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How to build app Settings page with NavigationView, List, Section & NavigationLink in SwiftUI

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It’s very often that we need to provide a Settings page in our apps, to let users twist with a number of settings including editing their user profile, setting various preferences and even viewing some additional reports etc.

Usually, when building a menu for the Settings page with UIKit, we’ll need to implement a UITableView with a number of sections. Of course, it’s not that straighforward to implement that in UIKit, which you’ll need to implement a number of methods of the UITableViewDataSource protocol including:

  • numberOfSetions
  • numberOfRowsInSection
  • cellForRowAt indexPath
  • titleForHeaderInSection etc
  • Let’s look at how easy to implement it in SwiftUI using a combination of NavigationView, List with Sections & NavigationLink.

    To make it simple, each row of our Settings’ menu consists of only an image from SF Symbol and the title of what’s it about as shown in the image below:

    row of setting page

    Therefore, we need a custom View, a struct of SettingRowView, which lays out the image view and the text view in a HStack as follows:

    struct SettingRowView : View {
        var title : String
        var systemImageName : String
        
        var body : some View {    
            HStack (spacing : 15) {        
                Image(systemName: systemImageName)
                Text (title)
            }
        }
    }
    

    Let’s start coding the menu with a List view embedded inside a NavigationView. And we have a number of sections in our menu with each having one or more items.

    And each row is a NavigationLink, with its destination to an EmptyView for simplicity in our example here (EmptyView is a view that doesn’t contain anything provided by SwiftUI). And the SettingRowView is embedded inside the NavigationLink, as follows:

    NavigationView {
       List {
          // first section 
          Section(header: Text("Account")) { 
              NavigationLink(destination: EmptyView(), label: {
                 SettingRowView(title: "My Account",
                 systemImageName: "person")
              })
          }
    
          // second section
          Section(header: Text("More Features")) { 
               NavigationLink(destination: EmptyView(), label: {
                  SettingRowView(title: "Profit & Loss",
                  systemImageName:"dollarsign.circle")
               })
                     
               NavigationLink(destination: EmptyView(), label: {
                   SettingRowView(title: "Announcement",
                   systemImageName: "newspaper")
               })
               ...
               ...
          }
          // and more sections below ....
       }
       .navigationTitle(Text("Settings"))  
    }

    When it’s run, the result is shown below:

    app settings page - swiftui

    Build your Setting page from a dynamic list to avoid having to hard code massive lines of code!

    To avoid having to hard code the menu in a huge Setting page, we can build a dynamic list by the use of ForEach struct. And we have the menu sections and items stored on a JSON file in Bundle.

    We have the following JSON file stored in main Bundle.

    [{
        "id": 1,
        "name": "Account",
        "items": [
            {
               "id": 1,
               "title": "My Account",
               "imageName": "person",
               "destination": "account"
            }
        ]
    },
    {
        "id": 2,
        "name": "More Features",
        "items": [
            {
               "id": 1,
               "title": "Profit & Loss",
               "imageName": "dollarsign.circle",
               "destination": "profit_lost"
            },
            {
               "id": 2,
               "title": "Announcement",
               "imageName": "newspaper",
               "destination": "announcement"
            }
            ...
            ...
         ]
    }]
    

    The above JSON contains a number of menu sections which each contains one or more menu items and they can be decoded into the following struct, a MenuSection and a MenuItem.

    struct MenuSection : Decodable, Identifiable {
    
        var id : Int
        
        var name : String
        
        var items : [MenuItem]   
    }
    

    struct MenuItem : Decodable , Identifiable , Equatable {
        enum Destination : String, Decodable {
            case account
            
            case announcement
            
            case profit_lost
            
            case stock_alert
        }
    
        var id : Int
        
        var title : String
        
        var imageName : String
        
        var destination : Destination
    }
    

    We can load and decode the JSON file into MenuSection as follows, by using the Bundle.main.decodeJson() extension function introduced in our previous tutorial, as below:

    let menuSections = Bundle.main.decodeJson([MenuSection].self, fileName : "Menus.json")

    So we use ForEach struct to loop over the the decoded array of MenuSection and create the sections. And inside each section, there is another ForEach to create the menu items.

    List {
        ForEach(menuSections) { section in
           Section(header:Text(section.name)){
               ForEach(section.items) { item in
                   NavigationLink(destination: 
                           get(destination: item.destination)) {
                       SettingRowView(title: item.title, 
                            systemImageName: item.imageName)
                   }
               }
           }
        }
    }
    .navigationTitle(Text("Settings"))
    .listStyle(GroupedListStyle())

    In the above List, we use the built-in modifier listStyle() after the navigationTitle(), to give it a “grouped” style of UITableView instead of the default “plain” style.

    Please take note the MenuItem has a destination, which is an enum case, that can be determined by a @ViewBuilder function what the destination of the NavigationLink is.

    And the @ViewBuilder function get(destination:) that returns some View as the destination of the NavigationLink is as follows :

    It basically uses a switch statement to instantiate our custom views based on the destination, which are AccountView, AnnouncementView, ProfitAndLossView and StockAlertView in our example here.

    @ViewBuilder
    private func get( destination : MenuItem.Destination ) -> some View {
         switch (destination){
            case .account :
               AccountView()
            case .announcement :
               AnnouncementView()
            case .profit_lost :
               ProfitAndLossView()
            case .stock_alert :
               StockAlertView()
         }
    }

    The result is as below:

    app-setting page - swiftui - dynamic List

    That’s all for now. The complete source code can be found on GitHub.

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    Posted on February 18, 2021 By Christopher Chee

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