Upward Mobility: To Storyboard or Not to Storyboard

That is the question for iOS developers

Storyboarding was introduced in iOS 6, and it offers a way to consolidate all of your disparate Interface Building files into a single overarching whole. Although it’s tempting to jump on board and use it just because it’s the new thing, there are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Storyboards require you to make the jump to iOS 6; there’s no backwards compatibility for earlier versions. While this isn’t as much of a factor as it was a year ago, if you have legacy iPad 1 customers, you’re going to be locking them out of your app if you move to storyboarding.
  2. Having all your XIB files consolidated may sound good, but if you have a lot of them, you can end up with a new storyboard that’s so big that it is unwieldy.
  3. Storyboards are more than just a consolidation move; you also have to adopt a whole new programming style to move between your screens. Instead of explicit pushes and pulls off of view controller stacks or opening of modals, you are firing off segues that cause new view controllers to be created and transitions to occur.

The last point isn’t a bad thing per say. It’s a much more MVC-like paradigm: for example, where the overall controller knows what a transition means, and the individual views are only responsible for requesting a transition. It’s also much more like the way that Android does things. But it’s a different style of programming from traditional iOS UI development, and has a learning curve associated with it.

Storyboarding also isn’t going to help you tremendously if you do a lot of dynamic UI creation. If you are adding new tabs to a UITabBarController on the fly, you can’t wire them up using storyboarding; you need to handle it with code.

The decision to move to storyboards has to be an individual one. Unlike ARC, which was pretty much a no-brainer, storyboards are more nuanced. For some iOS developers, it may be just what you wanted, while for others it will be more trouble than it’s worth.

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