Getting Started In Mac Programming

Thursday, April 3, 2008 by Mistlee

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Getting Started In Mac Programming

By Dave Taylor

I used to program my TRS-80 in BASIC when I was in high school, and took a class in Pascal in college. Now I want to try to write applications for my Mac but don't know where to start. Help!

Dave's Answer:

Don't feel bad about your bewilderment, because Mac programming is nothing like the 10 PRINT "HELLO"; 20 GOTO 10 stuff you did in the early '80s. Back then, programs were much more self-contained: You just started writing, maybe calling in an external file or two, and ended up with a simple text file that was pretty self-explanatory.

But over the years, three things happened.

First, programming become less about telling a linear story and more about putting together components. Second, new technologies (such as the Mac GUI we know and love) appeared, demanding new programming techniques and tools. Third, the field of programming matured, so today's programmers are expected to know about such concepts as objects, inheritance, and garbage collection before they even write a line of code.

The good news? Tools and information about programming are far more abundant and easy to get than they were back then. Apple's programming tools are excellent and free, while the Web hosts millions of pages of documentation and tutorials.

Let's start with the first subject: the tools. If you want to program for the Web, all you need is a text editor and a Web server, and voila! You're off and running in JavaScript. But if you want to write real Mac applications, with windows and menus and such, you need Xcode.

Mac OS X: Apple Xcode: Demo Page

Call Today For a Free Domain Consult

Xcode is a package of development tools that's included on your Leopard installation discs -- we showed you how to install them. However, I'd recommend downloading the latest version from the Apple Developer Connection (ADC), because Apple updates Xcode fairly frequently. (As I write this, the latest update lets you program full-featured apps for your iPhone. Fun!)

The ADC is now broken into two categories: Mac Dev Center and iPhone Dev Center. You'll need to register for one of them, but it doesn't matter which, as both lead to Xcode. ("Online membership" is free; "Student," "Premiere," and "Select" memberships give you additional benefits such as hardware discounts and technical support.) Once you're registered, you'll have access to a wide range of reference and tutorial material as well as the tools you need to make your first Mac application.

Continue reading this article.

About the Author:
Dave Taylor has been involved with the Internet since 1980 and is internationally known as an expert on both business and technology issues. Holder of an MSEd and MBA, author of twenty books and founder of four startups, he also runs a strategic marketing company and consults with firms seeking the best approach to working with weblogs and social networks. Dave is an award-winning speaker and frequent guest on radio and podcast programs.
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