My first iOS App Experience

Since starting my new job as Research & Development Manager at IT Rentals I've taken a few hours out of my first week to begin my adventure in learning iOS development.

Previously I've read about both OSX and iOS development, but never had the time to actually follow the tutorials or begin writing any application, until now. As I have had an idea for an app for a while now, I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve to get myself ready for future developments. Even in the very few hours I've set aside to understand it all, I feel that I've come a fair way since say two weeks ago.

As a web developer, primarily in PHP, Objective-C is a bit different to what I spend 90% of my time writing, however my previous experience in C/C++ from writing my scripting language back in college has proved useful, especially with the whole pointer lark going on... Whilst I have come across several barriers, mainly in the lack of information regarding changes to iOS6's MKMapKit framework, I've managed to beat them all brutally after a bit of testing.

Hopefully I'll get far enough through my app that I'm able to release a version on the app store. Made better by the fact that ITR have purchased an Apple Developer License so that testing on actual iOS devices is even easier! Whilst I still have a very long way to go before I am able to produce anything of a high enough quality that we can sell to customers, I'm beginning to feel comfortable with XCode — even with it's few pitfalls — and am gratefully enjoying my time in learning this bizarre language.

Coming from a new app developer here is a list of things I've found extremely useful.

  • StackOverflow the amount of information and short code snippets which have pointed me in the right direction so far has been a huge help to me. I am finding that a lot of information tends to date back to the iOS4 era and I'm having to re-write (yes, with my own knowledge) using ARC, granted, it's not too hard.
  • Tim Roadley has several tutorials which have aided in the type of application I'm currently developing. He's also writing a book regarding Core Data that I'm extremely looking forward to. How sad.
  • Changing the default XCode syntax highlighting theme, the fonts are far too small to use on an iMac screen.

And here is a list of things that I've found useful to know.

  • MKMapKit lacks a lot of information and sample code from the internet, disregarding Apple's mildly useful reference site, for the framework only.
  • It's extremely useful to learn about Core Data ASAP.
  • Talking about Core Data, if you change your structure and test on a device/simulator, you first need to remove the app before you load it on again, otherwise you'll end up with lots of data errors.
  • I had an issue regarding a loss of data, I used Base to check my SQLite files for any missing data when I couldn't get it to display certain information in a view.
  • Check out CoreDataTableViewController from the Stanford iOS Lecture set from Paul Hegarty, it's the bomb. Download.

Perhaps I'll start making a log of what I've learnt about iOS development as I go along - only if and when I get time of course.

Anyway, wish me luck!

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