Autolayout in iOS enables responsive design. It’s more enjoyable than computing frames by hand; however, it’s a bit wordy when writing views in code. And a lot of the autolayout api look the similar. I’ve been using some helper code to encapsulate some of the calls. I published them in a Cocoa pod. Here is a tour of the features of this Cocoa pod.

There are two categories that I made. The first is a category on NSLayoutConstraint for making raw NSLayoutConstraints. The second is a category on UIView for adding subviews and layout to a view.

NSLayoutConstraint (DRAutolayout)

The design philosophy is to provide all possible NSLayoutConstraint constraints, but use method names instead of constants to select the different ones.

For example, instead of writing out [view addConstraint:[NSLayoutConstraint constraintWithItem:view1 attribute:NSLayoutAttributeCenterX relatedBy:NSLayoutRelationEqual toItem:view2 attribute:NSLayoutAttributeCenterX multiplier:1.0 constant:0.0]] in native parlance in order to constrain view1’s center to view2’s center, I write [view addConstraint:[NSLayoutConstraint centerX:view1 toCenterX:view2]], which is easier for me to read.

Further, I made helper methods to constrain view tops to view tops and view rights to view rights. [NSLayoutConstraint top:view1 toTop:view2 multiplier:1.0 constant:0] and [NSLayoutConstraint right:view1 toRight:view2 multiplier:1.0 constant:0], respectively. To make subviews cling to the top, sides, and button of the superview. Of course, there is left:toLeft:multiplier:constant: also.

I also found it useful to constrain lefts to rights when placing views next to each other with some spacing between. [NSLayoutConstraint left:self.topBar toRight:self.menuButton multiplier:1.0 constant:10].

You can leave off the multiplier and constant arguments. So [NSLayoutConstraint right:view1 toRight:view2 multiplier:1.0 constant:0] and [NSLayoutConstraint right:view1 toRight:view2] are equivalent.

UIView (DRAutoLayout)

The second category is on UIView and is useful for making a simple flow layout down the middle of the screen, placing related objects to the right and left. The demo app uses this category. I recommend placing all subviews to a UIScrollView.

Remember to both placeAtTop: and placeAtBottom: in relation to the UIScrollView! This tells autolayout where the top and bottom of the content is for the UIScrollView. If you don’t do this, and you can set the contentSize of the UIScrollView manually, the UIScrollView might not scroll as expected.

Then after calling addSubview with all your subviews, you can arrange them by calling [scrollView place:view2 below:view1 distance:20] and [scrollView place:view2 below:view1 distance:20]. Then [scrollView horizontallyCenterSubviews:@[view1, view2]] to align them all in the center.

To place something to the left or right of something in the center, use the place:leftOf:distance method: [scrollView place:leftView leftOf:centerView distance:40]. The same works to place something to the right: [scrollView place:rightView rightOf:centerView distance:40].

Conclusion

I hope you find these autolayout helper methods useful. I really like autolayout. And I like these helper methods because they increase the clarity of the code while reducing the amount of code to read.

Checkout out the project at https://github.com/danramteke/DRAutolayout or add pod 'DRAutolayout' to your Podfile.

No Longer Maintained

This package is no longer maintained.