A collection of programmatic how-to code examples for each cases to write a Cocoa GUI (AppKit) app and some non GUI stuffs.
Swift Objective-C
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2014/06/13 2015/01/10 2015/11/07 2016/09/25 Hoon H.

This shows how to create a Cocoa GUI app using only program code with no Interface Builder / Storyoard stuffs. Apple sample codes are great, but in many cases it lacks programmatic-only way and overly complex.

It's arguable that which one of IB-ful or IB-less strategy is better. But it's also clear that the IB sometimes doesn't fit to, work on or serve well some situations. This how-to examples are written for the situations.

This also contains some non-GUI stuffs lacked in Apple's documentation. For example, Umbrella framework.

These examples always aim minimal code and configuration, then what you see is all fully required to do the job.

  • ComponentUsages

    Contains Swift examples. Written and tested in OSX 10.11. Some examples will continue to work also in 10.10 but I didn't test them. Now all examples require Swift 3 to compile.

    • Bootstrapping. How to make an empty AppKit application.
    • SplitViewExample. How to use NSSplitViewController.
    • TextInput. How to take international text input using NSTextInputClient mechanism.
    • TextView. How to make NSTextView properly working with scrolling.
    • OutlineViewExample. How to fully establish working NSOutlineView.
    • OutlineViewWithTreeController. How to configure outline view using Cocoa binding.
    • BorderlessRoundWindowWithShadow. How to make a border-less window with round corners and proper shadow. A bit verbose.
    • RegularDarkVibrantWindow. How to make a dark NSWindow with blurred transparent background. A bit verbose.
    • CustomNSTextViewWithNSTextStorage. How to make a custom NSTextView with custom NSTextStorage. A bit verbose.
    • CollectionView. How to use NSCollectionView.
    • NSTableViewExample. How to make view-based NSTableView with reused component views.
    • NSToolbar. How to make and use NSToolbar within an NSWindow properly.
    • ApplicationMenu. How to replicate system-default Cocoa app menu.
    • NSTextViewWithCustomInactiveSelectionBackgroundColor. How to use custom inactive selection background color with NSTextView.
    • And some more... (not listed)
  • ComponentUsagesInObjectiveC

    Contains some Objective-C based examples. Written and tested in OSX 10.9. I don't write Objective-C code anymore, so treat this as a legacy.

  • NonUIStuffsExamples

    Contains non-UI stuff examples. Written and tested in OSX 10.9.

    • BuildingUmbrellaFramework.
  • iOSExamples

    Contains iOS stuff examples. Written in Swift 2.x and tested in iOS 8.0. NOT YET UPDATED FOR SWIFT 3

    • AutoLayoutWithStackViewAndScrollView.
    • AutosizingTableExample. Shows how to enable autoresizing in tables and cells.
    • CameraDisplay.
    • UICollectionViewCustomLayout.
    • UICollectionViewCustomLayout. Shows how to employ custom layout and dynamic cell resizing based on content size with manual layout.
    • TextChatUIExample. Shows fully-fledged chat UI. This shows input box, and supports scrolling reaction by keyboard appearance.
    • ResizingCollectionViewCellExample. Shows how to make resizing cell with UICollectionView. This is different with reloading because this technique does not involve cross-fade animation or reinstantiation of cell views. So you even can keep a UITextView in it while keeping it working as first-responder.
      • AutoLayoutWithStackViewAndScrollView. Shows how to use UIStackView and UIScrollView to layout easily.


This code is written by these people, and licensed under MIT license.

  • Hoon H. (eonil)
  • Chui Tey (teyc)


The ultimate goal of this project is providing a collection of minimal examples for each single situations so I can imediately assemble them to figure out precise solution for my (and holpefully your) problems. It will be nice if you help me to improve this collection by reporting some issues, suggestions, questions or even a pull request!