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Mike Riley

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The iPhone Developer's Cookbook Review

February 24, 2010

With the impending release of the Apple iPad, renewed interest in the iPhone SDK has garnered accelerating exploration into the Objective-C/Cocoa framework combination.  Learning the nuances of this platform can be challenging.  Fortunately, author and iPhone hacker Erica Sadun has come to the rescue with the publication of her second edition of the iPhone Developer's Cookbook.  Read on for my review.

Originally published in 2008, the iPhone Developer's Cookbook was immediately recognized as a treasure trove of tips and tricks for both aspiring and experienced iPhone developers.  Indeed, the book was even considered for a Jolt award during that timeframe.  Since then, Apple has rolled out its major 3.x release of the iPhone operating system adding GPS, compass, faster graphics and more to the platform.  To respond to these additions as well as address the shortcomings of the original, the second edition has more than doubled in its page count by adding new chapters on everything from the Objective-C 2.0 language to programming the latest iPhone capabilities like gestures and push notifications and learning and leveraging the Accessibility Plus, Core Data, GameKit and StoreKit In-App purchasing services.

The book begins with the usual SDK introduction of obtaining, installing and configuring the Xcode environment.  A sample Hello World project helps familiarize readers with the IDE, iPhone Simulator and the Objective-C language.  It goes further than other iPhone introductory texts by detailing the procedures and considerations of purchasing a iPhone developer's program to deploy iPhone applications to actual hardware devices as well as to Apple's App Store.  

After the new 50+ page crash course chapter on Objective-C, the numerous code sample recipes are presented in the remaining 18 chapters.  These chapters cover such diverse topics as working with tab bars, fading and flipping views, using core animation for view transitions, e-mailing pictures, live camera overlays, handling gestures including shake events, touches and multi-touches, dealing with text entries, alerts and table views, leveraging GameKit for data transfer and voice chat, over a dozen networking recipes for dealing with synchronous and asynchronous downloads and even building a simple web-based server.  Other recipes include monitoring battery state, playing and recording audio and video, a 30+ page chapter on working with push notifications followed by a chapter on using the new Core Location and MapKit services for reading and interpreting the iPhone's built-in GPS.  Finally, chapters on interacting with the iPHone's Address Book, Core Data and In-App Purchasing and Accessibility Plus services cap an amazing volume of valuable code snippets and explanations that will provide iPhone developers with the tips needed to take their applications to a higher, more polished and professional level.  Erica's explanations and code deconstructions are clear and easy to follow, making the journey toward iPhone SDK mastery a knowledge-rich and memorable one.

The book's sample code can be downloaded from Erica's Github account, a practice that is gaining favor among tech book writers.  The Github hosting concept works because of the community feedback aspects that help refine code examples and contributions from the readers toward future editions.

Overall, this second edition of The iPhone Developer's Cookbook represents an outstanding collection of immensely useful routines, tips and tricks for iPhone application developers spanning the spectrum of experience.  Reading the book from cover to cover will elevate both the breadth and depth of knowledge needed by iPhone and future iPad application creators everywhere.


Title: The iPhone Developer's Cookbook, The: Building Applications with the iPhone 3.0 SDK, 2nd Edition
Author:  Erica Sadun
Publisher:  Addison-Wesley Professional
ISBN:  978-0-321-65957-6
Pages:  888
Price:  $44.99 US


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