UITableView with Animating Section Header

So, I’ve been scratching my head on an issue I’ve been having:

I want to have a UITableView with a section header, because I want it to stick to the top of the screen while scrolling.  The thing is, it’s supposed to have a search bar that expands when you enter “search mode”.

What you see in the video is my prototype.  Tapping a table cell is supposed to toggle this search mode on and off.  In the video above you see that that table cell layout updates and expands, but the section header seems to be “one click behind” and expands when the cell layouts push up because they think the header is shorter.

This behaviour happened via the standard posts on stack overflow.  Here, for example.

Now, perhaps my issue is because I also have a stretchy section header, which I based off of this post:

Anyway, I found the solution involved a slightly complicated solution, but once it’s in place, there’s little to know (i, ii, iii, …) and do (A, B, C, D, …) :

i)  I assume you will have one section on your table view
A) Define an associated view on your view controller, which will be your “expandableHeaderView” (more on the specifics later)
Screenshot 2016-03-17 14.03.04

B) Define your class to have such properties and methods:

@interface QLExpandableSectionHeaderTableViewController : UITableViewController

@property (nonatomic, assign) IBInspectable NSInteger expandableSectionHeaderInactiveHeight;  // defaults to 44
@property (nonatomic, assign) IBInspectable NSInteger expandableSectionHeaderActiveHeight; // defaults to 88

@property (nonatomic, strong) IBOutlet UIView *expandableHeaderView;

@property (nonatomic, readwrite, getter=isHeaderExpanded) BOOL headerExpanded;

- (void)setSectionHeaderHeightExpanded:(BOOL)expanded animated:(BOOL)animated;


@implementation QLExpandableSectionHeaderTableViewController

- (instancetype)initWithCoder:(NSCoder *)aDecoder
    self = [super initWithCoder:aDecoder];
    if (self) {
        _expandableSectionHeaderInactiveHeight = 44.f;
        _expandableSectionHeaderActiveHeight = 88.0f;
    return self;

- (void)viewDidLoad {
    [super viewDidLoad];
    if (!self.expandableHeaderView) {
        NSLog(@"WARNING: You haven't provided an associated header view you want to use when toggling section header height!");
        // this has to be clear, since animation doesn't quite work as desired.
        self.expandableHeaderView.backgroundColor = [UIColor clearColor];

- (CGFloat)tableView:(UITableView *)tableView heightForHeaderInSection:(NSInteger)section
    if (section == 0) {
        if (self.isHeaderExpanded) {
            return self.expandableSectionHeaderActiveHeight;
        return self.expandableSectionHeaderInactiveHeight;
    return 0;

- (UIView*)tableView:(UITableView *)tableView viewForHeaderInSection:(NSInteger)section
    if (section == 0) {
        if (self.expandableHeaderView) {
            return self.expandableHeaderView;
            // will probably never get used
            UIView *header = [UIView new];
            header.backgroundColor = [UIColor redColor];
            header.frame = CGRectMake(0, 0, self.tableView.bounds.size.width, self.expandableSectionHeaderInactiveHeight);
            return header;

    return nil;

- (void)toggleSectionHeader:(UIButton*)button
    if (self.isHeaderExpanded) {
        [self setSectionHeaderHeightExpanded:NO animated:YES];
    else {
        [self setSectionHeaderHeightExpanded:YES animated:YES];

- (void)setSectionHeaderHeightExpanded:(BOOL)expanded animated:(BOOL)animated
    if (self.isHeaderExpanded && expanded) {
        return;  // nothing to do!
    self.headerExpanded = expanded;
    [self.tableView beginUpdates];
    [self.tableView endUpdates];
    //NSLog(@"%@", self.searchHeaderView.constraints);
    __block NSLayoutConstraint *headerHeightConstraint = nil;
    [self.expandableHeaderView.constraints enumerateObjectsUsingBlock:^(__kindof NSLayoutConstraint * _Nonnull obj, NSUInteger idx, BOOL * _Nonnull stop) {
        // I determined this name by logging the self.searchHeaderView.constraints and noticed
        // it had a constant value that was one of my searchBar(In)activeHeight values.
        if ([obj.identifier isEqualToString:@"UIView-Encapsulated-Layout-Height"]) {
            headerHeightConstraint = obj;
            *stop = YES;
    CGFloat newHeight = expanded ? self.expandableSectionHeaderActiveHeight : self.expandableSectionHeaderInactiveHeight;
    headerHeightConstraint.constant = newHeight;
    // after the animation completes, the expandableHeaderView's frame doesn't change until a layout update
    // , which only happens after you start scrolling.  This will ensure it has the right size as well.
    CGRect frame = self.expandableHeaderView.frame;
    frame.size.height = newHeight;
    [UIView animateWithDuration:animated ? 0.3f : 0.0f
                         [self.tableView layoutIfNeeded];
                     } completion:^(BOOL finished) {
                         self.expandableHeaderView.frame = frame;

The code above will handle animation.  There is still some weirdness happening on the UIKit side of things, because the the header view’s subviews animate according to auto-layout, but the self.expandableHeaderView doesn’t visually change size until a layout update occurs.  And this only occurs once you start scrolling.  So we set that frame to the size it’s supposed to have, and that sorts it all out. As a result, we have to set the self.expandableHeaderView.backgroundColor = [UIColor clearColor];

And that solved the problem! It’s a bit hacky, but I found no other way to accomplish this that isn’t THAT ugly.

And here’s the result:


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