How do I learn iOS Programming? (Part I)

By Peng Xie

I’ve been involved in iOS development since late 2011. Watching and being part of the rapidly growing app development industry has always been a fascinating thing to me. In this three-part series of blog post, I’ll share with you the way I learn iOS development and some of the habits I developed over the years of iOS development. In the first part of the blog post, I’ll talk about how to get started and some of the resources that have helped me in learning iOS development.

There’re many ways one can find the motivation of starting iOS development. It may be a will to learn something new, a good idea you want to turn into a good app, or you need some features on your phone or computer and you just can’t find any app that meets your demands. For me, it was a project that requires me to complete an unfinished PhoneGap app. Since I knew nothing about mobile app development and the only requirement for the project is to finish it, I went ahead and started to learn iOS development. I personally find it easier to actually learn a programming language with a real project. It doesn’t have to be something big or innovative as long as you have a plan. Most important, you have to stick with your plan and finish the project. I feel completing the project is the key to learn and progress, and in addition, you will have something to play with or show off to your friends when the project is finished.

Learn in Classrooms

I suppose one of the best place to learn stuff is in classroom. But unfortunately I didn’t have the time to take the mobile app development course when I was in college. Instead, I turned to the Internet and started to learn iOS development on iTunes U. There are many useful courses out there on iTunes U and particularly the iPad and iPhone App Development Course from Stanford was the one that helped me to get started. Although I know some people think the course is not really beginner friendly, I still find it helpful and a good course to get a feeling of mobile app development. It is always good to take an actual class but don’t limit yourselves to only physical classrooms. With the Internet, anywhere can be a classroom.

Utilize Tutorials

Developers on the Internet are awesome. They make wonderful frameworks and libraries for us to use and they also make great tutorials for us to learn from. As the old saying goes, Google is your friend. Use Google to discover awesome tutorials that can help you. However, I would suggest to skip Apple’s official tutorials for now and come back later because I found them a little bit more difficult to understand and less detailed. Keep in mind that the tutorials from Apple are still helpful. We will come bacAs beginners, we should look for detailed and preferably step-by-step tutorials. I personally am a big fan of Ray Wenderlich’s tutorial website. They have several teams to make sure their tutorials are high quality and up to date and they cover topics from iOS development 101 all the way to complicated stuff like Open-GL programming.

Another website I find useful is Ry’s Objective-C Tutorial. It’s not a step by step guide but rather an easy-to-understand guide on the Objective-C language. It helped me to understand the basics of Objective-C and reading it from time to time helps me to strengthen my foundation of Objective-C language.

One last thing about utilizing tutorials is the way how we use them. Different people have different styles of following tutorials. For me, I always treat tutorials as if they were real projects. I write the codes with the instructions of tutorials and apply my coding standard to it. I suggest to avoid copying and pasting any code from the tutorial because every time I copied and pasted chunks of codes from tutorials I ended up learning nothing and had to restart the whole tutorial.

Read Documents

I always consider myself as a student and as a student I have to do my readings. In our case as students of iOS development, we have to read documents for SDKs, frameworks, libraries, etc. Study and apply coding style guidelines from Apple and companies such as Google and NYTimes will help us to streamline our coding habits and make the lives easier for “future us” when we come back to our old projects. We all have been in the situations where we look at our codes and wonder if they were actually written by ourselves, aren’t we?

Documents for SDKs, frameworks and libraries are of course equally important and helpful. Now it’s a good time to check out Apple’s official tutorials since we already have a basic understand of what’s going on with iOS development. They (especially the new ones) are great when reading with Apple’s documents. Blogs such as NSHipster can also help us to better understand documents and discover interesting topics that will potentially be useful in the future.

What’s Next?

I think by now we should somehow have an idea of how to get started on iOS development. Feel free to leave a comment to let us know if the blog post is helpful or tell us your story of learning mobile app development. In the next part, I will share with you one habit that has benefited me a lot during my study of iOS development. Remember to check back and happy learning!

(To be continued…)



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