macOS Programming Tutorial: Working with Collection View

Welcome to a new macOS tutorial! In previous posts we talked about table views and outline views as means to display collections of data in a structured way. Both present quite common behaviour and they’re close to the way they’re being handled. However, these are not the only Cocoa controls provided for managing collections of data. There’s another one quite important too; the collection view.

If you’re coming to macOS from iOS, then the concept of the collection view is not unknown to you. However, collection views on macOS have one fundamental difference. They do not use cells to present data. What they use is collection view items (NSCollectionViewitem objects). Simply put, items are actually plain NSView objects with some “extras” that make them work with collection views. The way a collection view is handled along with the items though is quite similar to table views, outline views, even collection views on iOS. There are still delegate and datasource methods to implement, there’s still the concept of creating and reusing an item (instead of dequeue it’s called makeItem), number of sections, items per section, and so on.

So, in this post we’re going to meet all that, plus some more common scenarios that interact with collection views. I don’t know if you were expecting to deal with cells once again here, but in my opinion the use of items makes working with collection view easier. In any case, come along in the following parts, and you’ll find both familiar and new stuff to read about!

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