Applications open until spots fill up - Apply now.

In the last step we completed the like feature of Makestagram; however, users currently cannot see which users have liked a post, and the like button won't activate (i.e. turn red) when a user likes a post.

In this step we will once again make use of the Bond framework - this time we will use it to update the UI whenever a user likes a post. We have already defined the likes stored within each Post as an Observable property. As you might remember from the implementation of the lazy image loading, having an Observable property allows us to listen for changes by using a binding.

We will also improve our binding code for the post image in this section. You might have noticed a subtle bug when scrolling through the timeline really fast: sometimes an image will show up in the incorrect place. This happens when a table view cell has a binding to multiple posts. In order to avoid this issue we should free our old bindings whenever we bind to a new post.

For this we will need to use the DisposableType that is provided by the Bond framework. Whenever we create a binding an instance of DispostableType is created. Later we can use that instance to destroy the created binding. The first step for implementing this is adding to instance variable to the PostTableViewCell that will store the DisposableTypes:

Add the following two instance variables to the PostTableViewCell:

var postDisposable: DisposableType?
var likeDisposable: DisposableType?

In a second we'll add code that uses these disposables to free up old bindings and avoid the image flicker issue!

Adding a Binding for Likes

Before we start coding, I want to remind you what our first binding looked like. It was a binding between the image property of a Post and theimage property of a postImageView in the PostTableViewCell:

// bind the image of the post to the 'postImage' view

This is one of the two types of bindings that we will be using. It connects a property directly to a UI component. Whenever the property changes, the UI updates with it.

Now to update our UI based on the likes property of our Post, we will use the second type of binding. That second type simply allows us to perform an arbitrary block of code whenever a property changes.

We'll add the observer now, then we'll discuss the code in detail.

Extend the didSet property observer of the post property as following:>

var post: Post? {
  didSet {
    // 1

    if let post = post {
      // 2
      postDisposable = post.image.bindTo(postImageView.bnd_image)
      likeDisposable = post.likes.observe { (value: [PFUser]?) -> () in
        // 3
        if let value = value {
          // 4
          self.likesLabel.text = self.stringFromUserList(value)
          // 5
          self.likeButton.selected = value.contains(PFUser.currentUser()!)
          // 6
          self.likesIconImageView.hidden = (value.count == 0)
        } else {
          // 7
          self.likesLabel.text = ""
          self.likeButton.selected = false
          self.likesIconImageView.hidden = true
  1. We use the disposable variables to destroy old bindings. This way we avoid that this cell listens to updates from old posts that it's no longer displaying.
  2. In this step, where we bind to the different properties of the post, we assign the disposables that later allow us to destroy the bindings. For binding to the likes of a post we use the observe method. The observe method is provided by the Bond framework and can be called on any object wrapped in the Observable type. The observe method takes one parameter, a closure (defined as a trailing closure in the code above), which in our case has type [PFUser]? -> (). The code defined by the closure will be executed whenever post.likes receives a new value. The constant named value in the closure definition will contain the actual contents of post.likes, that is, the Observable wrapper will have been removed.
  3. Because post.likes contains an optional array of PFUsers, we use optional binding to ensure that value is not nil.
  4. If we have received a value, we perform different updates. First of all we update the likesLabel to display a list of usernames of all users that have liked the post. We use a utility method stringFromUserList to generate that list. We'll add and discuss that method later on!
  5. Next we set the state of the like button (the heart) based on whether or not the current user is in the list of users that like the currently displayed post. If the user has liked the post, we want the button to be in the Selected state so that the heart appears red. If not selected will be set to false and the heart will be displayed in gray.
  6. Finally, if no one likes the current post, we want to hide the small heart icon displayed in front of the list of users that like a post.
  7. If we haven't received a value yet, set all UI elements to default values.

There's a last step required before we can test our new binding: adding the stringFromUserList method!

Add the following method to the PostTableViewCell:

// Generates a comma separated list of usernames from an array (e.g. "User1, User2")
func stringFromUserList(userList: [PFUser]) -> String {
  // 1
  let usernameList = { user in user.username! }
  // 2
  let commaSeparatedUserList = usernameList.joinWithSeparator(", ")

  return commaSeparatedUserList
  1. You have already seen and used map before. As we discussed it allows you to replace objects in a collection with other objects. Typically you use map to create a different representation of the same thing. In this case we are mapping from PFUser objects to the usernames of these PFObjects.
  2. We now use that array of strings to create one joint string. We can do that by using the joinWithSeparator method provided by Swift. The joinWithSeparator method can be called on any array of strings. After the method is called, we have created a string of the following form: "Test User 1, Test User 2".

Time to see this in action!

You should be able to hit the like button on a post and see the UI updating correctly:


Awesome! Even after restarting the app you should see the like status being nicely restored in the UI:


Uh, what's that? The heart isn't displayed in red, even though we have liked this post before; however, the test username shows up in the list of users that liked the post. And if you hit the like button, you get to like the same post a second time.

What's happening here? Spend a few minutes and try to debug this issue on your own.

When Equal Isn't Equal

If you had any luck with debugging this issue, you will have noticed that the issue occurs in the line where we set the selected property of the like button:

self.likeButton.selected = value.contains(PFUser.currentUser()!)

The contains function is supposed to check whether or not an object is contained in a provided list; however, this line doesn't always seem to work correctly. Whenever we restart our app, this line returns false, even though the current user has definitely liked the post before.

The underlying problem is the different ways of how we can define equality and identity in computer programs. By default, when working with PFObjects, two variables are equal when they are referencing exactly the same object. However, in our app, we can have multiple different PFUser objects that actually represent the same user on the Parse server!

Every time we retrieve a post or a user through a PFQuery, a new object is created. That new object is not the same as objects that we have received from previous queries - even though some of them reference exactly the same objects on the server.

For our Parse app we want to consider objects equal whenever they reference the same object on the server. This means two objects are equal when they have the same objectID.

Luckily, Swift provides us with a way to change the definition of equality for different classes. We can do that by implementing the Equatable protocol on a class and adding an implementation of the == operator.

Add the following extension to the end of the ParseHelper.swift class (outside of the class definition of ParseHelper):

extension PFObject {

  public override func isEqual(object: AnyObject?) -> Bool {
    if (object as? PFObject)?.objectId == self.objectId {
      return true
    } else {
      return super.isEqual(object)


Now Swift knows to consider any two Parse objects equal if they have the same objectId.

You can run the app again and you should see that the issue shown earlier no longer exists! Our app now always correctly detects whether or not the current user has liked a post.


This was an extremely important step: we have finished the entire like feature of Makestagram. By now you have learned how to load information lazily and how to update server information based on user input.

In this chapter you have learned how to use a second type of binding. One where you observe changes to an object and provide a closure that contains code that runs whenever the object receives a new value. This allowed us to update our UI based on the likes a post has received. Bindings will be an extremely useful tool for your own app, so remember to come back to this chapter if you have forgotten how to use them.

Lastly, you have learned what object equality and identity mean. We have changed the default behavior of how Swift compares Parse objects to avoid bugs in Makestagram.

In the next step we will improve our timeline a little bit by allowing users to manually refresh their timeline! And, no need to worry, soon we will also take care of adding some more users to our app and making it less lonely.


If you have feedback on this tutorial or find any mistakes, please open issues on the GitHub Repository.

Summer academy

An iOS Development Summer Course

Design, code and launch your own app. Locations across the USA and Asia

Find your location

Product College

A computer science college

Graduate into a successful career as a founder or software engineer.

Learn more