What programming language should you learn if you want to make apps?

Newcomers ask this question a lot. I’ve posted my response to this under the link, “Which programming language should I learn to make apps?” I hope it helps to narrow down your choice of languages to start learning. I posted it here so I can point to it when I encounter the question in forum posts.

Installing Weinre remote debugger on the Mac OSX Lion

Weinre, which is short for Web Inspector Remote (pronounced “winery,” “wine-ray,” “whiner,” or “weiner,” depending on your native accent or sense of humor), allows us to debug our mobile app code remotely, that is, in a desktop browser window outside the mobile device. Why would we do this? Because checking our HTML/CSS/Javascript during development in a browser doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll run flawlessly in the target mobile device. The environments are different. Also, 9 times out of 10, the device has poorly integrated debugging of its own.

How steep is the learning curve for this tool? Well, if you are habiitually using Google Chromes’s Javascript Console (in Google Chrome, click on the wrench icon > Tools > Javascript Console), then you’ll quickly grasp this tool (which is WebKit’s Web Inspector), since they are the same tools, with the addition of one extra tab in Weinre for Remote.

Currently, Weinre, developed by Patrick Mueller, only works in Webkit-based browsers like Google and Safari, as used in iPhone and Android devices. Here are the steps to download and install the software tool, and get it running on an iPod touch device running an app which uses Cordova PhoneGap. These steps are extremely thorough, designed for newbies to coding. (You’re welcome.)

(Sept. 21, 2012 update: If you use a Mac, you may want to try the iWebInspector, which is more feature-rich and designed to replace Weinre on the Mac.) Continue reading

Sobering news for developers who use local storage or SQLite

If you use HTML5 Local  Storage or SQLite in your iPhone apps, you’ll want to read the urgent forum thread on the Apple Developer Forums here: https://devforums.apple.com/thread/123107?start=0&tstart=0 (signin required).

Due to Apple NDA rules, I can’t divulge more, only that you may want to find another way to persist information if the current beta becomes final.

See another article on my site that now addresses this problem.

Xcode 4 Transition Guide

Xcode 4 Transition Guide

Link: [Sign in to your iOS Developer account] > iOS Dev Center > iOS Developer Library > Resource Types > Guides

These are notes based on the Xcode 4 Transition Guide (page numbers refer to the PDF) that I found helpful to me. This guide gives you an overview of the many refinements made during the transition from Xcode 3 to 4. Well worth a look if you are not using Xcode 4 regularly and would like to know more about its features. The following notes are of particular interest to me; you’ll find much more in the document than what I’ve written.

Continue reading

7/9/09 iPhone Simulator results (screen shots)


I successfully finished an online tutorial. I had several serious problems, but all of them were my fault – typos. Here’s the result. I took screen grabs of the iPhone Simulator as I took the steps. In step one above left I have a text box at top, directions in the middle  (“Enter your name above”), and a “Display” button below. In Step 2, when I “tapped” the text box using the mouse, the keyboard automatically slid up from the bottom. I typed in my name and clicked on the Display button. Step three shows the result: the middle text changed to “Hello Steve!” Continue reading

7/4/2009 Dummies Book – deadlocked!

I entered  huge amount of coding when I followed the steps in chapter 8 of the Dummies book. After each time I entered the code for that step, I carefully checked the code. After finishing chapter 9, I compiled the code and it generated 20 errors. It wasn’t simply the amount of code to enter in, but switching back and forth from the header file and the main file that makes it hard to double-check. (These projects generate a lot of pages, and you need to enter the code in the right page and after the right code, usually a header page and a main page.) When you jump around like that, it makes it harder to check your code at a later point. Continue reading


iPhone Application Development for DummiesI received the book, iPhone Application Development for Dummies by Neal Gordstein a couple of days ago. I’m nearly halfway through it now. Unlike the Beginning iPhone Development book, it doesn’t have a lot of applications to make (it goes over just one so far). However, it has a LOT of explanations for how things work under the hood, so that is this book’s strength. The author does expect you to have some experience with programming.

Would this book have been a better book to start with? I don’t know. Remember that I already have several docs under my belt – the Beginning book above and the online Apple docs, so all that knowledge is only helping me as I read later works. It is extremely focused on learning what’s under the hood. I think that if I had not had the experience with Beginning, then the explanations in for Dummies would have made less sense than it did. The abstract line drawings would not be as clear as they could be for someone who has not had C or C++ programming experience. Continue reading

6/27/09 Chapter 3 tutorial

Beginning iPhone Development bookI went over the Beginning iPhone Development book, chapter 3, underlining and generally marking up the book. I carefully noted each step with a circled digit in the margin. Where it referred to steps to take in the previous chapter, I noted the page numbers of that chapter in the margin in the appropriate place. This will help me later when I actually do the coding on the Mac. Continue reading

6/21/09 “Beginning” does not mean “absolute novice”

I now have it in my head that a book with “Beginning” in its title does not mean “Starting out as a complete novice.” It simply means the start of something. Often, books with this word in its title assume the reader has prior knowledge in something else, whether C++, Cocoa, or Basket Weaving 101. From the appropriate foundation mentioned in the book, you can THEN “begin” this new phase in your learning experience.

So it’s very important that you read the book reviews on Amazon.com before buying a how-to book on programming. Go ahead and read the 5-star reviews. Even better, read the 2-star reviews, for that’s where you’ll find the disgruntled customers complaining that they thought the title meant it was for absolute novices. I bought Beginning iPhone Development knowing it wasn’t for novices. (I’m saving it for later.) Reading the 2-star reviews can give you clues as to which books they thought were better for novices. Then look up those books and read their reviews to see if the book is right for you.

6/21/09 Keyboard fixed and up and running

Sunday (Father’s Day)

This morning I still had not received an answer to my question, so I went to http://discussions.apple.com/ and created an Apple ID and posted the question there.

That same morning, I received this wisdom:

“It is not uncommon for PS2->USB adapters not to work with any particular model of Mac. Your options are to 1) try another brand of adapter or 2) try a KVM switch that handles both PS2 and USB or 3) get a usb keyboard or bluetooth wireless. (A wired usb keyboard is likely to be less troublesome than the bluetooth at this time.) You can find a Logitech usb keyboard (PC) at Walmart (for example) for about $12 US.” Thank you very much for the helpful answer!

I picked up a USB Kensington keyboard for under $20 at Office Depot. I plugged it in and the Mac had trouble. It asked me to click on the keys right next to the Shift keys. Once I did so, the Mac had no problems. I still had no Internet hookup at this time (Ethernet cable was too short to reach!). Continue reading