iOS Best Practices

When developing iOS projects with Liferay Screens, there are a few best practices that you should follow to ensure your code is as clean and bug-free as possible. This tutorial lists these. Note that this tutorial doesn’t cover Swift coding conventions for contributing to the Liferay Screens project on GitHub. Click here to see these.

Naming Conventions

Using the naming conventions described here leads to consistency and a better understanding of the Screens library. This makes working with your Screenlets much simpler.

Screenlet Folder

Your Screenlet folder’s name should indicate your Screenlet’s functionality. For example, Login Screenlet’s folder is named LoginScreenlet.

If you have multiple Screenlets that operate on the same entity, you can place them inside a folder named for that entity. For example, Asset Display Screenlet and Asset List Screenlet both work with Liferay assets. They’re therefore in the Screens library’s Asset folder.

Screenlets

Naming Screenlets properly is very important; they’re the main focus of Liferay Screens. Your Screenlet should be named with its principal action first, followed by Screenlet. Its Screenlet class should also follow this pattern. For example, Login Screenlet’s principal action is to log users into a Liferay instance. Its Screenlet class is LoginScreenlet.

View Models

You should place View Models in your Screenlet’s root folder and name them after your Screenlet. For example, Forgot Password Screenlet’s View Model is in the ForgotPasswordScreenlet folder and is named ForgotPasswordViewModel.

Interactors

You should place your Screenlet’s Interactors in a folder named Interactors in your Screenlet’s root folder. You should name each Interactor with its action first, followed by Interactor. For example, Rating Screenlet has three Interactors in its Interactors folder:

  • DeleteRatingInteractor: Deletes an asset’s ratings
  • LoadRatingsInteractor: Loads an asset’s ratings
  • UpdateRatingInteractor: Updates an asset’s ratings

Connectors

Name your Connectors with the same naming conventions as Interactors, replacing Interactor with Connector. If your Connector calls a Liferay service, precede Connector with Liferay. For example, the Connector CommentAddLiferayConnector adds comments to an asset in a Liferay instance. A Connector that retrieves a webpage’s title from any URL would be called GetWebsiteTitleConnector.

Themes

Place your Screenlet’s Themes in a folder named Themes in your Screenlet’s root folder. If you’re creating a group of similarly styled Themes for multiple Screenlets, however, then you can place them in a separate Themes folder outside of your Screenlets’ root folders. This is what the Screens Library does for its Default and Flat7 Themes. The Default and Flat7 folders each contain similarly styled Themes for several Screenlets. Also note that each Screenlet’s Theme is in its own folder. For example, Forgot Password Screenlet’s Default Theme is in the folder Themes/Default/Auth/ForgotPasswordScreenlet. Note that the Auth folder is the Screenlet’s module. Creating your Screenlets and Themes in modules isn’t required.

Recall that a Theme consists of an XIB file and a View class. Name these after your Screenlet, but with View instead of Screenlet. The filenames should also be suffixed with _yourThemeName. For example, the XIB file and View class for Forgot Password Screenlet’s Default theme are ForgotPasswordView_default.xib and ForgotPasswordView_default.swift, respectively.

Avoid Hardcoded Elements

Using constants instead of hard coded elements is a simple way to avoid bugs. Constants reduce the likelihood that you’ll make a typo when referring to common elements. They also gather these elements in a single location. For example, when you add an action to your Screenlet, each Screenlet action used as a restorationIdentifier in the View class is defined as a constant in the Screenlet class. The Screenlet class’s createInteractor method then uses the constants to distinguish between the actions. If you instead typed each action manually in both places, a typo could break your Screenlet and would be difficult to track down. Defining the actions in one place via constants avoids this potentially maddening complication.

Screenlet attributes, like those listed in each Screenlet’s reference documentation, are another good example of this. Although you can set these directly in Interface Builder, it’s better to set them via constants in a plist file. This puts all your Screenlets’ attributes in a single location that is also subject to version control. For instructions on setting attributes in a plist file, see the Configuring Communication with Liferay section of the tutorial on preparing iOS projects for Liferay Screens.

To retrieve these values in your code, you can use the following LiferayServerContext methods:

  • propertyForKey: Get a property as an AnyObject
  • numberPropertyForKey: Get a property as an NSNumber.
  • longPropertyForKey: Get a property as an Int64.
  • intPropertyForKey: Get a property as an Int.
  • booleanPropertyForKey: Get a property as a Bool.
  • datePropertyForKey: Get a property as an NSDate.
  • stringPropertyForKey: Get a property as a String.

For example, the following code retrieves the galleryFolderId value and sets it to Image Gallery Screenlet’s folderId attribute:

@IBOutlet weak var imageGalleryScreenlet: ImageGalleryScreenlet? {
    didSet {
        imageGalleryScreenlet?.delegate = self
        imageGalleryScreenlet?.presentingViewController = self

        imageGalleryScreenlet?.repositoryId = LiferayServerContext.groupId
        imageGalleryScreenlet?.folderId = LiferayServerContext.longPropertyForKey("galleryFolderId")
    }
}

Stay in Your Layer

When accessing variables that belong to other Screenlet components, you should avoid those outside your current Screenlet layer. This achieves better decoupling between the layers, which tends to reduce bugs and simplify maintenance. For an explanation of the layers in Liferay Screens, see the architecture tutorial. For example, you shouldn’t directly access View variables from an Interactor. This Interactor’s start method gets a View instance and accesses its title variable:

public class MyInteractor: Interactor {
    override func start() -> Bool {
        if let view = self.screenlet.screenletView as? MyView {
            let title = view.title
            ...
        }
    }
}

Instead, you should pass the variable to the Interactor’s initializer. The Interactor now contains its own title variable, set in its initializer:

public class MyInteractor: Interactor {

    public let title: String

    //MARK: Initializer

    public init(screenlet: BaseScreenlet, title: String) {
        self.title = title
        super.init(screenlet: screenlet)
    }
}

The Screenlet class’s createInteractor method calls this initializer when creating an instance of the Interactor. Also note that the Screenlet’s View Model is used to retrieve the View’s title. As explained in the tutorial Supporting Multiple Themes in Your Screenlet, a View Model serves as an abstraction layer for your View, which lets you use different Themes with a Screenlet:

public class MyScreenlet: BaseScreenlet {
    ...
    override public func createInteractor(name name: String, sender: AnyObject?) -> Interactor? {
        let interactor = MyInteractor(self, title: viewModel.title)
        ...
    }
    ...
}

There are, however, a few places where you can break this rule (otherwise it wouldn’t be possible for layers to interact):

  • The Screenlet class’s createInteractor method. To get the user’s input, this method must access the View’s computed properties.

  • The Interactor’s onSuccess closure in the Screenlet class. Here, you must retrieve the Interactor’s result object.

  • When using a Connector, the Interactor’s completedConnector method. In this method, you must retrieve the Connector’s result object.

  • The Screenlet class’s View Model references. This is required for the Screenlet to communicate with the View.

Creating iOS Screenlets

Creating iOS List Screenlets

Creating iOS Themes

Supporting Multiple Themes in Your Screenlet

Adding Screenlet Actions

Create and Use a Connector with Your Screenlet

Architecture of Liferay Screens for iOS

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