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Can a Non-Programmer Learn iOS Development By Taking a Class?

Someone just posted what I thought was an interesting question on the About Objects website:

In a nutshell, I do not come from a programming background but I am very technical and I have a strong desire to learn iOS programming.

My concern is that if I attend the complete catalog of classes starting with ANSI-C through iOS programming that I wouldn’t have the nuts and bolts background to absorb the training.

I have several ideas for apps to develop and the cost of app development far exceeds that cost of your courses.

Any insight or advice would be appreciated.

Here’s what I wrote in reply:

Great question, thanks!

ANSI C and Objective-C are the nuts and bolts of iOS development, which is precisely why we offer courses on those two topics. In fact, I’d say the distinguishing characteristic of About Objects training in general is the degree to which it focuses on fundamentals. And from what I’ve directly observed, our training does help compensate to a certain degree for a lack of programming background.

But I think your question a wise one because ultimately, as the old saying goes, there’s no substitute for experience. And in my mind it typically takes six months to a year to become reasonably good at iOS development. The problem though for a lot of folks isn’t an unwillingness to spend that much time learning their craft; it’s that they find themselves unable to make any real progress because the initial learning curve is just too steep.

So I see the role of our intro-level training classes as being a means to get people over the hump so that they have enough of a grounding to make rapid progress on their own, and to have a deep enough understanding of the underlying technologies that they can reason their way out of corners.

Having trained hundreds of developers at this point, we’ve seen good results even for most of the 10-20% (as a rough guesstimate) with no programming background. Obviously, not everyone is cut out to be a developer, so there’ll always be some folks who ultimately don’t stick with it, but most of our non-programmers have done fairly well; a growing number have apps on the iTunes App Store.

Regarding your point about cost, I certainly agree — developing a native iOS app capable of holding anyone’s attention is an expensive undertaking. Read Craig Hockenberry’s excellent response to a question on Stackoverflow if you want some added perspective.

About Objects Student’s First iOS App Goes Live on App Store

About Objects student Jeff Richardson has developed a truly impressive app that’s now available for download on the App Store for $2.99. It’s a remarkably polished first effort that makes it easy to create landscape designs right on your iPhone.

App: Home Outside Design – Create the Landscape You Love.

Developer’s Website: Julie Moir Messervy Design Studio

Jeff’s Website: All Dreams Digital

Objective-C Tutorial Videos

I was in Dallas last week teaching iOS (iPhone/iPad) development at Neiman Marcus, and due to the wonderful, wintry weather (hm, nice alliteration), the second day of the class had to be cancelled. So I pushed out some homework assignments and PDFs of the course material via Dropbox, and put these videos together for some of the trickier bits on Objective-C.

http://vimeo.com/hubnut/?user_id=aboutobjects&color=00adef&background=000000&fullscreen=1&slideshow=0&stream=uploaded_videos&id=&server=vimeo.com

iPhone 101 Xcode Projects

360iDev

As promised, here are the example Xcode projects from the recent iPhone 101 class I gave at the Denver 360iDev conference.

Morning Session:
Introduction to Objective-C

Objective-C.zip (45KB)

Afternoon Session:
Introduction to iPhone Programming

UIKit.zip (21KB)

[Edit: Broken links fixed Oct. 14, 2009]

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