by Tim Van Damme

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Review: iPhone App Development: The Missing Manual

iPhone App Development: The Missing Manual

Last week I bought the writing debut of Craig Hockenberry (known from Iconfactory/Twitterrific and CHOCKLOCK fame). I was having doubts if it was worth reading for me as a designer, but the one-day $10 offer was too good not to get. On top of that, it is available in ePub format, which is really easy to sync to your iPad and read in the iBooks app.

The book takes you through the entire life span of an iPhone app called Flashlight Pro (iTunes, $2.99), but it’s not limited to iPhone apps alone, it’s equally worth buying if you’re working on an iPad app. In the first couple of chapters, not a single line of code is being mentioned. You start out by thinking about what kind of app you want to create. Is it realistic to build? Is there a lot of competition? Is it possible to write with the available API’s in the iPhone OS?

From there, you go through different steps from developing the app until marketing it, handling feedback and support, and much more. Like I said: I was having doubts of buying it as my brain isn’t wired to write code (HTML and CSS aren’t code, it’s markup) and I’ll probable never write an app in my life, but in the end it was totally worth it, as I’m working on an iPad app (Fav/Archive, together with Phillip Bowden). It has many tips about the entire process of getting your app out in the open, available for customers to buy, and guides you around all the mistakes you can easily make in this complicated process.

The book won’t teach you how to develop from scratch (Craig posted a list of books on the book’s website you can read if you have no experience with a programming language). The chapters about code are great if you’re already familiar with Objective C, but I had to skip them entirely. But even if you’re just a freelancer hired to design an app from which the features are already decided on, and you start from the wireframes prepared for you by the developers, it’s a great look behind the scenes. It gives you a fresh perspective and uncovers a much more complex process you ever imagined which will make you respect developers and everyone involved in giving birth to an app even more. Even though i had to skip some chapters, there was still a lot of interesting stuff to learn. It’s a must buy for everyone involved in the creation of an iPad or iPhone app.

Craig is a great writer, and you just fly through the (600 pages on iPad) book. It’s funny, clever and easy to understand.“iPhone App Development: The Missing Manual” is available from O’Reilly as a printed book, electronic version (Mobi, PDF and ePub), or combination of both.