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Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X (3rd Edition) 3rd Edition

214 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 078-5342503616
ISBN-10: 0321503619
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The best-selling introduction to Cocoa, once again updated to cover the latest Mac programming technologies, and still enthusiastically recommended by experienced Mac OS X developers.


“Aaron's book is the gold standard for Mac OS X programming books—beautifully written, and thoughtfully sculpted. The best book on Leopard development.”

—Scott Stevenson,


“This is the first book I'd recommend for anyone wanting to learn Cocoa from scratch. Aaron's one of the few (perhaps only) full-time professional Cocoa instructors, and his teaching experience shows in the book.”

—Tim Burks, software developer and creator of the Nu programming language,


“If you're a UNIX or Windows developer who picked up a Mac OS X machine recently in hopes of developing new apps or porting your apps to Mac users, this book should be strongly considered as one of your essential reference and training tomes.”

—Kevin H. Spencer, Apple Certified Technical Coordinator


If you're developing applications for Mac OS X,Cocoa® Programming for Mac® OS X, Third Edition,is the book you've been waiting to get your hands on. If you're new to the Mac environment, it's probably the book you've been told to read first. Covering the bulk of what you need to know to develop full-featured applications for OS X, written in an engaging tutorial style, and thoroughly class-tested to assure clarity and accuracy, it is an invaluable resource for any Mac programmer.


Specifically, Aaron Hillegass introduces the three most commonly used Mac developer tools: Xcode, Interface Builder, and Instruments. He also covers the Objective-C language and the major design patterns of Cocoa. Aaron illustrates his explanations with exemplary code, written in the idioms of the Cocoa community, to show you how Mac programs should be written. After reading this book, you will know enough to understand and utilize Apple's online documentation for your own unique needs. And you will know enough to write your own stylish code.


Updated for Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5, this revised edition includes coverage of Xcode 3, Objective-C 2, Core Data, the garbage collector, and CoreAnimation.

About the Author

Aaron Hillegas runs Big Nerd Ranch, well-known for its popular Cocoa programming classes. Previously, he was a developer at NeXT and Apple. At Next, he wrote the first course on OpenStep, the predecessor to today's Cocoa tools. At Apple, he created and taught courses in Cocoa directly for and to Apple engineers. This book is based on Aaron's Big Nerd Ranch course and is influenced by 15 years of work with OpenStep and Cocoa.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 3 edition (May 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321503619
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321503619
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (214 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #967,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Aaron Hillegass worked at NeXT and then Apple before creating Big Nerd Ranch, a training and consulting company that specializes in Mac, iPhone, and Open Source technologies.

He lives in Atlanta, where Big Nerd Ranch teaches most of its classes. These classes have led to the creation of a series of books: The Big Nerd Ranch Guides. These books follow a consistent style that features a hands-on approach and a clear and conversational tone.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

155 of 161 people found the following review helpful By HiRez on February 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
This was the book I had been waiting for, or at least ONE OF the books I had been waiting for, to really get started with Cocoa programming. The O'Reilly book, as has been mentioned plenty of times here, leaves a lot to be desired, and while it was better than nothing, a wall still remained between me and Cocoa after finishing it.
After reading Cocoa Programming for OS X, I feel I can say I "get" Cocoa finally. That's not to say I'm an expert, but that I can complete a simple program now, on my own, using the Cocoa frameworks and concepts. As Aaron says in the book, learing the Cocoa APIs will take much longer. I come from a Java background, with only marginal C and C++ experience. Although Aaron does not speak much about the objective-c language itself, that's ok. Apple's PDF is more than adequate to get that background.
There are some things that get glossed over that I wish had been more fully explained, and some things left out altogether that I would have liked to see, such as:
-- Spawning and managing multiple threads, thread safety issues

-- exception handling, debugging and assertions

-- Cocoa "primitive" objects (NSPoint, NSRect, NSRange, etc.), why they apparently don't need to be retained or released, and why they are "NS" objects but don't really behave like them.
-- Calling Toolbox routines or those from APIs that have not yet been "Cocoa-ized" (and integrating the Old Way into the Cocoa Way), with examples. Cocoa is nice but once you get away from building a text editor, you will need to dig into this ugly and unfriendly world at some point (unfortunately).
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100 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Dan Crevier on February 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
First my background. I'm a very experienced C++ programmer who is also very experienced with Carbon.
I found this book to be a great intro to Cocoa without a lot of preaching about how Cocoa will change the world. Carbon vs. Cocoa seems to be an almost religous debate, and I'm glad this book didn't try to overpromise the benefits of Cocoa.
The book is well organized, very readable, and has good examples. It is *much* better than the O'Reilly "Learning Cocoa" book.
After reading this book, you'll be able to start writing applications in Cocoa, and you'll know where to go for more info.
Now, my nits:
* The book explicitly stated that it was for people with a C++ or java background, but I think there should have been more direct comparisions between C++/java and Objective C. For example, saying that class functions (the ones with +) are just like static functions in C++ would have helped.
* This may be an introductory book for people moving from other platforms to the Mac, but the UI for most of the applications violated Apple's UI guidelines in many ways. I think the book should have promoted following Apple's UI guidelines.
* There was no discussion of exceptions, and much of the code was not exception-safe and didn't do much error checking. There wasn't even the usual disclaimer about leaving that out for simplicity.
* I would have liked a quick overview at the end of some of the classes not discussed in the book with a couple of sentences about what they do. This would help to learn what's out there.
I hope to see more books on Cocoa by the author. There's still lots of room for books on more advanced Cocoa topics.
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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful By charles on September 16, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First, I have to say I loved this book, I actually read half of it on a trip, not being in front of my computer, and still enjoyed the clear style and the gradual addition of new concepts and tools, chapter after chapter. Then I could hardly wait to be back home and start doing it for real.
Now for the potential buyer.
WHAT IT IS NOT: a reference book (no list of classes etc...) or a technical book for advanced programming; a book about Java or Carbon; an introduction to object-oriented programming; an introduction to C.
WHAT IT IS: an excellent introduction to programming in Objective C in the Cocoa environment of Max OS X, provided you know enough about
object-oriented programming (some basic understanding of C++ is preferable too).
WHAT YOU LEARN: Objective-C in Cocoa; using Apple Developer Tools; building an application in Mac OS X; how to make optimal use of Cocoa classes and API, knowing how they were conceived and meant to be used; a number of basic concepts and tips that really get you started.
THE PLUS that make this book so interesting: very good and clear writing; some amusing brief 'historical' insights; you really feel the author knows what he is talking about; the author gives personal views (clearly stated as advices, not rules); follow-up, errata, examples, comments, and more on his web site; still completely useable with OS X.2 (a couple or very minor changes that are listed on the web site anyway), so that's the good time to buy it (price is down, but content is still up to date).
Final comment: Objective C in Max OS X is very powerful and enjoyable.
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89 of 100 people found the following review helpful By R. Bryan Harrison on December 1, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had high hopes for the 4th edition of this book. The authors clearly have considerable expertise, but the book isn't particularly well written and suffers from all the typical maladies of tech publishing: poorly organized, badly designed, full of errors, cheaply printed, and overpriced. Rather than improving on version 3, it's a slapdash edit thrown together merely to include changes Apple made to Xcode and the compiler in 2011. It reads like a promising middle draft of what might have been a terrific book.

In general, Big Nerd Ranch's books have the feel of something assembled from classroom materials. This is unfortunate - one suspects the classes are terrific, but a great book takes more than that and great teachers are not necessarily good writers. (And engineers almost never are.) In particular, there are far too many rabbits pulled out of way too many hats - "do this - wow!", "do that - kaboom!" - with insufficient background. Demos work great in the classroom where one can ask direct questions, but I'd prefer a book that takes a problem solving approach with clearly defined goals and equally explicit explanations of why certain approaches are superior to others.

The best parts of the book are "Curious" and "Challenge" sections at the end of each chapter, which require independent thought and adapting concepts and techniques to serve actual needs. Would that the whole book had taken that approach. The worst part is the graphic design - the procedural instructions laid out in running text are unnecessarily difficult to follow and the reduced low-resolution screen shots are often barely legible. (Where did publishers get the idea that 72 dpi screen shots are acceptable in a $30 book?
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