O'Reilly logo

iOS 7 Programming Cookbook by Vandad Nahavandipoor

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

1.21. Adding Buttons to the User Interface with UIButton


You want to display a button on your UI and handle the touch events for that button.


Use the UIButton class.


Buttons allow users to initiate an action in your apps. For instance, the iCloud Settings bundle in the Settings app presents a Delete Account button in Figure 1-57. If you press this button, the iCloud app will take action. The action depends on the app. Not all apps act the same when a Delete button is pressed by the user. Buttons can have images in them as well as text, as we will soon see.

A Delete Account button

Figure 1-57. A Delete Account button

A button can assign actions to different triggers. For instance, a button can fire one action when the user puts her finger down on the button and another action when she lifts her finger off the button. These become actions, and the objects implementing the actions become targets. Let’s go ahead and define a button in our view controller’s implementation file:

#import "ViewController.h"

@interface ViewController ()
@property (nonatomic, strong) UIButton *myButton;

@implementation ViewController


The default height of UIButton is 44.0f points in iOS 7.

Next, we move on to the implementation of the button (Figure 1-58):

- (void) buttonIsPressed:(UIButton *)paramSender{
    NSLog(@"Button is pressed.");

- (void) buttonIsTapped:(UIButton *)paramSender{
    NSLog(@"Button is tapped.");

- (void)viewDidLoad{
    [super viewDidLoad];

    self.myButton = [UIButton buttonWithType:UIButtonTypeSystem];

    self.myButton.frame = CGRectMake(110.0f,

    [self.myButton setTitle:@"Press Me"

    [self.myButton setTitle:@"I'm Pressed"

    [self.myButton addTarget:self

    [self.myButton addTarget:self

    [self.view addSubview:self.myButton];

A system button in the middle of the screen

Figure 1-58. A system button in the middle of the screen

In this example code, we are using the setTitle:forState: method of our button to set two different titles for the button. The title is the text that gets displayed on the button. A button can be in different states at different times—such as normal and highlighted (pressed down)—and can display a different title in each state. So in this case, when the user sees the button for the first time, he will read “Press Me.” Once he presses the button, the title of the button will change to “I’m Pressed.”

We did a similar thing with the actions that the button fires. We used the addTarget:action:forControlEvents: method to specify two actions for our button:

  1. An action to be fired when the user presses the button down.

  2. Another action to be fired when the user has pressed the button and has lifted his finger off the button. This completes a touch-up-inside action.

The other thing that you need to know about UIButton is that it must always be assigned a type, which you do by initializing it with a call to the class method buttonWithType, as shown in the example code. As the parameter to this method, pass a value of type UIButtonType:

typedef NS_ENUM(NSInteger, UIButtonType) {
    UIButtonTypeCustom = 0,
    UIButtonTypeSystem NS_ENUM_AVAILABLE_IOS(7_0),
    UIButtonTypeRoundedRect = UIButtonTypeSystem,

A button can also render an image. An image will replace the default look and feel of the button. When you have an image or a series of images that you want to assign to different states of a button, make sure your button is of type UIButtonTypeCustom. I have prepared two images here: one for the normal state of the button and the other for the highlighted (pressed) state. I will now create my custom button and assign the two images to it.

UIImage *normalImage = [UIImage imageNamed:@"NormalBlueButton"];
UIImage *highlightedImage = [UIImage imageNamed:@"HighlightedBlueButton"];

self.myButton = [UIButton buttonWithType:UIButtonTypeCustom];

self.myButton.frame = CGRectMake(110.0f,

[self.myButton setBackgroundImage:normalImage
[self.myButton setTitle:@"Normal"

[self.myButton setBackgroundImage:highlightedImage
[self.myButton setTitle:@"Pressed"

Figure 1-59 shows what the app looks like when we run it in iOS Simulator. We are using the setBackgroundImage:forState: method of the button to set a background image. With a background image, we can still use the setTitle:forState: methods to render text on top of the background image. If your images contain text and you don’t need the title for a button, you can instead use the setImage:forState: method or simply remove the titles from the button.

A button with a background image

Figure 1-59. A button with a background image

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required