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Mike Riley

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LiveLessons Programming in Objective-C 2.0 Review

October 17, 2009

With the rising popularity of the iPhone and OSX, more developers are seeking the path to native Apple platform development now than ever before.  The first step in this long journey is the need to gain proficiency in Apple's development language of choice, Objective-C.  This LiveLessons DVD attempts to educate observers with 8+ hours of video instruction.  Read on to learn if it succeeds.

The LiveLessons library continues to expand as Addison-Wesley continues to gain momentum and success with this multimedia learning format.  With the release of Programming in Objective-C 2.0, Part 1: Language Fundamentals, the publisher is also moving further into more focused market programming segments compared to the broader audience Java, Perl, Python and PHP titles.  The publisher is also asking interested customers to pay considerably more for the privilege of viewing the content.  Before going further with the cost analysis, allow me to detail what this first Objective-C LiveLessons DVD has to offer.

The intended audience for this training DVD is one with minimal programming expertise.  As such, the majority of the content is focused on teaching fundamental object oriented programming concepts, ranging from classes, objects, methods, data types and expressions, inherence, polymorphism, dynamic typing and binding.  These topics are demonstrated within the Apple Xcode development environment, making frequent use of Xcode's log and debugger windows to demonstrate the outcome of the various programming examples.  

Because the intention of this video product is the instruction of fundamental OO concepts using Objective-C syntax, there are no presentations in this DVD of Apple developer tools such as Interface Builder and performance tools like MallocDebug, ObjectAlloc and Shark.  Consequently, customers expecting to write the next greatest iPhone or Apple Cocao-based desktop application will need to either wait for the release of Part 2 in this series (expected to be released December 2009) or look elsewhere.  According to the closing statements on the Part 1 DVD, the second part will cover Numbers, Strings, Arrays, Dictionaries, Sets and Memory Management.  It will conclude with demonstrating how to construct a rudimentary iPhone application.

Overall, book author and host Stephen Kochan is a knowledgeable Objective-C developer who is very comfortable with the technical details of the material being presented.  After all, he is also the author of the book by the same name.  His oration skills need Toastmaster polish, made evident with his semi-frequent uh's during the audio recordings.  Additionally, during the headshot introductory segments, his teleprompter appeared to be off center (I suspect he used a Mac laptop running something like Prompt!), forcing him to not look directly into the camera as well as pausing occasionally to wait for the teleprompter scroll to catch up with his speaking cadence.  Besides these minor aesthetic annoyances, the information was delivered in an approachable, comfortable style.  I was also very pleased that the LiveLessons production team have appeared to finally dropped their annoyingly long advertising bumpers at the end of each segment once and for all (thank you!!!).

If this LiveLessons DVD were priced similarly to others I have reviewed, I would say this release was an adequately positioned product, worthy of purchase consideration by those interested in learning the basics of Objective-C via a visual delivery mode.  However, based on the price advertised on the InformIT website, it is simply not worth the investment (at least not purchased directly).  More peculiar was the discovery that Amazon is advertising a pre-order sale of the Objective-C book and DVD bundle about a hundred dollars less than the suggested retail price of the DVD alone.  Amazon's sale price is far more in line with my perceived value of the product.  Assuming Amazon's pricing accurately persists for the bundle, it is actually a tremendous bargain for developers eagerly seeking to learn Apple's programming language of choice.



Title: LiveLessons Programming in Objective-C 2.0, Part 1: Language Fundamentals
Author:  Stephen G. Kochan
ISBN: 978-0-321-66951-3
Cost: $149.99

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