Basic Guide and Tips for App Designing and Programming | iOS App Design | iOS App Development
App Programming Guide
Basics of App Design
How and from where the process of app development starts is a common query among those who are
beginners in the field of developing apps for iOS. Once a basic idea about app has been created, the
next step is to turn it into action to implement your app. In terms of design, you are required to make
a few crucial decisions regarding the best way to implement your ideas. Besides, it is also important
that your first Xcode project is set up in a way which will facilitate the further development.
For those who are actually beginners at developing apps for iOS, it is very important to spend some
time understanding the crucial and basic concepts involved. Although plenty of tutorials are available
for helping you start writing coding right away, however iOS system requires to be built from initial
design patterns. Spending some of your time learning these patterns is sure to help you later on.
Doing Initial Designing
An app can be designed in many ways and amazingly, many of the popular approaches do not even
require you to writing any codes. For starting an interesting app, all you need to get started is an idea,
which can be then expanded into a fully featured product. In the initial phase of designing, you
should understand the purpose your app will be able to serve. Also note down the features which will
be needed for implementing your idea and then prioritise the mentioned features on the basis of the
needs of your users. Doing some research regarding iOS can prove helpful in making you understand
the capabilities and the way these can be used for achieving your goals. It is a good idea to start
sketching out a few rough designs for interface on a paper, as will help you visualize the final
outlook of your app.
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Initial designing is also important for finding answers to some highly important questions regarding
your app. Steps mentioned above, like deciding the features and sketching a few interface designs
can prove helpful in considering the requirements while writing codes. At a point, you might realize
that the information being displayed by the app should be translated into a group of data objects. The
way your app looks can also influence the choice to be made by you while implementing the codes of
user interface. As compared to doing it on a computer, sketching the initial rough design on a piece
of paper also offers you more freedom of creating better answers which might transcends the
boundaries of what is possible and easy.
Ideally you should read iOS human interface guidelines before getting started with the initial design.
Several techniques for making the initial design are described in this book, along with various tips
and useful guidance for creating apps that will work perfectly in iOS. Reading iOS technology
overview can also help you in understanding how well the iOS's capability can be used for achieving
design goals you have in mind.
Being familiar with basic techniques and patterns of iOS design
Irrespective of the kind of app in your mind, some fundamental techniques and patterns of design are
there for you to be familiar with, before writing code. Specific frameworks in iOS provide an
important infrastructure for app creation and in many cases these frameworks are the single method
available for accessing underlying hardware. However several design patterns might be used by
frameworks assuming that you have familiarity with them. Spending time to understand and know
such design patterns can be very important in understanding the way system can prove helpful while
developing your app.
Most important and common design patterns which you should be aware of are:
Model view controller – the entire structure of app is governed by this one design pattern.
Delegation – this particular design pattern helps in transferring date and information among different
Target action – the purpose of this particular design pattern is to translation user interactions through
controls and buttons in code which can be executed by your app.
Block objects – blocks can be used for implementing synchronous code and call-backs.
Sandboxing – every iOS apps required to be put in sandboxes for keeping the system, as well as other
apps protected. Sandbox's structure has an impact on how the files of your app are placed and also
lead to implications for various features related to app and data backups.
Memory management in efficient and accurate way is crucial for the iOS apps. As the usable
memory available in case of iOS apps is generally lesser as compared to a desktop computer, thus it
is important for apps to be fast when deleting useless objects, while be lazy when crating objects. For
efficient management of memory, apps make use of ARC or Automatic Reference Counting feature
of compiler. Using ARC might not be mandatory, but it is generally recommended. Another
alternative available requires memory to be managed by you by releasing and retaining objects
Plenty of design patterns are available as well, which you might notice being used occasionally and
which you might include when writing code. You can see Start Developing iOS Apps Today in order
to get comprehensive review of various techniques and patterns to be used for creating iOS apps.
Translating initial design into action plan
It is assumed by iOS that the design pattern of Model-view-controller is being used for building apps.
Thus the initial step that can be taken by you for achieving your goal is choosing a specific approach
for data as well as viewing portions of the app.
Selecting basic approach for the data model:
Existing data model code – in case you have access to data model code which is written in language
based on C then the code can be integrated in your app for iOS directly. As objective C is usually
used for writing iOS apps, thus it will work fine with other codes which used languages that are C
based. However, at the same time, it is also beneficial to written Objective C wrapper for a code
which is non-Objective C.
Custom objects data model – generally simple data is combined by custom object, like strings,
dates, URLs, numbers and many more, along with business logic required for managing the data and
ensuring its consistency. Custom objects can be used for storing combinations of pointers and scalar
values to various objects. For example, classes for various data types, as well as storing collections of
objects are defined by Foundation framework, thus making it much simpler to define custom objects.
Structured data model – in case of highly structured data, which allows it to be stored in database,
Core Data or SQLite can be used for storing data. It offers simple and object oriented methods for
management of structured data. Besides it provides support which is built in for various latest
features such as iCloud and undo.
Decide if support for the documents is needed
Documents performs the job of managing the in-memory data model objects of your app and
coordinating the storing of data in corresponding file or multiple files on the disk. Usually files are
connoted by documents which users create however document can be used by app for managing non
users facing files as well. Using documents has plenty of advantages like making interaction with
iCloud easier, while making local file system simpler. Similar support is provided by
UIManagedDocument for apps which make use of Core Data for storing their content.
Selecting an approach for user interface
Building block approach – certainly the simplest way for creating user interface is by assembling it
using the current view objects. Visual elements, like buttons, tablets, text fields and many more are
represented by views. Many views are used by you as they are, however the behaviour and
appearance of views can be customised as required to serve your needs. New visual elements can
also be implemented by use of customized views and mixing these views with standard views of your
interface. Providing constant user experience is among the various benefits of views, while allowing
you to not only define intricate interfaces easily, but also by using relatively shorter code.
OpenGL ES – Based approach – if sophisticated rendering and constant screen updates are required
by your app, then you might be required to draw content using OpenGL ES directly. It is primarily
used for apps and games that heavily rely on the sophisticated graphics, thus requiring best possible
Getting started with the process of app creation
After the action plan has been formulated, you can get started with coding. For those who are new to
creating iOS apps, spending some time exploring the basic Xcode template is a good idea, as it is
offered for development. Work required by you to do can be simplified considerably, making it
possible for you to have your app implemented in minutes. Such templates also make it possible for
the initial project to be customized for supporting the specific needs you have more precisely. Thus
while you create your Xcode project, the answers to some questions mentioned below will be already
in your mind:
What your app's basic interface style is like?
Different groups of initial views, as well as view controllers, are required by various kinds of apps.
Being aware of how the user interface is to be organized allows you to select a template for initial
project which is well suited to specific requirements you have. User interface can be changed later
on; however selecting an appropriate and suitable template makes it very easy to get started with
Will your app be universal or specifically targeted at iPhone or iPad?
Developing universal app requires you to specify a particular set of view controllers and views for
iPhone and iPad, while electing appropriate runtime set dynamically. Universal apps appear as the
more preferred choice as these support more number of iOS devices, however you will be required to
factor the codes better for every platform. You can see 'Creating a Universal App' for more
information about the way universal apps affects the code written by you.
Will your app use storyboards?
Design process can be simplified by storyboards as these show both view controllers and views of
the user interface, along with the transitions taking place among them. iOS 5 and latest versions
support storyboards and these are by default enabled for using in new projects. In case your app
requires iOS's earlier versions for running, then you might be required to use nib files as using
storyboards might not be possible.
Are you using Core Data for data model?
Some apps are able to naturally lend themselves to structured data model, making it ideal for being
used with Core Data. You can see Core Data Programming Guide for detailed information regarding
Core Data, as well as its numerous advantages.
Using the questions mentioned below, Xcode can be used for crating files of initial project, as well as
In case Xcode has not been installed yet, then do it now, besides configuring your team for iOS
development. You can see App Distribution Guide for information regarding how development team
can be set and how you can prepare the Xcode environment.
Create an initial project of Xcode
Prior to writing code, the new project of Xcode should be build, as well as run. Targeting your app
for the iOS Simulator can help you in seeing it run.
All new Xcode projects begin with fully functional, but feature less, app. App is required to run, as
well as display default views which are found in nib file or main storyboard, which might not seem
too interesting. The prime reason because of which app runs, is due to the infrastructure offered by
UIKit to you. The purpose of this infrastructure is to initialize the app, load file of initial interface
and check app with system, for starting handling events. You can see The App Launch Cycle and
The Core Objects of your App for detailed information regarding its infrastructures, as well as the
capability provided by it.
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