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iphone Programming : Integrating Your Application - Using the Address Book

2/2/2013 6:09:24 PM
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Just like the MPMediaPickerController class in the preceding section, Apple has provided an ABPeoplePickerNavigationController and associated delegate protocol to allow you to both prompt the user for contact information and display contact information to the user. However, in this case the framework it provides also allows your application to interact with person and group records directly.


Once you reach the lower levels of the Address Book framework—for instance, dealing with individual person records—the interface presented by the framework is in C rather than Objective-C. This is especially obvious when dealing with the address book programmatically rather than interactively using the navigation controller.

1. Interactive People Picking

To illustrate how to use the ABPeoplePickerNavigationController, we’re going to reuse the Prototype application code yet again. So, open the Finder and navigate to the location where you saved the Prototype project. Right-click on the folder containing the project files and select Duplicate; a folder called Prototype copy will be created containing a duplicate of the project. Rename the folder Prototype4, and just as we did before, prune the application down to the stub (as we did in the previous section for the media player example) with the Go! button and associated pushedGo: method that we’ll use to trigger the display of our address book picker.

Click on the PrototypeViewController.h interface file to open it in the Xcode editor. We need to declare the class as both an ABPeoplePickerNavigationControllerDelegate and a UINavigationControllerDelegate. Both declarations are necessary for the class to interact with the ABPeoplePickerNavigationController:

#import <UIKit/UIKit.h>
#import <AddressBook/AddressBook.h>
					#import <AddressBookUI/AddressBookUI.h>

@interface PrototypeViewController : UIViewController
    IBOutlet UIButton *goButton;

-(IBAction) pushedGo:(id)sender;


Now modify the pushedGo: method in the corresponding PrototypeViewController.m implementation file:

-(IBAction) pushedGo:(id)sender {
    ABPeoplePickerNavigationController *peoplePicker =
     [[ABPeoplePickerNavigationController alloc] init];
    peoplePicker.peoplePickerDelegate = self;
    [self presentModalViewController:peoplePicker animated:YES];
    [peoplePicker release];

Next, add the three mandatory ABPeoplePickerNavigationControllerDelegate methods specified by the delegate protocol:

- (BOOL)peoplePickerNavigationController:
  (ABPeoplePickerNavigationController *)picker
    [self dismissModalViewControllerAnimated:YES];
    return NO;

- (BOOL)peoplePickerNavigationController:
  (ABPeoplePickerNavigationController *)picker
    return NO;

- (void)peoplePickerNavigationControllerDidCancel:
  (ABPeoplePickerNavigationController *)picker
    [self dismissModalViewControllerAnimated:YES];

We’ve reached a point where you can compile and check the code, but remember that you should also add the AddressBook and AddressBookUI frameworks to the project before clicking the Build and Run button in the Xcode toolbar. When you do so, you should see the familiar gray screen with the Go! button as shown in Figure 1; click it and you’ll be presented with a view of the address book. Selecting a name in the address book will dismiss the picker view and return you directly to the main gray screen.

Figure 1. The initial main view (left) and the ABPeoplePickerNavigationController (right)

The picker is displayed, but even if the user selects a name from the list, we don’t do anything with the returned record. Let’s add some additional code to the peoplePickerNavigationController:shouldContinueAfterSelectingPerson: method to fix that omission:

- (BOOL)peoplePickerNavigationController:
  (ABPeoplePickerNavigationController *)picker

    NSString *name = (NSString *)ABRecordCopyCompositeName(person);
					ABMutableMultiValueRef phones =
					ABRecordCopyValue(person, kABPersonPhoneProperty);
					NSArray *numbers =
					(NSArray *)ABMultiValueCopyArrayOfAllValues(phones);
					ABMutableMultiValueRef emails =
					ABRecordCopyValue(person, kABPersonEmailProperty);
					NSString *addresses =
					(NSString *)ABMultiValueCopyArrayOfAllValues(emails);
					NSString *note = (NSString *)
					ABRecordCopyValue(person, kABPersonNoteProperty );
					NSLog( @"name = %@, numbers = %@, email = %@, note = %@",
					name, numbers, addresses, note );

    [self dismissModalViewControllerAnimated:YES];
    return NO;

There are two basic types of properties: single-value and multivalue. Single-value properties contain data that can have only a single value, such as a person’s name. Multivalue properties contain data that can have multiple values, such as a person’s phone number. You can see from the preceding code that single-value and multivalue properties are handled slightly differently.


You can find a full list of the different properties available in an address book record in the ABPerson class documentation.

Make sure you’ve saved your changes and click the Build and Run button in the Xcode toolbar to compile and deploy your application into iPhone Simulator. When the application launches, click the Go! button and then select a name from the list. You should see something similar to Figure 2 logged to the Console (select RunConsole from the Xcode menu bar to display the Debugger Console).

Figure 2. The properties returned from the people picker controller for John Appleseed

What if we want to retrieve a specific phone number from the list? It’s easier to let the user select the phone number he needs, and that’s where the peoplePickerNavigationController:shouldContinueAfterSelectingPerson:property:identifier: method would come into play (we returned NO from this earlier in this section, so this example does not allow the user to select a number).

A multivalue property is a list of values, but each value also has a text label and an identifier associated with it. This second delegate method provides you with both the property and the identifier for the value (i.e., a specific phone number) that is of interest to the user.

However, if you know which property value you’re looking for inside the multivalue property, you can programmatically retrieve the identifier for that value. For example, here’s how you’d select the mobile phone number from the list of returned phone numbers:

ABMultiValueRef phones = ABRecordCopyValue(person, kABPersonPhoneProperty);

ABMultiValueIdentifier identifier;
for( int i = 0; i < numbers.count; i++ ) {
    if( CFStringCompare( ABMultiValueCopyLabelAtIndex(phones, i),
        kABPersonPhoneMobileLabel, 1 ) == 0 ) {
        identifier = ABMultiValueGetIdentifierAtIndex(phones, i);

You can then retrieve the mobile phone number at any time by using the identifier:

NSString *mobile =
  (NSString *) ABMultiValueCopyValueAtIndex(phones,
    ABMultiValueGetIndexForIdentifier(phones, identifier));
NSLog(@"Mobile = %@", mobile);

2. Programmatic People Picking

You do not have to use the ABPeoplePickerNavigationController to access the address book; you can access it directly, as shown here:

ABAddressBookRef addressBook = ABAddressBookCreate();
CFArrayRef allPeople = ABAddressBookCopyArrayOfAllPeople(addressBook);

for (int i = 0; i < ABAddressBookGetPersonCount(addressBook); i++) {
    ABRecordRef ref = CFArrayGetValueAtIndex(allPeople, i);
    NSString *contact = (NSString *)ABRecordCopyCompositeName(ref);
     NSLog( @"%@", contact );

The preceding code will instantiate a copy of the address book, retrieve references to all of the records, and then iterate through the array of records. Then, in the same way we dealt with records after interactively retrieving them with the picker controller, we print the full name of each contact to the Debug Console.
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