Developer Setup for Starting Out with Cocoa/Mac Programming

Question :

Developer Setup for Starting Out with Cocoa/Mac Programming,

Answer :

I’d like to start experimenting with Cocoa and programming for Mac OSX. I’m not terribly concerned with Objective C syntax/constructs/bheaviors at this point, but more curious as to an efficient setup on in terms of an editor and/or IDE that will get me going quickly. Is there any IDE even remotely similar to Visual Studio (since that’s where I’ve spent most of my time over the last 7 years) in terms of it’s solution/project concept? Any other tools, tips, suggestions and/or resources to get up and experimenting quickly?

I’d like to avoid a lot of the intro stuff and get into things like “If you want to create an Mac desktop application, you can use Acme IDE and set up your project like this.”


I was afraid Xcode was going to be the answer! 😛 I tried playing around with that — literally just getting it off the DVD and just diving in with no idea what to expect (before I even knew that you used Objective C as the language). I figured, the wise guy that I am, that I could just sort of fumble around and get a simple app working … wrong.

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@Andrew – Thanks for the insight on those config settings. Based on my Xcode first impression, I think those may help.

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I’d suggest you pick a fun little product and dive in. If you’re looking for a book I’d suggestwhich is a very good introduction both to Objective-C and Cocoa.

XCode is pretty much the de facto IDE and free with OSX. It should be on your original install DVD. It’s good but not as good as Visual Studio (sorry, it’s really not).

As a long-time VS user I found the default XCode config a little odd and hard to adjust to, particularly the way a new floating window would open for every sourcefile. Some tweaks I found particularly helpful;

  • Settings/General -> All-In-One (unifies editor/debugger window)
  • Settings/General -> Open counterparts in same editor (single-window edit)
  • Settings/Debugging – “In Editor Debugger Controls”
  • Settings/Debugging – “Auto Clear Debug Console”
  • Settings/Key-binding – lots of binding to match VS (Ctrl+F5/Shift+F5,Shift+Home, Shift+End etc)
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I find the debugger has some annoying issues such as breakpoints not correctly mapping to lines and exceptions aren’t immediately trapped by the debugger. Nothing deal-breaking but a bit cumbersome.

I would recommend that you make use of the new property syntax that was introduced for Objective-C 2.0. They make for a heck of a lot less typing in many many places. They’re limited to OSX 10.5 only though (yeah, language features are tied to OS versions which is a bit odd).

Also don’t be fooled into downplaying the differences between C/C++ and Objective-C. They’re very much related but ARE different languages. Try and start Objective-C without thinking about how you’d do X,Y,Z in C/C++. It’ll make it a lot easier.

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