TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Project Builder Revealed

Volume Number: 19 (2003)
Issue Number: 4
Column Tag: Getting Started

Project Builder Revealed

by Dave Mark

In this month's column, we're going to explore some of Project Builder's nooks and crannies. The column started on a completely different tack, when I found myself trying to find the definition for a specific class function. I dug through the /Developer/Documentation/ directory, which is absolutely worth doing, but there's a lot of doc there.

I went on line to ask some of my Project Builder buddies how they would go about solving this particular problem and got a bunch of different responses, all of which led to the same end, and each of which taught me something new about Project Builder. This month, I'd like to share what I've learned with you.

Creating CrannyTester

Let's start off by creating a new project, called CrannyTester. Launch Project Builder, select New Project... from the File menu, scroll down to the bottom of the New Project window and create a Foundation Tool project. Name the project CrannyTester.

One Window, Some, or Many?

One Project Builder feature I really like is the ability to customize PB's use of windows. Select Preferences... from the Project Builder menu, then click on the Task Templates icon at the top of the prefs window. Now click on the Basic Settings tab (Figure 1).

Figure 1. The window template settings in the Preferences... dialog.

As you can see, there are four basic window setups. Single Window forces the entire Project Builder interface into a single swiss-army-knife of an interface, a single window filled with tabbed panes (Figure 2). If you are working on a laptop or on a smaller monitor, this is a very efficient way to go.

Figure 2. The CrannyTester project in Single Window mode.

    One bit of funkiness to be aware of: When you change selections in the Task Templates preference panes, your changes won't take effect until you open a new window. To get the change to affect your current project, make the change, then close your project and reopen it.

    To see this for yourself, set the preference to Single Window, then open a project or create a new one. A set of horizontal tabs (similar to the Find/Build/Run/Debug/CVS tags in Figure 2) will appear in the window.

    Now go into preferences and change to Some Windows. Even if you click the Apply button, the tabs will still be visible. Now close the project and reopen it. The tabs disappear as the Some Windows preference is applied.

    Chances are, you'll pick a mode you like, then create all your projects in that mode. If you do find yourself playing with the windowing modes, be sure to reopen the project to see the effect properly.

"Some Windows" adds separate windows for Find, Build and Debug. "Many Windows" opens everything in its own window and feels most like CodeWarrior to me. I spend most of my time in Some Windows but love the flexibility of switching to Single Window when I'm on the road. Sweet!

Finding the Doc

Now that you've got your project setup the way you like it, I'd like to share another Project Builder nook with you. Or maybe it's a cranny. Hmmm.

Open the CrannyTester project you created at the beginning of this month's column. Click on the Files tab, open the Source triangle, and click on the source file main.m. Here's the source code you should see:

#import <Foundation/Foundation.h>
int main (int argc, const char * argv[]) {
  NSAutoreleasePool *pool=[[NSAutoreleasePool alloc] init];
    // insert code here...
    NSLog(@"Hello, World!");
    [pool release];
    return 0;

This is the default source for a Foundation Tool and should look reasonably familiar to you. One of the keys to understanding any new framework is the ability to find descriptions of the classes and utility functions that you encounter in the framework's documentation. One thing Apple's dev tools have no shortage of is documentation. While I do recommend that you spend some time prowling through the /Developer/Documentation/ subdirectories, there are some clever little shortcuts built into Project Builder that will bring you right to the pages you are looking for.

Let's start with the most obvious path. If you click on the Classes tab, you'll see a list of classes in the upper pane, with a list (empty, right now) of members in the lower pane. Below that is a popup menu that should be set to "Heirarchy, all classes" with an Options button to its right (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. The Classes tab, with its list of classes.

Lets say you wanted to read up on the NSObject class (and you should). NSObject is the root of most of the classes you'll use to develop your Cocoa applications. Click on NSObject in the Class pane. You'll immediately see a list of its member functions in the lower pane. Click on a member function, and that function's declaration appears in the main editing pane.

Now for the coolness. Notice that little blue book icon to the left of the NSObject entry in the Class pane? Click on it. Ka-ching! The NSObject documentation appears in the editing pane. Apple's documentation is extensive. For each class, you'll learn where the class fits into the class hierarchy, protocols it conforms to, in what include files it is declared, methods and fields (with lots of "see also" links), and more. At the very least, spend some time reading about the NSObject class, since the vast majority of your classes will inherit from this class.

Here's another example: Go back to the Class pane and click on the triangle to the left of NSObject. This will reveal the classes derived from NSObject. Near the top of that list is NSArray. Click on the triangle to the left of NSArray, revealing NSMutableArray. Click on the book icon for NSMutableArray. The doc for NSMutableArray will appear in the main pane (see Figure 4).

Figure 4. The documentation for NSMutableArray.

Notice that the doc lists the inheritance hierarchy NSArray : NSObject. As you can see, you've got several ways to find your class in the hierarchy. You can use the triangles to drill down through a parent class. You can also use the "Inherits from" links in the doc to get to an ancestor class.

Now take a look at the popup menu at the bottom of the Members pane. It currently reads "Hierarchy, all classes". There are some other choices as well. Selecting "Hierarchy, project classes" will restrict the class list to classes you've declared in your project. "Flat, all classes" gives you a straight alphabetical listing of all classes, irrespective of hierarchy. This is very useful when you know the name of a class, but don't know where it sits in the class tree. "Flat, project classes" does the same thing, but restricts the list to classes used by your project.

Another nice Project Builder feature is that you can add your own customized views to this list. Figure 5 shows the dialog that appears when you click the Options button to the right of the popup menu. Basically, you use the controls in the dialog to customize the class listing, then click the Add... button. When prompted, name your custom listing, and it will appear in the popup menu along with the other listings. Spend a few minutes playing with this dialog, just so you have a sense of what options are available to you.

Figure 5. This dialog appears when you click the Options button in the Classes tab.

Other Paths to the Documentation

As you might expect, there are other ways to get from a symbol to its documentation. In your CrannyTester project, click on the Files tab, then open the Source triangle and click on main.m. Now hold down the option key and double-click on the class name NSAutoreleasePool.

Ta-daa! Project Builder takes you straight to the doc page for NSAutoreleasePool. To get back to your source code, click on the "back" button (the button the cursor is pointing to in Figure 6). Go ahead, click on it. Just like your browser, it takes you back to the previous page, in this case, your source code.

Figure 6. The cursor is pointing to the back button.

Let's try another experiment. This time, hold down the command key and double-click on NSAutoreleasePool. Instead of jumping to the doc, Project Builder jumps to the declaration of NSAutoreleasePool in NSAutoreleasePool.h.

Notice the two popup menus to the right of the back and forward browser buttons. The first popup (Figure 7) lists the recently visited frames, including source code and documentation. The second popup (Figure 8) allows you to jump to individual declarations within the current source file.

Figure 7. The first popup to the right of the browser buttons shows recently visited files.

Figure 8. The second popup lets you jump to the declarations within the current file.

Till Next Month...

There are a lot more elements worth exploring within Project Builder but, unfortunately, I've run out of room. More cool stuff next month, plus we'll dig into some actual code. See you then.

Dave Mark is a long-time Mac developer and author and has written a number of books on Macintosh development, including Learn C on the Macintosh, Learn C++ on the Macintosh, and The Macintosh Programming Primer series. Be sure to check out Dave's web site at


Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Microsoft Office 2016 16.11 - Popular pr...
Microsoft Office 2016 - Unmistakably Office, designed for Mac. The new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote provide the best of both worlds for Mac users - the familiar Office... Read more
Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 19.1.2 - Profess...
Photoshop CC 2018 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous Photoshop customer). Adobe Photoshop CC 2018, the industry standard... Read more
Adobe Dreamweaver CC 2018 -...
Dreamweaver CC 2018 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous Dreamweaver customer). Adobe Dreamweaver CC 2018 allows you to... Read more
Adobe Flash Player - Plug-in...
Adobe Flash Player is a cross-platform, browser-based application runtime that provides uncompromised viewing of expressive applications, content, and videos across browsers and operating systems.... Read more
Drive Genius 5.2.0 - $79.00
Drive Genius features a comprehensive Malware Scan. Automate your malware protection. Protect your investment from any threat. The Malware Scan is part of the automated DrivePulse utility. DrivePulse... Read more
MegaSeg 6.0.6 - Professional DJ and radi...
MegaSeg is a complete solution for pro audio/video DJ mixing, radio automation, and music scheduling with rock-solid performance and an easy-to-use design. Mix with visual waveforms and Magic... Read more
ffWorks 1.0.7 - Convert multimedia files...
ffWorks (was iFFmpeg), focused on simplicity, brings a fresh approach to the use of FFmpeg, allowing you to create ultra-high-quality movies without the need to write a single line of code on the... Read more
Dash 4.1.5 - Instant search and offline...
Dash is an API documentation browser and code snippet manager. Dash helps you store snippets of code, as well as instantly search and browse documentation for almost any API you might use (for a full... Read more
Evernote 7.0.3 - Create searchable notes...
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from... Read more
jAlbum Pro 15.3 - Organize your digital...
jAlbum Pro has all the features you love in jAlbum, but comes with a commercial license. You can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code! Beginner-friendly... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Around the Empire: What have you missed...
Oh hi nice reader, and thanks for popping in to check out our weekly round-up of all the stuff that you might have missed across the Steel Media network. Yeah, that's right, it's a big ol' network. Obviously 148Apps is the best, but there are some... | Read more »
All the best games on sale for iPhone an...
It might not have been the greatest week for new releases on the App Store, but don't let that get you down, because there are some truly incredible games on sale for iPhone and iPad right now. Seriously, you could buy anything on this list and I... | Read more »
Everything You Need to Know About The Fo...
In just over a week, Epic Games has made a flurry of announcements. First, they revealed that Fortnite—their ultra-popular PUBG competitor—is coming to mobile. This was followed by brief sign-up period for interested beta testers before sending out... | Read more »
The best games that came out for iPhone...
It's not been the best week for games on the App Store. There are a few decent ones here and there, but nothing that's really going to make you throw down what you're doing and run to the nearest WiFi hotspot in order to download it. That's not to... | Read more »
Death Coming (Games)
Death Coming Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: (iTunes) Description: --- Background Story ---You Died. Pure and simple, but death was not the end. You have become an agent of Death: a... | Read more »
Hints, tips, and tricks for Empires and...
Empires and Puzzles is a slick match-stuff RPG that mixes in a bunch of city-building aspects to keep things fresh. And it's currently the Game of the Day over on the App Store. So, if you're picking it up for the first time today, we thought it'd... | Read more »
What You Need to Know About Sam Barlow’s...
Sam Barlow’s follow up to Her Story is #WarGames, an interactive video series that reimagines the 1983 film WarGames in a more present day context. It’s not exactly a game, but it’s definitely still interesting. Here are the top things you should... | Read more »
Pixel Plex Guide - How to Build Better T...
Pixel Plex is the latest city builder that has come to the App Store, and it takes a pretty different tact than the ones that came before it. Instead of being in charge of your own city by yourself, you have to work together with other players to... | Read more »
Fortnite Will Be Better Than PUBG on Mob...
Before last week, if you asked me which game I prefer between Fortnite Battle Royale and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), I’d choose the latter just about 100% of the time. Now that we know that both games are primed to hit our mobile screens... | Read more »
Siege of Dragonspear (Games)
Siege of Dragonspear 2.5.12 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $9.99, Version: 2.5.12 (iTunes) Description: Experience the Siege of Dragonspear, an epic Baldur’s Gate tale, filled with with intrigue, magic, and monsters.... | Read more »

Price Scanner via

Sunday Sales: $200 off 13″ Touch Bar MacBook...
Amazon has new 2017 13″ 3.1GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale this weekend for $200 off MSRP, each including free shipping: – 13″ 3.1GHz/256GB Space Gray MacBook Pro (MPXV2LL/A): $1599.99 $200 off... Read more
B&H drops prices on 15″ MacBook Pros up t...
B&H Photo has dropped prices on new 2017 15″ MacBook Pros, now up to $300 off MSRP and matching Adorama’s price drop yesterday. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ... Read more
Apple restocks Certified Refurbished 2017 13″...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished 2017 13″ 2.3GHz MacBook Pros for $200-$230 off MSRP. A standard Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, models receive new outer cases, and... Read more
13″ Space Gray Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale...
Adorama has new 2017 13″ Space Gray Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale for $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 13″ 3.1GHz/256GB Space Gray MacBook Pro (... Read more
Best deal of the year on 15″ Apple MacBook Pr...
Adorama has New 2017 15″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $300 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NJ and NY only: – 15″ 2.8GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pro Space Gray (MPTR2LL/A): $... Read more
Save $100-$150+ on 13″ Touch Bar MacBook Pros...
B&H Photo has 13″ Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale for $100-$150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 13″ 3.1GHz/256GB Space Gray MacBook Pro... Read more
Current deals on 27″ Apple iMacs, models up t...
B&H Photo has 27″ iMacs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 27″ 3.8GHz iMac (MNED2LL/A): $2149 $150 off MSRP – 27″ 3... Read more
Thursday Deal: 13″ 2.3GHz MacBook Pro for $11...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray MacBook Pro on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz/128GB Space... Read more
How to save $100-$190 on 10″ & 12″ iPad P...
Apple is now offering Certified Refurbished 2017 10″ and 12″ iPad Pros for $100-$190 off MSRP, depending on the model. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: –... Read more
Silver 12″ 1.3GHz MacBook on sale at B&H...
B&H Photo has the 2017 12″ 1.3GHz Silver MacBook on sale for $1399.99 including free shipping plus sales tax for NY & NJ residents only. Their price is $200 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest... Read more

Jobs Board

Firmware Engineer - *Apple* Accessories - A...
# Firmware Engineer - Apple Accessories Job Number: 113452350 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 28-Feb-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Read more
Automation and Performance Engineer, *Apple*...
# Automation and Performance Engineer, Apple Pay Job Number: 113557967 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 09-Mar-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Read more
Hardware Systems Architect - *Apple* Watch...
# Hardware Systems Architect - Apple Watch Job Number: 113565323 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 05-Mar-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Read more
Lead *Apple* Solution Consultant - Apple (U...
# Lead Apple Solution Consultant Chicago IL Job Number: 113560644 Chicago, Illinois, United States Posted: 10-Mar-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** As a Lead Read more
Art Director, *Apple* Music + Beats1 Market...
# Art Director, Apple Music + Beats1 Marketing Design Job Number: 113258081 Culver City, California, United States Posted: 07-Mar-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.