Chapter 3. Objective-C Objects and Messages

One of the first object-based programming languages to achieve maturity and widespread dissemination was Smalltalk. It was developed during the 1970s at Xerox PARC under the leadership of Alan Kay and started becoming widely known in 1980. The purpose of Objective-C, created by Brad Cox and Tom Love in 1986, was to build Smalltalk-like syntax and behavior on top of C. Objective-C was licensed by NeXT in 1988 and was the basis for its application framework API, NeXTStep. Eventually, NeXT and Apple merged, and the NeXT application framework evolved into Cocoa, the framework for OS X applications, still revolving around Objective-C. That history explains why Objective-C is the base language for iOS programming. (It also explains why Cocoa class names often begin with “NS” — it stands for “NeXTStep.”)

Having learned the basics of C (Chapter 1) and the nature of object-based programming (Chapter 2), you are ready to meet Objective-C. This chapter describes Objective-C structural fundamentals; the next two chapters provide more detail about how Objective-C classes and instances work. (A few additional features of the language are discussed in Chapter 10.) As with the C language, my intention is not to describe the Objective-C language completely, but to provide a practical linguistic grounding, founded on my own experience of those aspects of the language that need to be firmly understood as a basis for iOS programming.

An Object Reference Is ...

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