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How to get a Cover Flow effect on iOS

Paul Hudson       @twostraws

You can get an instant Cover Flow effect on iOS by using the marvelous and free iCarousel library. You can download it from https://github.com/nicklockwood/iCarousel and drop it into your Xcode project fairly easily by adding a bridging header (it's written in Objective-C).

If you haven't added Objective-C code to a Swift project before, follow these steps:

  • Download iCarousel and unzip it
  • Go into the folder you unzipped, open its iCarousel subfolder, then select iCarousel.h and iCarousel.m and drag them into your project navigation – that's the left pane in Xcode. Just below Info.plist is fine.
  • Check "Copy items if needed" then click Finish.
  • Xcode will prompt you with the message "Would you like to configure an Objective-C bridging header?" Click "Create Bridging Header"
  • You should see a new file in your project, named YourProjectName-Bridging-Header.h.
  • Add this line to the file: #import "iCarousel.h"

Once you've added iCarousel to your project you can start using it. Make sure you conform to both the iCarouselDelegate and iCarouselDataSource protocols.

Here's a complete, albeit simplified, example:

override func viewDidLoad() {
    super.viewDidLoad()

    let carousel = iCarousel(frame: CGRect(x: 0, y: 0, width: 300, height: 200))
    carousel.dataSource = self
    carousel.type = .coverFlow
    view.addSubview(carousel)

}

func numberOfItems(in carousel: iCarousel) -> Int {
    return 10
}

func carousel(_ carousel: iCarousel, viewForItemAt index: Int, reusing view: UIView?) -> UIView {
    let imageView: UIImageView

    if view != nil {
        imageView = view as! UIImageView
    } else {
        imageView = UIImageView(frame: CGRect(x: 0, y: 0, width: 128, height: 128))
    }

    imageView.image = UIImage(named: "example")

    return imageView
}

That example loads the same image for all 10 carousel slides, so you'll need to change that to load data from your app.

If you have the time, do check out the other carousel types that iCarousel offers – they're quite remarkable!

Available from iOS 5.0

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