Making your own iPhone app requires time, discipline
By Peter Zschunke Aug 15, 2010, 12:21 GMT
Hundreds of customers wait in line for Apple\'s iPhone 4 debut in Hong Kong, China, 29 July 2010. EPA/YM YIK
Berlin - Many programmers today dream of making a quick buck by trotting out a successful iPhone app.
The dream is not unattainable. Apple has set a low bar for submitting items to its App Store. But beginner programmers need to be aware that they'll need both discipline and several months of work before they're ready to take their wares to market.
'Beginners will have a hard time starting from zero,' says Frank Puetter, a German programmer.
With 25 years of experience in software development, he says he still needed three months of training and testing before he could start work on his app - Dauerkarte (Season Ticket) - which accompanies football fans from game day to game day during the season.
There's a long list of prerequisites before one can develop an app for an iPhone, iPod music player or the iPad tablet computer. Ingo Boehme has published a guide book to help beginning iPod and iPad programmers. It recommends a Mac computer, a developer account and the app developing program, Xcode, for starters.
The software development kit is free. Programmers only have to pay once they pitch an app for sale, when they are required to register with the development programme. That's a 99-dollar fee per year.
The first lessons in Apple's programming code, Objective C, deal with variables, data types, requirements and finishing - just like in any other programming language.
'Experience in an object-oriented programming language like C++ or Java is extremely helpful,' says Puetter. He advises beginners to allow themselves six months before they'll have a true mastery of Apple's demanding system.
Once that's behind a beginner, the development system can be used almost intuitively. It's easy to take popular pre-designed buttons and integrate them into the interface for one's own app. It only takes a few lines of code to decide what should happen when one of those buttons is pressed.
A multiplicity of operation elements are ready to go in the development programme, to be used as building blocks in one's own app. People planning an application for an iPad have an expanded set of options, including split-screen views, such as those offered by the Mail programme for the tablet computer.
As soon as the app is finished, it can be tested in a simulator, which lets the developer see how the app reacts to input from a user.
Once everything is working smoothly and the programme is ready for the App Store, then it's time to register with Apple.
'And then it's time to wait,' writes Boehme.
It takes Apple one to three weeks to test the app and either release or reject it. Rejection is usually because of small problems that Boehme says can be worked out before resubmission.
If all this seems like too much work, then there's always the option of creating a web application.
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