Asynchronous Request within UITableViewCell

The Problem:
I have an image that needs to be loaded for each table cell. Unfortunately this causes the UI to become unresponsive for a couple seconds when you click to go to that table view.

The Solution:
Make the call to get the image data asynchronous.

First in our tableview delegate method, cellForRowAtIndexPath, we’ll use NSURLConnection to create the connection.

NSURLRequest *req = [[NSURLRequest alloc] initWithURL:[NSURL URLWithString:@""]];
NSURLConnection *imgCon = [NSURLConnection alloc];
..... /** Code added later  **/
[imgCon initWithRequest:req delegate:self startImmediately:YES];

There are 2 delegate methods that you need to have to make this work. (There are others that you’ll probably want to implement as well. Apple Docs)

-(void)connection:(NSURLConnection *)connection didReceiveData:(NSData *)data;
-(void)connectionDidFinishLoading:(NSURLConnection *)connection;

The didReceiveData method will probably be called multiple times. So we need to create a variable to keep on appending the data to it. Since we are creating multiple connections we need to map each connection to the data. But we also need to know which table cell we need to update once we have all the data.
So we create 2 NSMutableDictionary objects. One to map the table cells indexPath to the data and one to map the connection to the indexPath.

NSMutableDictionary *indexPathImgData;
NSMutableDictionary *connectionIndexPath;

The problem that arrises from trying to map the connection to the indexPath is that NSURLConnection doesn’t conform to the NSCopying Protocol. To get around this we need to use CFMutableDictionary. When adding values to a CFMutableDictionary “the keys and values are not copied—they are retained” (Apple Docs on CFMutableDictionary)

So to add the values to our NSMutableDictionary we will use the CFDictionaryAddValue function.

Now our cellForRowAtIndexPath method will look like this:

NSURLRequest *req = [[NSURLRequest alloc] initWithURL:[NSURL URLWithString:@""]];
NSURLConnection *imageCon = [NSURLConnection alloc];

CFDictionaryAddValue((CFMutableDictionaryRef)self.connectionIndexPath, imageCon, indexPath);
NSMutableData *imageData = [NSMutableData dataWithCapacity:0];
CFDictionaryAddValue((CFMutableDictionaryRef)self.indexPathImgData, indexPath, imageData);

[imageCon initWithRequest:req delegate:self startImmediately:YES];

And our NSURLConnection Delegate methods will look something like this:

- (void)connection:(NSURLConnection *)connection didReceiveData:(NSData *)data {

    [[self.indexPathImgData objectForKey:[self.connectionIndexPath objectForKey:connection]] appendData:data];

-(void)connectionDidFinishLoading:(NSURLConnection *)connection
    NSIndexPath *temp = [self.connectionIndexPath objectForKey:connection];
    [self.tableView reloadRowsAtIndexPaths:[NSArray arrayWithObject:temp] withRowAnimation:UITableViewRowAnimationNone];


Now in your cellForRowAtIndexPath method you’ll want to do a check if the dictionary object has data for that indexPath and if so display it otherwise you’ll want to create a new connection.