I recently attended CocoaConf in Raleigh, North Carolina. CocoaConf is a new conference devoted to iOS and OS X programming. Dave Klein and his family put on a great conference.
I would like to share some of my thoughts about the conference. My goal is to provide some highlights - based on the notes I took - of each session. Every speaker did a fantastic job. My comments and opinions are based solely on the notes I took during the session. Please let me know if I misunderstood or misquoted you.
UI Automation by Jonathan Penn
Be sure to check out Jonathan’s UI Automation articles at http://cocoamanifest.net.
Core Data, The Real World by Saul Mora
The majority of Saul’s talk was showing large or “complicated” blocks of Core Data code and then showing how his Magical Record framework reduces the code to “one line”. I guess this is helpful, though I am not quite sure yet.
My unwavering advice is to learn as much about Core Data (or any framework) first. Once you master the “core framework”, then wrap it with whatever makes your programming life easier.
Master the Address Book by Collin Donnell
I attended this session to see if my own experiences with the Address Book framework are similar to Collin’s. Indeed, my experiences are similar. The Address Book framework is a C-based API. I thought Collin did a great job showing how to use the Address Book framework. He had plenty of code samples showing how to manipulate groups and contacts.
Core Graphics by Bill Dudney
I have watched Bill’s WWDC 2011 Core Graphics talk at least five times (maybe more). Though his talk was the same as the WWDC talk, I still got plenty out of the session. Bill is a fantastic presenter. You should definitely grab Bill’s WWDC “Practical Drawing for iOS Developers” video (session 129) and sample code. You will learn a ton.
Quote of the session: “Never ship programmer art!”
Git by Collin Donnell
Collin did a great job converting at least one team to Git. At the end of the session, I heard that team saying, “we have got to move to Git”.
I learn something new every time I read or hear something about Git. I use Git for my private projects and my public GitHub projects, including this site.
Credit Card Software Development by Jared Richardson
Jared led the audience through some of his thoughts on “technical debt”. I had two big takeaways:
- technical debt should not be normal (just like personal debt should not be normal)
- Starbucks coffee generates expensive pee
Here is a question I now have: “Do programmers that generate a lot personal debt also generate a lot technical debt?” Something to ponder.
Overall, the session was fairly interactive and entertaining.
iOS Gestures and Event Handling by Nathan Eror
Nathan presented a basic overview of gesture recognizers. Nathan did a good job describing how to create and configure the built in gestures, as well as how to handle gesture events.
Nathan also showed an example mimicking the iPad Photos pinch animation to navigate between two view controllers. He said don’t use the code in a production app… it’s not the right way to do it. I asked myself, “then why show it?” I guess the general technique is what he was aiming to explain (viz. the
transform property is your buddy). I am now kicking myself for not asking him the “right way” to do it.
Overall, I thought Nathan did a good job leading the session.
Storyboard Development by Daniel Steinberg
Daniel completely validated what I already knew about storyboards - storyboards are awesome! The CocoaConf attendees agreed, too, because this session was voted the best. I also voted for this session.
During the session, Daniel walked through building a small app using storyboards. There were numerous oohs and aahs throughout the presentation. Most people agree that storyboards are awesome. Hopefully we will see storyboard improve in future releases.
If you are targeting iOS 5, then you should be using storyboards (or least investigating them).
Unit Testing that Doesn’t Suck by Daniel Steinberg
In this session, Daniel walked through using Kiwi, which is an Objective-C unit testing framework based on RSpec and built on top of OCUnit. My initial reaction to Kiwi was “really? ugh!”. I just don’t see how Kiwi makes writing tests “not suck” (at least any less than OCUnit). I am not a stranger to writing tests. I am an advocate of uniting test and even co-authored a book on JUnit years ago. I plan to stick with OCUnit until there is something so dramatically different as to change my entire unit testing philosophy (or Apple ditches OCUnit for something else).
On another note, I started writing OS X/ Objective-C unit tests using a library called UnitKit by James Duncan Davidson. This was back around 2006. UnitKit died when Apple embraced OCUnit. Oh how I wish Apple would have embraced UnitKit instead.
Instruments by Saul Mora
This session was pretty interesting. Saul did a nice job walking through some of the basics of Instruments. The highlight of this session was when he walked through a real-life NSZombie hunt. The issue turned out to be this block of code (hope I regurgitated the code correctly).
Think about it for a bit.
The CocoaConf conference is currently small (less than 100) and very inviting. By inviting, I simply mean every one I met was very friendly and engaging. There were people attending who were new to the platform, and others who had been programming on the platform for years.
The conference also included keynotes by Andy Hunt and Daniel Steinberg, as well as a fun session called “We made an app for that”.
Many thanks to Dave Klein and his family for organizing this great conference. I hope to be back again soon.
One More Thing (a little name dropping)
One of the many highlights of my weekend was at the airport on the way home. I got to sit down and talk with Bill Dudney and Collin Donnell in the Southwest Airlines terminal. Both Bill and Collin are both very nice and great to talk to. It was awesome to get a chance to talk with them in person. Thanks!