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Use Of Pickers And Camera

Controls-Part Two: Using Pickers and Using the Camera

Key Skills & Concepts

  • Using a UIDatePicker to select dates
  • Using a UIPickerView to select values
  • Using a UIPickerView with multiple components
  • Using a UIPickerView with UIImageView
  • Using the UIImagePickerController to control the camera and access the photo library
  • Using simple NSNotifications


what do the UIPickerView and the UIImagePicker classes have in common? Nothing, really, other than they are both ultimately UIViews. But they are both controls you might use in an iPhone application, and so they are covered together in this second chapter on iPhone controls. This chapter’s first half covers using the UIDatePicker and UIPickerView classes. These classes create visual controls that appear similar to Las Vegas slot machines. This chapter’s second half covers using the UIImagePickerController. This class allows programmatically accessing an iPhone’s camera, camera roll, and photo library.


Using Pickers-Date Pickers and Pickers

You use pickers to select one of several values. There are two types of pickers: Date Pickers and Pickers. Date pickers are used for selecting a date, time, or countdown interval. Pickers are used for selecting one of many values.


Date Pickers

Date pickers pick dates and times, placing the selected values in an NSDate class, and are implemented using the UIDatePicker class. If using Interface Builder to develop an iPhone application, you drag a date picker onto your view’s canvas from the library and modify the picker’s properties in the Inspector. You then create an IBOutlet for the picker in your view’s associated view controller and connect it to the picker on your view’s canvas. The view controller uses this outlet to obtain the UIDatePicker object’s selected date. The example later in this section illustrates this process.



A UIDatePicker has rotating wheels, allowing a user to select the date and time. If using a date picker to pick a date and time, valid modes are Date & Time, Time, and Date. If using a date picker to pick a countdown time, the valid mode is Timer. Figure 13-1 illustrates the picker’s visual appearance for the different modes.




Figure 13-1 UIDatePicker has four modes: Date & Time, Time, Date, and Timer.

There are several attributes you might change from the default when using a UIDatePicker. Figure 13- 2 illustrates the mode, locale, timeZone, date, minimumDate, maximumDate, and interval properties, as viewed in the Inspector.

The locale is an NSLocale. This class encapsulates how the date should be formatted for

a different date or culture. The timeZone is an NSTimeZone; its default value is the operating system’s time zone. The minuteInterval is the minute intervals displayed by the picker. For instance, Figure 13- 3 illustrates a UIDatePicker using 30-minute intervals and a UIDatePicker using 1-minute intervals.


UIDatePickers return values as an NSDate. You access a date picker’s value through its date property. For instance, the following sets an NSDate from a UIDatePicker’s date property.

NSDate * theDate = self.datePicker.date;

An NSDate is a date and time. Several NSDate methods you might use include isEqualToDate:, earlierDate:, compare:, and laterDate:. For a more complete understanding of date and time programming, refer to Apple’s ―Date and Time Programming Guide for Cocoa,‖ available online.




 Figure 13-2 Several UIDatePicker properties you might change in the Inspector





 Figure 13-3 A UIDatePicker showing 30-minute intervals and a UIDatePicker showing 1-minute intervals



When you wish to display a date, you use an NSDateFormatter. An NSDateFormatter allows a date to be displayed as a formatted NSString. There are many formats you might use. For instance, consider the two formatters.

NSDateFormatter * dateFormatter = [[[NSDateFormatter alloc] init] autorelease];

[dateFormatter setDateFormat:@”MM/dd/yyyy”];

The ―MM/dd/yyyy‖ format outputs August 26, 2008, as ―08/26/2008.”

[dateFormatter setDateFormat:@”EEEE MMMM d’,’ yyyy”];

The ―EEEE MMMM d’,’ yyyy‖ format outputs ―Tuesday August 26, 2008,‖ as the date. These are only two of many choices you might select to format dates and times. For more formats, refer to Apple’s ―Data Formatting Programming Guide for Cocoa,‖ available online.

Using a Date Picker

  1. Create a new View-based Name the application DatePickerProject.
  2. Open xib in Interface Builder.
  3. Add a date picker to the canvas and add a label (Figure 13-4).
  4. Change the date picker’s mode to Date (Figure 13-5).
  5. Save and exit Interface
  6. Open DatePickerProjectViewController and add an IBOutlet for the UIDatePicker and an IBOutlet for the UILabel (Listings 13-1 and 13-2). Also add an IBAction called Don’t forget to release the two outlets in the dealloc method.
  7. Save and Open DatePickerProjectViewController.xib in Interface Builder.
  8. Connect the File’s Owner datePicker outlet to the UIDatePicker on the Connect the File’s Owner theLabel to the UILabel on the canvas.

Figure 13-4 Adding a UIDatePicker and UILabel to the view






Figure 13-5 Change a UIDatePicker’s mode to Date


Figure 13-6 Connecting to the UIDatePicker’s value changed event


  1. Connect the File’s Owner changeValue action to the UIDatePicker’s Value Changed event (Figure 13-6).
  2. Save and exit Interface builder.
  3. Click Build And Go and run the application in iPhone Simulator (Figure 13-7). The Debugger Console should have logging similar to Listing 13-3.





Figure 13-7 The application running in iPhone Simulator

Listing 13-1 DatePickerProjectViewController.h

#import <UIKit/UIKit.h>

@interface DatePickerProjectViewController : UIViewController { IBOutlet UIDatePicker * datePicker;

IBOutlet UILabel * theLabel;


@property (nonatomic, retain) IBOutlet UIDatePicker * datePicker;

@property (nonatomic, retain) IBOutlet UILabel * theLabel;

– (IBAction) changeValue: (id) sender;


Listing 13-2 DatePickerProjectViewController.m

#import “DatePickerProjectViewController.h”

@implementation DatePickerProjectViewController

@synthesize datePicker;

@synthesize theLabel;

– (IBAction) changeValue: (id) sender { NSDate * theDate = self.datePicker.date;

NSLog(@”the date picked is: %@”, [theDate description]);

NSDateFormatter * dateFormatter = [[[NSDateFormatter alloc] init] autorelease];

[dateFormatter setDateFormat:@”MM/dd/yyyy”];

NSLog(@”formatted: %@”, [dateFormatter stringFromDate:theDate]);

[dateFormatter setDateFormat:@”EEEE MMMM d’,’ yyyy”];

NSLog(@”formatted: %@”, [dateFormatter stringFromDate:theDate]);

[theLabel setText:[theDate description]];


– (void)dealloc { [datePicker release];

[theLabel release];


[super dealloc];

} @end

Listing 13-3 Debugger console output

2009-02-02 19:38:03.794 DatePickerProject[1033:20b] the date picked is: 2008-11-26 21:00:00 -0500

2009-02-02 19:38:03.795 DatePickerProject[1033:20b] formatted: 11/26/2008

2009-02-02 19:38:03.796 DatePickerProject[1033:20b] formatted:

Wednesday November 26, 2008

Using a UIDatePicker in Timer Mode

UIDatePicker classes are also useful for selecting a duration for an NSTimer. A UIDatePicker selects an NSDate, which consists of a date and a time; therefore, you can create a timer using an NSDate’s time. But a UIDatePicker does not implement a timer; it only provides a visual way to pick duration. You must then use this duration with an NSTimer. This task illustrates using a UIDatePicker to select a duration for an NSTimer and, in the process, illustrates using the NSCalendar, NSDateFormatter, and NSDateComponents classes.

  1. Create a new View-based Application in Xcode named A Timer.
  2. Create a new IBOutlet named timePicker for a UIDateTime and an IBAction called echoTime (Listing 13-4).
  3. Implement the echoTime method so it implements an NSTimer that fires a timer every second (Listing 13-5).
  4. Add a method called echoIt for the timer to call when
  5. Open xib in Interface Builder and place a UIDatePicker on the canvas. Set the interval to one minute. Place a button on the canvas (Figure 13-8).
  6. Change the picker’s mode to Timer in the
  7. Connect the file’s owner timePicker property to the
  8. Connect the file’s owner echoTime action to the button’s Touch Up Inside




                  Figure 13-8 Adding a button to the canvas                                                        Figure 13-9 Running the application in iPhone Simulator


  1. Save and exit Interface Builder.
  2. Click Build And Go (Figure 13-9). The output to the Debugger Console should appear like Listing 13-6.

Listing 13-4 ATimerViewController.h

#import <UIKit/UIKit.h>

@interface ATimerViewController : UIViewController { IBOutlet UIDatePicker * timePicker;


@property (nonatomic, retain) IBOutlet UIDatePicker * timePicker;

  • (IBAction) echoTime: (id) sender;
  • (void) echoIt: (NSTimer *) timer;


Listing 13-5 ATimerViewController.m

#import “ATimerViewController.h”

@implementation ATimerViewController

@synthesize timePicker; NSInteger seconds = 0;

– (IBAction) echoTime: (id) sender { NSDate * time = timePicker.date;

NSDateFormatter * dateFormatter = [[[NSDateFormatter alloc] init] autorelease];

[dateFormatter setDateFormat:@”HH:MM:SS”]; NSLog(@”date: %@”,[dateFormatter stringFromDate:time]);

NSCalendar *gregorian = [[NSCalendar alloc] initWithCalendarIdentifier: NSGregorianCalendar];

NSDateComponents * comps = [gregorian components:(NSHourCalendarUnit | NSMinuteCalendarUnit) fromDate:time];

NSInteger hour = [comps hour]; NSInteger minute = [comps minute]; NSLog(@”Hour: %i”, hour); NSLog(@”minute: %i”, minute);

NSInteger secs = hour * 60 * 60 + minute * 60;

NSNumber * elapsedSeconds = [[NSNumber alloc] initWithInt:secs]; NSDictionary * myDict = [NSDictionary dictionaryWithObject: elapsedSeconds forKey:@”TotalSeconds”];

[NSTimer scheduledTimerWithTimeInterval:1 target: self selector:

@selector(echoIt:) userInfo: myDict repeats: YES];


– (void) echoIt: (NSTimer *) timer {

NSNumber * num = (NSNumber *) [[timer userInfo] valueForKey:@”Total Seconds”];


NSInteger secs = [num integerValue] – seconds; NSLog(@”elapsed: %i, remaining: %i”, seconds, secs);

}(void)dealloc { [timePicker release];

[super dealloc];



Listing 13-6 The ATimer application logging to debugger console 2009-02-06 07:35:21.813 ATimer[540:20b] date: 01:12:00

2009-02-06 07:35:21.814 ATimer[540:20b] Hour: 1


2009-02-06 07:35:21.814 ATimer[540:20b] minute: 11

2009-02-06 07:35:22.815 ATimer[540:20b] elapsed: 1, remaining: 4259

2009-02-06 07:35:23.815 ATimer[540:20b] elapsed: 2, remaining: 4258

— snip —

2009-02-06 07:35:31.815 ATimer[540:20b] elapsed: 10, remaining: 4250

This example code involves several concepts not covered elsewhere in this book. Notice the NSDictionary, NSCalendar, and NSDateComponents classes. The UIDatePicker picks the hours and minutes for the timer. Upon clicking the button, the echoTime method creates an NSCalendar and obtains date components from the time. After obtaining the total seconds, echoTime adds the seconds to an NSDictionary and creates a timer that fires every second. When firing, the timer calls the echoIt method, passing itself and the dictionary as parameters. The echoIt method obtains the seconds from the userInfo parameter. The echoIt method then determines the elapsed seconds and logs it to the Debugger Console.

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