Home > Store

iOS Auto Layout Demystified

Register your product to gain access to bonus material or receive a coupon.

iOS Auto Layout Demystified

eBook (Watermarked)

  • Sorry, this book is no longer in print.
  • Includes EPUB and PDF
  • About eBook Formats
  • This eBook includes the following formats, accessible from your Account page after purchase:

    ePub EPUB The open industry format known for its reflowable content and usability on supported mobile devices.

    Adobe Reader PDF The popular standard, used most often with the free Adobe® Reader® software.

    This eBook requires no passwords or activation to read. We customize your eBook by discreetly watermarking it with your name, making it uniquely yours.

Not for Sale


  • Copyright 2013
  • Dimensions: 7" x 9"
  • Edition: 1st
  • eBook (Watermarked)
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-344065-6
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-344065-2

Auto Layout re-imagines the way developers create user interfaces. It provides a flexible and powerful system that describes how views and their content relate to each other and to the windows and superviews they occupy. In contrast to older design approaches, this technology offers incredible control over layout with a wider range of customization than frames, springs, and struts can express.

In this guide, Erica Sadun, bestselling author of The Core iOS 6 Developer's Cookbook and The Advanced iOS 6 Developer's Cookbook, helps readers learn how to use Auto Layout effectively, even masterfully, by providing an abundance of examples alongside plenty of explanations and tips. Instead of struggling with class documentation, you learn in simple steps how the system works and why it’s far more powerful than you first imagined. You read about common design scenarios and discover best practices that make Auto Layout a pleasure rather than a chore to use. Sadun includes examples of non-obvious ways to use Auto Layout to build interactive elements, animations, and other features beyond what you might normally lay out in Interface Builder to help expand the reader’s design possibilities. With this book you will learn

  • The basic concepts that form the foundation of Auto Layout
  • How to create clear and satisfiable rules of your layout, called constraints
  • How to work effectively with the Interface Builder Layout
  • What visual constraints look like, how to work with them, and how they are used in your projects
  • How to debug constraints
  • How to design interfaces when working with Auto Layout
  • Effective solutions to the most common real-world problems and challenges

Approximately 238 pages.

For related content by author Erica Sadun, see The Core iOS 6 Developer’s Cookbook, and The Advanced iOS 6 Developer’s Cookbook.

Sample Content

Online Sample Chapter

Introducing iOS Auto Layout

Sample Pages

Download the sample pages (includes Chapter 1)

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Introducing Auto Layout

Saying “No” to Auto Layout

Saying “Yes” to Auto Layout

             Visual Relationships

             Content-Driven Layout

             Prioritizing Rules

             Auto Layout Strengths




Constraint Attributes

Missing Views

             Underconstrained Missing Views

             Missing Views with Inconsistent Rules

             Tracking Missing Views

Ambiguous Layout

             Exercising Ambiguity

             Visualizing Constraints

Intrinsic Content Size

Compression Resistance and Content Hugging

Auto Layout and Frames

             Visualizing Alignment Rectangles

             Image Alignment Insets

             Declaring Alignment Rectangles

             Implementing Alignment Rectangles


Chapter 2: Constraints

Constraint Types


             Conflicting Priorities

             Enumerated Priorities

Content Size Constraints

             Content Hugging

             Compression Resistance

             Setting Content Size Constraints

Layout Constraints

             Constraint Math

The Layout Constraint Class

             First and Second Items

Creating Layout Constraints

Using NSLayoutConstraint

             Unary Constraints

             Zero-Item Constraints

View Items

Constraints, Hierarchies, and Bounds Systems

Installing Constraints

Removing Constraints

Comparing Constraints

             Using Matched Constraints

Laws of Layout Constraints


Chapter 3: Interface Builder Layout

Constraints in Interface Builder

             What’s What in the IB Editor

             Beginning Constraints

Constraint Listings

             Constraint Colors

             Constraint Icons

             Constraint Listings and Xcode Labels

             Adding Xcode Identities

Selecting Constraints

Inspecting Constraints

             The Constraint Attributes Inspector

View Size Inspector

             Frame and Layout Rectangles

             Constraint Options

Adding User Constraints

             Including Your Own Constraints

             Conflicting Constraints

Building New Constraints

The Missing Views Problem

Balancing Requests

             Balancing Constraint Priorities

Constraints and Outlets

Hybrid Layout

             Building a NIB File for Testing

             Adding the NIB File in Code

             Advantages of Hybrid Layout

Constraints/Resizing Pop-Up Menu


Chapter 4: Visual Formats

Introducing Visual Format Constraints



             Combining Options

             Skipping Options

Variable Bindings

             The Problem with Indirection

             Indirection Workaround


             Real-World Metrics

Format String Structure


             Retrieving Constraints by Axis

View Names



             Empty Connections

             Standard Spacers

             Numeric Spacers

             Referencing the Superview

             Spacing from the Superview

             Flexible Spaces


             Negative Numbers


             Multiple Views

View Sizes

Format String Components

Getting It Wrong

NSLog and Visual Formats

Constraining to a Superview

View Stretching

Constraining Size

Building Rows or Columns

Matching Sizes

Why You Cannot Distribute Views

             How to Pseudo-Distribute Views (Part 1: Equal Centers)

             Pseudo-Distributing Views (Part 2: Spacer Views)


Chapter 5: Debugging Constraints

Reading Console Logs

             Example: Autosizing Issues

             Solution: Switch Off Autosizing Translation

             Example: Auto Layout Conflicts

             Solution: Adjusting Priorities

             The Nuclear Approach

             The Balance Approach

             Tracing Ambiguity

Examining Constraint Logs

             Example: Alignment Constraint

             Example: Standard Spacers

             Example: Equation-Based Constraint

             Example: Complex Equation

             Example: The Multiplier and Constant

A Note about Layout Math

Constraint Equation Strings

Adding Names

             Using Nametags

             Naming Views

Describing Views

Example: Unexpected Padding

Example: The Hugged Image

Example: View Centering

             Retrieving Referencing Constraints

Descent Reports

Example: Ambiguity

Example: Expanding on Console Dumps

Visualizing Constraints

             Automating Visualization

Launch Arguments


             Doubled Strings

             Flipped Interfaces (OS X)

             Flipped Interfaces (iOS)

Profiling Cocoa Layout

Auto Layout Rules of Debugging


Chapter 6: Building with Auto Layout

Basic Principles of Auto Layout

Layout Libraries

Planning Interfaces

Building for Modularity

Updating Constraints

             Calling Updates and Animating Changes

             Animating Constraint Changes on OS X

             Fading Changes

Handling Orientation-Specific Text Layout

Designing for Edge Conditions

Building a View Drawer

             Building the Drawer Layout

             Managing Layout for Dragged Views

             Dragged Views

Window Boundaries


Chapter 7: Layout Solutions

Table Cells

Preserving Image Aspect

Accordion Sizing

Auto Layout

             Building a Paged Image Scroll View

             Inherent Drawbacks

Centering View Groups

Custom Multipliers and Random Positions

Building Grids

Constraint Animation on Steroids



Submit Errata

More Information

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020