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XCode

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So you’ve got a Mac, you’ve got an iPhone, and you really want to start writing some apps. There’s tons of documentation available, but the best way to learn a new language and framework is to simply dive right in. All of the documentation and tutorials I ran across when learning to program the iPhone depended a little too much on Interface Builder, which basically sticks a layer of magic between me and what I want to do. Frankly, I like to begin at the bottom and work my way up, which is why this tutorial is going to show you how to create a basic ‘Hello World’ application programmatically – without the help of a visual designer.

When I pick up any new framework that includes a designer, I like to start out building interfaces in code, because then I get an understanding of what the designer is doing behind the scenes. And honestly, I find Interface Builder about one of the most confusing designers I’ve ever used.

The first thing you’re going to need to do is download and install the iPhone SDK. This is going to give you everything you need in order to build apps – XCode, iPhone Simulator, and Interface Builder. Downloading and installing the SDK is totally free. You’ll have to pay $99 if you want to run the app on a real iPhone or distribute it to the app store. For the purposes of learning, though, the simulator works just fine.

After you’ve got all that stuff installed, you’re ready to start. Start by launching XCode. By default it’s installed in the Developer folder.

When you launch XCode you’ll be presented with a welcome screen. You can either look through that or just dismiss it, none of it is particularly important. What we need is a new project. Select File > New Project to bring up the project templates.

The Window-Based Application is about as simple as it gets. What this template is going to give is a Window and an application delegate. An application delegate (UIApplicationDelegate) is an object that responds to messages from a UIApplication object. There can be only one UIApplication object, and the project template takes care of creating it for us. When you click Choose, you’ll now be prompted for a project name. I named mine “HelloWorld”.

Once the project is created, you’ll be presented with the XCode interface and all of the files the project template has generated for you.

The important files are main.m, HelloWorldAppDelegate.h, and HelloWorldAppDelegate.m. The main function is where the single UIApplication object is created. The function call

UIApplicationMain()

takes care of that. You might be wondering, though, how in the world is HelloWorldAppDelegate hooked up to the UIApplication object? Well, unfortunately there’s still a little magic we can’t avoid. The template created a nib file for us (MainWindow.xib) that takes care of forming this relationship. You’ll just have to take it for granted that the messages will be passed into our delegate. Now let’s check out the implementation of the delegate, HelloWorldAppDelegate.m. There are several messages we can get from the UIApplication object, however the template has already created the one we care about –

applicationDidFinishLaunching

– (void)applicationDidFinishLaunching:(UIApplication *)application { // Override point for customization after application launch [window makeKeyAndVisible]; }

This function is where we’ll be creating our view controller, which will eventually hold our ‘Hello World’ label object. In order to create a view controller, we need to add another class to our project that subclasses UIViewController. Fortunately, since creating view controllers is a common task, XCode has a template for it. Right mouse click on the Classes folder and choose Add > New File.

When you click Next, you’ll be presented with some options. The only thing you should have to set is the filename. I named mine HelloWorldViewController. You might notice that the new implementation file (HelloWorldViewController.m) is full of commented out functions. View controllers are meant to be used by overriding the base implementation of various methods. In our case, we want to override

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4 Comments

  1. Make Apps September 18, 2013 at 7:05 pm -  Reply

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