Over the past few months I’ve been spending a lot my free time learning Objective-C and Cocoa. Although it’s been fun learning a new language and framework, it has been somewhat of an uphill climb. Objective-C was the easy part. If you have some familiarity with C and also some experience with an OO language like Java, C#, or C++, you’ll pick it up within a week or two. Cocoa, on the other hand, can take quite a bit more time to wrap your head around. It’s a very large and robust framework and understanding how to use its constituent parts to form a whole requires a fairly significant investment of time and effort.
One of the biggest challenges to learning Cocoa is the lack of up-to-date books. There are several on the market, but most are woefully outdated. The language, development tools, and available frameworks and APIs have changed considerably since these books were written which can present an obstacle to learning from these older references. Thankfully, there are some new and updated titles coming out this year from Aaron Hillegass, Bill Dudney, and Erik Buck. I’ve got ’em all on pre-order!
Although the book market may be a bit lacking at the moment that doesn’t mean there aren’t useful resources to be found. In fact, you’ll find quite the opposite is true. Apple’s Developer Connection posts many references, guides, and sample code at its site. There are also a number of useful third-party resources I visit regularly including MacDevNet, CocoaDev, CocoaBuilder, and Scott Stevenson’s excellent Cocoa Dev Central. Additionally, you’ll find dozens of great blogs and articles in various places. One of my new favorite Mac dev blogs is Marcus S. Zarra’s and Matt Long’s Cocoa Is My Girlfriend. The content is great and the name is brilliant!
The problem isn’t that there’s not enough information to be found. The problem is how do you make sense of it all and more importantly, how do you use this information to build a real application?
To help in this regard I’m starting a new site called Operation: Cocoa. Its purpose will be to provide the aspiring Cocoa developer with a path through the maze. Although it will likely be a few months before the site is up and running, I’m already working on content and will be hosting it on this site in the interim. The first tutorial entitled “Hello Cocoa” will be posted in the next week or two.
I’m very interested to hear any comments or opinions you have about this idea: what you think about the site name, what kind of content would you like to see, etc.