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Book Review: iPhone SDK 3 Visual Quickstart Guide

CocoaHeads Sydney member Duncan Campbell has just published a book with PeachPit press titled "iPhone SDK 3 Visual Quickstart Guide".

Like all of Peachpit's "Visual Quickstart Guides", the book is mostly broken into two columns - text and images. At first I thought it would suck! As soon as I got into it though, I quite liked the thin column. It has readability like a newspaper, although it did make following inline code a little tedious.

The book covered all the basics you need for making a great app, and made some tricky tasks simple - like custom cells and multi-touch.

It avoids a common approach of many intro books where they continually build into an ever evolving single app. Instead, each example is short and entirely standalone. I have to say it was refreshing - it avoided wasting time in frivolities and allowed the author to introduce concepts at the time he chose, rather than the time it was needed to continue building the app.

I also appreciated the time spent on one of the most important rools - the Xcode interface. Even I learned a handy Xcode shortcut!

The choice to use code for UI layout instead of interface builder makes the writing easier to follow, no enless 'click here, control click and drag here...' and also avoids those madenning bugs where you've missed a step but can't easily compare the compound result. Similarly, the continual tweaks to IB won't invalidate the examples.

I also appreciated how each example was standalone - building and running an interesting looking example didn't rely on carefully building examples stretching back through previous chapters.

Two extra chapters can be downloaded as PDFs from the Peachpit press website once you have the book covering the Address Book api and the Media apis. The latter is very useful - covering saved images, using the camera and playing audio and video.

While this is a book for people starting out with iPhone programming, it's not for people who have never programmed before. If you have programmed before but don't know at least the bare basics of one of C, C++, Objective-C then I would suggest completing an introduction to Objective-C first. Apple has one and there are lots of great books.

One of the positives above is that the use of code to create UI controls is repeatable, easy to error check and shows how it all works. Once you start building apps, though, you'll use Interface Builder a lot. You'll need to brush up on that after completing this book. Again, Apple has one and there are lots of great books! Aaron Hillegass's Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X will cover both Objective-C and Interface Builder really well - and you'll learn how to write MacOS X apps to boot!

So in summary, it's a great book. I enjoyed it and you hopefully will too! Available at Amazon and all good bookstores :)

04:33 AM, 25 Oct 2009 by Mark Aufflick Permalink

Code samples from the book are online

The author emailed me and asked me to point out that the code samples from the book are available online on his website:

by Mark Aufflick on 10/25/09


Thanks for the heads up. I already program in Perl, RealBasic, JavaScript, and ASP... and now just the other day "got it" with XCode (the whole thing with connecting the objects together, the IBActions, etc. etc. ) and now with this book you've reviewed (and the format of it, specifically) I feel like I can hit the ground running. Thanks!

by Unregistered Visitor on 01/18/10

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