Thursday, October 2, 2008

More Mac/iPhone development updates

I have several posts in one of my other blogs that are applicable to this one, so I suppose I will fix one of them up and post it here, so as not to appear M.I.A. The following is a follow-up to some landscape-mode issues I've been having with iPhone development; specifically, if I apply a transform to a root level screen in my app, any child screens added 1) will not have that transform applied in the iPhone simulator, as I would expect, but 2) *will* have that transform applied on the actual device:

I've at least found a good temporary solution for the landscape issues, and I've been progressing with learning Objective-C / Cocoa / UIKit / etc. but not to the point at which I can concretely delineate between each of these terms. I'm also struggling a bit but getting the hang of several things.

I finally installed a third-party mouse configuration software so that I can get more than a kindergarten level of control over my mouse sensitivity.

I'm getting the hang of the MacOS app launching model, the dock bar and how it represents running versus non-running programs, the "Finder" file browser and its quirks.

XCode is like Visual Studio Lite, or perhaps "Visual Studio Gimped". I've chatted endlessly on IRC with people who gladly praise XCode over Visual Studio, but I wonder if they've used VS2005 or greater. It's just no comparison; there are redundant windows/panels everywhere, the debugger runs in a separate tiny window, though you can resize it, covering your other windows. The expression watcher is nowhere near as powerful as Visual Studio's, and Intellisense (or its equivalent) is weaker in its implementation, requiring more keystrokes for simple tasks.

Speaking of the tiny debugger window (obviously resizable), this is a common observation with MacOS. It seems the norm to be expected to manually drag windows around and place them as you need them; stretching them to just the right extents, etc. In Windows my usual mode of operation is to only do that when I'm copying files from one explorer window to another. When I'm running apps, I generally switch to the app, then maximize the window if it isn't already maximized. Windows seems to work well with users who are used to this behavior. MacOS doesn't seem to be expecting it; hence, I'll find that apps have lots of little "helper" windows that are expected to be resized to comfortable dimensions for the particular user at that particular time. This is not how I want my apps to work. Visual Studio supports this, but also a very extensive docking scheme so I can have all my windows docked where I want them instead of floating about in the ether, always getting in the way of content behind them, or else getting hidden themselves when I click somewhere else.

Again I find it ironic that so much of what makes the iPhone dominant over Windows Mobile is the same that makes Visual Studio dominant over XCode and the general Mac development situation. Of course, I am trying very hard not to bias my arguments with my existing familiarity with Visual Studio. There's still much more to learn.

Other factors which add major hurdles include simple things like the feel of the keyboard. It's no longer Ctrl-C, it's Command-C, etc., not to mention completely different dev environment hotkeys. And on my particular keyboard, the Esc and F-keys are tiny.

I finally bit the bullet and sacrificed dual-monitors on my PC in order to have a dedicated monitor with a DVI input from my Mac. I also switched placement of my keyboards/mice so that my Mac is in my primary workspace on my desk, and my PC is riding shotgun. This will encourage me to give my Mac some more love.

Update: The lack of multi-monitors with my PC is getting annoying, but I bought a new keyboard for my Mac, realizing that PC keyboards usually work just fine. This has been so great for my sanity and has filled me with some extra spirit that was lacking the past few days.

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