TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Style For Cocoa Programmers

Volume Number: 21 (2005)
Issue Number: 7
Column Tag: Programming

Tips From Big Nerd Ranch

Style For Cocoa Programmers

by Aaron Hillegass, Chris Campbell, Marquis Logan

As developers and teachers, we spend a lot of time dealing with issues of style. Not just because we like to look cool for the ladies; code that is written by a stylish programmer is easier to read and maintain. The Cocoa community has developed idioms, and if you want other developers to be able to easily comprehend your code, you should follow those idioms.

Issue #1: Whitespace

Here is a perfect setter method that explicitly invokes key-value observing:

- (void)setBorderColor:(Color *)c
{
    if (c == borderColor) {
        return;
    }
    [self willChangeValueForKey:@"borderColor"];
    [c retain];
    [borderColor release];
    borderColor = c;
    [self didChangeValueForKey:@"borderColor"];
}

Notice the use of whitespace. In particular, we do not put spaces after colons. We do not put spaces after the type of the parameter (That is, "(Dog *)").

Also, notice that there are no comments. What this method does is self-evident from its name. Too many comments can be just as annoying as too few.

Issue #2: Grouping Methods

In an implementation file, methods should be grouped in a meaningful manner. In particular, we try to follow this order:

   Class methods
   Initializers and dealloc
   copyWithZone:
   isEqual:
   hash
   initWithCoder: and encodeWithCoder:
   action methods
   other methods (subgroup meaningfully)
   delegate methods
   accessor methods (in setter/getter pairs)

Use #pragma mark to show where a group of methods begins. The information will show up in the popup in Xcode. For example, you might insert these lines:

#pragma mark Coding methods
#pragma mark Color metrics
#pragma mark Accessors

So that your Xcode popup would look like this:


Figure 1.

Issue #3: Naming methods

If you have a method that returns the brightness of a border, it should be named thusly:

- (float)borderBrightness;

We do not put articles on method names:

- (float)theBorderBrightness;

We do not prefix methods with get-:

- (float)getBorderBrightness;

The exception to this rule is if the method is pass-by-reference:

float r, g, b;
[borderColor getRed	:&r 
              blue	:&b 
             green	:&g 
             alpha	:NULL];

If a method takes one argument and is prefixed with set-, it should be an accessor. In particular, an action method should never be prefixed with set-.

Issue #4: What Goes In The .h File

The primary purpose of your .h file is so that I can create an instance of your class and send messages to it. Many people put too much information in their .h files. Don't declare any of the following in the .h file:

1) Delegate methods.

2) Private methods.

3) Any methods in a protocol that you conform to. For example, if you have:

@interface Chowder : NSObject <NSCopying>

There is no reason to declare copyWithZone: in your .h file.

4) Any inherited or overridden methods.

Issue #5: Declaring Local Variables

Declare temporary variable in a "just-in-time" manner. When I'm reading your code, I don't want to have to scroll to the beginning of the method to figure out the type of a local variable. Move the declaration as close to the first use as possible.

The Analysis and Design Workshop

In a short column, it is easy to discuss small issues like code formatting and variable naming. For larger and deeper issues, we need a much bigger forum. At the ranch in August, we are hosting an "Analysis and Design Workshop." John Graziano, who had a major part in the design of Xcode, WebObjects Builder, and many of the animation systems at Pixar, will lecture and guide hands-on exercises that teach good design practices. He is going to focus on creating designs that make change and maintenance easy. John started developing these ideas at NeXT, and they have received much acclaim within NeXT, Apple, and Pixar. Bring your specifications, and go home with the beginnings of a really good design for your app. The workshop is August 15 - 19 in Atlanta. We hope to see you there.


Aaron Hillegass, Chris Campbell, Marquis Logan

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Apple Configurator 2.5 - Configure and d...
Apple Configurator makes it easy to deploy iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Apple TV devices in your school or business. Use Apple Configurator to quickly configure large numbers of devices connected to... Read more
Smultron 10.0 - Easy-to-use, powerful te...
Smultron 10 is an elegant and powerful text editor that is easy to use. You can use Smultron 10 to create or edit any text document. Everything from a web page, a note or a script to any single piece... Read more
BetterTouchTool 2.304 - Customize multi-...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom... Read more
Drive Genius 5.0.5 - $49.50 (50% off)
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
Apple Keynote 7.3 - Apple's present...
Easily create gorgeous presentations with the all-new Keynote, featuring powerful yet easy-to-use tools and dazzling effects that will make you a very hard act to follow. The Theme Chooser lets you... Read more
Apple Numbers 4.3 - Apple's spreads...
With Apple Numbers, sophisticated spreadsheets are just the start. The whole sheet is your canvas. Just add dramatic interactive charts, tables, and images that paint a revealing picture of your data... Read more
Apple Pages 6.3 - Apple's word proc...
Apple Pages is a powerful word processor that gives you everything you need to create documents that look beautiful. And read beautifully. It lets you work seamlessly between Mac and iOS devices, and... Read more
Smultron 9.4.2 - Easy-to-use, powerful t...
Smultron 9 is an elegant and powerful text editor that is easy to use. Use it to create or edit any text document. Everything from a web page, a note or a script to any single piece of text or code.... Read more
Xcode 9.0 - Integrated development envir...
Xcode includes everything developers need to create great applications for Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Xcode provides developers a unified workflow for user interface design, coding, testing... Read more
iShowU Instant 1.2.0 - Full-featured scr...
iShowU Instant gives you real-time screen recording like you've never seen before! It is the fastest, most feature-filled real-time screen capture tool from shinywhitebox yet. All of the features you... Read more

The best games to play while you wait fo...
SteamWorld Dig 2 is out this week on PC and Switch, and people are understandably excited. This clever series by Image and Form combines our favorite metroidvania mechanics with an esquisite universe, excellent storytelling, and true wit. While... | Read more »
Drag'n'Boom beginner's gu...
Have you ever wanted to burn and pillage a village as a bloodthirsty dragon? If you answered yes to that question, Drag'n'Boom offers you the perfect chance to do so, casting you as an adorable little dragon that wants to set humankind aflame. It... | Read more »
Thimbleweed Park (Games)
Thimbleweed Park 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: A brand new adventure game from Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, creators of the classics Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion!... | Read more »
The best simulation games on mobile
There's nothing like a good sim -- from the seemingly ridiculous to the incredibly mundane, you can be there's a simulation game out there for your every whim. [Read more] | Read more »
INKS guide - how to create works of pinb...
INKS puts a clever new spin on everyone's favorite classic arcade game, pinball. The core mechanics are the same -- keep a little ball pinging around the board for as long as possible without letting it fall into the precarious holes in the board.... | Read more »
Warbands: Bushido (Games)
Warbands: Bushido 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Warbands:Bushido is a miniatures board game with cards, miniatures, dice and beautiful terrains to fight on, with both... | Read more »
The best mobile games like Divinity: Ori...
Divinity: Original Sin 2 launched this week to the excitement of RPG fans everywhere. The game, which derives a lot of of its story and mechanics from old-school isometric RPGs and Dungeons & Dragons, has unseated PlayerUnknown's... | Read more »
Iron Marines guide - beginner tips and t...
Iron Marines is a brilliant RTS title that feels a bit like Starcraft. It's got a sci-fi setting and some of the most spectacular strategy mechanics we've seen in mobile games to date. With that said, the RTS genre can be a bit tricky to break... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week -...
The work week can be tough, but on the bright side, it's almost overandthere are bunches of brand new games to try out this weekend. This week definitely makes up for last week's sleepiness ten-fold. We've got one of the finest RTS game on mobile... | Read more »
Through the Ages (Games)
Through the Ages 1.0.60 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0.60 (iTunes) Description: The offical adaptation of Vlaada Chvátil’s strategy classic, the second best board game ever by Board Game Geek website... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Wednesday deal: 15-inch MacBook Pros for up t...
B&H Photo has 2017 15″ MacBook Pros on sale for $150-$200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray: $2199, $200 off MSRP... Read more
2.6GHz Mac mini on sale for $599, $100 off MS...
B&H Photo has the 2.6GHz Mac mini (MGEN2LL/A) on sale for $599 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Snag a 15-inch 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro, App...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pros available for $1699. That’s $300 off original MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for a 15″ MacBook Pro currently offered by... Read more
Apple Refurbished 3TB Time Capsule for $279,...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 3TB Time Capsules available for $279 including free shipping plus Apple’s standard one-year warranty. Their price is $120 off MSRP. Read more
19% off Smart Battery Cases for iPhone 7
Amazon has both Black and White Smart Battery Cases for iPhone 7s available for $80.41 including free shipping. Their price is $18.59, or 19%, off MSRP. Read more
Back on sale: 10.5-inch 64GB iPad Pros for $5...
MacMall has 10.5″ 64GB Apple iPad Pros on sale again for $599 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP and the lowest price available for this model from any reseller. Read more
Verizon offers Certified Preowned 16GB iPhone...
Verizon has the 16GB iPhone 6, Certified Preowned, available for $259.99 or $10.83 per month for 24 months. Service plan required. According to Verizon, “All CPO devices have been reconditioned to... Read more
Preorder new iPhone 8 at US Cellular, and tak...
Preorder the new iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus at US Cellular, and take $50 off the prepaid price: – 64GB iPhone 8: $649.99 – 128GB iPhone 8: $799.99 – 64GB iPhone 8 Plus: $749.99 – 128GB iPhone 8 Plus... Read more
12-inch and 9-inch Apple iPad Pros, Certified...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 12″ WiFi iPad Pros available starting at $589. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: – 32GB 12″ iPad Pro WiFi: $589... Read more
QuickerTek Announces Solar PV Chargers for US...
Wichita, Kansas based QuickerTek has announced its new 30 Watt and 60 Watt USB Type-C Solar Juicz Chargers. These solar panels are the only products of their kind, featuring the USB 3.1 adapter cable... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* News Product Marketing Mgr., Publish...
Job Summary The Apple News Product Marketing Manager will work closely with a cross-functional group to assist in defining and marketing new features and services. Read more
Development Operations and Site Reliability E...
Development Operations and Site Reliability Engineer, Apple Payment Gateway Job Number: 57572631 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Jul. 27, 2017 Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple Inc. (U...
…about helping others on a team while also delighting customers? As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC), you will discover customers needs and help connect them Read more
Software/Data Engineer, *Apple* Media Produ...
Job Summary Apple Media Products is the team behind the App Store, Apple Music, iTunes, and many other high profile products on iPhone, Mac and AppleTV. Our Data Read more
SW Engineer , *Apple* Media - Apple Inc. (U...
Job Summary Our team is responsible for exposing Apple Media content and services to the world, and building the infrastructure for next generation internal and Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.