ios programmatically autolayout - Using Auto Layout in UITableView for dynamic cell layouts & variable row heights

12 Answers

For IOS8 it's really simple:

override func viewDidLoad() {  

    self.tableView.estimatedRowHeight = 80
    self.tableView.rowHeight = UITableViewAutomaticDimension


func tableView(tableView: UITableView, heightForRowAtIndexPath indexPath: NSIndexPath) -> CGFloat {
    return UITableViewAutomaticDimension

But for IOS7, the key is calculate the height after autolayout,

func calculateHeightForConfiguredSizingCell(cell: GSTableViewCell) -> CGFloat {
    let height = cell.contentView.systemLayoutSizeFittingSize(UILayoutFittingExpandedSize).height + 1.0
    return height


  • If multiple lines labels, don't forget set the numberOfLines to 0.

  • Don't forget label.preferredMaxLayoutWidth = CGRectGetWidth(tableView.bounds)

The full example code is here.

EDIT Swift 4.2 UITableViewAutomaticDimension changed to UITableView.automaticDimension

swift uitableviewcell based

How do you use Auto Layout within UITableViewCells in a table view to let each cell's content and subviews determine the row height (itself/automatically), while maintaining smooth scrolling performance?

I wrapped @smileyborg's iOS7 solution in a category

I decided to wrap this clever solution by @smileyborg into a UICollectionViewCell+AutoLayoutDynamicHeightCalculation category.

The category also rectifies the issues outlined in @wildmonkey's answer (loading a cell from a nib and systemLayoutSizeFittingSize: returning CGRectZero)

It doesn't take into account any caching but suits my needs right now. Feel free to copy, paste and hack at it.


#import <UIKit/UIKit.h>

typedef void (^UICollectionViewCellAutoLayoutRenderBlock)(void);

 *  A category on UICollectionViewCell to aid calculating dynamic heights based on AutoLayout contraints.
 *  Many thanks to @smileyborg and @wildmonkey
 *  @see .com/questions/18746929/using-auto-layout-in-uitableview-for-dynamic-cell-layouts-variable-row-heights
@interface UICollectionViewCell (AutoLayoutDynamicHeightCalculation)

 *  Grab an instance of the receiving type to use in order to calculate AutoLayout contraint driven dynamic height. The method pulls the cell from a nib file and moves any Interface Builder defined contrainsts to the content view.
 *  @param name Name of the nib file.
 *  @return collection view cell for using to calculate content based height
+ (instancetype)heightCalculationCellFromNibWithName:(NSString *)name;

 *  Returns the height of the receiver after rendering with your model data and applying an AutoLayout pass
 *  @param block Render the model data to your UI elements in this block
 *  @return Calculated constraint derived height
- (CGFloat)heightAfterAutoLayoutPassAndRenderingWithBlock:(UICollectionViewCellAutoLayoutRenderBlock)block collectionViewWidth:(CGFloat)width;

 *  Directly calls `heightAfterAutoLayoutPassAndRenderingWithBlock:collectionViewWidth` assuming a collection view width spanning the [UIScreen mainScreen] bounds
- (CGFloat)heightAfterAutoLayoutPassAndRenderingWithBlock:(UICollectionViewCellAutoLayoutRenderBlock)block;



#import "UICollectionViewCell+AutoLayout.h"

@implementation UICollectionViewCell (AutoLayout)

#pragma mark Dummy Cell Generator

+ (instancetype)heightCalculationCellFromNibWithName:(NSString *)name
    UICollectionViewCell *heightCalculationCell = [[[NSBundle mainBundle] loadNibNamed:name owner:self options:nil] lastObject];
    [heightCalculationCell moveInterfaceBuilderLayoutConstraintsToContentView];
    return heightCalculationCell;

#pragma mark Moving Constraints

- (void)moveInterfaceBuilderLayoutConstraintsToContentView
    [self.constraints enumerateObjectsUsingBlock:^(NSLayoutConstraint *constraint, NSUInteger idx, BOOL *stop) {
        [self removeConstraint:constraint];
        id firstItem = constraint.firstItem == self ? self.contentView : constraint.firstItem;
        id secondItem = constraint.secondItem == self ? self.contentView : constraint.secondItem;
        [self.contentView addConstraint:[NSLayoutConstraint constraintWithItem:firstItem

#pragma mark Height

- (CGFloat)heightAfterAutoLayoutPassAndRenderingWithBlock:(UICollectionViewCellAutoLayoutRenderBlock)block
    return [self heightAfterAutoLayoutPassAndRenderingWithBlock:block
                                            collectionViewWidth:CGRectGetWidth([[UIScreen mainScreen] bounds])];

- (CGFloat)heightAfterAutoLayoutPassAndRenderingWithBlock:(UICollectionViewCellAutoLayoutRenderBlock)block collectionViewWidth:(CGFloat)width


    [self setNeedsUpdateConstraints];
    [self updateConstraintsIfNeeded];

    self.bounds = CGRectMake(0.0f, 0.0f, width, CGRectGetHeight(self.bounds));

    [self setNeedsLayout];
    [self layoutIfNeeded];

    CGSize calculatedSize = [self.contentView systemLayoutSizeFittingSize:UILayoutFittingCompressedSize];

    return calculatedSize.height;



Usage example:

- (CGSize)collectionView:(UICollectionView *)collectionView layout:(UICollectionViewLayout *)collectionViewLayout sizeForItemAtIndexPath:(NSIndexPath *)indexPath
    MYSweetCell *cell = [MYSweetCell heightCalculationCellFromNibWithName:NSStringFromClass([MYSweetCell class])];
    CGFloat height = [cell heightAfterAutoLayoutPassAndRenderingWithBlock:^{
        [(id<MYSweetCellRenderProtocol>)cell renderWithModel:someModel];
    return CGSizeMake(CGRectGetWidth(self.collectionView.bounds), height);

Thankfully we won't have to do this jazz in iOS8, but there it is for now!

The solution proposed by @smileyborg is almost perfect. If you have a custom cell and you want one or more UILabel with dynamic heights then the systemLayoutSizeFittingSize method combined with AutoLayout enabled returns a CGSizeZero unless you move all your cell constraints from the cell to its contentView (as suggested by @TomSwift here How to resize superview to fit all subviews with autolayout?).

To do so you need to insert the following code in your custom UITableViewCell implementation (thanks to @Adrian).

- (void)awakeFromNib{
    [super awakeFromNib];
    for (NSLayoutConstraint *cellConstraint in self.constraints) {
        [self removeConstraint:cellConstraint];
        id firstItem = cellConstraint.firstItem == self ? self.contentView : cellConstraint.firstItem;
        id seccondItem = cellConstraint.secondItem == self ? self.contentView : cellConstraint.secondItem;
        NSLayoutConstraint *contentViewConstraint =
        [NSLayoutConstraint constraintWithItem:firstItem
        [self.contentView addConstraint:contentViewConstraint];

Mixing @smileyborg answer with this should works.

As long as your layout in your cell is good.

-(CGFloat)tableView:(UITableView *)tableView heightForRowAtIndexPath:(NSIndexPath *)indexPath {
    UITableViewCell *cell = [self tableView:tableView cellForRowAtIndexPath:indexPath];

    return [cell.contentView systemLayoutSizeFittingSize:UILayoutFittingCompressedSize].height;

Update: You should use dynamic resizing introduced in iOS 8.

To set automatic dimension for row height & estimated row height, ensure following steps to make, auto dimension effective for cell/row height layout.

  • Assign and implement tableview dataSource and delegate
  • Assign UITableViewAutomaticDimension to rowHeight & estimatedRowHeight
  • Implement delegate/dataSource methods (i.e. heightForRowAt and return a value UITableViewAutomaticDimension to it)


Objective C:

// in ViewController.h
#import <UIKit/UIKit.h>

@interface ViewController : UIViewController <UITableViewDelegate, UITableViewDataSource>

  @property IBOutlet UITableView * table;


// in ViewController.m

- (void)viewDidLoad {
    [super viewDidLoad];
    self.table.dataSource = self;
    self.table.delegate = self;

    self.table.rowHeight = UITableViewAutomaticDimension;
    self.table.estimatedRowHeight = UITableViewAutomaticDimension;

-(CGFloat)tableView:(UITableView *)tableView heightForRowAtIndexPath:(NSIndexPath *)indexPath {

    return UITableViewAutomaticDimension;


@IBOutlet weak var table: UITableView!

override func viewDidLoad() {

    // Don't forget to set dataSource and delegate for table
    table.dataSource = self
    table.delegate = self

    // Set automatic dimensions for row height
    // Swift 4.2 onwards
    table.rowHeight = UITableView.automaticDimension
    table.estimatedRowHeight = UITableView.automaticDimension

    // Swift 4.1 and below
    table.rowHeight = UITableViewAutomaticDimension
    table.estimatedRowHeight = UITableViewAutomaticDimension


// UITableViewAutomaticDimension calculates height of label contents/text
func tableView(_ tableView: UITableView, heightForRowAt indexPath: IndexPath) -> CGFloat {
    // Swift 4.2 onwards
    return UITableView.automaticDimension

    // Swift 4.1 and below
    return UITableViewAutomaticDimension

For label instance in UITableviewCell

  • Set number of lines = 0 (& line break mode = truncate tail)
  • Set all constraints (top, bottom, right left) with respect to its superview/ cell container.
  • Optional: Set minimum height for label, if you want minimum vertical area covered by label, even if there is no data.

Note: If you've more than one labels (UIElements) with dynamic length, which should be adjusted according to its content size: Adjust 'Content Hugging and Compression Resistance Priority` for labels which you want to expand/compress with higher priority.

Another "solution": skip all this frustration and use a UIScrollView instead to get a result that looks and feels identical to UITableView.

That was the painful "solution" for me, after having put in literally 20+ very frustrating hours total trying to build something like what smileyborg suggested and failing over many months and three versions of App Store releases.

My take is that if you really need iOS 7 support (for us, it's essential) then the technology is just too brittle and you'll pull your hair out trying. And that UITableView is complete overkill generally unless you're using some of the advanced row editing features and/or really need to support 1000+ "rows" (in our app, it's realistically never more than 20 rows).

The added bonus is that the code gets insanely simple versus all the delegate crap and back and forth that comes with UITableView. It's just one single loop of code in viewOnLoad that looks elegant and is easy to manage.

Here's some tips on how to do it:

1) Using either Storyboard or a nib file, create a ViewController and associated root view.

2) Drag over a UIScrollView onto your root view.

3) Add constraints top, bottom, left and right constraints to the top-level view so the UIScrollView fills the entire root view.

4) Add a UIView inside the UIScrollView and call it "container". Add top, bottom, left and right constraints to the UIScrollView (its parent). KEY TRICK: Also add a "Equal widths" constraints to link the UIScrollView and UIView.

You will get an error "scroll view has ambiguous scrollable content height" and that your container UIView should have a height of 0 pixels. Neither error seems to matter when the app is running.

5) Create nib files and controllers for each of your "cells". Use UIView not UITableViewCell.

5) In your root ViewController, you essentially add all the "rows" to the container UIView and programmatically add constraints linking their left and right edges to the container view, their top edges to either the container view top (for the first item) or the previous cell. Then link the final cell to the container bottom.

For us, each "row" is in a nib file. So the code looks something like this:

class YourRootViewController {

    @IBOutlet var container: UIView! //container mentioned in step 4

    override func viewDidLoad() {


        var lastView: UIView?
        for data in yourDataSource {

            var cell = YourCellController(nibName: "YourCellNibName", bundle: nil)
            UITools.addViewToTop(container, child: cell.view, sibling: lastView)
            lastView = cell.view
            //Insert code here to populate your cell

        if(lastView != nil) {
                item: lastView!,
                attribute: NSLayoutAttribute.Bottom,
                relatedBy: NSLayoutRelation.Equal,
                toItem: container,
                attribute: NSLayoutAttribute.Bottom,
                multiplier: 1,
                constant: 0))

        ///Add a refresh control, if you want - it seems to work fine in our app:
        var refreshControl = UIRefreshControl()

And here's the code for UITools.addViewToTop:

class UITools {
    ///Add child to container, full width of the container and directly under sibling (or container if sibling nil):
    class func addViewToTop(container: UIView, child: UIView, sibling: UIView? = nil)

        //Set left and right constraints so fills full horz width:

            item: child,
            attribute: NSLayoutAttribute.Leading,
            relatedBy: NSLayoutRelation.Equal,
            toItem: container,
            attribute: NSLayoutAttribute.Left,
            multiplier: 1,
            constant: 0))

            item: child,
            attribute: NSLayoutAttribute.Trailing,
            relatedBy: NSLayoutRelation.Equal,
            toItem: container,
            attribute: NSLayoutAttribute.Right,
            multiplier: 1,
            constant: 0))

        //Set vertical position from last item (or for first, from the superview):
            item: child,
            attribute: NSLayoutAttribute.Top,
            relatedBy: NSLayoutRelation.Equal,
            toItem: sibling == nil ? container : sibling,
            attribute: sibling == nil ? NSLayoutAttribute.Top : NSLayoutAttribute.Bottom,
            multiplier: 1,
            constant: 0))

The only "gotcha" I've found with this approach so far is that UITableView has a nice feature of "floating" section headers at the top of the view as you scroll. The above solution won't do that unless you add more programming but for our particular case this feature wasn't 100% essential and nobody noticed when it went away.

If you want dividers between your cells, just add a 1 pixel high UIView at the bottom of your custom "cell" that looks like a divider.

Be sure to turn on "bounces" and "bounce vertically" for the refresh control to work and so it seems more like a tableview.

TableView shows some empty rows and dividers under your content, if it doesn't fill the full screen where as this solution doesn't. But personally, I prefer if those empty rows weren't there anyway - with variable cell height it always looked "buggy" to me anyway to have the empty rows in there.

Here's hoping some other programmer reads my post BEFORE wasting 20+ hours trying to figure it out with Table View in their own app. :)

I had to use dynamic views (setup views and constraints by code) and when I wanted to set preferredMaxLayoutWidth label's width was 0. So I've got wrong cell height.

Then I added

[cell layoutSubviews];

before executing

[cell setNeedsUpdateConstraints];
[cell updateConstraintsIfNeeded];

After that label's width was as expected and dynamic height was calculating right.

If you do you layout programmatically, here is what to consider for iOS 10 using anchors in Swift.

There are three rules/ steps

NUMBER 1: set this two properties of tableview on viewDidLoad, the first one is telling to the tableview that should expect dynamic sizes on their cells, the second one is just to let the app calculate the size of the scrollbar indicator, so it helps for performance.

    tableView.rowHeight = UITableViewAutomaticDimension
    tableView.estimatedRowHeight = 100

NUMBER 2: This is important you need to add the subviews to the contentView of the cell not to the view, and also use its layoutsmarginguide to anchor the subviews to the top and bottom, this is a working example of how to do it.

override init(style: UITableViewCellStyle, reuseIdentifier: String?) {
    super.init(style: style, reuseIdentifier: reuseIdentifier)

private func setUpViews() {

    let marginGuide = contentView.layoutMarginsGuide

        movieImageView.heightAnchor.constraint(equalToConstant: 80),
        movieImageView.widthAnchor.constraint(equalToConstant: 80),
        movieImageView.leftAnchor.constraint(equalTo: marginGuide.leftAnchor),
        movieImageView.topAnchor.constraint(equalTo: marginGuide.topAnchor, constant: 20),

        descriptionLabel.leftAnchor.constraint(equalTo: movieImageView.rightAnchor, constant: 15),
        descriptionLabel.rightAnchor.constraint(equalTo: marginGuide.rightAnchor),
        descriptionLabel.bottomAnchor.constraint(equalTo: marginGuide.bottomAnchor, constant: -15),
        descriptionLabel.topAnchor.constraint(equalTo: movieImageView.topAnchor)


Create a method that will add the subviews and perform the layout, call it in the init method.


  override func tableView(_ tableView: UITableView, heightForRowAt indexPath: IndexPath) -> CGFloat {

If you do it you will override your implementation.

Follow this 3 rules for dynamic cells in tableviews.

here is a working implementation

In my case, the padding was because of the sectionHeader and sectionFooter heights, where storyboard allowed me to change it to minimum 1. So in viewDidLoad method:

tableView.sectionHeaderHeight = 0
tableView.sectionFooterHeight = 0

With regard to the accepted answer by @smileyborg, I have found

[cell.contentView systemLayoutSizeFittingSize:UILayoutFittingCompressedSize]

to be unreliable in some cases where constraints are ambiguous. Better to force the layout engine to calculate the height in one direction, by using the helper category on UIView below:

    [self setNeedsLayout];
    [self layoutIfNeeded];
    CGSize size = [self systemLayoutSizeFittingSize:CGSizeMake(w, 1) withHorizontalFittingPriority:UILayoutPriorityRequired verticalFittingPriority:UILayoutPriorityFittingSizeLevel];
    CGFloat h = size.height;
    return h;

Where w: is the width of the tableview

Simply add these two functions in your viewcontroller it will solve your problem. Here, list is a string array which contain your string of every row.

 func tableView(_ tableView: UITableView, 
   estimatedHeightForRowAt indexPath: IndexPath) -> CGFloat {
        tableView.rowHeight = self.calculateHeight(inString: list[indexPath.row])

    return (tableView.rowHeight) 

func calculateHeight(inString:String) -> CGFloat
    let messageString = input.text
    let attributes : [NSAttributedStringKey : Any] = [NSAttributedStringKey(rawValue: NSAttributedStringKey.font.rawValue) : UIFont.systemFont(ofSize: 15.0)]

    let attributedString : NSAttributedString = NSAttributedString(string: messageString!, attributes: attributes)

    let rect : CGRect = attributedString.boundingRect(with: CGSize(width: 222.0, height: CGFloat.greatestFiniteMagnitude), options: .usesLineFragmentOrigin, context: nil)

    let requredSize:CGRect = rect
    return requredSize.height