In this comprehensive guide, we will embark on a journey to create a basic yet functional calculator application, focusing on addition and subtraction of integer values. The programming language of choice for this endeavor is Swift, and the tutorial is tailored for users of Xcode 6, which is accessible through Apple’s Developer Portal.

Building an Intuitive Calculator App: A Comprehensive Swift and Xcode Tutorial

Step 1: Project Initialization

Kickstart your journey by launching Xcode and opting to create a new project. Select the Single View Application template. When prompted for details, name your project iOS8SwiftCalculatorTutorial and fill in your unique Organization Name and Identifier. Ensure the programming language is set to Swift and specify the device as iPhone.

Step 2: Interface Setup

Navigate to the Storyboard and adjust the width setting to ‘compact’ to facilitate a portrait mode view tailored for iPhone.

  1. Adding and Configuring a Label;
  2. Introduce a label to the top section of the main view;
  3. Within the property inspector, select the “Right Alignment” option;
  4. Assign a title of “0” to the label;
  5. Activate the assistant editor and open the ViewController.swift file;
  6. Establish a connection from the label to the class section in the file by using the Ctrl-drag method, subsequently creating an outlet.

Incorporating Number Buttons:

  1. Place a button on the view, labeling it as “1”;
  2. Establish an action for the button using Ctrl-drag, positioning it just below the previously created outlet;
  3. Duplicate this button within the storyboard to generate the remaining digits (0-9), ensuring the IBAction connection is replicated for each. Arrange them aesthetically, ensuring a user-friendly interface.

Step 3: Arithmetic Operations

Adding the Minus Button:

  1. Introduce a new button, assigning it the minus (“-“) symbol;
  2. Using Ctrl+Click, drag from the newly added button to the ViewController.swift file, positioning it beneath the numberTapped action, and create an action;
  3. Integrating the Plus Button;
  4. Duplicate the minus button and adjust its label to the plus (“+”) sign.

Implementing the Equals Button:

  1. Add an additional button below the “0” button, labeling it as equals (“=”);
  2. Establish an action for this button in the ViewController.swift file, placing it beneath the previous actions;
  3. Upon completion, ensure your storyboard mirrors the intended final layout.

Step 4: Coding the Functionality

Initiate the coding journey by declaring essential variables just below the class declaration line class ViewController: UIViewController {. These variables will act as the foundation, holding pivotal information throughout the calculation process.

var isTypingNumber: Bool = false
var firstNumber: Int = 0
var secondNumber: Int = 0
var operation: String = ""
  • isTypingNumber: This boolean variable plays a crucial role in tracking the user’s actions, discerning whether a numerical digit is being entered or an operation is being invoked;
  • firstNumber & secondNumber: These integer variables will store the operands for our calculation;
  • operation: A string variable designated to hold the operation type, whether it’s addition or subtraction.

Crafting the Number Input Method

Next on the agenda is the implementation of the numberTapped method. This method is responsible for capturing the user’s numerical input and displaying it on the calculator’s screen.

@IBAction func numberTapped(sender: AnyObject) {
    let number = sender.currentTitle ?? ""
    if isTypingNumber {
        calculatorDisplay.text?.append(contentsOf: number)
    } else {
        calculatorDisplay.text = number
        isTypingNumber = true

In this method:

  • The number tapped is retrieved from the sender’s current title;
  • If isTypingNumber is true, indicating ongoing numerical input, the digit is appended to the current display;
  • If it’s the initiation of a number entry, the display is set to the digit, and isTypingNumber is set to true.

Implementing the Operation Method

Following the number input, we delve into the calculationTapped method, designed to transition from number input to performing calculations.

@IBAction func calculationTapped(sender: AnyObject) {
    if let currentText = calculatorDisplay.text, let number = Int(currentText) {
        isTypingNumber = false
        firstNumber = number
        operation = sender.currentTitle ?? ""

In this segment:

  • The transition is marked by setting isTypingNumber to false;
  • The displayed number is captured and stored as firstNumber;
  • The operation type is identified and stored from the sender’s title.

Executing the Calculation

The final piece of our logical puzzle is the equalsTapped method, where the calculation based on user input comes to fruition.

@IBAction func equalsTapped(sender: AnyObject) {
    if let currentText = calculatorDisplay.text, let number = Int(currentText) {
        isTypingNumber = false
        secondNumber = number
        let result: Int
        switch operation {
            case "+": result = firstNumber + secondNumber
            case "-": result = firstNumber - secondNumber
            default: return
        calculatorDisplay.text = String(result)

In this culmination:

  • Typing is halted, and the second operand is stored;
  • The calculation is executed based on the operation type;
  • The result is converted to a String and displayed.

Bringing It All Together

Having laid down the code, it’s time to build and run the project, breathing life into your creation. Test various calculations to ensure everything functions as intended. Through this detailed guide, you have not only created a calculator but also gained valuable insights into Swift, honing your skills in application development and user interface design. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and continue to explore the vast possibilities in the world of coding! Discover the secret to efficient interaction with our guide on the art of ‘Long Press.’


In conclusion, this extensive tutorial has equipped you with the knowledge and practical skills to successfully build a functional and intuitive calculator application, specifically designed for addition and subtraction operations with integers. Utilizing Swift as the programming language and Xcode 6 for development, you have navigated through the intricacies of interface setup, button integration, and coding the underlying functionality.

Whether you are a budding programmer or looking to refine your existing skills, this tutorial has offered a practical and comprehensive guide to creating a basic yet essential application. The journey doesn’t have to end here; take this foundational knowledge and continue to explore, experiment, and expand your capabilities in the exciting world of app development. Happy coding!

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