Building My First iPhone App - Day 1

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

2015 is the year I am going to learn to write an iPhone app. I have an idea for an app that I would like to use, and it’s something simple enough that I could make it very quickly after learning the basics. I’m sure there will be complications along the way, but I hope I can overcome those.

I've never been a “programmer.” There never was an Hour of Code when I was a kid. I never had amazing free tools like Codecademy to teach me how to make an app right from my web browser. When I was 15 years old and thought that programming could be a fun career, I took a class at my high school where we learned to code in QBasic. I had some fun in that class, but it was generally a very boring class where we didn’t have much freedom and I didn’t know what I was getting out of it. So that was my last coding experience: 1 semester, 14 years ago.

Since then, I’ve dabbled with coding here and there, but it’s never stuck. If I’m honest, I’ve never made it more than a day trying to learn a programming language. I did teach myself to code HTML and CSS, but those aren’t programming languages. HTML is basically writing with some identifiers, and CSS is just a long list of rules for how that HTML should be displayed. You can do some really cool things with them, but they fall more in the “designer” category than the “developer” category.

This is an interesting time to start learning iOS development, since Apple’s new programming language, Swift, is still so new. It sounds like many experienced developers like some parts of Swift, but so far are sticking with what they know. I however, have no preconceived notions for what a language should and shouldn’t have, and Swift’s seeming simplification of some antiquated concepts makes it a much better language to learn than Objective C.

I’ve been using Treehouse to learn the basics of Swift first. I really like their tutorials (they’re actually who I used to learn CSS) and have really enjoyed what I have learned so far. I’m only on day 1, and this is going to sound incredibly quaint to anyone who has done any development before, but it was a big day for me. I learned about variables, constants, strings, numbers, operators, and arrays today. Here’s a screenshot of my latest tutorial in Xcode:

Like I said, not amazing, but whatever. It will get more impressive.

I’ve been following along with their intrusions, but am playing around with the specifics. I'm using my own variables and values so that I have to think everything out myself. I think it's helping me remember everything better than just mindlessly copying everything they write down.

I intend to keep writing about this on a regular basis to give status updates on how it's going. Hopefully I can provide some insight or support to others going though this same process. Cheers!