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Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X (3rd Edition) Paperback – May 15, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0321503619 ISBN-10: 0321503619 Edition: 3rd

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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: 9.1 x 7.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #745,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

If you are developing applications for the Mac, or are hoping to do so, this book is just the resource you need. Does it cover everything you will ever want to know about programming for the Mac? Of course it doesn’t. But it does cover probably 80% of what you need to know. You can find the remaining 20%, the 20% that is unique to you, in Apple’s online documentation.

This book, then, acts as a foundation. It covers the Objective-C language and the major design patterns of Cocoa. It will also get you started with the three most commonly used developer tools: Xcode, Interface Builder, and Instruments. After reading this book, you will be able to understand and utilize Apple’s online documentation.

There is a lot of code in this book. Through that code, I will introduce you to the idioms of the Cocoa community. My hope is that by presenting exemplary code, I can help you to become not just a Cocoa developer, but a stylish Cocoa developer.

This third edition includes technologies introduced in Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5. These include Xcode 3, Objective-C 2, Core Data, the garbage collector, and CoreAnimation.

This book is written for programmers who already know some C programming and something about objects. You are not expected to have any experience with Mac programming. It’s a hands-on book and assumes that you have access to Mac OS X and the developer tools. The developer tools are free. If you bought a shrink-wrapped copy of Mac OS X, the installer for the developer tools was on the DVD. The tools can also be downloaded from the Apple Developer Connection Web site (

I have tried to make this book as useful for you as possible, if not indispensable. That said, I’d love to hear from you if you have any suggestions for improving it.

Aaron Hillegass

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

The explanations are short and very clear.
Fabrice FERAY
I must say that this one is one of the best written technical books I've read in a while.
L. Romero
This book is a great book for teaching beginners Cocoa.
Jason Bobier

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By J. Matters on June 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
I did a lot of research before buying this book, and the overwhelming accolades seemed to assure me that my [...] bucks would be money well-spent. Personally, I feel very let down by it. The way the author jumps into code without explanation, routinely giving you half a page of calls with absolutely zero previous discussion of what they do or where they come from, is both baffling and frustrating.

Most of the exercises are conducted with a tone along the lines of "Just do what I tell you and it'll make sense later," which doesn't suit my learning style.

Much of the book is focused on multi-chapter projects, which can be problematic for someone who has a project in mind and simply wants to learn how different aspects of Cocoa work.

Also, the text really fails at answering any questions you might have about anything. Seriously, if you have a question in your head, you will never find the answer unless you muddle through the assignment. The book has a tendency to never talk about anything in particular with any depth, and only explains things in as much as they apply to the current example.

For future editions, here are some recommendations:

1) When you introduce a new object, give us a list of methods near the beginning of the chapter, so we aren't constantly guessing what you're talking about. There are times when every new line of code feels like a surprise.

2) Cover some basic things that actual people want to know. Here's a big one: "How do I open and parse a file?"

3) Take it easy on the line drawings. They sometimes make things seem a lot more complex than they actually are.

4) The cavalier handling of Bindings is often infuriating.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Bemowski on October 6, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you plan to write for Mac OS X, and have some programming experience, this book is a MUST HAVE. This is by far the best introductory book I have ever read on any language.

If you DO NOT have programming experience, I would still recommend this book. There are some spots where the logic might be hard to grasp, but Aaron Hillegass walks you through it.

In either case, but more so for beginners, I would also recommend Programming in Objective-C (Developer's Library). The less experience you have, the more strongly I would suggest reading this book first. It will walk you through the basics of straight Objective-C and then start you off using frameworks in OS X. If you are a Windows user and do not have a Mac, Programming in Objective-C (Developer's Library) will show you how to write and compile Objective-C in Windows.
(Look for the new version of this book which uses Objective-C 2.0)

I come from Windows development, having programmed in VB 6, VB.NET, C (and variants), and java. Aaron Hillegass takes you right into the heart of the Mac OS X development environment and gives you a guided tour. Showing you the basics of both Cocoa and the X Code development environment. Pick the book up and you won't regret it. This is a walkthrough tutorial style book. It is not a reference book. Apples online documentation is the best reference for Cocoa.

There are a lot of resources out there for Cocoa programmers. If you are looking for more help with Cocoa, check out the free podcasts that are available on iTunes.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful By corvinus on August 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
Despite the accolades by some, this is not a book for beginners. To learn programming you need lots of examples, lots of exercises in a defined problem space (so you can solve them! and learn...) and good explanations not only of what a particular feature does, but what it is for and how to use it, practically, and in your own programs. This book fails on all these criteria. Further, some of the examples don't work, and they are so complex that a beginner is baffled as to where even to start looking to fix them.

If you don't know Objective C (which was my situation - my background was self taught programming in C and the GEM GUI on the Atari Falcon) or even don't know C, Steve Kochan has written an excellent book, "Programming in Objective C 2.0", on these issues and also on the Foundation Kit. His book satisfies all the criteria mentioned above. We need him to write a similar book on Cocoa. Don't waste your time, or your money, on Hillegass.

After spending several fruitless months on Hillegass's book, I found free help elsewhere: my friends, the sad news is that there is no avoiding reading Apple's guides to XCode and Interface Builder, and above all, the Cocoa Fundamentals Guide, and dipping into other guides, as necessary. I recommend working through Apple's Cocoa Application Tutorial (much to learn there) and Apple's sample programs in the Image Kit Programming Guide (even more to learn, not just image-kit specific stuff) - and note that these programs DO work. The Wikibooks "Programming Mac OS X with Cocoa for Beginners" is another excellent tutorial, with excellent explanations. I also found the Cocoa tutorials by Julius Guzy (start at: [...]) to be invaluable. These have the great merit of focusing on just one topic at a time - so if you stuff up, as invariably happens sometimes, you have a defined problem space which, yes, you can indeed solve with some ingenuity and perseverance, and learn from having solved.
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