Mislav Javor

UITableView with horizontally scrolling rows


The biggest layouting decision of any UITableView is properly categorising the content so it makes sense to the user. This is often achieved by using sections with headers and footers. While this approach is extremely easy to implement and clear, often times it’s either not suitable for the type of content or it looks boring-ish

One of the better solutions I’ve found is the horizontally scrolling cells within the UITableView. The best example that currently comes to my mind is the Netflix app

Netflix app

Using the horizontally scrolling cells of the UITableView enables us to develop a highly intuitive interface. It also enables the user to glance a lot of information (9 titles in the picture above).


Firstly you’re going to need to add a UITableViewController and within the UITableViewController and it’s UITableView subview, you need to add the UITableViewCell if it wasn’t already added by the Interface Builder.
Strech the UITableViewCell to be the height you want it to be (250 in this exmaple)


After that, you’re going to need to add an instance of UICollectionView inside the UITableViewCell.

Then, strech the UICollectionView to match the size of the UITableViewCell. Once you’ve done that, use autolayout to set the constraints so that the UICollectionView has the same position and size as the UITableViewCell.


After that, you’re going to need to go and create a new class for the UITableViewController. Go to File->New->File->CocaTouch Class and then select UITableViewController in the dropdown menu. After you have completed that step, you need to connect the new class to the storyboard instance of the UITableViewController. Go to your .storyboard and select the UITableViewController and in the upper right corner select the icon that, on hover, says “Identity Inspector”. In the Identity Inspector, under “Custom Class”, set the “Class” attribute to the name you just gave your class.

Now create two new classes for the cells. For the first one, go to File->New->File->CocoaTouch Class and then select UITableViewCell in the dropdown. Go to the storyboard, select the UITableViewCell and connect it the same way you connected the UITableViewController. For the second one, go to File->New->File->CocoaTouch Class and select UICollectionViewCell. Now go to the storyboard, select the CollectionView Cell and connect it like you did with the previous two widgets.


In the file you created for the UITableViewController override the following methods

override func tableView(tableView: UITableView, cellForRowAtIndexPath indexPath: NSIndexPath) -> UITableViewCell {
        let cell = tableView.dequeueReusableCellWithIdentifier("CollectionHolderTableViewCell") as! CollectionHolderTableViewCell

	NOTE: Add a "model" field inside the CollectionHolder cell and send any needed info into it
        return cell

override func numberOfSectionsInTableView(tableView: UITableView) -> Int {
        //Here you would use the amount of groups in the "model"
        return 1

override func tableView(tableView: UITableView, numberOfRowsInSection section: Int) -> Int {
        //Here you would use the amount of items in every group in the     //"model"

        return 5

Now that you’ve finished implementing teese methods, feel free to run the app! Nothing will happen because, although we have implemented the creation of the UITableView and it’s cells, we still havent created the UICollectionView and it’s cells. Since we dragged the UICollectionView outlet into the instance of our UITableViewCell class, we will access it from there.

Firstly, make sure that the UITableViewCell class declaration looks like this

class CollectionHolderTableViewCell: UITableViewCell, UICollectionViewDataSource 

Adding the UICollectionViewDataSource will enable us to give data to the UICollectionViewCell’s . In order to make sure that the UICollectionView is listening to the methods we will implement in this class, we need to set it’s dataSource property to self. Override the following method

override func layoutSubviews() {
    dogeCollectionView.dataSource = self
    //NOTE dogeCollectionView is the name I gave to the collectionView when making the outlet

Now the UICollectionView will listen for the implementation of a specific method in our class. Implement that method as follows:

func collectionView(collectionView: UICollectionView, cellForItemAtIndexPath indexPath: NSIndexPath) -> UICollectionViewCell {
    let cell = collectionView.dequeueReusableCellWithReuseIdentifier("dogeCell", forIndexPath: indexPath) as! DogeCollectionViewCell
        It's called doge.jpeg since I added an image of Shiba Inu in the project assets folder. You would import some information from a REST API or similar
    cell.dogeImageView.image = UIImage(named: "doge.jpeg")
    return cell

func collectionView(collectionView: UICollectionView, numberOfItemsInSection section: Int) -> Int {
    //You would get something like "model.count" here. It would depend on your data source
    return 5

func numberOfSectionsInCollectionView(collectionView: UICollectionView) -> Int {
    return 1


If you did everything properly, you should have a UITableViewController with horizontally scrolling cells

Clicking and transition

All transitions need to be done using segues. Calling navigationController.pushViewController() won’t work from within 2 layer of depth. You are also advised to disable the selection on the UITableView, but that depends on what implementation you need.

Mislav Javor

Software engineer, musican and amateur audio producer. Working as a lead iOS developer @ Ingemark, Zagreb. Spending my starting and not finishing software and music projects.

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