Developing apps for the Mac or the various iOS devices requires knowledge of Xcode. Xcode is a complete developer toolset that provides all the software necessary to start coding.
The download is free and can be grabbed via the Mac App Store or via developer.apple.com. The interface is quite overwhelming at first if you are unfamiliar with Objective-C and how to create applications using this particular language. Although it all looks complicated on first glance, you can soon become acquainted with the more common features and learn the rest as and when you need them.
The screenshot above shows how the workspace is divided out. The center red area is where you write your code or set up views for your applications. Around the edges are the various toolbars, inspectors and debug details that you’ll need to assist you while writing code and creating apps.
At the top of the screenshot you have the options to build and run your project. If you are developing for iOS you can select to run your test app on an actual iOS device or opt to use the iPad or iPhone simulator. Note that testing on an iOS device requires you pay the annual membership fee of $99 to Apple.
In the middle top, you have the information window which feeds back details of what you are doing, what warnings/errors you might have and other general information you need to know.
Down the leftside (highlighted in blue) is where you navigate around your various project files and settings files. You’ll primarily edit the .h and .m files as well as load up the storyboard and tweak the project settings here. If you look to the top right of the screenshot, you’ll see a few small buttons. The one on the left of 3 buttons can be used to hide the navigation bar which in turn, allows more space for the editor. Xcode lets you use tabs which work just like web browser tabs. You can open different code in different tabs which makes hiding the navigation bar even more easier to work with.
The debug area in green is extremely useful although this can be hidden when you are writing code and pulled up when debugging needs to be done. Learning how to use debug is an entire post in itself, so I’ll save that for another day. But, learn it, use it and become familiar with how that small pane will help you fix the bugs that will appear in your code.
To the right we have the inspector and utility area. Just like the other sidebar and the bottom bar, the right sidebar can also be hidden. The inspector is an extremely useful toolbar to have open in some cases. It provides information about the current selected item. If you are in a storyboard, you can easily tweak settings of a UIButton or set the font of some text as well as assign a view a specific class. Again, check the options out, see what’s available and use the inspector. One example of a handy option found in there is when you are inspecting a view. You could manually code a refresh to happen when the devices changes orientation or you could simply go to the inspector and set an option that redraws the graphics automatically. A lot of help and documentation is also found in the inspector bar.
The lower utility area is the place where you can drag out objects in to your storyboard. If you want a map in your app then simply drag out the map in to the view and resize accordingly.
Although Xcode looks like a challenge to learn, the best way to actually learn how to use it is to just start using it. Practice coding, search around the various options, test things and practice more. You’ll find that some utilities are used more than others and you’ll quickly become familiar with how Xcode works so that you can concentrate on your actual project.