Using CoreData with SwiftUI

CoreData is Apple’s object graph and persistence framework. It provides data sources for synchronising data with view. Let’s take a look on how to use those data sources in SwiftUI views. Starting with NSFetchedResultsController what is used for list and collection views, after that observing NSManagedObject directly from SwiftUI view and lastly subscribing to managed object context notifications.

NSFetchedResultsController

NSFetchedResultsController is used for providing data in table and collection views. It supports sorting and filtering data and arranging data into sections. We can use delegate for getting change callbacks. NSFetchedResultsControllerDelegate contains several methods:

In SwiftUI we are not going to directly manipulate views. Only what we need to do is letting SwiftUI view know that data is about to change. Let’s take a look on simple app with list of items stored by CoreData. Data is represented by ColorItem where only stored value is hex string of the color (e.g. #AA22BB).

ColorItems are managed by ContentView’s view model. View model creates NSFetchedResultsController, performs fetch and provides array of fetched ColorItems to the SwiftUI’s List. In addition, view model is delegate of the NSFetchedResultsController (requires view model to be NSObject subclass). As view model is ObservableObject, we can very easily let SwiftUI view know that it should refresh. We need to do two things: firstly, implementing controllerWillChangeContent delegate method and calling send() on objectWillChange publisher. Secondly, view model property must use @ObservedObject property wrapper in SwiftUI view. Result is that SwiftUI view subscribes to objectWillChange publisher and refreshes whenever publisher emits an event.

And finally let’s see the ContentView implementation. NSManagedObject has objectID property what we can use in List for identifying every ColorItem. Cell is custom view what we’ll take a look at next.

NSManagedObject

NSManagedObject implements ObservableObject protocol and therefore it is possible to use it together with @ObservedObject property wrapper and getting SwiftUI view refreshed automatically when any of the ColorItem properties change. NSFetchedResultsController required a little bit of code for setting up delegate but that is not the case with NSManagedObject.

In addition, if there are cases where we would like to observe specific property, then Combine provides publisher for key path. Because NSManagedObject supports key-value observing we can use the publisher and subscribe to individual property changes.

Subscribing to CoreData notifications

When we need to observe changes in persistent store we can observe notifications sent by the framework. As NotificationCenter supports publishers, we can subscribe to it, unpack data from notification and do something with the data. For making this easier we can introduce a separate type. It will unpack the user info dictionary and filter by type. This allows to easily observe, for example, ColorItem insertions. Or, if we would like to receive every possible change, we can specify NSManagedObject as the generic type.

Summary

We took a look at how to use NSFetchedResultsController and NSManagedObject in SwiftUI views. We saw that integrating NSFetchedResultsController requires only a little bit of code and using NSManagedObject even less. In addition, we looked at subscribing to CoreData notifications and unpacking notification payload.

If this was helpful, please let me know on Twitter @toomasvahter. Feel free to subscribe to RSS feed. Thank you for reading.

Example project

CoreDataCombineSwiftUI (Xcode 11.3)

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