How does cellForRowAtIndexPath work?

I’ll try and break it down (example from documention)

 *   The cellForRowAtIndexPath takes for argument the tableView (so if the same object
 *   is delegate for several tableViews it can identify which one is asking for a cell),
 *   and an indexPath which determines which row and section the cell is returned for. 
- (UITableViewCell *)tableView:(UITableView *)tableView cellForRowAtIndexPath:(NSIndexPath *)indexPath {

     *   This is an important bit, it asks the table view if it has any available cells
     *   already created which it is not using (if they are offScreen), so that it can
     *   reuse them (saving the time of alloc/init/load from xib a new cell ).
     *   The identifier is there to differentiate between different types of cells
     *   (you can display different types of cells in the same table view)

    UITableViewCell *cell = [tableView dequeueReusableCellWithIdentifier:@"MyIdentifier"];

     *   If the cell is nil it means no cell was available for reuse and that we should
     *   create a new one.
    if (cell == nil) {

         *   Actually create a new cell (with an identifier so that it can be dequeued). 

        cell = [[[UITableViewCell alloc] initWithStyle:UITableViewCellStyleSubtitle reuseIdentifier:@"MyIdentifier"] autorelease];

        cell.selectionStyle = UITableViewCellSelectionStyleNone;


     *   Now that we have a cell we can configure it to display the data corresponding to
     *   this row/section

    NSDictionary *item = (NSDictionary *)[self.content objectAtIndex:indexPath.row];
    cell.textLabel.text = [item objectForKey:@"mainTitleKey"];
    cell.detailTextLabel.text = [item objectForKey:@"secondaryTitleKey"];
    NSString *path = [[NSBundle mainBundle] pathForResource:[item objectForKey:@"imageKey"] ofType:@"png"];
    UIImage *theImage = [UIImage imageWithContentsOfFile:path];
    cell.imageView.image = theImage;

    /* Now that the cell is configured we return it to the table view so that it can display it */

    return cell;


This is a DataSource method so it will be called on whichever object has declared itself as the DataSource of the UITableView. It is called when the table view actually needs to display the cell onscreen, based on the number of rows and sections (which you specify in other DataSource methods).

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