iOS app development for beginners using Xcode

With a wide range of products and over a billion devices in use, more and more people are getting interested in developing apps for Apple products, and more apps are being continuously released. The best option for iOS app development for beginners is to use Xcode, which is the IDE (Integrated Development Environment) of Apple, Inc. It is considered a versatile software development suite incorporating a variety of useful tools including iOS Simulator and iOS SDK (Software Development Kit) for developing, testing, and debugging of the apps. It is of great help in the process of app development for beginners in terms of creating apps for operating systems such as iOS (used in iPhone, iPad), watchOS (for Apple Watch), etc.

Obtaining Xcode

Xcode can be downloaded directly from the Apple developer site or Mac App Store and installed on your Mac system. One has to register online as an Apple Developer to download and use Xcode. Registration is easy and free. However, Xcode will only run on a Mac computer and not Windows. The latest Xcode version 11 has been announced on June 2019, and a Beta version was released at the same time. 

Getting started

Getting started with Xcode is easy. When you open Xcode, you will see a welcome page. You can select the ‘Create a new Xcode project’ option from the page. You will then see icons corresponding to templates for different types of applications, such as Page-Based Application, Game, etc. ‘Single View application’ will be suitable to start with iOS app development for dummies. You will be asked to give a name for the project (‘Product Name’), Organization name and Organization identifier, and specify a location on your computer to save it. When it is done, you will land on the screen for the real app development, which is called the Workspace Window.

Workspace layout

Your Workspace window is seen as divided into three vertical panes. The left-most pane is the Navigation Bar from where you access the various parts of your project.

The item selected from the Navigation Bar will appear on the middle pane (known as the Editor Area) where you do all the work on it, including editing, coding etc. A division at the bottom of this pane is the Debugging Area.

The pane to the right is known as Utility Area. Additional information on the items worked upon appears here. This pane will also help you with many useful resources for your work. 

There is also the horizontal Toolbar at the top of the page.

Coding your first app using Xcode

That said, now, how to code in Xcode? To tell the truth, little coding knowledge is needed to create a simple app using Xcode, thanks to a vast ‘Objects Library’ incorporated with ready-to-use objects. The iOS app development for beginners was never this easy. See how an app to display the text ‘Hello World!’ is created:

  • First, you need to select your virtual device (iPhone, iPad) using the ‘iOS Simulator’ so that the app created will be compatible with the screen size, resolution, etc., of the intended device. 
  • When you click the ‘Storyboard’ option on the Navigator pane, the screen of the virtual device, say iPhone, is displayed on the Editor Area. 
  • Next, pick the object ‘Text field’ from the Objects Library on the right pane and drop on the virtual display. 
  • Then type in the text ‘Hello World!’ for the field. 
  • Now run the app by clicking the ‘Play’ button on the top toolbar. You see the text ‘Hello World’ displayed on the screen of the virtual device.

A beginner may try further exercises in app development. Continuous learning and practice will surely make you a maestro.