Storyboards Quick Start

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last updated: 2017-03


This article will cover the following topics in detail:

Starting a New Storyboard Based Project

As a quick introduction to using Storyboards to define a Xamarin.Mac app's User Interface, let's start a new Xamarin.Mac project. Select Mac > App > Cocoa App and click the Next button:

Adding a new Cocoa App

Use the App Name of MacStoryboard and click the Next button:

Setting the App Name

Use the default Project Name and Solution Name and click the Create button:

The project and solution names

In the Solution Explorer, double-click the Main.storyboard file to open it for editing in Xcode's Interface Builder:

Editing the storyboard in Xcode

As you can see above, the default Storyboard defines both the app's Menu Bar and its main Window with it View Controller and View. For our sample app, we are going to be creating a UI that has a main Content View on one side and an Inspector View in the second.

To do this, we will need to first remove the default View Controller and View that comes with the Storyboard by select it in Interface Builder and pressing the Delete key:

Removing the default view controller

Next, type split into the Filter area, select the Vertical Split View Controller and drag it onto the Design Surface:

Searching for the split view controller

Notice that the controller automatically included two child View Controllers (and their related views), wired-up to the left and right sides of the split view. To tie the split view to it's parent window, press the Control key, click on the Window Controller (the blue circle in the Window Controller's frame) and drag a line to the Split View Controller. Select window content from the popup:

Setting the windows content view

This will tie the two interface element together using a Segue:

The Segue between the window and the content

We want to place a Text View in the left side of the Split View and have it automatically fill the available area when either the Window or the Split View is resized. Drag a Text View onto the top View Controller attached to the Split View and click the Pin auto layout constraint (the second icon from the right at the bottom of the Design Surface).

Configuring the constraints

From here we will click all four of the I-Beam icons around the bounding box at the top of the Constraints Popover and click the Add 4 Constraints button at the bottom to add the required constraints.

If we return to Xamarin Studio and run the project, notice the the Text View automatically resizes to fill the left side of the Split View as the Window or the split are resized:

An example of the app running

Since we are going to be using the right hand side of the split view as an Inspector area, we want it to have a smaller size and allow it to be collapsed. Return to Xcode and edit the View for the right side by selecting it in the Design Surface and clicking on the Size Inspector. From here enter a Width of 250:

Setting the width

Next select the Split Item that represents the right side, set a higher Holding Priority and click the User Can Collapse checkbox:

Editing the holding priority

If we return to Xamarin Studio and run the project now, notice that the right side keeps it's smaller size and the window is resized:

An example of the app running

Defining a Presentation Segue

We are going to layout the right hand side of the Split View to act as an Inspector for the selected text's properties. We'll drag some controls onto the bottom view to layout the UI of the inspector. For the last control, we want to display a popover that allows the user to select from four preset character styles.

We'll add a Button to the Inspector and a View Controller to the Design Surface. We'll resize the View Controller to be the size that we want our Popover to be and add four Buttons to it. Next we'll Control key-click on the button in the Inspector View and drag to the View Controller that will represent our popover:

Dragging to create a new segue

From the popup menu, we'll select Popover:

Selecting the segue type

Finally, we'll select the Segue in the Design Surface and set the Preferred Edge to Left. Then, we'll drag a line from the Anchor View to the Button that we want the popover to be attached to:

Dragging to create a new segue

If we return to Xamarin Studio, run the app and click on the None button in the Inspector, the popover will be displayed:

An example of the segue running

Creating App Preferences

Most standard macOS apps provide a Preference Dialog that allows the user to define several options that control various aspects of the app such as appearance or user accounts.

To define a standard Preference Dialog Window, first drag a Tab View Controller onto the Design Surface:

Editing the storyboard in Xcode

Again, this will automatically come with two child View Controllers attached. For example sake, we'll add a label to each view that will center inside of it:

Setting the constraints

Next, we want to display the Preferences window when the user selects the Preferences... menu item. From the Menu Bar, select the preferences menu item and Control key-click and drag a line to our Tab View Controller:

Dragging to create a segue

From the popup, we'll select Modal to show this window as a Modal Dialog:

Selecting the segue type

If we save our changes, return to Xamarin Studio, run the app and select the Preferences... menu item, our new Preferences dialog will be displayed:

An example of the segue running

You might notice that this doesn't look like a standard macOS app Preference Dialog Window. To fix this, include two image files in the Xamarin.Mac app's Resources folder in the Solution Explorer and return to Xcode's Interface Builder.

Select the Tab View Controller and switch its Style to Toolbar:

Setting the tab bar style

Select each Tab and give it a Label and select one of the images to represent it:

Configuring each tab in Xcode

If we save our changes, return to Xamarin Studio, run the app and select the Preferences... menu item, the dialog will now be displayed like a standard macOS app:

An example of the running preferences window

For more information, please see our Working with Images, Menus, Windows and Dialogs documentation.

Xamarin Workbook

If it's not already installed, install the Xamarin Workbooks app first. The workbook file should download automatically, but if it doesn't, just click to start the workbook download manually.