Adding a UIViewController inside a UICollectionView Cell

It's relatively easy to do this now

Issue 1, with table views, if you only have a small number of cells, you can simply click to make the cells static - and you're done. Unfortunately with collection views, Apple did not add the ability to make them static. So you have to do it the hard way.

1, Figure out how to dynamically add a container view in to a normal scene:

This tutorial:

perfectly explains how to add container views dynamically (to ordinary scenes).

Scroll down to "dynamically load ..."

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2, But cells are not view controllers!

The fact is your cell will have to know about its own boss view controller:

class CrazyBigCell: UICollectionViewCell {
    weak var boss: ThatClass? = nil

when you make the cells, set that "boss" variable...

func collectionView(_ collectionView: UICollectionView,
                cellForItemAt indexPath: IndexPath) -> UICollectionViewCell {
    let cell = collectionView.dequeueReusableCell(
      withReuseIdentifier: "CrazyBigCellID", for: indexPath) as! CrazyBigCell
    cell.boss = self = someData[indexPath.row]
    return cell

3, So install the container view, but using the boss's VC

Follow the tutorial above exactly, but: when it comes to adding the child VC, add it to the boss VC.

class CrazyBigCell: UICollectionViewCell {
    weak var boss: ThatClass? = nil
    @IBOutlet var chatHolder: UIView!
    var chat: Chat? = nil

and so ... the secret sauce is: normally you would say something like


but instead it is


So ...

private func _installChatBlock() {
    if chat == nil {
        print(">>> installing chat for " + name etc)
        chat = _sb("Chat") as? Chat
        chat!.didMove(toParent: boss)
    else {
        print(">>> already had a Chat for " + name etc)
    chat!.data = data  // or whatever
    chat!.loadOurChat() // or whatever

Where to call _installChatBlock ?

Very likely, call that where you set the data for this cell

var data: [String : Any] = [:] { // whatever
    didSet {
        headline.text = data["headline.text"] // etc
        name.text = data["name"] // etc


You will need to make a custom container view controller:

func display(contentController content: UIViewController, on view: UIView) {
    content.view.frame = view.bounds
    content.didMove(toParentViewController: self)

For each cell in your container, you will have to call something like the above function with the correct child view controller on the cell's content view.

Be careful not to try to add multiple view controllers onto the same cell and make sure they get removed properly as well.

This idea is complex enough that it isn't conducive to a simple stack overflow answer but hopefully the above will be enough to get you started.