Interfacing with a UIWebView from a UIViewController
If you are into iOS development chances are that you have already discovered (or been told) that UIWebView is a powerfully beast that can be used from more the displaying remote web content.
In past projects I’ve relied heavily on UIWebView to display rich content format by using a local HTML file included in the main bundle (with external CSS and JS files also there). Doing so is straightforward, but sooner than later you might run into the issue of having to interface with what’s running inside the UIWebView from Objective-C or vice-versa. Luckily both are easy to implement and add a extra layer of power to using UIWebView as a rich content display.
Calling Objective-C code from UIWebView
This one is trickier, as there is no direct way to do it. Here’s what I do: UIWebViewDelegate provides the method -(BOOL)webView:shouldStartLoadWithRequest:navigationType:.
This method is triggered before a URL is about to load in the web view. The return value is “YES if the web view should begin loading content; otherwise, NO”.
So the trick to bridge interactions in a UIWebView and Objective-C code is as follows:
Use some links with a dummy URL in the code, like nativeAction://doSomething.
Detect that URL scheme in the UIWebView delegate webView:shouldStartLoadWithRequest:navigationType: method.
If it matches your predefined URL, execute some native code and return NO.
Otherwise, return YES so the UIWebView loads as usual.
Putting it all together
Let’s put both things together with a small sample. Here’s how the app looks:
It’s a UIWebView with a UIToolBar that has two buttons, to increase and decrease the font size (similar to several online publications would do). The app works as follows:
Tapping the UIToolBar buttons change the size of the content in the UIWebView.
By tapping the UIWebView the app hides (or shows) the UIToolBar (as is common in reading apps).
And here’s the UIViewController that is also the UIWebViewDelegate: