What is the Content in SwiftUI

Manish Pathak
3 min readJun 19, 2023

There is no actual Content class or struct or type in SwiftUI

Content is a generic, kinda like a "variable that holds a type"

Content is simply being used to represent a type that conforms to the View protocol (as in, a Button and always a Button, not Text).

View is not a class in SwiftUI; it is a protocol and behaves differently

Content must always be the same type. Once a Button, always a Button. This is why sometimes you need to use AnyView.

What is ViewModifier in Swift UI ?

ViewModifier. ViewModifier is a protocol. Other types can conform to ViewModifier, but no variable or value can just have the plain type ViewModifier.

To make a type conform to ViewModifier, we define a body method that takes a Content (whatever that is) and returns a Body (whatever that is):

func body(content: Content) -> Body

A ViewModifier is essentially just this one method, that takes a Content as input and returns a Body as output.

What’s Body? ViewModifier defines it as an associatedtype with a constraint:

associatedtype Body : View

This means we get to pick the specific type known as Body in our ViewModifier, and we can pick any type for Body as long as it conforms to the View protocol.

we find the true definition of ViewModifier:

@available(iOS 13.0, OSX 10.15, tvOS 13.0, watchOS 6.0, *)
public protocol ViewModifier {
static func _makeView(modifier: SwiftUI._GraphValue<Self>, inputs: SwiftUI._ViewInputs, body: @escaping (SwiftUI._Graph, SwiftUI._ViewInputs) -> SwiftUI._ViewOutputs) -> SwiftUI._ViewOutputs
static func _makeViewList(modifier: SwiftUI._GraphValue<Self>, inputs: SwiftUI._ViewListInputs, body: @escaping (SwiftUI._Graph, SwiftUI._ViewListInputs) -> SwiftUI._ViewListOutputs) -> SwiftUI._ViewListOutputs
associatedtype Body : SwiftUI.View
func body(content: Self.Content) -> Self.Body
typealias Content = SwiftUI._ViewModifier_Content<Self>
}

What is VStack in Swift UI ?

The VStack type is a struct, not a protocol. It is generic, which means it takes type parameters (just like a function takes function parameters). VStack takes a single type parameter, named Content. This means VStack defines a family of types, one for every type it allows for Content.

The whole reason to use a VStack is to arrange multiple views in a column. The use of VStack tells Swift to arrange its subviews vertically, and the VStack's Content type parameter specifies the types of the subviews.

For example, when you write this:

VStack {
Text("Hello")
Button(action: {}) {
Text("Tap Me!")
}
}

you’re actually creating an instance of this type:

VStack<TupleView<(Text, Button<Text>)>>

The Content type parameter here is the type TupleView<(Text, Button<Text>)>, which is itself a generic type TupleView with its own type parameter named T, and T here is (Text, Button<Text>) (a 2-tuple, also called a pair). So the VStack part of the type tells SwiftUI to arrange the subviews vertically, and the TupleView<(Text, Button<Text>)> part tells SwiftUI that there are two subviews: a Text and a Button<Text>.

we definitely want to let the compiler figure out these types for us. This is why Apple added the some View syntax to Swift—so we can let the compiler figure out the exact type.

VStack is generic (and also limited to implementors of View), all it knows is that you've provided some specific type that implements View—and whatever type that is, we call it Content.

Returning some View has two important differences compared to just returning View:

  1. We must always return the same type of view.
  2. Even though we don’t know what view type is going back, the compiler does.

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