Up to this point, we haven't done anything that changes what our app will do when it's run. As we can see from running our app in the simulator, it's still just an empty, blank white screen.
In this section, we'll build the UI for our Magic 8-Ball.
What is UI?
User interface, commonly referred to as UI, are any elements that your app will display on screen to a user. This includes visual elements like text and images as well as interactive elements like buttons, sliders and tabs. In programming, it's also common to refer to UI as your views.
Introducing View Controllers
If you're planning to build iOS apps, you'll need to learn about the
UIViewController. View controllers are one of the fundamental building blocks of iOS development.
UIViewController is a class that is responsible for controlling it's set of views. Each view controller has a root view that acts as a canvas to place other subviews.
As you can see above, both the text label and button are subviews placed on top of the view controller's root view.
As a beginner, you can think of each screen of your app as a view controller. All buttons, text, images are subviews that the corresponding view controller object controls. If the user taps a button, the view controller will be responsible for what happens.
Although we'll only use a single view controller in this tutorial, you can have any number of view controllers in your app.
Next, let's build our UI in the default view controller that comes with every Single View App Xcode template.
Adding UI in Storyboard
First we'll need to open our storyboard file.
In your Project navigator, select the
Main.storyboard file. You'll see your editor area change to the following:
Each of the highlighted areas is important to building your UI in your Main storyboard file:
- Document Outline (Orange): displays a vertical view hierarchy of your storyboard file
- Interface Builder (Blue): displays a visual representation of what your UI will look like
- Utilities Area (Purple): configure properties, size, and other details of your storyboard elements
- Object Library (Pink): displays a list of all Apple's pre-built UI components you can use in storyboard
Let's add our Magic 8-Ball Shake It! button to our view controller.
Button object in the Object Library and drag and drop it onto the root view of your view controller.
Next, let's learn more about the Utilities area so we can configure our button to have the right title text.
Just like the Navigator, the Utilities pane has multiple different tabs at the top called inspectors.
The tabs are contextual based on what is actively selected. That means that the tabs in the Utilities area will change based on whatever you last clicked in Xcode.
Each inspectors allows you to configure different details and attributes about the selected item.
First we'll look at the Attributes Inspector which changes the attributes of a selected storyboard object. We can use this to change the title of our button.
- Make sure you click on the button and that it's actively selected. Remember the Utilities pane is contextual so it will change based on what is selected.
- Next, navigate to the Attributes Inspector tab in the Utilities area. It is the 4th icon from the left.
- Last, find the title field and change it from the default text
You should now see a squished button with the
Shake It! title.
We'll fix this next using the Size Inspector.
Right now our shake button is squished because the new title text is longer than the width of the button. To fix that we'll change the frame of the button.
The frame of an object refers to a object's X and Y position and it's size (height and width.)
We can view our current skip button's frame in the Size Inspector.
A simpler, but less precise way of changing our button's frame is by selecting it your cursor and dragging. You can drag the center of the object to move as well as the corners of it's bounds to resize it.
Change your skip button's frame to be centered and positioned along the bottom of the Interface Builder view controller.
The positioning doesn't have to be perfect, but if you want to be more precise you can use the Size Inspector.
In this tutorial, we'll be setting a pre-defined frame for each of our subviews. That means that if the user is using a simulator or iPhone with a different screen size, our UI will be incorrectly sized.
This is ok for now. This tutorial is more focused on making sure you get a lay of the land with Xcode and iOS development. In the next Tip Calculator tutorial, you'll learn about using tools like auto-layout and stack views to create dynamically re-sizable views.
Adding a Label
To complete our UI, we'll also need to add a label to display the Magic 8-Ball's answers.
From the Object Library find the label and drag it onto center of the view controller's root view.
Next, we'll change the size and attributes of our label.
- Select the label and open the Attributes Inspector in the Utilities area.
- Change the
Textattribute from the default
Have a question?. This will be the new default text that the app starts with every time the app is opened.
- Resize the label so that it fits the new text.
- In the Attributes Inspector change the text alignment to Center.
- Last, change the Font attribute from
System Bold 28.0.
We've just finished setting up the UI for our app. Let's take a second to build and run to see our progress.
We've laid out our UI using Interface Builder. Next, we'll look at connecting our views to our Swift source files. As you might imagine, without connecting our storyboard objects to code, our app won't be able do much.
If you have feedback on this tutorial or find any mistakes, please open issues on the GitHub Repository or comment below.