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My First iPhone Application

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

After watching the videos that Apple have provided on their developer site, building an iPhone App suddenly started looking very daunting.  Lots of new jargon and accronyms that I didn’t understand, nor cared to learn, so I hunted around for some bedtime reading.

A friend of mine sent over a few PDF’s, one of which was a step-by-step example of how to create an app, so I delved into those and started to get to grips with those.  One of the biggest recommendations I’d make to anyone when they start out is simply not to bother listening to the smug whinings of the “experts” over at apple and find the simplest possible example tutorial.

Now I won’t pretend it was easy, and for those of you who’ve never coded anything before, I can imagine it would take a while to get into it.  My background is PHP mainly, and orginally I used to code up shell scripts for people and a bit of PSL (I’d be surprised if many people had heard of that: Patrol Scripting Language?) which was procedural, so the programming techniques used in XCode are pretty new and intimidating at first.

To begin with there are a lot of files and folders which are initially confusing and frankly irrelevant.  The main folder to concern yourself with after opening XCode up is the “Classes” folder.  But I’m getting ahead of myself, the first instruction was to create a new project by clicking on “File” -> “New Project”.

Right, so I need to open XCode…

Where’s that?  Quick internet search…  Ah, I see, click on the Macintosh HD, then the “Developer” folder, then “Applications”.

What we need to remember here is that I’ve not actually had a good play around with my new Mac and I’m totally green.  Nothing seems to be in a logical place!  Right, now I need to click on File.

Right, where’s the menu bar…

Anyone?

Ah, okay, it’s not at the top of the “Welcome to Xcode 3.1″ window.  Click on a few links, nope, they’re just web pages.

Now I’m not normally a very thick person, but it did take me some time to realise that it was at the top of the screen next to the apple symbol.  Looking at it now, that does make a great deal of sense, but any *nix/Windows person may well get as stumped as me!

So now I’ve got my Xcode “cocoa” project open, and I’ve right clicked on the “Classes” folder (now I have a two button mouse plugged in from the loft!  Why build a mouse with one button?  Real mice have two ears after all).  This is where it started to get easier.

The IDE provided is really user friendly if you’re trying to build a basic application.  The programming syntax is a little hap hazzard at the moment, but I’m sure it’s all for a good reason.  The “classname.h” and the “classname.m” seem to replicate code, but I’m guessing one is a handler and one is a model, something along those lines.

After a just a small amount of playing I developed myself a sliding number application with a reset button, a bit more satisfying than “Hello World”.

All in all, not quite as hard as I’d imagined, it just takes some time to get round the nuances of OS X.  At first everything seems to be overly awkward, but the more I use it, the more it seems to make sense!

Building an iPhone Application – Getting started

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Firstly, an invaluable resource for getting started:

http://developer.apple.com/iphone/

After sign up, there are lots of videos and resources to get you going.

I started with the “Introduction to the iPhone SDK” within the “iPhone Getting Started Videos”, poured a coffee and sat back.

It looks like there are four main development tools:

  • Xcode – this is the main development tool, an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) which includes sample code, text editors, project management, etc to get the show on the road.
  • Instruments – this appears to be a tool for sampling, tracing and profiling aspects of the application so that you can get it efficient.  Speed testing, that kind of thing.
  • Dashcode –  an integrated envinroment where you can build your layouts and views, simplifying the graphical process and testing.  It also has handy debugging and testing aspects.
  • iPhone simulator – implements the iPhone API allowing native testing providing a realistic preview of how the app will appear.

The video was a little out of date, some of the options weren’t actually there, but I was able to stumble through and create my first App!

The rest of the first video just talked about structure and how the framework hangs together, that kind of thing.  I’m more of a suck it and see kind of developer, so most of it went in on ear and out the other!

I think I’ll just tinker around with the xcode tools for a bit and make some sample projects and go from there…

Upgrading Leopard OS X to 10.5.6

Monday, April 27th, 2009

So we’ve got our iMac looking all lovely and pretty on the desk, so what’s next.

First things first, I signed up with Apple to their developers area of their site and downloaded the rather large iPhone SDK and headed for the install.

Oh, problem number one, our machine is only Max OS X 10.5, readily installed from our ebay vendor.

After clicking on the Software update section and downloading the update combo (all 700 MB of it!), I get the message:

you cannot install mac os x update on this volume

Damn!  So we’ve tried all sorts of ways round it, even downloading the update and mounting that, still the same message!

In the end, we had to download each update one by one, starting with 10.5.3 and working our way up until we had them installed.

The installation of the iPhone SDK wasn’t as problematic, just finished that now and going to try and work out how/what to run.  The Mac interface is worlds apart from Windows or *nix, so we’ve been struggling to work out how things work, even after the introductory videos/documentation, but it does look nice :-)

Welcome to the 101 Best iPhone Apps blog

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Welcome to the 101 Best iPhone Apps Blog!

What’s the purpose of this site?

Well going forward we are going to use this site for people to showcase their ideas and apps so that the world can vote for them and let others know how good or bad the apps are.

The problem is, what is an iPhone app?

Before launching the site, we thought it prudent to get an understanding of what an iPhone Application actually is, so what better way than to build one!  After a quick browse of ebay, we got hold of an iMac for a good price and set it up in the office.

It’s all new to me as I’ve never actually worked on a Macintosh before other than school a few years ago (Okay, more than a few!).  So I’ve switched it on and now I’m going to have a good go and working out how it all works.

Why have I only got one mouse button?