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Table header view with AutoLayout

Jun 6, 2017 · 2 min read

Just give me the code!

I’d been searching for how to use AutoLayout with a table header view. Setting a table view’s tableHeaderView feels like throwing a view in a dark hole. We don’t know how it’s related with other views in the hierarchy.

Finally, I found a solution that works well for me without explicit frame calculations.

Note: I use UIViewController with UITableView as a subview, not UITableViewController.

The gist: 1) set table header view, 2) pin the header view’s centerX, width and top anchors to the table view, 3) call layoutIfNeeded on table header view to update its size, 4) *set table view header again.


In viewDidLoad() :

  1. Make a container view. Add everything here. Make sure to set constraints properly to let it grows as needed.
  2. Set tableHeaderView to the container
  3. Add centerX, width and top anchors of the container (which is now tableHeaderView) to the table view.
  4. Update the header view frame first time by calling layoutIfNeeded() then setting the table header view again.

That’s it 🎉.

// ...In viewDidLoad()// 1.
let containerView = UIView()
containerView.translatesAutoresizingMaskIntoConstraints = false
// headerView is your actual content.

// 2.
self.tableView.tableHeaderView = containerView
// 3.
containerView.centerXAnchor.constraint(equalTo: self.tableView.centerXAnchor).isActive = true
containerView.widthAnchor.constraint(equalTo: self.tableView.widthAnchor).isActive = truecontainerView.topAnchor.constraint(equalTo: self.tableView.topAnchor).isActive = true// 4.
self.tableView.tableHeaderView = self.tableView.tableHeaderView

To update the header frame on device rotation

Just do step 4. again in viewWillTransitionToSize, but do it in the next draw loop (by wrapping with Dispatch.main.async), since layoutIfNeed() needs to know the correct parent frame first:

override func viewWillTransition(to size: CGSize, with coordinator: UIViewControllerTransitionCoordinator) {  super.viewWillTransition(to: size, with: coordinator)  DispatchQueue.main.async {
self.tableView.tableHeaderView = self.tableView.tableHeaderView

Github Repo

The repo below has a UITableView’s extension for these 4 steps. It also contains working examples, including both UITableView and UITableViewController.

If you’re interested, I’m developing a framework that handles this kind of gotchas in UITableView for you. So you can get started with using AutoLayout with table header view, section header/footer view and table view cell immediately. You need to know how to use AutoLayout though.

It’s not finished yet, but you can checkout examples. Any helps/suggestions are welcomed.

If this is helpful, please tap 💚 for me 😍.


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