Latest 1.0.0
License BSD
Platforms ios 6.0, requires ARC


PLXVisualAttributeConstraints is small lib that makes it easier to create layout constraints (see: NSLayoutConstraint class).

If you don’t know much about the AutoLayout mechanism, I strongly suggest you to go there for more information.

PLXVisualAttributeConstraints does not try to replace standard VFL (Visual Format Language) or alter default Apple’s mechanisms. It integrates with it seamlessly and greatly improves developer’s productivity and code readability.


In a nutshell, having two views…

  UIView *firstViewObj = ...
  UIView *secondViewObj = ...

using this lib you can create layout constraint like…

  NSDictionary *views = @{
          @"firstView" : firstViewObj,
          @"secondView" : secondViewObj

  NSLayoutConstraint *constraint1 = 
    [NSLayoutConstraint attributeConstraintWithVisualFormat:@"secondView.left >= firstView.left * 2 + 10"

instead of standard

  NSLayoutConstraint *constraint2 = 
    [NSLayoutConstraint constraintWithItem:secondViewObj

Those two constraints (constraint1 and constraint2) are identical to each other.

It’s very likely that you’ll have lots of constraints (it’s usual case).
Note, that you need to create dictionary with views only once (f.e. at the very beggining of a constraints-creating method) and then you go on creating them with similar one-liners (like in the example above) or you can take advantage of another method:

  NSArray *constraints = [NSLayoutConstraint attributeConstraintsWithVisualFormatsArray:@[
          @"secondView.left <= firstView.left - 10",
          @"secondView.right >= firstView.right + 10",
          @" == firstView.bottom * 2.5 + 5",
  ]                                                                               views:views];

Grammar by example ;)

Valid grammar examples

Instead of introducing formal grammar here, I’m quite convinced that a few examples will be more that enough to get you up and running. >= control2.bottom + 20 <= control2.bottom - 20.5 == control2.bottom * 2.3 + 4.5 >= control2.bottom * 2 - 10

A little bit hacky (read on to see why): >= 100 == 100.5

Supported attributes are:

top, bottom, left, right, leading, trailing, width, height, centerx, centery, baseline (case insensitive)
Those attributes are mapped one-to-one with those enums.

Supported relations:

==, >=, <= (mapped one-to-one with those enums)


To see the lib in action (and in comparision with standard constraint-creating method), checkout the project. Open it via *.xcworkspace and not *.xcproject file (why? CocoaPods). Yeap, I know that this example is somewhat artificial :) But it’ll do. If you have better suggestions on how to prepare the demo, pull requests are welcome :)


As I’ve mentioned above, formats like >= 100 (without an attribute on the right side, only constant) are supported.

Whole lib is a thin wrapper above this method and as we read:

Constraints are of the form view1.attr1 <relation> view2.attr2 * multiplier + constant.
If the constraint you wish to express does not have a second view and attribute, use nil and NSLayoutAttributeNotAnAttribute.

Well… That works for constraints with width or height attribute on the left side (control1.width == 100).
In case of any other attribute (top, left…) it throws an exception upon constraint creation… And it somewhat makes sense.

Sometimes you want to create such a constraint anyway. In that case, you can create == * 0 + 50 which should behave exactly the same as == 50 and it does :)


Constraints like >= 100 are automagically created as >= * 0 + 100, which I consider a bit hacky, therefore elaborate on it here.


Just copy source files under PLXVisualAttributeConstraints/PLXVisualAttributeConstraints/* into your project.
Support for installation via CocoaPods will follow shortly.


  • iOS 6.0+


  • to open project, use *.xcworkspace and not *.xcproject file (as I use, love and recommend CocoaPods)
  • tests are created using Kiwi framework


Kamil Jaworski ([email protected]), Polidea

Latest podspec

    "name": "PLXVisualAttributeConstraints",
    "version": "1.0.0",
    "summary": "Custom VFL (Visual Format Language) for creating NSLayoutConstraint's.",
    "description": "Offers more readable and concise replacement for constraintWithItem:attribute:relatedBy:toItem:attribute:multiplier:constant: (NSLayoutConstraint, AutoLayout mechanism).",
    "homepage": "",
    "license": {
        "type": "BSD",
        "file": "LICENSE"
    "authors": {
        "Polidea": "[email protected]"
    "platforms": {
        "ios": "6.0"
    "source": {
        "git": "",
        "tag": "1.0.0"
    "source_files": "PLXVisualAttributeConstraints/PLXVisualAttributeConstraints/**/*.{h,m}",
    "requires_arc": true

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