Storyboarding is an exciting new feature in iOS 5 that will save you a lot of time building user interfaces for your apps. To show you what a storyboard is, I’ll let a picture do the talking. This is the storyboard that we will be building in this tutorial:
You may not know exactly yet what the app does but you can clearly see which screens it has and how they are related. That is the power of using storyboards.
If you have an app with many different screens then storyboards can help reduce the amount of glue code you have to write to go from one screen to the next. Instead of using a separate nib file for each view controller, your app uses a single storyboard that contains the designs of all of these view controllers and the relationships between them.
Storyboards have a number of advantages over regular nibs:
- With a storyboard you have a better conceptual overview of all the screens in your app and the connections between them. It’s easier to keep track of everything because the entire design is in a single file, rather than spread out over many separate nibs.
- The storyboard describes the transitions between the various screens. These transitions are called “segues” and you create them by simply ctrl-dragging from one view controller to the next. Thanks to segues you need less code to take care of your UI.
- Storyboards make working with table views a lot easier with the new prototype cells and static cells features. You can design your table views almost completely in the storyboard editor, something else that cuts down on the amount of code you have to write.
Not everything is perfect, of course, and storyboards do have some limitations. The Storyboard Editor isn’t as powerful as Interface Builder yet, there are a few things IB can do that the Storyboard Editor unfortunately can’t. You also need a big monitor, especially when you write iPad apps!
If you’re the type who hates Interface Builder and who really wants to create his entire UI programmatically, then storyboards are probably not for you. Personally, I prefer to write as little code as possible — especially UI code! — so this tool is a welcome addition to my arsenal.
You can still use nibs with iOS 5 and Xcode 4.2. Using Interface Builder isn’t suddenly frowned upon now that we have storyboards. If you want to keep using nibs then go right ahead, but know that you can combine storyboards with nibs. It’s not an either-or situation.
In this tutorial we’ll take a look at what you can do with storyboards. The app we’re going to build is a bit pointless but it does show how to perform the most common tasks that you will be using storyboards for.