Overview of the Table View API
The table view programming interface includes several UIKit classes, two formal protocols, and a category added to a Foundation framework class.
A table view itself is an instance of the
UITableView class. You use its methods to configure the appearance of the table view—for example, specifying the default height of rows or providing a subview used as the header for the table. Other methods give you access to the currently selected row as well as specific rows or cells. You can call other methods of
UITableView to manage selections, scroll the table view, and insert or delete rows and sections.
UITableView inherits from the
UIScrollView class, which defines scrolling behavior for views with content larger than the size of the window.
UITableView redefines the scrolling behavior to allow vertical scrolling only.
Table View Controller
UITableViewController class manages a table view and adds support for many standard table-related behaviors such as selection management, row editing, table configuration, and others. This additional support is there to minimize the amount of code you have to write to create and initialize your table-based interface. You don’t use this class directly—instead you subclass
UITableViewController to add custom behaviors.
Data Source and Delegate
UITableView object must have a delegate and a data source. Following the Model-View-Controller design pattern, the data source mediates between the app’s data model (that is, its model objects) and the table view. The delegate, on the other hand, manages the appearance and behavior of the table view. The data source and the delegate are often (but not necessarily) the same object, and that object is usually a custom subclass of
UITableViewController. (See Navigating a Data Hierarchy with Table Views for further information.)
The data source adopts the
UITableViewDataSource has two required methods. The
tableView:numberOfRowsInSection: method tells the table view how many rows to display in each section, and the
tableView:cellForRowAtIndexPath: method provides the cell to display for each row in the table. Optional methods allow the data source to configure multiple sections, provide headers and/or footers, and support adding, removing, and reordering rows in the table.
The delegate adopts the
UITableViewDelegate protocol. This protocol has no required methods. It declares methods that allow the delegate to modify visible aspects of the table view, manage selections, support an accessory view, and support editing of individual rows in a table.
An app can make use of the convenience class
UILocalizedIndexedCollation to help the data source organize the data for indexed lists and display the proper section when users tap an item in the index. The
UILocalizedIndexedCollation class also localizes section titles.
Extension to the NSIndexPath Class
Many table view methods use index paths as parameters or return values. An index path identifies a path to a specific node in a tree of nested arrays, and in the Foundation framework it is represented by an
NSIndexPath object. UIKit declares a category on
NSIndexPath with methods that return key paths, locate rows in sections, and construct
NSIndexPath objects from row and section indexes. For more information, see NSIndexPath UIKit Additions.
Table View Cells
As noted in Data Source and Delegate, the data source must return a cell object for each visible row that a table view displays. These cell objects must inherit from the
UITableViewCell class. This class includes methods for managing cell selection and editing, managing accessory views, and configuring the cell. You can instantiate cells directly in the standard styles defined by the
UITableViewCell class and give these cells content consisting of one or two strings of text and, in some styles, both image and text. Instead of using a cell in a standard style, you can put your own custom subviews in the content view of an “off-the-shelf” cell object. You may also subclass
UITableViewCell to customize the appearance and behavior of table view cells. These approaches are all discussed in A Closer Look at Table View Cells.