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Something Awful Forums browser for iOS

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Awful is an iOS 9.0+ app that's Better Than Safari for browsing the Something Awful Forums. Its story is told in its thread (and the thread before that (and the thread before that (and the thread before that))).

Not sure what to work on? There's a list of issues, or just post in the thread and someone will share their pet peeves for your amusement!

Screenshot of Awful as it appears on an iPhone

An unofficial app

This app is not endorsed by Something Awful.


Please drop by the thread if you could use a hand with any of these steps!

You need Xcode 13 to build and run Awful. You can download Xcode for free from Apple. Then:

  1. Clone the repository:
    git clone --recursive Awful-app
  2. Open the Xcode workspace and build away:
    xed Awful-app

You may see build warnings of the form "Unable to find included file '../Local.xcconfig'". You should still be able to build and run, just with a couple of features turned off. If you'd like to enable those features, or just make the warnings go away, please scroll on down to the "Local build settings" section below.

The only required dependencies for building Awful that are not included directly in this repository are those managed by Swift Package Manager. Files generated by other utilities are included in the repository. The only submodule is the thread-tags repository, which is not strictly needed for building; if you don't need it, you can leave off the

part from step one.

If you'd like to build to your device, set the

build setting as mentioned in the Local build settings section below.

Optional dependencies

There are optional dependencies for building Awful. You only need them if you're working on the relevant part of the app.

  • Swift Package Manager is the preferred way to add dependencies. If at all possible, please use it.
  • Manual installation is totally fine. Drag the files or xcodeproj on in.
  • CocoaPods manages some of our dependencies.
    • There's a
      nearby if you want to use a known working version of CocoaPods.
  • No matter how you add a dependency, please update
    with the name and license of the dependency. We do not use CocoaPods-generated acknowledgements.
  • LESS helps us write CSS. If you're modifying the themes for displaying posts (these are files like
    ), please install LESS:
    1. Install homebrew.
    2. Open Terminal and install node:
      brew install node
    3. In Terminal, install less:
      npm install less -g
    4. Now build the Xcode project and the CSS files will be regenerated.

Local build settings

There are some local build settings that can be useful to include but should not be committed to a public repo. Store those in an Xcode configuration file at

; see Local.sample.xcconfig for an example. You'll get a build warning until you put a file at that location; it can be an empty file if you just want Xcode to be quiet.

Awful uses an App Group to communicate and share data with the Smilie Keyboard. Unfortunately, App Group identifiers must be unique, so we can't simply set it up in this repository and have it work for everybody work. By default, Awful builds without an App Group configured, which means that the Smilie Keyboard won't be able to download new smilies, remember recent smilies, or store favourite smilies. If you like, you can:

  1. Create an App Group in your iOS Developer account.
  2. Copy
  3. Copy and paste your App Group identifier into
  4. Set the
    build setting in
    for the targets
    for a suggested setup).
  5. After a build and run, full keyboard functionality should be yours.


There are unit tests, that don't cover much, running continuously via GitHub Actions.

Build Status

Updating dependencies

Dependencies not managed via CocoaPods or Swift Package Manager are placed in the Vendor folder and manually kept up-to-date. They include:

  • ARChromeActivity and TUSafariActivity assets. We've implemented our own
    subclasses but continue to use the libraries' images.

Version scheme

Bump the major version when changing the minimum required iOS version (deployment target). Otherwise, bump the minor version.

Also, when changing the iOS deployment target, please tag the last commit that supports any no-longer-supported deployment target(s) and update the table in the section "iOS deployment targets" below.

Handy utilities

If you peek in the Xcode folder you'll find:

  • beta
    , a script that bumps the build number and then runs
    to create an archive suitable for uploading to App Store Connect. See
    beta --help
    for more, including how to set up automatic uploads to App Store Connect.
    • If you've released to the App Store, it's time to bump at least the minor version number by passing the
      parameter, e.g.
      beta --minor
  • bump
    , a script that can increment the build, minor, or major version number throughtout the project. See
    bump --help
    for more.

And in the Xcode workspace itself you'll find:

  • SmilieExtractor
    , an iOS app that takes
    and extracts resources for Smilie Keyboard. To update smilies, first save a fresh
    from the Forums, then run
  • CopyMarkdownApp
    , a macOS Safari App Extension that adds a "Copy Awful Markdown" context menu item to the Forums. The copied markdown is ready to be pasted into a GitHub issue.

Loading fixtures into the app and/or working offline

If you've stashed some .html files from the Forums, you can load those into a debug build of the app. And if you forgot to stash some, you're in luck: we've stashed some as test fixtures. See FixtureURLProtocol for more info.


You can help! See our contribution guidelines and please come visit the thread to say hi.

Project Structure

Awful is broken down somewhat:

  • Awful
    is the iOS app.
  • AwfulCore
    is a Swift package that does the scraping and networking with the Forums. It's meant to be compatible with all Apple platforms, but nobody's really tried beyond iOS.
  • Smilies
    is a Swift package that downloads smilies and presents them as a keyboard. It's meant to be compatible with all Apple platforms, but nobody's really tried beyond iOS.


Awful's posts view is fully customizable using CSS. There's a default theme, as well as themes for specific forums such as YOSPOS and FYAD. Internally, we use LESS to generate our CSS, so if you are editing built-in themes please edit the

files. (LESS installation instructions are above.) Then commit both the modified
files and any resulting changes to
files, so others don't need LESS to build Awful.

The rest of Awful is themed in a a big plist. If you can't find a theme key you'd like to use, ask and we'll add it!

Thread Tags

Diabolik900 and The Dave have largely fashioned Awful with its own [set of thread tags][thread tags] that look great on the iPhone and the iPad. They're distributed with the app. New thread tags can also appear in Awful without us having to send an update through the App Store. This is done by hosting the icons via GitHub Pages.

To add a new thread tag you just made:

  1. Add it to the thread tags repository and push.
  2. Update the repository repository per its README.
  3. In this ( repository, update the

    App/Resources/Thread Tags
    submodule and push:
    cd path/to/awful-app/repo
    cd App/Resources/Thread\ Tags
    git pull origin master
    cd ..
    git commit -am "Updated thread tags."
    git push

Alternate App Icons

Alternate app icons go in

, in the "App Icons" folder. To add a new alternate app icon, create a new iOS App Icon image set in that folder and drag your images in. There's no Info.plist changes required.

URL schemes

Awful answers to a couple URL schemes:

  • awful:
    opens Awful directly to various screens. This URL scheme is documented at and at Launch Center Pro.
    • awful://forums
      opens the Forums tab.
    • awful://forums/:forumid
      opens the Forums tab to the identified forum.
    • awful://threads/:threadid
      opens the first page of the identified thread. For example,
      opens Awful's thread.
    • awful://threads/:threadid/pages/:page
      opens the given page of the identified thread. For example,
      opens the fifteenth page of Awful's thread.
    • awful://posts/:postid
      opens the identified post's page of its thread and jumps to it. For example,
      opens the OP of Awful's thread.
    • awful://bookmarks
      opens the Bookmarks tab.
    • awful://messages
      opens the Messages tab.
    • awful://messages/:messageid
      opens the identified private message. (I guess the idea is to handle a link from one message to another?)
    • awful://settings
      opens the Settings tab.
    • awful://users/:userid
      opens the identified user's profile. For example,
      opens pokeyman's profile.
    • awful://banlist
      opens the Leper's Colony.
    • awful://banlist/:userid
      opens the identified user's rap sheet. For example,
      opens pokeyman's rap sheet.
  • awfulhttp:
    handle Forums website URLs by opening the corresponding screen when possible.
    • The idea is you take your…
      URL, put
      in front, and now it opens in Awful.

iOS deployment targets

For iOS

Check out tag/branch
15 main
14 main
13 main
12 ios-12
11 ios-11
10 ios-10
9 ios-9
8 ios-8
7 ios-7
6 ios-6
5 ios-5


Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License


Awful development is led by pokeyman aka Nolan Waite.

Awful includes contributions from:

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