The 10 Best Websites And Resources For iPhone DevelopmentElance_Alex | Mar 05, 2010
Mobile application stores like Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market are open for business, and business is clearly booming. The demand for talented developers is going at a fast pace, as evidenced by the Online Talent Report (dollars earned in the Mobile subcategory grew 180% in just 12 months). If you're a new iPhone developer looking to get your feet wet or are a seasoned veteran looking for some online resources, we've rounded up 10 different websites, forums, blogs, and tools that can help you jumpstart your next iPhone app.
Apple Developer's Site: This is the first stop that any potential iPhone developer will need to visit when getting started. From this site, you can sign up for the developer program and download the necessary tools required to build iPhone apps. There is a developer fee of $99/annually in order to submit your newly built creations to have them appear on the app store, but you can download the tools and play around with them with a free account.
The site also features the entire reference library for the iPhone SDK, which although not as instructional as a tutorial, is still an indispensable resource for those who have already gotten comfortable with the iPhone development process. In addition to the reference material, you will find developer forums at the site which allow you to ask questions to other developers. Most developers are willing to help new coders learn the ropes, as long as you show that you've made some effort to learn on your own or to find the answer for yourself. The forums at the official Apple site have the added benefit of being frequented by Apple engineers.
iPhone Dev SDK Forums: The forums at iPhoneDevSDK.com are another great resource for all developers. The community is robust and offers advice on everything from coding to promotion techniques and even job postings. One thing to be aware of is that there are frequently posters popping in trying to capitalize on developers. Be wary of business offers, especially from people with a low number of posts. Consider bringing the potential client on to Elance so that you can not only be protected by Escrow but you can also use it to build up your feedback and job history.
iCodeBlog: iCodeBlog.com features some of the best tutorials on the web, both on beginning and more advanced development concepts. It should get the novice beginner off to a good start as well as teach the established user a few things about parts of the API that they may have not explored yet. The blog is updated on a regular basis and would make a great addition to any iPhone developer's bookmarks.
AdWhirl: With a large and growing list of companies offering ad services, many developers have successfully used ads to earn a little green with their free apps. When you install AdWhirl into your app, you will be able to sign up for many of these services and serve all of them from the same code. AdWhirl also features an online management system that allows you to give preference to the ad company that is paying you the highest rates. The real advantage of using an all-in-one solution such as AdWhirl is that no single service offers 100% fill rate. With AdWhirl, when your top priority ad provider doesn't have an ad for you, your app automatically falls back on the next choice. This helps to insure that your app is showing as many ads as possible and increases your revenue.
Cocos2D: If you haven’t already heardGames comprise of a huge part of the mobile App industry. If you plan on creating games for the iPhone, you are going to want to step up the graphics level more than the basic iPhone tools will allow. Cocos2D for iPhone is an amazing, and free, SDK that will allow you to bring the full power of OpenGL ES to your game. With an easy to learn API, you'll be able to create and animate sprites, complete with hardware scaling and rotation and many other, more advanced special effects. Cocos2D also features two built-in physics simulation libraries, Box2d and Chipmunk, for those developers looking for more advanced object interactions. The toolkit has a large following and users on the forums at the Cocos2D site are always willing to help new people learn their way around.
SIO2 Interactive: This free and open source 3D graphics engine shares many features with its commercial counterparts. The engine is based around the free Blender modeler and allows you to create the scene for your 3D game within that program and then hook it almost effortlessly to your code. There are several tutorials on the project's website to get beginners up and running quickly with SIO2 itself, although some people find the learning curve for Blender to be steep.
Additionally, for those who want to study a completed program to learn more about the inner workings of the engine, full source code to four apps is available for purchase from the project's homepage. The source code comes with all resource files and a video tutorial to teach you key points about the coding process. The license for the engine, while free, does require a splash screen a credit within your app. Optionally, developers can pay a fee for each game developed for the right to wave those requirements.
Shiva 3D: Shiva 3D is a commercial 3D graphics engine designed for indie developers. You'll actually need Parallels running Windows to run the level editor, making it slightly less than ideal. It is still a grand resource for iPhone developers though, because other commercial 3D engines for iPhone, such as Unity or Torque charge an additional, and rather large, fee to use their platform on the iPhone. For one low fee, the makers of Shiva include the tools necessary to build on the iPhone.
The software has a free learning addition that, unlike its competition, is not time limited so you can get to know the software without feeling rushed. Also unlike its competitors, the free version of Shiva includes some iPhone projects so you don't have to pay money before you get to play around with using the system for iPhone development. In the end, the hassle of installing Windows on your Mac is the cheaper option. Especially considering the non-expiring demo will allow you to fully flesh our your game before you spend a dime on licensing the software needed to run it.
OpenFeint: OpenFeint is a great way to add online functionality to your iPhone app. After you integrate the SDK into your app, the OpenFeint website connects with it to enable online high scores lists, wrapped in a growing social network atmosphere. With OpenFeint installed, your users will be able to see which games their friends are currently playing and challenge them, access location-based leader boards, save their game to the network and resume it on any compatible device, and connect with you via forums. OpenFeint enables you to send newsletters to your users, has systems in place for cross promotion of your apps, and includes support for free to paid up sells.
Urban Airship: The 3.0 release of the iPhone OS brought with it some powerful tools for developers. These include push notifications and in app purchases. The use of these tools, however, requires access to your own servers, and for more complex apps, a large amount of custom code. Urban Airship, for a fee of course, will provide the server space and custom code that your app really needs to take advantage of these technologies. Like many tools of this nature, Urban Airship provides you with source code that you will need to integrate into your program in order to take advantage of their features. Installation isn't hard however, and since they are a paid service, support questions are answered relatively quickly.
AppViz: Once you have an app on the app store, Apple doesn't really make it as easy to track and monitor your sales as they could. The daily sales reports come in the form of tab delimited spreadsheets in plain text files. AppViz is a program that will download your daily and weekly financial reports and present the data in a much more readable way. The program will estimate what your payouts will be for a given month, and give you a graph of sales trends. The AppViz demo comes with a 30 day free trial, after which a modest fee is required to keep using it. Apple has been known to make a lot of changes to the way iTunes Connect works, and the developer does a great job of keeping up with these changes, but it does mean that you may need to download updates frequently.
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