Introduction to SwiftUI's Inspector

dev Feb 16, 2024

An Overview of SwiftUI's Inspector

SwiftUI, Apple's user interface development framework, has introduced a groundbreaking feature known as the "Inspector." This tool enhances the development experience by offering detailed interaction and enriched visualization of selected content. Essentially, the Inspector is an intuitive tool that reveals additional details and allows for direct manipulation of UI elements in a contextual and relevant manner.

Usage and Implementation.

Implementation Examples:

  • Keynote: Uses an Inspector as a sidebar to display formatting details for a given selection, such as the format of a shape or text.
  • Shortcuts: Displays complementary content, such as a library of available actions, pertinent to the workflow being edited.

The Inspector is not just about displaying information; facilitates powerful interactions, allowing real-time property adjustments or content modifications of selected elements.

Availability and Adaptability.

Available on macOS, iPadOS, and iOS, SwiftUI's Inspector is highly adaptable. It automatically adjusts based on device size and context, morphing into a resizable sheet in compact size classes or overlaying in split screen on larger iPads.

Integration and Customization.

The Inspector integrates with SwiftUI's existing structural APIs and behaves similarly to navigation and presentation components. It can be presented or hidden as needed and is customizable through modifiers, offering fine control over aspects like the width of the Inspector's column or its presentation state.


  • API Adoption: Learning to adopt the Inspector is straightforward; developers can integrate it into their apps using a new inspector modifier.
  • Customization and Control: The width of the Inspector's column and its presentation state can be programmatically controlled.
  • Form Styles: The Inspector defaults to grouped form styles, simplifying visual consistency.
Navigation Interface and Development Tools.

Dive into the realm of SwiftUI's enhanced structural APIs showcased in this visual encapsulation. Central to this lineup is the NavigationSplitView, providing a modern take on split views, and the NavigationStack, which redefines navigation flows with its stack-like behavior.

A notable newcomer, .inspector, stands out as a transformative tool for adding contextual sidebars or overlays, bringing a new dimension to interface customization. Accompanying these are familiar APIs like .sheet, .popover, .alert, and .confirmationDialog, all integral to the dynamic and responsive nature of SwiftUI apps. Together, they represent the building blocks for crafting fluid, adaptive, and deeply interactive user experiences across the Apple ecosystem.

This visual guide outlines the strategic placement of toolbar content in relation to SwiftUI's inspector pane, demonstrating four distinct scenarios. When the toolbar is placed within the inspector's context, it aligns seamlessly within the sidebar or overlay, ensuring an integrated experience.

Conversely, toolbar content positioned outside the inspector retains its location regardless of the inspector's state, providing a persistent interface element. The accompanying code snippets provide clear examples of how to implement each scenario, serving as a hands-on reference for developers to tailor the toolbar's behavior to their app's design philosophy. Whether nested within the navigation stack or standing apart, these patterns highlight the versatility and customization possibilities with SwiftUI's latest structural APIs.

Final thoughts.

SwiftUI's Inspector is not just an aesthetic addition; it represents a leap forward in how developers and users interact with UI. By offering detailed visualization and real-time control, the Inspector aligns perfectly with SwiftUI's philosophy of creating powerful, intuitive, and adaptive user interfaces with less code.
This blog has been an introduction to SwiftUI's powerful and versatile Inspector. As we delve deeper into its capabilities and how it can transform both the development experience and user interaction, it's evident that SwiftUI continues to redefine expectations and possibilities in modern app development.

For those eager to see the SwiftUI Inspector in action, Apple’s WWDC 2023 provides an excellent resource. In their session titled “Inspectors in SwiftUI: Discover the details,” Apple engineers delve into the practical applications of the Inspector, among other powerful SwiftUI features. You'll get a firsthand look at how these tools can be used to enhance the development process, streamline UI design, and much more. Watch the full session here to deepen your understanding and see how you can apply these insights to your own SwiftUI projects.

Concepción Orellana

Software engineer by day, challenge seeker & mountain lover by heart. 🌿💻🚀