These days, there’s no shortage of books about how to develop an iPhone app. But to make your product a success, you need to do much more than just create great software.

iPhone App Development: The Missing Manual takes you through the entire development process. You’ll learn how to write the code for a successful title on the App Store, but just as importantly, you’ll acquire the skills to design, test, and market that product.

Unlike other books that take a dry, mechanical approach to the topic, this book tells the story of a real product’s development from start to finish. You’ll follow along as an actual iPhone developer recounts the tale using the popular Safety Light application as a protagonist.

Creating a great iPhone app is often a group effort. Whether you’re a developer, designer, marketer, or project manager, you’ll find topics that get you up to speed on this new and exciting platform. And when there’s more to learn, expert advice will point you in the right direction to fill in the details.

The App Store

Since the iTunes App Store’s launch in July 2008, over 100,000 iPhone applications have been submitted to the store. Customers have downloaded over 3 billion applications that were created by developers just like you. The success of this endeavor has exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations.

Before the App Store was launched, iPhone app development was limited to the talented engineers at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. But in just a couple of years, thousands of developers worldwide have discovered how easy and fun it is to write software for the iPhone. And by keeping 70 cents of every dollar spent on their app in iTunes, some developers have found these apps to be very profitable.

These early adopters also learned something the hard way: This new and innovative computing device that you carry around in your pocket comes with a different set of rules. A multitouch display with ubiquitous networking in a small form presents many challenges.

The difficulties are not limited to technology, either. How you design, build, and distribute your apps requires a new way of thinking. Many developers have struggled with their initiation into a consumer mass market.

As you walk through the iPhone app development process from start to finish, you’ll learn from those who preceded you. You’ll avoid the pitfalls of some, while learning from the success of others. The goal, of course, is to help you make the best application possible.

What better way to learn iPhone app development than to watch an experienced developer build a product with step-by-step instruction? In this book, you’ll see the Safety Light (A) app come to life and go on sale in the iTunes App Store.
Figure I-1. What better way to learn iPhone app development than to watch an experienced developer build a product with step-by-step instruction? In this book, you’ll see the Safety Light (A) app come to life and go on sale in the iTunes App Store.

About This Book

Despite the many improvements in software over the years, one feature has grown consistently worse—documentation. With the purchase of most software programs these days, you don’t get a single page of printed instructions. To learn about the hundreds of features in a program, you’re expected to use online electronic help.

But even if you’re comfortable reading a help screen in one window as you try to work in another, something is still missing. At times, the terse electronic help screens assume you already understand the discussion at hand, and hurriedly skip over important topics that require an in-depth presentation. In addition, you don’t always get an objective evaluation of the program’s features. (Your fellow engineers often add technically sophisticated features to a program because they can, not because you need them.) You shouldn’t have to waste your time learning features that don’t help you get your work done.

In this book’s pages, you’ll find step-by-step instructions for developing iPhone applications. In addition, you’ll find that “big picture” topics such as design, sales, and marketing are covered. The goal is to make you an effective and successful developer, not just to teach you how to write the code.


This book periodically recommends other books, covering topics that are too specialized or tangential for a manual about iPhone development. Careful readers may notice that not every one of these titles is published by Missing Manual–parent, O’Reilly Media. While we’re happy to mention other Missing Manuals and books in the O’Reilly family, if a great book out there doesn’t happen to be published by O’Reilly, we’ll still let you know about it.

iPhone App Development: The Missing Manual is designed to accommodate readers at different technical levels. The primary discussions are written for computer users with some programming knowledge. But if you’re a first-timer, special sidebar articles called “Up to Speed” provide the introductory information you need to understand the topic at hand. If you’re an advanced user, on the other hand, keep your eye out for similar shaded boxes called “Power Users’ Clinic.” They offer more technical tips, tricks, and shortcuts for the experienced developer.

About the Outline

iPhone App Development: The Missing Manual is divided into four parts, most containing several chapters:

  • Part 1: Getting Started with Cocoa Touch. In the first four chapters, you’ll build your first iPhone App and get acquainted with your basic tools: Cocoa Touch, Interface Builder, Xcode, and the Objective-C programming language. You’ll also start thinking about how to use these tools to design a new application.

  • Part 2: Development in Depth. In the next three chapters, you’ll learn how to set up your iPhone development environment, including getting your app onto a phone for the first time. You’ll also take a guided tour through the code of the finished app and learn how to test the final product.

  • Part 3: The Business End. The final two chapters explore the business of being an iPhone developer. You’ll learn how to get your app onto iTunes, promote it through various marketing channels, and how to keep track of your sales. A survey of the iPhone app market will help you understand where your app fits in.

  • Part 4: Appendix. The appendix introduces you to the vast array of resources for learning more about all of the topics covered in this book.

At the Missing Manual website, you’ll find free, downloadable bonus material. In addition to the project and source code for the Safety Light iPhone application, you’ll find a promotional website template that you can use for your products.

The Very Basics

This book contains very little jargon or nerd terminology. You will, however, encounter a few terms and concepts that you’ll come across frequently in your computing life:

  • Clicking. This book gives you three kinds of instructions that require you to use your computer’s mouse or trackpad. To click means to point the arrow cursor at something on the screen and then—without moving the cursor at all—to press and release the left clicker button on the mouse (or laptop trackpad). To double-click, of course, means to click twice in rapid succession, again without moving the cursor at all. And to drag means to move the cursor while pressing the left button continuously.

  • Keyboard shortcuts. Every time you take your hand off the keyboard to move the mouse, you lose time and potentially disrupt your creative flow. That’s why many experienced developers use keystroke combinations instead of menu commands wherever possible. ⌘-B, for example, is a keyboard shortcut to build your application in Xcode.

    When you see a shortcut like ⌘-S (which saves changes to the current document), it’s telling you to hold down the ⌘ key, and, while it’s down, to press the letter S key, and then release both keys.

  • Choice is good. Xcode and Interface Builder frequently give you several ways to trigger a particular command—by choosing a menu command, or by clicking a toolbar button, or by pressing a key combination, for example. Some people prefer the speed of keyboard shortcuts; others like the satisfaction of a visual command array available in menus or toolbars. This book lists all of the alternatives, but by no means are you expected to memorize all of them.


Throughout this book, and throughout the Missing Manual series, you’ll find sentences like this one: “Open the Hard Drive→Developer→Applications folder.” That’s shorthand for a much longer instruction that directs you to open two nested folders in sequence, like this: “On your hard drive, you’ll find a folder called Developer. Open that. Inside the Developer window is a folder called Applications; double-click it to open it.”

Similarly, this kind of arrow shorthand helps to simplify choosing commands in menus, as shown in Figure I-2.

When you read in a Missing Manual, “Choose Build→Build,” that means: “Click the Build menu to open it. Then click Build in that menu.”
Figure I-2. When you read in a Missing Manual, “Choose Build→Build,” that means: “Click the Build menu to open it. Then click Build in that menu.”

Living Examples

This book is designed to get your work onto an iPhone faster and more professionally; it’s only natural, then, that half the value of this book also lies on the iPhone.

As you read the chapters, you’ll encounter a number of living examples—step-by-step tutorials that you can build yourself, using raw materials (like graphics and source code) that you can download from the Missing CD ( You might not gain much by simply reading these step-by-step lessons while relaxing in your hammock. But if you take the time to work through them at the computer, you’ll discover that these tutorials give you an unprecedented insight into the way professional iPhone developers build apps.

iPhone development is also a rapidly evolving topic. To keep up with the latest news, check out this book’s website at


At, you’ll find articles, tips, and updates to iPhone App Development: The Missing Manual. In fact, we invite and encourage you to submit such corrections and updates yourself. To keep the book as up to date and accurate as possible, each time we print more copies of this book, we’ll make any confirmed corrections you’ve suggested. We’ll also note such changes on the website, so that you can mark important corrections into your own copy of the book, if you like. (Go to, choose the book’s name from the pop-up menu, and then click Go to see the changes.)

Also on our Feedback page, you can get expert answers to questions that come to you while reading this book, write a book review, and find groups for folks who share your interest in iPhone application development.

We’d love to hear your suggestions for new books in the Missing Manual line. There’s a place for that on, too. And while you’re online, you can also register this book at (you can jump directly to the registration page by going here: Registering means we can send you updates about this book, and you’ll be eligible for special offers like discounts on future editions of iPhone App Development: The Missing Manual.

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