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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Creating a custom Table View Cell programmatically

Ohhk, quite a lot of things done but this one is something which I have used most often. Custom cells can sometimes greatly push ahead the usability of your application. In this post I am going to create a test project which will demonstrate how to create custom cells and use them appropriately to provide better usability. The application will finally look like this:

So to start open xcode and create a new project, chose the template as “Navigation Based” and name it as “CustomCellTestProject”. What template you chose does not matter, refer my previous posts to find how you can start working on any template.
First thing we will do is create a customCell. Right click on Classes and add a new UITableViewCell subclass. Name it as “CustomCell”. Now open CustomCell.h and add the following code:


@interface CustomCell : UITableViewCell {

UILabel *primaryLabel;

UILabel *secondaryLabel;

UIImageView *myImageView;


@property(nonatomic,retain)UILabel *primaryLabel;

@property(nonatomic,retain)UILabel *secondaryLabel;

@property(nonatomic,retain)UIImageView *myImageView;


We create the three elements and added them to the contentView of our cell.
synthesize all the three elements in CustomCell.m as we are going to access these elements from other classes.

@synthesize primaryLabel,secondaryLabel,myImageView;

Here we have simply added a primary label to display the primary text, a secondary label and an imageView. These elements will be created and added into the content view of our custom cell. So open CustomCell.m and add the following code

- (id)initWithFrame:(CGRect)frame reuseIdentifier:(NSString *)reuseIdentifier {

if (self = [super initWithFrame:frame reuseIdentifier:reuseIdentifier]) {

// Initialization code

primaryLabel = [[UILabel alloc]init];

primaryLabel.textAlignment = UITextAlignmentLeft;

primaryLabel.font = [UIFont systemFontOfSize:14];

secondaryLabel = [[UILabel alloc]init];

secondaryLabel.textAlignment = UITextAlignmentLeft;

secondaryLabel.font = [UIFont systemFontOfSize:8];

myImageView = [[UIImageView alloc]init];

[self.contentView addSubview:primaryLabel];

[self.contentView addSubview:secondaryLabel];

[self.contentView addSubview:myImageView];


return self;


Now, we have already added the UI elements into our cell but you must have noticed, we have not yet defined how these elements will appear inside cell. Go ahead and add the following code for that:

- (void)layoutSubviews {

[super layoutSubviews];

CGRect contentRect = self.contentView.bounds;

CGFloat boundsX = contentRect.origin.x;

CGRect frame;

frame= CGRectMake(boundsX+10 ,0, 50, 50);

myImageView.frame = frame;

frame= CGRectMake(boundsX+70 ,5, 200, 25);

primaryLabel.frame = frame;

frame= CGRectMake(boundsX+70 ,30, 100, 15);

secondaryLabel.frame = frame;


You can do anything in this method to define the lay out of cell. I have simply assigned frames to all the elements.
You can also find a method in CustomCell.m

- (void)setSelected:(BOOL)selected animated:(BOOL)animated {

[super setSelected:selected animated:animated];

// Configure the view for the selected state


This method can be used to define how your cell should react when it is selected. You can describe what should be the highlight color or may be you want to flash one of the labels anything of your choice. I am leaving this method as it is.
We are done with creating our custom cell and now we have to use it. Open RootViewController.m and import CustomCell.h at the top.

#import “CustomCell.h”

I am going to create 5 cells here, you can just use your own logic of specifying number of cells and data. So change the following method to look like this:

- (NSInteger)tableView:(UITableView *)tableView numberOfRowsInSection:(NSInteger)section {

return 5;


Now we are going to use our custom cell. If you look at the cellForRow method, you will find that a UItableViewCell has been created and re used. Now all we have to do is to replace this cell with our new cell. Change the code inside this method to look like this:

- (UITableViewCell *)tableView:(UITableView *)tableView cellForRowAtIndexPath:(NSIndexPath *)indexPath {

static NSString *CellIdentifier = @”Cell”;

CustomCell *cell = [tableView dequeueReusableCellWithIdentifier:CellIdentifier];

if (cell == nil) {

cell = [[[CustomCell alloc] initWithFrame:CGRectZero reuseIdentifier:CellIdentifier] autorelease];


// Set up the cell…

switch (indexPath.row) {

case 0:

cell.primaryLabel.text = @"Meeting on iPhone Development";

cell.secondaryLabel.text = @"Sat 10:30";

cell.myImageView.image = [UIImage imageNamed:@"meeting_color.png"];


case 1:

cell.primaryLabel.text = @"Call With Client";

cell.secondaryLabel.text = @"Planned";

cell.myImageView.image = [UIImage imageNamed:@"call_color.png"];


case 2:

cell.primaryLabel.text = @"Appointment with Joey";

cell.secondaryLabel.text = @"2 Hours";

cell.myImageView.image = [UIImage imageNamed:@"calendar_color.png"];


case 3:

cell.primaryLabel.text = @"Call With Client";

cell.secondaryLabel.text = @"Planned";

cell.myImageView.image = [UIImage imageNamed:@"call_color.png"];


case 4:

cell.primaryLabel.text = @"Appointment with Joey";

cell.secondaryLabel.text = @"2 Hours";

cell.myImageView.image = [UIImage imageNamed:@"calendar_color.png"];





return cell;


I have added some dummy data. You can use your data source to provide data for primaryLabel and secondaryLabel. Please note that I have used three images here. You can use any image of your choice. All you need to to do is copy the images and paste it into your project root folder (which in this case is CustomCellTestProject folder). After pasting the files, in xcode right click on Resources (or any group), select Add >> ExistingFiles and then select all the images you want to add in you project. Once added you can simply use them by their names.
Thats it, go ahead and run the project. You will find something wrong when you compare you simulator screen with mine. If you noticed in the CustomCell.m, I have given some frames to the UI elements. You need to make sure that the height of your cell large enough to accomodate all the elements. So add this following code and you fixed the issue:

- (CGFloat)tableView:(UITableView *)tableView heightForRowAtIndexPath:(NSIndexPath *)indexPath


return 50;


this is not my post the original post is here



Roland Yau said...

wow...fantastic post! Thanks a lot.

Pierre Abi-aad said...

switch(index.section) no?
Thanks :)

andoni said...


Loda said...

" CGRect contentRect = self.contentView.bounds;

CGFloat boundsX = contentRect.origin.x;

please note that:
bounds.origin.x will always be 0 by definition.

Anonymous said...

You have used a Grouped style or Plain for this table view?
Thank you a lot for this tutorial.

Claudiu-Vlad said...

Thank you very much for this tutorial!

Claudiu-Vlad said...

Thank you very much for this tutorial!

Anonymous said...

Awesome!!. Thanks a lot!!
Neat and Clean Post!!

Anonymous said...

yes its nice. but what about changing something when commitEditingStyle?
how to handle this?
using UIViewAutoresizingFlexibleWidth and UIViewContentModeRedraw aint very smooth... any ideas?

Prasad said...

It helps me a lot... .Thank you

Anonymous said...

Doesn't work for me. .The initWithFrame method doesn't get called. I tried the new recommended initWithStyle method but it doesn't work either. Anyone know whats's wrong?

ma zhiguo said...

helps me a loooooot, thnx very much

Anonymous said...

This was extremely helpful, thank you! I love tutorials that don't mandate use of huge libraries.

Anonymous said...

Thanks :-)

Ashish Powani said...

Good example. Was very helpful for a beginner like me.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much.It gives very good clarity.

Anonymous said...