This topic is under Auto Layout.

When should you use setNeedsUpdateConstraints? One aspect is when you want to change the frame of a view directly. As we know, under Auto Layout, just changing the frame is extremely unreliable. It may take effect for some time, but as long as setNeedsLayout or another method which has the same effect is called at some point you don’t expect, all relevant changes you have made to frame will disappear.

setNeedsUpdateConstraints gives you the power to make constraints change after frame change. What you need to do is to override updateConstraints of the root view. In updateConstraints, set constraints following the frame of the view. After you change the frame of a view, call rootView.setNeedsUpdateConstraints().

When should you call a view’s setNeedsLayout? When you want to layout the view’s subviews. If you don’t override the view’s layoutSubviews, the default behavior is to make its subviews follow the relevant constraints.

The demo project is here, let’s play with it.


Press Button1

@IBAction func setFrameOnly(sender: UIButton) {
    orangeSquare.frame.origin.x += 100

The orange square was moved, but at this very moment, its left constraint hasn’t been changed, so if I press Button3

@IBAction func setNeedsLayout(sender: UIButton) {

The orange square went back.

Press Button2

@IBAction func setFrameWithUpdatingConstraints(sender: UIButton) {
    orangeSquare.frame.origin.x += 100

This time, not only did we change the orange square’s position, but also called setNeedsUpdateConstraints. So after the position change of the orange square, updateConstraints was called.

override func updateConstraints() {
    leftConstraint.constant = orangeSquare.frame.origin.x

Now, the constraint was also changed and coincided with the frame again. Press Button3, nothing happened, that’s just what we want.