A powerful, extensible UITextView.
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Latest commit ac96346 Feb 21, 2019



A subclass of UITextView providing extended functionality and support for 'plug-ins'. Hakawai ships with the 'Mentions' plug-in, which provides a powerful and flexible way to easily add social-media-esque 'mentions'-style annotation support to your iOS application.

For a higher-level overview, check out our blog post at the LinkedIn engineering blog.


  • A convenient drop-in replacement for UITextView instances, including those in Storyboards or XIBs.
  • Easily add, remove, and transform the text view's plain and attributed text using a set of powerful block-based APIs.
  • Work with attribute formatting and easily register or unregister custom attributes with enhanced attribute APIs.
  • Easily add, remove, and manage accessory views, UI elements that can be added to or removed from the text view for additional functionality.
  • Lock the current line of text to the top or the bottom of the text view using single-line viewport mode.
  • Programmatically dismiss autocorrect suggestions, and temporarily override the autocorrect, autocorrection, and spell checking modes.
  • Extend functionality by registering or unregistering plug-ins.
  • Custom 'rounded rect background' attribute, and a custom layout manager allowing additional attributes to be defined.
  • The fact that this text view implements a custom layout manager and text container fixes several UITextView bugs by default.
  • EXPERIMENTAL - Easily monitor user changes to the text view's contents using the optional Abstraction Layer; two-stage insertion for Chinese and Japanese keyboards is also properly handled. The Abstraction Layer is built into the text view; it can also be pulled out and used independently if you desire.

Get Started

For more detailed documentation, check out the wiki.

Hakawai makes extensive use of TextKit, and requires iOS 7.1 or later. (Unfortunately, there are severe TextKit bugs in 7.0 that break many of the features offered by the library.) At your own risk, you may try using Hakawai with iOS 7.0 (this may be a viable option if you only want to use the text transformers).

If you are using CocoaPods, just add pod 'Hakawai' to your Podfile. Otherwise, check out the project and copy the source files into your own project.

Hakawai uses class extensions, and as a result you should add the -ObjC linker flag to your project settings if it's not there already. CocoaPods will automatically configure this for you if it's not already set.

The primary Hakawai entity is the HKWTextView, which takes the place of a vanilla UITextView. Use it the same way as you would a UITextView, with one important exception: never set the HKWTextView's delegate property. Instead, if you need the functionality of the UITextViewDelegate, set the externalDelegate or simpleDelegate properties instead.

Hakawai's functionality is divided up into three main categories:

  • HKWTextView+TextTransformation contains methods for working with and altering text and attributes within the text view
  • HKWTextView+Extras contains miscellaneous utilities
  • HKWTextView+Plugins contains an API intended for consumption by plug-ins; you may use these features directly as well, but doing so may or may not cause conflicts with any active plug-ins

Sample App

The HakawaiDemo sample app demonstrates some of Hakawai's features. Get it by using CocoaPods' try feature: pod try Hakawai, or by manually checking out the repository and running the HakawaiDemo scheme.

The first tab contains a simple text entry field with buttons to reverse or perform a ROT13 transformation on the selected text.

The second tab demonstrates control flow plug-ins and the Abstraction Layer, and contains a 'console' which will display the user's actions as they type in or delete text.

The third tab demonstrates the mentions plug-in. You can type in @ or + to see a list of entities (for demonstration's sake, the 25 earliest Turing Award winners) that you can select. You can also type in three characters of the name to bring up the chooser.


Plugins are defined in the podspec file as subspecs, so you can pick and choose which plug-ins you want to use (as long as you include the Core subspec). If you are not using CocoaPods, each plug-in is located in a separate group in Xcode, and each plug-in's group can be deleted wholesale without compromising the functionality of the core library.

Hakawai supports two types of plug-ins. 'Simple' and 'control flow' plug-ins both receive references to the parent HKWTextView, but control flow plug-ins can also implement additional delegate methods, allowing them to respond to changes in the text view's state. Plug-ins also have access to all the APIs of the core HKWTextView.

There are two types of control flow plug-ins. Direct control flow plug-ins receive UITextViewDelegate methods in order to monitor the state of the text view and respond to user actions. Abstraction layer control flow plug-ins receive HKWAbstractionLayerDelegate methods instead. Note that only at most one of the two types of control flow plug-ins may be registered to the text view at a time.

Multiple simple plug-ins may be registered at once, but only one control flow plug-in can be registered at a time. Plug-ins can also be unregistered at any time.

Mentions Plug-in

For more detailed documentation, check out the Mentions page on the wiki.

Hakawai/Mentions is a plugin that allows annotations to be created within a HKWTextView. Annotations are portions of text which refer to specific entities, treated as a monolithic unit, and can be styled differently from the rest of the text. Examples of annotations are the 'mentions' feature supported by many popular social media applications.

To see Mentions in action, check out the demo app. Or download the LinkedIn mobile app from the App Store, log in with your LinkedIn account, and mention a connection or company in a comment!


  • Easy to use - just implement a method to return results for a query string, and a method to return a cell for displaying a result
  • Support for implicit annotations (which are triggered after a customizable number of characters are typed)
  • Support for explicit annotations (which are triggered once one of any number of special characters are typed)
  • State machine-based logic makes changing or extending behavior less cumbersome
  • Query results can be returned synchronously or asynchronously
  • Multiple sets of results can be returned for a single query
  • Automatic rate limiting of queries
  • Annotations 'light up' if the user moves the selection cursor into them, or taps the backspace key with the cursor immediately following an annotation.
  • The plug-in offers the option to intelligently trim annotations; for example, truncating a full name into just a first name
  • Almost every aspect can be customized: styling of annotation in the highlighted and un-highlighted states, chooser view, results cells, etc
  • Annotations state is kept properly consistent even if user cuts and pastes text
  • Annotations work properly with autocapitalization and autocorrection

Get Started

  1. Create a helper class that implements the three required methods in HKWMentionsDelegate
  2. Create an instance of HKWTextView
  3. Create an instance of HKWMentionsPlugin using one of the factory methods
  4. Set the mention plug-in's delegate property to an instance of your helper class
  5. Call registerControlFlowPlugin: on the text view instance to register the plug-in

See the documentation comments for more information on the relevant classes and methods.


Hakawai includes an almost-comprehensive unit test suite for the main text view powered by the Specta and Expecta libraries. We hope to have test coverage for the abstraction layer and mentions plug-in in the future, although unit tests are probably not sufficient for testing these components.


Bug reports, feature requests, pull requests, comments, criticism, and honest feedback are all welcome. Please file tickets on GitHub.

Plans/known issues for this library include:

  • Verifying proper functionality and integration of Abstraction Layer
  • Proper handling of non-period punctuation inserted after a predictive suggestion is selected (right now, implicit deletion of space when it's replaced by the punctuation is not registered).
  • Abstraction Layer support for Korean text input
  • Automated testing


According to Wikipedia, "In Māori mythology, [...] Hakawai is a monstrous bird that ate people".

Copyright & License

Hakawai © 2015 LinkedIn Corp. Licensed under the terms of the Apache License, Version 2.0.