How To Extract String Reference To An Image In iOS And Then Load The Image Later?

Recently I had to create this flow in one of my projects:

  1. Let the user select an image from the gallery.
  2. Store the image reference to Core Data.
  3. Later, load the image from the gallery using the saved reference and show image again to the user.

Here is how I did the job:

How To Let User Select An Image From Gallery?

Imagine you have controller MyDummyController which shows a button “Pick An Image”. You’d like to open phone Gallery when that button is tapped. First make sure that your controller implements UIImagePickerControllerDelegate.

@interface MyDummyController : UIViewController<UIImagePickerControllerDelegate>

Next, implement following methods in your implementation file.

// make sure this method is invoked when you tap "Pick An Image" button
    UIImagePickerController *imagePicker = [[UIImagePickerController alloc] init];
    imagePicker.delegate = self;
    imagePicker.sourceType = UIImagePickerControllerSourceTypePhotoLibrary;
    [self presentViewController:imagePicker animated:YES completion:nil];

-(void)imagePickerController:(UIImagePickerController *)picker didFinishPickingMediaWithInfo:(NSDictionary *)info
    // here is the image user selected
    UIImage *image = [info objectForKey:@"UIImagePickerControllerOriginalImage"];

    // here is the URL to the image
    NSURL *url = [info objectForKey:@"UIImagePickerControllerReferenceURL"];

How To Extract String Reference From The Image URL?

In different persistence systems, for example Core Data, you cannot save an NSURL directly. Which means, if you want to store reference of selected image somewhere, you’ll need it in a string. It can be done like below:

    NSURL *url = [info objectForKey:@"UIImagePickerControllerReferenceURL"];
    NSString *ref = url.absoluteString;
    // now you can persist your string reference somewhere

How To Load Image Again Using String Reference?

// here we are loading the string reference to image we want to load
NSString *ref = [self loadMyImageRef]; // loadMyImageRef is a dummy method, you can put your implementation here

// ALAssetsLibrary provides a way to access photos/videos in gallery programmatically
ALAssetsLibrary *library = [[ALAssetsLibrary alloc] init];
[library assetForURL:[NSURL URLWithString:ref] resultBlock:^(ALAsset *asset) {
    // here we have received the image data, now you can easily display it wherever you like
    UIImage *image = [UIImage imageWithCGImage:asset.defaultRepresentation.fullResolutionImage];
    NSLog(@"Image loaded successfully!");
} failureBlock:^(NSError *error) {
    NSLog(@"An error occurred while loading image: %@", error.description);

Published by

Umar Ashfaq

Umar Ashfaq is a full-stack web developer. His core strength is building neat UIs with JavaScript on web but he also enjoys server side Java, NodeJS and Objective C. Follow him on twitter @umarashfaq87

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