My latest project has been to write iPhone apps using the sdk and simulator and these are my impressions so far.
- I like Objective-C and the power of compiling to a native application. Most of the heritage came from Next Step when Steve Jobs returned to Apple and is reflected in the the class names that still carry the ‘NS’ prefix. The iPhone framework seems reasonably polished and handles many of the iPhone features like animating between states automatically. Nice.
- XCode is the first Apple app that I felt was ‘keyboard friendly’. What do I mean by that? Well there are key bindings everywhere and of course they are customizable. Now let me qualify that by saying my PowerBook has been used mostly for browsing, emailing and MS Office. I still like Eclipse, it’s what I am used to of course. But I did snicker a bit when one of the new features in XCode was a refactoring function, something that I take for granted and use all the time in Eclipse.
- The iPhone simulator is a great way to keep the ‘write, test, rewrite’ cycle going. Sure it is missing some hardware inputs (accelerometer, camera, gps) but it is still beta and I hope they offer a way of simulating or stubbing those out.
Opportunities for improvement
- When starting a new langauge, ide and framework all at the same time there will be a steep learning curve. I will only say that I know that I am not alone ‘getting thrown into deep end of the pool’ and the a few very simple tutorials out there are great, but I pretty dumb and would love more tutorials. (For example, check out the processing.org website, they provide very simple examples targeting one feature of the framework at a time.)
- The iPhone Developer Program, which is separate from being able to download the SDK, has been limited by Apple to 4,000 members. Without access to this Program you cannot download the 2.0 software or install applications to your iPhone. My hope is that on July 11th when the new iPhone is released, membership to the iPhone Developer Program will also be opened.
Overall, me experience has been good, WWDC was very helpful, as was my friend Al. I am looking forward to July 11 when I will sign my life over to Rogers again for a 3G and maybe have an app ready for download.