Custom UITableViewCell for Text Input in Swift

The need to collect data via text input is a common in many applications. This walk-through showcases how to create a custom UITableViewCell for accepting text input within a UITableView.

Table Views for Data Entry?

Table views provide nice, built-in styles that present a form-like view for collecting data from your users. They also have inherent scrolling capabilities. Finally, there is some handy keyboard handling, such as auto-scrolling to avoid covering up a data entry cell, or hiding the keyboard when the user scrolls the Table View. Both of those are challenging to get right if you were to do implement a data entry form some other way.

Many of Apple’s own UIs utilize table views to collect data from the user (think Settings, Calendar, Reminders).

For those reasons, I think a table view is a really convenient choice for collecting data from a user.

Step by Step Walkthrough

Drag a table view to Storyboard

Assuming that you have a View Controller already on the Storyboard design surface, drag a table view onto the Storyboard scene.
Drag Table View to Storyboard

Wire up table view data source and delegate

For this step it’s helpful to have the document outline pane visible. Selecting the Table View from the document outline and subsequently Control + Click + Dragging to the View Controller icon on the Storyboard scene will allow you to link the table view’s dataSource and delegate properties to the View Controller.
Ctrl+Click-Drag to set DataSource and Delegate

Set DataSource and Delegate
Note that you’ll need to perform the Control + Click + Drag maneuver twice to set both the dataSource and the delegate.

Configure keyboard dismissal for table view

With the attributes inspector selected in the utilities pane, scroll down to the Keyboard option and set it to “Dismiss on drag”.
Configure Keyboard Dismissal
This can be helpful if you’d like the keyboard to automatically hide itself when the user scrolls the table view.

Set constraints, increase prototype cells count

Use the document outline to set constraints. With the attributes inspector selected in the utilities pane, select “Dynamic Prototypes” for the Content property, and set the Prototype Count property to 1 (or more, depending on your needs).
Set Constraints and Prototype Cells
Configuring constraints on the table view will ensure that it displays properly on all device sizes and orientations.

In this particular example, there’s only one kind of prototype cell that I want the table view to display. If I had multiple prototypes, I’d increase the prototype cells count to match the number of prototypes I had.

Drag text field to cell, increase text field width

Drag a text field into the cell’s contents and use XCode’s blue guides to adjust the width so that it takes up the whole cell.
Drag Text Field to Cell
Now comes the customization of the prototype cell itself. Since we’re designing it for text input, we’ll use a text field as the contents of the table view cell prototype.

Configure Text Field Constraints and Border

Use the document outline to set constraints for the text field. With the text field selected, and the attributes inspector selected in the utilities pane, set the Border Style property to the style you prefer.
Configure Text Field Constraints and Border
Configuring constraints on the text field will ensure that it displays properly on all device sizes and orientations.

Depending on your taste / needs, you can change the border style from rounded to none, or whichever other border style is most appealing for your app.

Create new TextInputTableViewCell class

Add a new .swift file named TextInputTableViewCell to your project. Create a new class in that file called TextInputTableViewCell which inherits from UITableViewCell.
Create new class - TextInputTableViewCell

Create an IBOutlet between the text field and the TextInputTableViewCell class

Use the document outline to Control + Click + Drag and IBOutlet to the TextInputTableViewCell class.
Create IBOutlet

Implement TextInputTableViewCell class

An example implementation with a function for configuring the text field’s properties might look something like this:

Change cell class in Storyboard to TextInputTableViewCell

Use the document outline to select the Table View Cell. With the identity inspector selected in the utilities pane, change the Class property to your TextInputTableViewCell class.
Change Cell Class to TextInputCell

Set reuse identifier

With the Table View Cell still selected in the document outline, select the attribute inspector in the utilities pane and change the Identifier property to “TextInputCell” (or some other string that’s easily remembered).
Set Reuse Identifier

Implement table view data source and delegate methods

In the View Controller, specify that it adopts the UITableViewDataSource and UITableViewDelegate protocols. Implement the appropriate protocol methods.
I’ve written a cheat sheet for this, but I’ll also provide the following sample implementation of the mai ViewController class:

Lines 9 and 11 are of most importance. Notice that I’m dequeueing a TextInputCell, which is what I set the reuse identifier of my cell to be. I’m also casting the dequeued cell as a TextInputTableViewCell so that it can be configured (line 11)

Run in simulator

Simulator Output

Wrapping up

In this walkthrough, my goal was to show how to take advantage of a table view’s inherent styles, scrolling capabilities, and keyboard handling to make form-like text input easier. We created a custom subclass of UITableViewCell to accomplish this task. Take a look at the example published to GitHub to dive in further and explore the walkthrough in more depth.