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March 10, 2011

XCode4: a Big Step in iOS Development

by Andreas Schaefer

Yesterday Apple released XCode4, the IDE (integrated development environment) to develop iOS and Mac OS X Applications. After more than 1 year (as far as I can remember) this finally will make developing iOS apps much easier and I think much faster and definitively more fun.

Beforehand in XCode3 the Interface Builder was separated from XCode and created many windows which were hard to track and especially harder to close. Just opening a few XIBs and the screen was cluttered with windows all over the place. The only way to managed them was to close the IB from time to time. Now in XCode4 the IB is integrated into XCode and is part of its UI. Due to the fact that XCode is now a single window application there are no more floating windows around. The only other windows one might see are other applications or the Organizer window which contains the help pages, source control systems, devices, projects and archives.

But that is not everything. Because IB is part of it one can have the UI on the left hand editor and display the related View Controller header class file on the right hand editor. This way it is easy to add new IBOutlet properties and IBAction methods without having to leave the UI editor. This works the same way as when I open the implementation class (.m) and have set the right editor to be on counterpart then it will display the header class (.h) or vice versa. The right window can also be used to display the differences in the versions of one file.

The right sidebar is used to display the File Inspector and Quick Help and if an XIB is opened it displays the  Identity, Attribute, Size and Connection Inspectors as well.

Beside that the Editor itself has improved dramatically with better code completion, error highlighting as well as code snippets. This improves the overall quality of the code written.

The bottom bar is used to display the log files when the app is running as well as the debugger controls. This way I don’t have to search for the Output and it can be easily viewed while the app is running.

Having used IntelliJ IDEA for a long time the XCode is coming close to it making developing Apps much easier and prevents me from juggling a million windows. I have used XCode4 since more than half a year and so I am very happy to see it get publicly released.

That said there is a ton of more functionality that I did not encountered yet or have not used it so I am looking forward to use it even more and share my thoughts with others.



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