|Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X, 2nd Edition|
|reviewer||Kevin H. Spencer|
|summary||Aaron Hillegass new book, Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X, 2nd Edition, is a very helpful book for developers interested in getting not only their feet wet, but become totally immersed in creating applications using the OpenStep-derived API known now as Cocoa. Don't dive in without knowing how to swim in C++/Java, however.|
The author is no stranger to OpenStep, having worked at NeXT as well as Apple in OpenStep application development and training. Currently, Hillegass teaches Cocoa programming for The Big Nerd Ranch.
Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X, 2nd Edition is written in a way that makes you feel like you are in a class. There are prerequisites you must know and understand before you can begin, and, as a good professor would, the author points out what you need to have and know before beginning. Happily, the author is quite meticulous and has generously provided useful resource links and help where readers may explore for their supplies and primers and the like.
Essentially, anyone with a copy of Mac OS X 10.3 Panther has all that should be required--the Developer Tools CD contains all developer software and documentation necessary (the author notes in the book specific locations for key primers and references).
If you are experienced in C++ or Java programming, Cocoa development will seem familiar enough. Objective-C is used throughout the book (the author notes that development in Java is possible, but not recommended) for the various and numerous exercises. Cocoa development is made easier with Apple's Xcode application, however, Cocoa is not for the timid or novice programmer. This book is well-written and easy to follow IF you have a respectable level of C/C++ or Java development under your belt.
The text, as well as its diction, is easy on the eyes and mind, and while this is a programming book, the author's voice speaks well, allowing you to feel as if you can ask the book questions as if you were in a classroom. Graphics and text are plentiful, but information is not packed on every page, so following along is far from drudgery. Each chapter does stack itself on information from the previous, so this isn't a reference book in the strictest sense.
Addison-Wesley, the publisher, has formatted the book nicely, with a pleasant font that won't tire the eyes, consistent code and text conventions, and a detailed Table of Contents and Index, However, it's thickness and binding doesn't lend itself to lying flat, so you'll have to weight the book pages down to read the book hands-free as you type in examples. Speciality bindings that could have been useful for this book are not cheap, based on my publishing experience, and such a binding would add more to the book's $45 US cost. (Amazon has a great deal on the book at the time of this review.)
Five new chapters were added in this 2nd edition, which discuss creating AppleScriptable applications, integrating OpenGL, adding Undo abilities, creating reusable frameworks, and tinkering with GNUStep, the raw open-source tools for those curious about making Cocoa apps under Linux.
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.
You can purchase Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X, 2nd Edition from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, carefully read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.