Holy cow – You can preview UIKit code live in Xcode!

Now that SwiftUI is feeling more and more established since WWDC 2020, I’m in the process of getting properly acquainted with it. In my exploring I discovered something actually more relevant to UIKit that blew me away. (and it’s been around since 2019!)

So you can use SwiftUI code to preview UIKit objects live – UIViewControllers or UIViews – from within Xcode 😲, in the canvas.

Here’s how – first UIViewController:

Let’s say you have a UIViewController subclass ViewController.

  • Step 1: In the Storyboard (let’s assume Main) give your view controller a storyboard ID. Let’s say ‘ViewController’.
  • Step 2: Head over to your ViewController.swift file. Make the ViewController class final:
final class ViewController: UIViewController {
  • Step 3: Import SwiftUI:
import SwiftUI
  • Step 4: Again, in your ViewController.swift file, create an extension for ViewController, implementing the  UIViewControllerRepresentable protocol, with its two required functions:
extension TermsViewController: UIViewControllerRepresentable {
    func makeUIViewController(context: Context) -> ViewController {
    func updateUIViewController(_ uiViewController: ViewController, context: Context) {

We can ignore the updateUIViewController function as this is used by a SwiftUI parent to update the model data of the view controller.

  • Step 5: Return our View Controller from the makeUIViewController function. We can do this with the UIStoryboard.instantiateViewController function.
func makeUIViewController(context: Context) -> ViewController {
  UIStoryboard(name: "Main", bundle: nil)
    withIdentifier: "ViewController") as! ViewController
  • Step 6: Set up a preview provider that returns your View Controller as a preview:
struct ViewControllerPreviews: PreviewProvider {
  static var previews: some View {

Just like that, BAM, the canvas appears to the right of the ViewController, and within it, your view controller as it would appear in the simulator. But that’s not all – press the play button to the bottom right of the ViewController, and a live version of your view controller will actually run, right there in a panel next to your code, just as if it were SwiftUI. Holy cow!

Oh – and one more thing – if you want to preview a UIView rather than a UIViewController it’s pretty straightforward – just extend your custom view class with UIViewRepresentable rather than UIViewControllerRepresentable!


iOS development with Swift - book: https://manning.com/books/ios-development-with-swift video course: https://www.manning.com/livevideo/ios-development-with-swift-lv

Tagged with:
Posted in Swift, SwiftUI

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