Integrating SwiftUI with UIKit and Developing Xcode Previews for UIKit’s ViewController

One of the latest framework that Apple has introduced in WWDC19 is SwiftUI. In this article, you will learn how to integrate SwiftUI with UIKit and how to develop Xcode Previews for UIKit’s ViewController.

Shankar Madeshvaran
Nov 22 · 4 min read
ScreenShot —Impementation of UIKit and SwiftUI

For beginners, I recommend you to read this article which explains the basics of SwiftUI and these articles which shows how to work with SwiftUI.

In this article, we are going to develop a simple project explaining

  • How to load and assign an image from URL in UIKit and SwiftUI
  • How to bring Xcode previews for UIKit’s View controllers.
  • How to integrate SwiftUI into UIKit

Let’s get started by creating a new project in Xcode 11

Generate Xcode Preview and Work with UIKit’s Views

1) StoryBoard Designing (UIKit)

Storyboard Designing — UIKit’s ViewControllers
  • Design an UITableViewController to populate the TableView with Title naming them as HomeViewController in swift file
  • Add NavigationController to HomeViewController by doing Editor -> Embed -> NavigationController
  • Design a Detail page which has UIImageView named PictureViewController

2) Populate UITableView

Populating UITableView using Static Image URLs
  • I have provided static array contains URLs of pictures.
  • Used UITableView’s numberOfRowsInSection function to generate rows
  • Used UITableView’s cellForRowAt function to assign URL string to textLabel of UITableView Cells

3) Generate Xcode Preview For UIKit’s Views

Xcode Preview For HomeViewController
  • The HomeViewRepresentable is our wrapper and converts our UIView to a SwiftUI View.
  • Inside the makeUIView method we basically instantiate our view controller. This method can be used to instantiate any view, also a custom view or a view controller created from code.
  • We end with the HomeViewController_Preview implementing the PreviewProvider protocol.
  • We need to return the instance of HomeViewRepresentable to make this work.
  • @available code check if the version that we mentioned is enabled and then it executes preview code
ScreenShot — Xcode Preview Of UIKit’s View

4) Create a Picture Detail View Using UIKit’s View

Picture View Contoller using UIKit’s View
  • I have already set outlet for UIImageView from PictureViewController in Storyboard
  • Now we need to Assign image to UIImage by fetching image data from URL. To Fetch image data from URL, I have used the extension to load data from URL
UIImageView Extension-To Load Image Data From URL
  • To see the Xcode Preview for PictureViewController, We need to set the Storyboard Identifier of ViewController we desire in makeUIView of the UIViewRepresentable wrapper

Refer the below code to get a Xcode preview for PictureViewController

Xcode Preview For PictureViewController

Generate Xcode Preview and Work with SwiftUI Views

1) Create Detail View Using SwiftUI

  • To create a SwiftUI view, Choose File > New > File to open the template selector again. In the User Interface section, click to select SwiftUI View and click Next.
PictureView — Using SwiftUI
  • We have created a simple SwiftUI view which receives image URL and String when view is called.
  • We have used separate View named ImageViewContainer to load and assign an Image from URL

2) Load an image from Remote URL in SwiftUI

ImageViewContainer.swift — Load and Assign Image from URL

3) Getting Preview For SwiftUI Views

Xcode Preview For SwiftUI Views
  • We just need to mention SwiftUI Views name and Image URL in the preview and it will show the preview of the Picture.
ScreenShot — Xcode Preview for SwiftUI Views

Integrating SwiftUI and UIKit’s View

Integrating UIKit and SwiftUI
  • In HomeViewController, after populating a List of Image URLs, we need to add a new UITableView method didSelectRowAt which it will navigate to PictureViewController(UIKit) or PictureView(SwiftUI) based on the version of the iOS.
  • Apple provides very basic UIViewController subclass for hosting SwiftUI, UIHostingController for UIKit
  • You simply init UIHostingController with SwiftUI's view.
let pictureView = PictureView(imageURL: pictures[indexPath.row], receivedString: "SwiftUI")                                   let hostVC = UIHostingController(rootView: pictureView)

Then use it just like normal UIViewController.

  • SwiftUI has no concept of UIViewController, everything is just a View. For SwiftUI to work as UIViewController you just set it as a rootView of UIHostingController
  • If iOS Version is below 13, then it will navigate to UIKit’s View and load image in that ViewController
  • If iOS Version is above or equal to 13.0, then it will navigate to SwiftUI’s view and load image
ScreenShots After Running in iOS 12 and iOS 13

Resources:

  • Find the detailed ScreenShots and project code in this Github link. You can refer to it in case you have any queries.
  • The Project is Updated for Xcode 11+ and Swift 5.0

Conclusion

SwiftUI is a very powerful tool that will make your life easier as a developer. Here are some pros:

  • It uses Metal and therefore is extremely fast and smooth.
  • Understandable in contrast to XIB or Storyboards base code. Conflicts can be more easily be addressed.
  • More legible than coding constraints and Fewer lines of codes

On the other hand, here are some cons:

  • It’s a new framework, so it’s constantly changing and Evolving.
  • Finding Detailed Documentation is tedious.
  • SwiftUI is only supported by iOS 13+.

I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any queries, feel free to comment below and I’ll answer it as soon as I can. Thanks.

Let’s connect!

You can find me on Twitter | LinkedIn | GitHub

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Shankar Madeshvaran

Written by

iOS and Xamarin Developer.I love to write articles regarding Techs,iOS and Xamarin concepts. Follow me on GitHub: https://github.com/shankarmadeshvaran

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