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IOS Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide (Big Nerd Ranch Guides)

Joe Conway, Aaron Hillegass · 9 HN points · 7 HN comments
HN Books has aggregated all Hacker News stories and comments that mention "IOS Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide (Big Nerd Ranch Guides)" by Joe Conway, Aaron Hillegass.
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Amazon Summary
Winner of a 2012 Jolt Productivity Award! Updated and expanded to cover iOS 5 and Xcode 4.3, iOS Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide leads you through the essential concepts, tools, and techniques for developing iOS applications. After completing this book, you will have the understanding, the know-how, and the confidence you need to tackle iOS projects of your own. Based on Big Nerd Ranch’s popular iOS Bootcamp course and its well-tested materials and methodology, this best-selling guide teaches iOS concepts and coding in tandem. The result is instruction that is relevant and useful. Throughout the book, the authors clearly explain what’s important to know and share their insights into the larger context of the iOS platform. This gives you a real understanding of how iOS development works, the many features that are available, and when and where to apply what you’ve learned. Here are some of the topics covered: Xcode 4.3, Instruments, and Storyboards ARC, strong and weak references, and retain cycles Interfacing with iCloud Handling touch events and gestures Tool bars, navigation controllers, and split view controllers Localization and Internationalization Block syntax and use Background execution and multi-tasking Saving/loading data: Archiving and Core Data Core Location and Map Kit Communicating with web services Working with XML, JSON, and NSRegularExpression Using the Model-View-Controller-Store design pattern
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Hacker News Stories and Comments

All the comments and stories posted to Hacker News that reference this book.
First off, I have some small side iOS projects coming down the pipeline so if you're interested in helping a bit, get in touch.

Also, storyboards are really powerful and can save you a lot of time once you learn them.

I'm mostly a Rails/Ruby dev as well but am doing more iOS. My recommended resources are:

1. BIG Nerd Ranch book (best book IMO)

2. Programming iOS (5|6) by Neuburg (either version is fine)

3. Ray Wenderlich blog and tutorials bundle (worth the money) His storyboard tutorials are great

4. NSScreencast (think RailsCasts for iOS. Not as thorough yet, but worth the money)

5. Do a week-long, in person class such as if you can afford it


Other than that, I really haven't run into issues I couldn't figure out via Stackoverflow or Apple's docs/samples.

The real issue for me was wrapping my head around the frameworks and understanding how it differs from Rails/web world. You might find it helpful to just take a week off and bury yourself in it. Try and pick a very simple (but useful/functional) app you can build and ship in a couple weeks. Give yourself a deadline and do it.

The biggest help for me was The Big Nerd Ranch book for iOS.

By the second chapter I felt confident enough to start trying things out on my own and tutorials made a lot more sense.

I have found the Big Nerd Ranch iOS programming book to be very good.

In relation to the criteria you raised the book is a good fit.

- I understand most of the basic concepts, but cannot implement them via code

I think this is particularly true with iOS programming. The book is more written in a tutorial / HowTo style (i.e. the book gives a step by step walkthrough to create an example program). Most importantly it specifies how to use the IDE to do GUI building.

- I am a person that does really well when I have a set path

Me too. Each chapter is an exercise designed to teach you some part of the iOS library. There about 30 chapters in the book and each chapter can be completed in about 2 hours.

Thanks! I knew of this book, but for some reason, I never decided to take a look at it. My current main thought is to start with Big Nerd Ranch's Objective-C Programming book, and then to me onto this iOS-Programming book. Does that seem like a solid plan?
I started their iOS book without any objective c knowledge and I'm doing fine. If you are an experienced programmer and want to dive right into iOS, I say go for it. If you like to learn conservatively, read the obj c book first.
Well I can certainly answer the iOS Development one with a shameless plug:
Are you doing an update for iOS 6?
iOS 6 was really the first major revision that didn't change anything fundamental that will force another edition of the book. So, everything in the book not only works with iOS 6, it is still the recommended approach/foundation.
Thanks - downloading the Kindle sample :)
Hi, I am in a similar position as you, and have sought help in much the same way. The most common responses I got were:

Programming in Objective-C - Kochan ( I am currently halfway through this book, it is primarily focused on the actual Objective-C language, and almost nothing on actual iOS/Cocoa Development (some small bits in the later chapters). I was recommended this to learn the underlying language before jumping in, very enjoyable so far, the exercises are great.

I have heard good things about both Nerd Ranch books ( and will likely use that for introduction to Cocoa and iOS SDK.

Originally I planned on using "Beginning iOS 5 Development" from Apress as the iOS SDK learning book (, but it seems that the reviews are quite low compared to previous versions.

Finally, if you enjoy learning through video, the Stanford course is very highly recommended, through iTunes ( I found them very useful to start with, but I felt I wasn't learning much syntax through the videos, the talking portions are very in depth, but the coding portions are very quick (and went over my head due to not knowing Objective-C!). I will likely return to these when I have a working understanding of Objective-C.

(Most of these tips from my understanding of: and

Kochan seems OK.

I've seen the Objective-C book from The Big Nerd Ranch and 50% of the book is about basic C. This is not appealing to me, obviously if you know nothing about C (or you have limited experience) this could be a good match for you.

Then skip the intro to Objective-C textbook, instead dive right into iOS development. Big Nerd Ranch's iOS Programming textbook offers three chapters worth of an introduction to Objective-C. The authors primarily talk about using the Cocoa Touch framework to write native apps in Xcode, which is what you want to do?
I'm a big fan of Erica Sadun's "iOS 5 Developers Cookbook" She starts off showing you how an iOS app works from main() on up, which gave me an understanding of how some of the "magical" parts of iOS work, like nib loading. The bulk of the book is a decent cookbook that you can cherry pick from as needed.

If you've worked with other event-driven GUI frameworks in the past, check out Sadun's book.

It sounds like you really want to learn Objective C and the iOS frameworks. For that, I suggest the Big Nerd Ranch books along with the Stanford iOS development class videos.

If you want an intensive study of Objective C itself, look at the Kochan book. It's the bible.

Thank you! I don't really like videos but I will check it out..
Mar 27, 2012 · 9 points, 1 comments · submitted by evo_9
This was the first book I read (an older edition) when I was learning to program for iOS. It is very accessible, but occasionally they gloss over the details of some key things (like memory management). I would recommend supplementing a book like this with the literature that Apple provides.
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