As iOS developer we often do some synchronous process and use a loading indicator to a view to tell user that loading is in progress. There are some faboulous libraries out there to show a loading is in progress, like SVProgressHUD and MBProgressHUD.

But somewhat we just want a simple UIActivityIndicatorView to show that process. Normally we add it by using this simple code:

UIView *superview = self.view;

CGFloat activityIndicatorHeight = 20.0;
CGFloat activityIndicatorWidth = 20.0;

CGFloat originX = superview.frame.size.width/2 - activityIndicatorWidth / 2;
CGFloat originY = superview.frame.size.height/2 - activityIndicatorHeight / 2;

UIActivityIndicatorView *act =[UIActivityIndicatorView new];
act.backgroundColor = [UIColor redColor];
act.frame = (CGRect){originX,originY,activityIndicatorWidth,activityIndicatorHeight};
[self.view addSubview:act];

[act startAnimating];

Phew, for showing a simple UIActivityIndicatorView on the center of the screen we need at least this much of code. Imagine if we want to add it to a dozens of cells on a UICollectionView. Or even on a different view on different view controller. Soon your view controllers or custom views become so big and not easy to maintain.

Now, with several steps that I will show you we can show a simple UIActivityIndicatorView by just this much cleaner command:

[superview.activityIndicatorView startAnimating];

and hide it using this command:

[superview.activityIndicatorView stopAnimating];

Much simple yeah? So how do we do that? We will use these 2 Objective C features:

  1. Categories
  2. Associated Objects

We use category for placing our activity indicator initialization so that we have a clean and better separation of concern to our code, then since we can’t have properties in a category, we use associated object to add custom properties to UIView class.

First, we create a UIView category named UIView+ActivityIndicator and add a property in its header.

#import <UIKit/UIKit.h>

@interface UIView (ActivityIndicator)

@property(nonatomic, strong) UIActivityIndicatorView *activityIndicatorView;


Since we use runtime library of Objective C, we need to import it beforehand

#import <objc/runtime.h>

then we add getter to that property in the implementation file

- (UIActivityIndicatorView *)activityIndicatorView
UIActivityIndicatorView *activityIndicatorView = objc_getAssociatedObject(self, @selector(activityIndicatorView));

if (!activityIndicatorView) {

CGSize loadingSize = CGSizeMake(20, 20);
CGFloat activityIndicatorOriginX = self.frame.size.width/2 - loadingSize.width/2;
CGFloat activityIndicatorOriginY = self.frame.size.height/2 - loadingSize.height/2;

activityIndicatorView = [[UIActivityIndicatorView alloc]initWithFrame:

[activityIndicatorView setActivityIndicatorViewStyle:UIActivityIndicatorViewStyleGray];
[self addSubview:activityIndicatorView];


// default is stop the animation
[activityIndicatorView stopAnimating];
[self setActivityIndicatorView:activityIndicatorView];

return activityIndicatorView;

the getter will create a new default object of UIActivityIndicatorView, if there’s none, before adding it to the view.


Now, by importing our category file "UIView+ActivityIndicator.h", you can startAnimating your UIActivityIndicatorView right at the center of the view.

[view.activityIndicatorView startAnimating];

You can see full example in Github