What's the best development tool/framework to create my specific iPhone app idea?
February 7, 2011 4:15 PM   Subscribe

What's the best development tool/framework to create my specific iPhone app idea?

  • I've never made an iPhone/iPod Touch app before.
  • I'm fairly experienced with coding, but not in objective-C. I'm more in the Perl/PHP/Javascript area
  • My idea, let's say, is a "1,001 jokes" app.* You hit the screen, it randomly shows you a joke.
  • I would also very much like to have people submit their own jokes, and for the app to be able to reload itself with new jokes from a server. Maybe voting on the best jokes too.
  • It seems to me that this is a likely candidate for some kind of "wrapper" application, where the content display and the online interaction is handled mostly by a browser with an app wrapped around it.
Please tell me if I'm right about this, and also which app-development technology is best for my specific idea, and of course for my skill level.

* not actually the idea
posted by AmbroseChapel to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Does it make sense to build it as a webapp, using the jquery mobile toolkit (or some similar moral equivalent)? Does it need to be an app?
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:23 PM on February 7, 2011

I have not done anything in this space yet, but have been interested in MonoTouch.
posted by jkaczor at 4:24 PM on February 7, 2011

Response by poster: I appreciate your point, jenkinsEar, but yes, I really need the experience of making an actual app which goes in the Store.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:39 PM on February 7, 2011

If it wasn't built in Xcode using ObjC it's going to be rejected, more or less.

Creating an app that's basically a hardcoded browser widget is fine (I believe, Apple is the final word of course), but you're going to have to do it in Xcode.
posted by GuyZero at 4:41 PM on February 7, 2011

If it wasn't built in Xcode using ObjC it's going to be rejected, more or less.

That isn't true.


From the press release:

"In particular, we are relaxing all restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS apps, as long as the resulting apps do not download any code. This should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need."
posted by secret about box at 5:03 PM on February 7, 2011

I will say, though, that this is something could be built in just about any modern, popular IDE, language, and/or framework environment combination.

I'd give it a shot in Xcode+Objective-C+Cocoa just to use it as a good opportunity to learn some new things, if that's your thing. Without doing a lot of thinking (at work, kinda distracted), it seems like the right language and framework combo for the job would be something that allows you to interface easily with whatever your server's going to be rocking. (If you want to be able to submit your own jokes, that is.) Think about what that'll be, then look and see if vanilla Cocoa/Foundation APIs do what you need or help facilitate it sufficiently, or if there's something nice that someone in the community has built, etc.
posted by secret about box at 5:12 PM on February 7, 2011

Your best bet is Objective C. It's not very hard, the SDK is free (a license to distribute is $99), and you'll get better results for your effort.

If you use MonoTouch, you have to pay for it (in addition to the $99 distribution license), you'll be learning C#, and as you go along, you'll be learning what C# can't do on the iPhone, as well.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:12 PM on February 7, 2011

Blaze, do you code for the iOS? Just curious, and your memail is shut off, so I'm threadjacking.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:15 PM on February 7, 2011

posted by Good Brain at 5:19 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

More copper Lincolns from someone in the industry:

The best experience is going to be a native one. Playing to any platform's strengths is easiest and most seamless when you're not using middleware.
posted by secret about box at 5:30 PM on February 7, 2011

yeah, for a simple app like that Obj-C and Xcode will be the simplest way to go... for interaction with your remote web service (new content etc) you can find some handy frameworks at Cocoa Objects...
posted by russm at 6:29 PM on February 7, 2011

I know nothing about nothing but I do know a 14 year old kid developed the app that knocked Angry Birds out of #1 using Corona
posted by kaizen at 6:38 PM on February 7, 2011

Response by poster: That story which kaizen linked to was the reason I came to know that there were quite a few different development tools/frameworks.

I've heard of Corona, GameSalad, PhoneGap (thanks Good Brain!) and jQTouch, which is not exactly the same thing.

I was expecting people to weigh in on the differences between them, frankly. Seems like most people think I should just use XCode?

Anyone with something to say about non XCode solutions/simpler frameworks would be welcome.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 7:00 PM on February 7, 2011

I did something with Corona and it was pretty fast and simple if you know flash programming.
posted by Hazy Star at 7:10 PM on February 7, 2011

I'm currently working on iPhone development myself and I've only been coding in earnest for a couple of years.

I highly recommend The Big Nerd Ranch Guide to iPhone programming.

You won't need to read the whole book. Just the beginning bit and maybe the part on mysql lite. This will greatly increase the chances of you making a solid app that Apple will accept. It will also help you in any further development you may want to do.
posted by EricBrotto at 4:36 AM on February 8, 2011

Response by poster: Here's another one, by the way, Titanium.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 5:28 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

You are going to want to do it in XCode and Objective C. I believe XCode is included on your OSX installation disk - you might have to check the version.

The Big Nerd Ranch book is a great way to start but you might be interested in checking out iTunes U for online classes like this one: iPhone Application Development from Stanford
posted by neofite at 9:47 PM on February 10, 2011

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