SwiftUI AnyLayout - smooth transitions between layout types

⋅ 3 min read ⋅ SwiftUI WWDC22 iOS 16 Layout

Table of Contents

In iOS 16, SwiftUI got a new tool, AnyLayout, that makes it possible to transition between layouts (Layout) while maintaining the identity of the views.

Here is an example of a transition between HStack and VStack with the help of AnyLayout.

Transition between HStack and VStack.
Transition between HStack and VStack.

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Switch between layouts before iOS 16

First, let's see the behavior before we get AnyLayout.

Prior to iOS 16, when we want to switch between different layouts, we have to depend on the if statement.

Here is an example where we toggle between HStack and VStack.

// 1
@State var isHorizontal = false

var body: some View {
VStack {
if isHorizontal {
HStack {
Text("One")
Text("Two")
Text("Three")
}
} else {
VStack {
Text("One")
Text("Two")
Text("Three")
}
}
Button("Toggle") {
withAnimation {
// 3
isHorizontal.toggle()
}
}
}
.font(.largeTitle)
}

1 We declare @State variable, isHorizontal, to control the layout we want to use.
2 We use isHorizontal to choose the layout.
3 We add a button that toggle isHorizontal value.

SwiftUI sees switching layouts like this as a removing and adding a new layout.

You will see fading transition as a result.

SwiftUI sees switching layout with if-else as replacing the old layout with the new one.
SwiftUI sees switching layout with if-else as replacing the old layout with the new one.

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What is AnyLayout

AnyLayout introduced for smoothening the transition between layouts.

It is a type-erased instance of the Layout protocol. Using an AnyLayout instance allows us to change layout types without destroying the state of the underlying subviews.

Because the identity of the view hierarchy always remains the same, SwiftUI sees this as a view that changes, not a new view like if-else.

Here is the same example in the previous section, but this time, we use AnyLayout.

@State var isHorizontal = false

var body: some View {
// 1
let layout = isHorizontal ? AnyLayout(HStackLayout())
: AnyLayout(VStackLayout())

VStack {
// 2
layout {
Text("One")
Text("Two")
Text("Three")
}
Button("Toggle") {
withAnimation {
isHorizontal.toggle()
}
}
}
.font(.largeTitle)
}

1 We create type-erased layout (AnyLayout) based on isHorizontal state variable.

2 We use layout in a place of HStack/VStack.

With this simple change, SwiftUI can create a smooth transition between different layout types.

A transition between HStack and VStack using AnyLayout.
A transition between HStack and VStack using AnyLayout.

AnyLayout with a custom Layout

AnyLayout works with any layout conforming to the Layout protocol. This includes a custom layout that you created.

Here is an example of using AnyLayout with my custom layout created in the previous article, Custom Layout in SwiftUI.

@State var isHorizontal = false

var body: some View {
let layout = isHorizontal ? AnyLayout(HStackLayout())
: AnyLayout(BackslashStack())

VStack {
layout {
Text("One")
Text("Two")
Text("Three")
}
Button("Toggle") {
withAnimation {
isHorizontal.toggle()
}
}
}
.font(.largeTitle)
}

Here we switch between HStackLayout and BackslashStack.

AnyLayout also works with a custom layout.
AnyLayout also works with a custom layout.

Read more article about SwiftUI, WWDC22, iOS 16, Layout, or see all available topic

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