This episode is freely available thanks to the support of our subscribers

Subscribers get exclusive access to new and all previous subscriber-only episodes, video downloads, and 30% discount for team members. Become a Subscriber

We add a mini player to the MVC variant of the sample app found in our App Architecture book. We adjust our storyboard and discuss how to adapt the architecture.

00:06 We recently launched the early access version of our new book, App Architecture. Today, we'll add a new feature to the example app from the book.

00:24 The app lets us record and play back voice memos. The recordings are saved in a folder structure, which we can freely organize by creating new folders and subfolders. When we select a recording, it opens in a simple player.

00:58 In the book, we wrote out a simple voice notes app in various architectural patterns, but adding a feature might work differently in each architecture. Today, we're working with the MVC version — the most commonly used architecture in Cocoa — and we'll see what we need to do in order to implement some changes.

01:20 Currently, a selected recording is played by pushing a new play view controller. When we exit this view controller, playback is stopped. It would be nice to add a mini player at the bottom of the screen that keeps playing the selected recording while we browse the folders.

Updating the Storyboard

01:53 The storyboard shows us the overall structure of the app. There's a split view controller at the root, its master is the folder view controller hierarchy, and the detail view controller is the player:

02:21 For the new version, we want to wrap this entire split view controller in a new container, which will be displayed at the top of the screen. At the bottom, we'll have another container holding the mini player. As a first step before updating our code, we're going to draw out these changes in the storyboard.

02:54 We add a new view controller with two container views: a large one on top, and a smaller one for the mini player at the bottom. Using layout constraints, we pin the container views to the superview's edges, we add a vertical constraint between the two, and we give the player's container a fixed height.

04:22 We mark the new view controller as the initial controller, and we pick the split view controller as content for the large container view. When we try to run this, we get a crash because the app delegate still expects the root view controller to be a split view controller:

func application(_ application: UIApplication, didFinishLaunchingWithOptions launchOptions: [UIApplicationLaunchOptionsKey: Any]?) -> Bool {
    let splitViewController = window!.rootViewController as! UISplitViewController
    splitViewController.delegate = self
    splitViewController.preferredDisplayMode = .allVisible
    return true

05:25 This is an easy fix: we add a new view controller subclass to our app and move the code that configures the split view controller into it. Because we embedded the split view controller in the container view, we can pick it from the childViewControllers property:

import UIKit

class PlayViewContainerViewController: UIViewController {
    override func viewDidLoad() {

        let splitViewController = childViewControllers[0] as! UISplitViewController
        splitViewController.delegate = self
        splitViewController.preferredDisplayMode = .allVisible

06:51 We also move the conformance to UISplitViewControllerDelegate, and we move the used delegate method into our new view controller:

import UIKit

class PlayViewContainerViewController: UIViewController, UISplitViewControllerDelegate {
    override func viewDidLoad() {/*...*/}

    func splitViewController(_ splitViewController: UISplitViewController, collapseSecondary secondaryViewController: UIViewController, onto primaryViewController: UIViewController) -> Bool {/*...*/}

06:57 We update the type of the root view controller in our storyboard, run the app, and see that everything works the same way as before, with the addition of a blank space where the mini player will go.

07:31 As a side note, we should mention that the sample app also supports iPad — hence the use of a split view controller. We are ignoring this fact in today's episode and instead focusing on the layout on iPhone.

Embedding the Player

07:50 The next step is to present the play view controller modally instead of pushing it onto the navigation stack. Back in the storyboard, the player is opened via a segue. We change this segue's kind from "Show Detail" to "Present Modally." This makes the player show up from the bottom of the screen.

08:37 We need a second player to go into the empty spot of our root view controller. We duplicate the play view controller in the storyboard, removing some of the subviews not needed for the mini player, like the text field and the label for the name of the selected recording.

10:46 Running the app, we now see the mini player embedded at the bottom of the screen, even though it doesn't yet do anything:

11:00 When we select a recording, we notice we're missing a button to dismiss the modal view controller. We have to add a bar button and use an unwind segue to go back to the folder view controller:

class FolderViewController: UIViewController {
    // ...
    @IBAction func unwindToFolderViewController(segue: UIStoryboardSegue) {

12:33 Now we can open a recording and tap "Done" to close it again.

Making the Mini Player Work

12:40 With these changes in place, we've constructed the new layout of our app and we're ready to update our code and make the mini player actually work. To figure out what needs to be done, we take a more detailed look at the MVC architecture of the app and how the player is currently implemented.

13:11 The diagram below shows how MVC generally works. The building blocks are a view, a controller, and a model. The view sends events, like touches or selections, to the controller. The controller can change the model and observe the model's changes in order to update the view. Ideally, all event loops follow exactly this pattern:

13:47 Let's consider a practical example from our app. When the user deletes a folder in the table view, an action is called on the folder view controller. The view controller then actually removes the folder from the model (in this case, a global object called Store). The folder view controller is then notified of this change to the store, and it updates the table view. This is exactly in line with the MVC diagram from above:

14:23 However, our app has multiple folder view controllers to support the nested folders. This means our architecture actually looks like this:

14:31 All folder view controllers talk to the same Store instance, which is a singleton. This way, the view controllers can indirectly communicate with each other through the model layer. So, for example, when we delete a folder in one folder view controller, the change can be picked up by all the other folder view controllers as well.

15:26 The PlayViewController should follow a similar pattern, with a Player as its model. But when we duplicated the view controller in the storyboard, we ended up with this situation:

15:48 The play view controller currently owns its player, which means we get a new player with each play view controller. Because we don't want to manually sync multiple players, we should change the structure of our app so that there's only one player. With a single shared player, we have a mechanism through which play view controllers communicate with each other — not directly, but via the same player instance:

This way, if we scrub through the timeline on the modal player, then the mini play view controller knows to update its views too, since it's observing the same player.

Planning the Updates

16:55 There's a bit of work ahead of us to make a single, shared player. We'll need to extract the player code and create a shared instance somewhere. When a play view controller appears, we need to populate it with the player's current information. And the view controller needs to observe the player in order to stay in sync.

17:22 Quickly glancing over the PlayViewController source, we see that the code dealing with the player and the UI is all entangled. The UI code has to stay in the view controller, but all player logic should be extracted and moved into the model layer of our app; the shared player shouldn't know anything about UI.

18:38 How exactly we make the described changes is dictated by the app's architecture. In the book App Architecture, we look at how this app's implementation is very different in various architectures like Elm and MVVM-C. In next week's episode, we'll continue to look at the MVC implementation.

Recent Episodes

See All

Unlock Full Access

Subscribe to Swift Talk

  • Watch All Episodes

    A new episode every week

  • icon-benefit-download Created with Sketch.

    Download Episodes

    Take Swift Talk with you when you're offline

  • Support Us

    With your help we can keep producing new episodes