So you want to write an iPhone app (2)

Are you the kind of person who, upon receiving a new electronic gadget, tears open the package, tosses the instruction manual aside and starts using the new gizmo immediately? Or do you sit down and read every word of the manual before trying your new toy? I’m somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. I like to read enough to make sure I’ve got the basics but I don’t have the patience to digest the whole user’s guide before I touch anything.

You’ll have a similar choice to make after downloading the iPhone SDK. You could just start running the development tools and “feel your way around” but, chances are, you’ll waste a lot of time that way (and get very frustrated in the process). On the other hand, you could spend days or even weeks watching videos and reading documents before writing a single line of code, which could cause you to lose your momentum and never quite make it to writing the next great iPhone app.

On the download page, Apple offers two collections of getting started material: videos and documents. I’m opting to use the latter simply because I can control the information mining process much more effectively by reading a document than I can by watching a video. If I get very interested in a particular topic, I may try one of more of the videos but for now I’m viewing those as reference material.

If your goal, like mine, is to write a real iPhone app in this lifetime then I would advise making a quick pass through the seven getting started docs, as follows:

  • iPhone OS Overview – fast skim for background
  • Tools for iPhone OS Development – fast skim to understand what each tool is used for
  • Learning Objective-C – A Primer – slow skim to get up to speed on the language
  • Signing Code for iPhone Development (skip it – worry about this when you have an app to sign)
  • Creating an iPhone Application (slow skim)
  • iPhone OS for Cocoa Developers (slow skim)
  • Frequenty Asked Questions (fast skim for background)

I’m planning to spend a day or so skimming the above material. I’ve highlighted the three documents on which I intend to spend the most time in boldface type. When I’m done I’ll report any findings of particular interest and then I’ll move on to writing my first app.

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