iPhone App Development: Part 1 – Tools for the Job
The first qualification for developing an iPhone app is owning a Mac, so you can download, install, and run Xcode. Xcode is available for free and without a subscription – but it can only be installed on a Mac with Snow Leopard. You’ll need an Apple ID in order to sign up.
Once you have your trusty Mac with Xcode up and running (there are a bajillion very specific tutorials on how to do this if you have questions), then you’ll need to know how to code…this is the fun part.
I had absolutely no development experience when I started – short of some very very basic Wordpress customizations in CSS, HTML, and PHP. Coding is simply a skill that needs to be learned, mostly centered around syntax and semantics. If you understand computers fairly well, then believe me that you are perfectly qualified to at least try to learn how to program.
These tutorials will focus strictly on iPhone apps, which use the programming language Objective-C. Seeing as I am a “dummy,”I spent a couple of weeks reading two books: Objective C for Dummies and iPhone Application Development for Dummies both by Neal Goldstein. The books are very straightforward, but definitely work better if you are following along in Xcode as you go.
My best advice for anyone learning reading these books while Objective-C from scratch:
- Don’t worry if you have no idea what the Author is talking about, but don’t skip over large sections.
- Don’t try to memorize every way to do things; its super easy to go back and research through documentation.
- Bugs in your software are annoying, but don’t let that stop you from trying something new. Worst case scenario you’ll get a bunch of warnings, and you can always undo code that you just wrote.
- This whole process takes time, especially the first time around. Some of the tasks you learn will be lightning quick, but some will be excruciatingly frustrating. Be ready to invest a little bit of time on the front end, and eventually things will start to click.
The next resource is the Apple Reference Library for iOS. In there you will find specific details about the different frameworks and classes that are available.
The App that I wrote and will be the subject of this series is called FOTD – or Flavor of the Day. When I started this whole process, I wanted to have an app that would put all of the different flavors from ice cream and frozen custard stands near me on a map so I could check all of them at the same time. Without the app, you have to go to each individual website which takes too much time.
That’s about how far I had thought things through when I started to learn about the development process…so we’ll start there.
Part 2 coming soon.