, add #import <Turnpike/Turnpike.h>.

In your - (BOOL)application:(UIApplication *)application didFinishLaunchingWithOptions:(NSDictionary *)launchOptions method, you will register routes and filters. For the sake of this tutorial we won’t get into Filters, but they are powerful ways to put logic on top of your routing. In this method we’ll add a test route which will print “Hello World!” to the console. Add:

// Override point for customization after application launch.
[Turnpike mapRoute:@"hello" ToDestination:^(TPRouteRequest *request) {
    NSLog(@"Hello World!");

The last thing we have to do is let Turnpike pick up the incoming URL. To do this, we’ll need our AppDelegate to implement - (BOOL)application:(UIApplication *)application openURL:(NSURL *)url sourceApplication:(NSString *)sourceApplication annotation:(id)annotation (and - (BOOL)application:(UIApplication *)application handleOpenURL:(NSURL *)url if you’re targeting iOS < 4.2).

Note: - (BOOL)application:(UIApplication *)application openURL:(NSURL *)url sourceApplication:(NSString *)sourceApplication annotation:(id)annotation will be called instead of - (BOOL)application:(UIApplication *)application handleOpenURL:(NSURL *)url on iOS >= 4.2 devices. If you want to support older devices, implement both.

In your openURL method, all you need to add is [Turnpike resolveURL:url]; and return YES.

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Congratulations, you have now added Deeplinking to your app!

Step 7: Feel the Magic (Make sure it works)

Lets do a quick test to make sure it works. Build and Run your app on the simulator or your device. Go to Safari and enter your URL Schema + “:hello” and hit “Go”. For my app this is “com.urx.TestApp:hello\ “.

Deeplinking from Mobile Safari

Note: this could also be com.urx.TestApp://hello, com.urx.TestApp:///hello or just com.urx.TestApp:hello. Leading slashes after the colon are ignored, and the route in this case, is just hello.

This should quickly switch to your app and in your Xcode console, you should see hello world. Congratulations, you’ve integrated URX Turnpike! Time for cookies!

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Bonus Step: Keeping Up-To-Date with URX Turnpike

Updating Turnpike is easy! Just open up your console, navigate to your Turnpike directory, then run git pull origin master and the newest version will update straight from GitHub.

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After updating, make sure to re-build your Turnpike binary in Xcode. Select Turnpike from the scheme list, and make sure you’re building for “iOS Device” (or the name of the device you have plugged into your computer). Press Command + B to build, and you’re all updated!

Enabling Mobile Deeplinking

Custom URL Schemes

To register a URL schema, add the CFBundleURLTypes key to your app’s Info.plist file. CFBundleURLTypes contains an array of dictionaries, each of which defines a URL scheme the app supports. Each dictionary within the array is a key / value pair of CFBundleURLName (string) and CFBundleURLSchemes (array of strings).

The CFBundleURLName should be, according to Apple, in reverse dns format (com.myCompany.myProduct).

The CFBundleURLSchemes is an array of custom URL schemas you want your app to respond to. You can add as many as you like, but you only need one.

Implementing handleOpenURL

In the your’s App Delegate, you must implement the optional App Delegate method that allow your app to perform deeplinking. This method is:

- (BOOL)application:(UIApplication *)application openURL:(NSURL *)url sourceApplication:(NSString *)sourceApplication annotation:(id)annotation

In your implementation of this method, you should resolve the incoming url your router. If you’re using Turnpike’s shared router (which is all that’s needed in most cases), simply call [Turnpike resolveURL:url]. If you’re using multiple routers, you can instead call [router resolveURL:url].

Mapping Routes to Destinations

Turnpike can map routes to Destinations <mr-assigning-destinations>. Destinations represent where to navigate and/or what action to take upon a user’s entry into an app via deeplink URI.

Turnpike supports many mapped routes <mr-mapped-routes> and one default route <mr-default-route>.

Default Route

To define a Default Route, use the method mapDefaultToDestination.

The Default Route is invoked when no route is matched. By default, this does nothing and just launches your app.


The Default Route can be used for a default landing page, or to gracefully degrade to a fallback page for incoming URI’s that don’t match any known paths.

Mapped Routes

Mapped routes are one of: - Static: about/team - Dynamic: user/:user_id/profile/:page_number


Route Parameters are variables parsed out of URI templates, like :user_id or :page_number.

Assigning Destinations to Routes

For example, if a resolved deeplink should push a Product Page onto our UINavigation Controller, we might use a callback like this:

[Turnpike mapRoute:@"product/:product_id" ToDestination:^(TPRouteRequest *request) {
	UINavigationController *navigationController = (UINavigationController*)self.window.rootViewController;
	[navigationController popToRootViewControllerAnimated:NO];

	UIStoryboard *storyboard = [UIStoryboard storyboardWithName:@"MainStoryboard" bundle:nil];
	ProductViewController *productViewController = [storyboard instantiateViewControllerWithIdentifier:@"ProductViewController"];

	[navigationController pushViewController:productViewController animated:NO];

Using Dynamic Routes

In the case of dynamic routes, route parameters can be accessed in the filter or callback through the TPRouteRequest, by calling request.routeParameters.


Route user/:user_id, when invoked as user/32 would have the route parameter :user_id made available in the TPRouteRequest. Calling [request.routeParameters valueForKey:@"user_id"] returns the value of user_id from the NSDictionary routeParameters. Since all variables are stored as NSSTring, this would return the NSString representation of "32".

Suppose we want the links tab/travel and tab/food to open different UI tabs. Using route param parsing, we can map the route tab/:tab_name to a callback that uses the :tab_name value to focus the appropriate UI element.

self.tabBarController.selectedIndex = 1;
[Turnpike mapRoute:@"tab/:tab_name" ToDestination:^(TPRouteRequest *request) {
	int tabIndexToSet = [[request.routeParameters valueForKey:@"tab_name"] isEqualToString:@"Home"] ? 0 : 1;
	[[UIApplication sharedApplication].delegate window].rootViewController.tabBarController.selectedIndex = tabIndexToSet; }];

Route Requests

Route Requests hold data about the in-app session created as a user enters an app from a deeplink URI.

Requests have a lifecycle consisting of 3 stages:

  • Creation: Requests are created by the Router when resolving a route. See below <rr-route-request-creation> for details.
  • Filtration: Requests are passed through filters <filter-chains>
  • Resolution: After filtration, the Destination callback is invoked to navigate the user to a predefined page or action within the app.

The TPRouteRequest contains both external invocation specific information, as well as route specific information. If you are writing a route or filter, it is important to check for nil fields in the Route Request.

The urlSchema should be one of the custom URL schemas that your app has already registered <enabling-mobile-deeplinking> earlier in the Turnpike documentation.


For more information about iOS deeplink support, please see “Implementing Custom URL Schemes” in Apple’s Advanced App Tricks documentation).

Two of TPRouteRequest’s properties are used to pass information specific to deeplink traffic from outside the app:

  • urlSchema
  • queryParameters

For instance:

if(request.queryParameters && [request.queryParameters valueForKey:@"coupon_id"]) {
    [CouponProcessor validateAndProcessCoupon:[request.queryParameters valueForKey:@"coupon_id"]];

The queryParameters are NSString key/value pairs parsed from the query string (if it has one). If you are inovking a route internally, this value will be nil.

Route Request Creation

During Request Creation, a Router attempts to find a matching route for an incoming deeplink URI, matchedRoute is set to the corresponding defined route (in route format, ie user/:user_id). If no match was found, the default route will be invoked and this will be nil.

After route matching, the Router parses out route parameters (from variables defined in dynamic routes) and query parameters. Query params and route params are passed into the new Request, along with the matched route and its destination. If the incoming route did not match any defined routes, a nil route will be passed into the request along with a default Destination.

if(request.matchedRoute) {
    [MyAwesomeLoggingService logRoute:request.matchedRoute WithParameters:request.routeParameters];

The routeParameters is an NSDictionary of route parameters found in the matched route. If no route parameters are found this will be an empty NSDictionary, and if no matched route was found, this will be nil.

Filters & Filter Chains

Filters allow you to perform logic with the incoming Route Request before the route’s mapped destination is resolved. Filters can be used for authentication, redirecting, analytics, and more. Turnpike’s implementation of filters uses a simplified version of the intercepting filter pattern.


The goal of routing filters is to reduce code duplication for cross-cutting concerns that should be evaluated on each incoming deeplink (for instance, tracking UTM campaign query parameters on inbound deeplinks).

Filters are processed sequentially in a Filter Chain <fc-filter-chain>. Each Router has a single Filter Chain; each individual filter runs once on each request processed by the Router.

Filters can either be added to the filter chain in one of two ways:

  • Filters <fc-filters> implementing TPFilterProtocol can be added using appendFilter.
  • Anonymous Filters <fc-anonymous-filters> can be defined with a block and added using appendAnonymousFilter.


Implementing a Filter

Filters themselves are objects that respond to TPFilterProtocol, and as such implement the following method:

- (void) doFilterWithRequest:(TPRouteRequest *)request AndFilterChain:(TPFilterChain *)filterChain 

This is the method that is used to process a TPRouteRequest. To pass processing on to the next filter, the active filter should call


Processing Query Parameters with a Filter

@implementation MyCouponFilter
- (void) doFilterWithRequest:(TPRouteRequest *)request AndFilterChain:(TPFilterChain *)filterChain {
    if(request.queryParameters && [request.queryParameters valueForKey:@"coupon_id"]) {
        [CouponProcessor validateAndProcessCoupon:[request.queryParameters valueForKey:@"coupon_id"]];

Anonymous Filters

The TPAnonymousFilter is an object which responds to the TPFilterProtocol, and which lets the user of this object define the behavior of the filter through a block.

TPAnonymousFilter’s are useful when making a filter to handle internal logic, where as creating your own class is useful when creating redistributable classes. The main advantage of TPAnonymousFilter’s is being able to avoid the boilerplate required for creating a new class.

Implementing an Anonymous Filter

To use the TPAnonymousFilter you can create a filter object with the factory method + (id<TPFilterProtocol>) filterWithBlock:(TPFilterBlock)filterBlock.

[Turnpike applyAnonymousFilter:^(TPRouteRequest *request, TPFilterChain *filterChain) {
    if(request.matchedRoute) {
        [MyAwesomeLoggingService logRoute:request.matchedRoute WithParameters:request.routeParameters];
    [filterChain doFilterWithRequest:request];

Download the Turnpike Test App

Turnpike Demo Application: URX Shop

To demonstrate a working example of URX Turnpike we’ve built a sample ecommerce app called URX Shop. You can download the complete, which you can download here, or download a clean branch that starts off at the “Installation” stage of these docs. Either way, you’ll need to sign up for and install Parse in order to test URX Shop.

URX Shop landing page
URX Shop product catalog page
URX Shop product detail page
URX Shop shopping cart page

This application is a simple ecommerce app, which lists URX clothing items and has a mock shopping cart page. It uses Parse, a mobile and web backend and hosting framework, to store serve URX Shop product data to the iOS and web app at the same time. With both the iOS and web app implemented, you will be able to click a link from the website on your mobile browser and see Turnpike open a specific page in the URX Shop mobile app on your iPhone.

This is the same application used in the docs you are currently reading.

Please post questions, report bugs, or recommend changes to our documentation on our Google Group, here.


The URX Team