How to develop and Ipad app with no programming skills.
February 18, 2011 5:12 AM   Subscribe

I'm not a programmer so what tools/resources should I pursue to make an Ipad application?

I'd like to make an Ipad app but I'm no programmer nor would I pretend that becoming one is even possible. I've done some basic research on how 'idea people' have worked with programmers using sites like elance etc, or hiring from companies that do this professionally (expensive) or finding other freelancers.

Are there any tools that bypass the programming - Allowing me to visually create an app and fill it in much like I would do with a Wordpress theme for a Web site?

I've read the threads already about the best resources for programmers and little programming (Corona), but are there any great resources for the non-programming developer that might help me on my path? Even if they are articles or people who have done it before, interviews etc would be great.

I realize it's very possible that this is something that outside of hiring an expensive programmer to create the app is just not possible but I wanted to at least try and see if there is anything out there. Thanks for any assistance!
posted by modoriculous to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a little confused. You say that you know how to develop WordPress sites, so I'm assuming you are already fluent in HTML/CSS/php. While HTML and CSS are (super, super forgiving markup languages) the fact that you know php is a step in the right direction. Many programming concepts are not language specific, which is why many who use them know more than one (though often specialize in one or a small family). Take what you've learned in php and start applying it to Objective C. Yes, the entire syntax is completely different, but the concepts remain the same.

There's tons of online documentation to get you started since iOS applications are all the rage now.

Alternatively, if you cannot figure this out yourself in a week, maybe this is something that does require a certain amount of formal/dedicated training and thus professionals who want more than just a few bucks aren't expensive but are appropriately pricing their services for people who would rather spend money than learn to do it themselves.
posted by Brian Puccio at 5:42 AM on February 18, 2011

previously. The answer seems to be "hire an actual programmer."
posted by beerbajay at 5:45 AM on February 18, 2011

I'd be interested in the answers but unless you're making something very cookie cutter I imagine the only way to go about it would be through actual programming.

If you go that route, I'd look into frameworks like Sencha that let you build HTML-based apps that work as native-like apps on mobile devices. It's way easier than programming the iPad directly. You'd need to learn Objective C to do that. Here's the Objective C required to trim a string:
NSString *trimmedString = [dirtyString stringByTrimmingCharactersInSet:[NSCharacterSet whitespaceAndNewlineCharacterSet]];
Here's how you trim a string in JavaScript (the main programming language you'd use in a web-based mobile app):
trimmedString = dirtyString.trim()
You can see why I'd recommend one over the other.

I'm a little confused. You say that you know how to develop WordPress sites, so I'm assuming you are already fluent in HTML/CSS/php.

My impression was that he's familiar with using the WordPress admin site to fiddle with themes (changing the color, sizes, etc.) And PHP is very, very different from Objective C. I think there are a lot of web programmers who think, "I'll just use my existing knowledge to build an iOS app!" and then balk at the labyrinth that is Objective C. I know it gave me pause.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:46 AM on February 18, 2011

I do know how to program a bit, but I don't know Objective C, and I found programming a native iphone app to be to difficult for me. I did manage to hack together a web app optimized for iphone, though, using javascript and html.

You can use xcode to design the interface, but you really need to know how to program to be a programmer.

It's like asking how to rebuild an engine if you're not a mechanic and don't want to learn how to be a mechanic.
posted by empath at 5:57 AM on February 18, 2011

And PHP is very, very different from Objective C. I think there are a lot of web programmers who think, "I'll just use my existing knowledge to build an iOS app!" and then balk at the labyrinth that is Objective C. I know it gave me pause.
Agreed, it is a whole lot more complex. All most people do with php is query a database, wrap some HTML around the results and plunk that into some HTML5/XHTML boilerplate template the found somewhere else. Sprinkle in jQuery for some fancy looking touches. But once you get past learning how to program, learning another language is a different animal. Concepts like arrays and loops are pretty universal, so he'd just be learning how they worked in ObjC as opposed to learning what they are.

The OP calls himself a developer, so I assumed he meant he already knew php and was just looking to avoid picking up a language. If the OP is not a developer (i.e., does not know how to program at all) and wants to not learn how to program but still get a program, the answer, depending on what his application needs to do, is probably hire a programmer.
posted by Brian Puccio at 6:02 AM on February 18, 2011

If you know HTML/CSS and a little javascript you can build apps for both iPhone/iPad and Android using Phone Gap.
posted by Alison at 6:16 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Start here.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:58 AM on February 18, 2011

If you're willing to switch to android you can use Google's dumbed down App Inventor. I don't believe an equivalant exists for iphone. Even then its a pretty limited tool.

The quickest and easiest way is to learn a web scripting language and build a web app instead of a native app. PHP or ASP is going to be loads easier than building native applications, and a lot more forgiving on the newbie self-taught learner. It's probably also cheaper to pay a PHP programmer to make your web app than to pay an iOS developer to do the same.

I also don't at all believe in being an "ideas guy." Ideas are a dime a dozen and your idea is probably not unique. Either your have the resources to pay to build this application or do it yourself. Not to mention market it and support it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:13 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I really really would not suggest starting with ASP. Nthing "hire a programmer".
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:25 AM on February 18, 2011

Well apple does provide an iOS "interface builder" application that allows you drop various UI elements, such as buttons and textboxes, to positon them. You will need to wire up the events (what happens when somebody clicks the button) yourself though.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:49 AM on February 18, 2011

I asked a very similar question not long ago.

PhoneGap seems to be the most likely contender for you, although it's just for iPhones as far as I can see. Essentially a PhoneGap application is a website, from the limited time I've spent with it.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 1:06 PM on February 18, 2011

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