Material Design

Text fields

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Text fields allow users to input text into your app. They are a direct connection to your users’ thoughts and intentions via on-screen, or physical, keyboard. The Material Design Text Fields take the familiar element to new levels by adding useful animations, character counts, helper text, error states, and styles.

Text Fields

MDC’s text fields come in several styles and have a great range of customization. Google’s UX research has determined that Outlined and Filled (aka ‘text box’) styles perform the best by a large margin. So use MDCTextInputControllerFilled, MDCTextInputControllerOutlined, and MDCTextInputControllerOutlinedTextArea if you can and set colors and fonts that match your company’s branding.

For more information on text field styles, and animated images of each style in action, see Text Field Styles.

Design & API documentation

Table of contents


Overview

Text Fields provides both a single-line version based on UITextField and a multi-line version backed by UITextView as well as objects that customize the text fields’ behavior and appearance called ‘Text Input Controllers’.

The actual components (MDCTextField & MDCMultilineTextField) are ‘dumb’: they do not have styles, animations, or advanced features. They are designed to be controlled from the outside, via very liberal public API, with a text input controller.

Most text input controllers included are based on MDCTextInputControllerBase which manipulates the exposed elements of the text field to make placeholders float.

There is also a text input controller for full-width forms (MDCTextInputControllerFullWidth). Like MDCTextInputControllerBased controllers, it also handles errors and character counting but has not been thoroughly tested with UX research.

Customize the included text input controllers via their parameters or create your own to express your app’s brand identity thru typography, color, and animation: if the placeholder should move, add constraints or change the frame. If the trailing label should display validation information, change the text and color it.

This pattern is not a delegation or data source-like relationship but rather a controller-to-view relationship: the text field does not require nor expect to be served data or instruction but is instead malleable and easily influenced by outside interference.

Installation

Installation with CocoaPods

Add the following to your Podfile:

pod 'MaterialComponents/TextFields'

Then, run the following command:

pod install

Importing

To import the component:

Swift

import MaterialComponents.MaterialTextFields

Objective-C

#import "MaterialTextFields.h"

Text Field Classes: The Inputs

Text Field

This is a single-line text input. It’s subclassed from UITextField and supports all the features you’d expect from a UITextField:

  • Placeholder
  • Overlay views (left and right / leading and trailing)
  • Custom fonts, colors
  • Clear button

as well as new features:

  • Underline
  • Labels below the input
  • Custom layouts
  • Persistable placeholder
  • Border view

Multi-line Text Field

This is a multi-line text input. It’s subclassed from UIView with an embedded UITextView. It supports all the features of the single-line text field and UITextView plus:

  • Minimum number of lines

See Text Field Styles for images and details.

These are the controllers that have been optimized for discoverability and clickability thru rigorous research, design iterations, and user testing. Always try to use one of these first.

MDCTextInputControllerFilled

Filled background with underline.

MDCTextInputControllerOutlined

Outlined background with no fill.

MDCTextInputControllerOutlinedTextArea

Nearly identical to MDCTextInputControllerOutlined but with two differences:

  • Intended only for multi-line text fields that remain expanded when empty
  • The floating placeholder does not cross the border but rather floats below it

Text Input Controller Classes: Cautioned

See Text Field Styles for images and details.

These are the controllers that have performed the worst in user testing or haven’t been extensively user tested at all. Use them only if you have to or conduct your own A/B testing against one of the recommended controllers to see if they perform as expected in your application.

MDCTextInputControllerFullWidth

Optimized for full width forms like emails. While common in messaging apps, its design hasn’t been rigorously tested with users. For now, the Material Design team suggests using this only when another design is impracticle.

MDCTextInputControllerUnderline

‘Classic’ 2014 Material Design text field. This style is still found in many applications and sites but should be considered deprecated. It tested poorly in Material Research’s user testing. Use MDCTextInputControllerFilled or MDCTextInputControllerOutlined instead.

MDCTextInputControllerLegacyDefault && MDCTextInputControllerLegacyFullWidth

Soon to be deprecated styles only created and included for backwards compatibility of the library. They have no visual distinction from the other full width and underline controllers but their layout behaves slightly differently.

Text Input Controller Classes: For Subclassing Only

See Text Field Styles for images and details.

MDCTextInputControllerBase

This class is meant to be subclassed and not used on its own. It’s a full implementation of the MDCTextInputControllerFloatingPlaceholder protocol and holds all the ‘magic’ logic necessary to make:

  • Floating placeholder animations
  • Errors
  • Character counts

Usage

A text field that conforms to MDCTextInput can be added to a view hierarchy the same way UITextField and UIView are. But to achieve the animations and presentations defined by the guidelines (floating placeholders, character counts), a controller that conforms to protocol MDCTextInputController must be initialized to manage the text field.

NOTE: Expect to interact with both the text field (for the traditional API) and the controller (for changes affecting the presentation and state).

Examples - Multi Line

Text Field with Floating Placeholder

Swift

let textFieldFloating = MDCMultilineTextField()
scrollView.addSubview(textFieldFloating)

textFieldFloating.placeholder = "Full Name"
textFieldFloating.textView.delegate = self

textFieldControllerFloating = MDCTextInputControllerUnderline(textInput: textFieldFloating) // Hold on as a property

Objective-C

MDCMultilineTextField *textFieldFloating = [[MDCMultilineTextField alloc] init];
[self.scrollView addSubview:textFieldFloating];

textFieldFloating.placeholder = @"Full Name";
textFieldFloating.textView.delegate = self;

self.textFieldControllerFloating = [[MDCTextInputControllerUnderline alloc] initWithTextInput:textFieldFloating];

Text Field with Character Count and Inline Placeholder

Swift

// First the text field component is setup just like a UITextField
let textFieldDefaultCharMax = MDCMultilineTextField()
scrollView.addSubview(textFieldDefaultCharMax)

textFieldDefaultCharMax.placeholder = "Enter up to 50 characters"
textFieldDefaultCharMax.textView.delegate = self

// Second the controller is created to manage the text field
textFieldControllerDefaultCharMax = MDCTextInputControllerUnderline(textInput: textFieldDefaultCharMax) // Hold on as a property
textFieldControllerDefaultCharMax.characterCountMax = 50
textFieldControllerDefaultCharMax.isFloatingEnabled = false

Objective-C

// First the text field component is setup just like a UITextField
MDCMultilineTextField *textFieldDefaultCharMax = [[MDCMultilineTextField alloc] init];
[self.scrollView addSubview:textFieldDefaultCharMax];

textFieldDefaultCharMax.placeholder = @"Enter up to 50 characters";
textFieldDefaultCharMax.textView.delegate = self;

// Second the controller is created to manage the text field
self.textFieldControllerDefaultCharMax = [[MDCTextInputControllerUnderline alloc] initWithTextInput: textFieldDefaultCharMax];
self.textFieldControllerDefaultCharMax.characterCountMax = 50;
self.textFieldControllerDefaultCharMax.floatingEnabled = NO;

Extensions

Text Fields Color Theming

You can theme a text field with your app’s color scheme using the ColorThemer extension.

You must first add the Color Themer extension to your project:

pod 'MaterialComponents/TextFields+ColorThemer'

Swift

// Step 1: Import the ColorThemer extension
import MaterialComponents.MaterialTextFields_ColorThemer

// Step 2: Create or get a color scheme
let colorScheme = MDCSemanticColorScheme()

// Step 3: Apply the color scheme to your component

// Applying to a text field
MDCTextFieldColorThemer.apply(colorScheme, to: textField)

// Applying to an input controller
MDCTextFieldColorThemer.applySemanticColorScheme(colorScheme, to: inputController)

// Applying to a specific class type of inputController
MDCTextFieldColorThemer.applySemanticColorScheme(colorScheme, 
    toAllControllersOfClass: MDCTextInputControllerUnderline.self)

Objective-C

// Step 1: Import the ColorThemer extension
#import "MaterialTextFields+ColorThemer.h"

// Step 2: Create or get a color scheme
id<MDCColorScheming> colorScheme = [[MDCSemanticColorScheme alloc] init];

// Step 3: Apply the color scheme to your component

// Applying to a text field
[MDCTextFieldColorThemer applySemanticColorScheme:colorScheme toTextInput:textField];

// Applying to an input controller
[MDCTextFieldColorThemer applySemanticColorScheme:colorScheme
                            toTextInputController:inputController];

// Applying to a specific class type of inputController
[MDCTextFieldColorThemer applySemanticColorScheme:colorScheme 
                 toAllTextInputControllersOfClass:[MDCTextInputControllerUnderline class]];

Text Fields Typography Theming

You can theme a text field with your app’s typography scheme using the TypographyThemer extension.

You must first add the Typography Themer extension to your project:

pod 'MaterialComponents/TextFields+TypographyThemer'

Swift

// Step 1: Import the TypographyThemer extension
import MaterialComponents.MaterialTextFields_TypographyThemer

// Step 2: Create or get a typography scheme
let typographyScheme = MDCTypographyScheme()

// Step 3: Apply the typography scheme to your component

// Applying to a text field
MDCTextFieldTypographyThemer.apply(typographyScheme, to: textField)

// Applying to an input controller
MDCTextFieldTypographyThemer.apply(typographyScheme, to: inputController)

// Applying to a specific class type of inputController
MDCTextFieldTypographyThemer.apply(typographyScheme, 
    toAllControllersOfClass: MDCTextInputControllerUnderline.self) 

Objective-C

// Step 1: Import the TypographyThemer extension
#import "MaterialTextFields+TypographyThemer.h"

// Step 2: Create or get a typography scheme
id<MDCTypographyScheming> typographyScheme = [[MDCTypographyScheme alloc] init];

// Step 3: Apply the typography scheme to your component

// Applying to a text field
[MDCTextFieldTypographyThemer applyTypographyScheme:typographyScheme toTextInput:textField];

// Applying to an input controller
[MDCTextFieldTypographyThemer applyTypographyScheme:typographyScheme
                              toTextInputController:inputController];

// Applying to a specific class type of inputController
[MDCTextFieldTypographyThemer applyTypographyScheme:typographyScheme 
                   toAllTextInputControllersOfClass:[MDCTextInputControllerUnderline class]];

Accessibility

MDCTextField Accessibility

Like UITextFields, MDCTextFields are accessible by default. To best take advantage of their accessibility features please review the following recommendations.

-accessibilityValue Behavior

Similar to UITextFields, MDCTextFields are not accessibility elements themselves. Rather, they are accessibility containers whose subviews act as accessibility elements. Such subviews include the MDCTextField’s placeholder label, the leading and trailing underline labels, and the clear button. The accessibilityLabels of these subviews contribute to the accessibilityValue of the MDCTextField as a whole, giving it a value consistent with that of a UITextField in a similar state. If the MDCTextField is empty, it will return a combination of any placeholderLabel text and leading underline text. If the MDCTextField is not empty, it will return a combination of the MDCTextField’s current text and any leading underline text.

Using -accessibilityLabel

MDCTextField does not provide a custom implementation for accessibilityLabel. The client is free to set an appropriate accessibilityLabel following norms established by Apple if they wish. However, they should consider whether or not it it will provide information that is superfluous. A common scenario in which an accessibilityLabel might not be necessary would be an MDCTextField whose leading underline label (a view not present in UITextFields) conveys the information that an accessibility label might have otherwise conveyed. For example, if an MDCTextField is intended to hold a user’s zip code, and the leading underline label’s accessibilityLabel is already “Zip code”, setting an accessibilityLabel of “Zip code” on the MDCTextField may lead to duplicate VoiceOver statements.

Using -accessibilityHint

In general, Apple advises designing your user interface in such a way that clarification in the form of an -accessibilityHint is not needed. However, it is always an option.