5 Tips for Learning App Development

For the past few years, I’ve been teaching myself how to make native iOS apps. I’m still not super strong, but I hope to release my first app in the fall (I’ll keep you posted). I hope the following tips will help you do the same.

5 – Do it as fast as you can

The reason it’s taken me so long to learn to make apps, is in part because I would often stopped for months at a time, and then I would have to start from scratch given how fast things change in the iOS world.

As a web developer, I’m used to fast changing environments, but I was surprised how drastic changes are in iOS. A new version of the OS is released once a year, and you can expect significant changes every time.

The biggest change I saw was the adoption of Swift as the new language for iOS development. Swift has had 3 upgrades (at the time of writing this article), each one with syntax changes in less than a year.

4 – Avoid printed books

I once had to buy a newer version of a book before I finished reading it. This is because of what I mentioned above.

When Swift came out, authors rushed to put out books. Most of the books out there are written for Swift 1.x, but Apple announced Swift 2.0 at the last WWDC. All those books are obsolete.

As much as I love physical coding books, opt for the eBook, and especially if the book offers free updates. I’d recommend Ray Wenderlich‘s books, and tutorials. Apple offers free Swift books and resources, as well.

3 – Be wary

Do your research before signing up, or buying anything. You’ll find a lot of online programs, and courses that promise to teach you to make apps, no programming knowledge required.

I once wasted $10 (originally $199) online course that I assumed was for programmers to learn how to make apps. I never went past the first lesson, which included an explanation of how to copy-paste.

Go for reputable sources. For example, Stanford University offers a free iOS app development course. Needles to say, it’s excellent. They update the course every year, so make sure you are taking the latest one.

2 – Listen to industry Podcasts

There are a lot of podcast from iOS professionals that will help you stay current, and get a better understanding on the industry. Personally, I’ve been listening to:

Like a lot of people getting started, I had a lot of illusions about making apps, and these podcasts talk in realistic terms of what the industry is really like.

1 – Learn to Code

No way around this one. If you want to make apps you need to learn how to code. If you don’t know how to program at all, Stanford University offers a variety of Computer Science courses online, including CS101.

To be able to make apps, you need to be at a level where Object Oriented programming is not new to you. That alone can take quite a while. Just keep at it.

Good luck!

 

 

Skrollr for Beginners Tutorial

Skrollr is a scroller library that allows you to perform animations or changes to your web page’s content based on screen position. For example, you can make a div slowly appear, or slide in, as you scroll down the page. You can see it in action here.

This tutorial will cover the bare minimum you need to get Skrollr working. There are plenty of tutorials out there that show you how to do more advanced things, but this one will help you get your first Skrollr powered page. Continue Reading…

Advanced Custom Fields Google Maps Tutorial

One of my go-to plugins is Advanced Custom Fields. It is versatile, and makes adding custom fields to posts, pages, custom post types, and even user profiles a breeze. Unfortunately, their documentation is sometimes not very beginner friendly (I’ve written about this in the past), so today I’ll try to help out those trying to use the Google Map custom field.

Unlike some of their other custom fields, which allow you to simply use <?php the_field('field_name'); ?> to output the content of the field for that particular post or page, this particular field, requires quite a bit of extra code. It’s all listed in their code example; I will simply explain step by step where to put in that code. Continue Reading…

Move WordPress from MAMP to a Server

There are many ways in which you can migrate your WordPress site from MAMP into its final home, to make it “live”. The way I’m going to show, has worked well for beginners.

What you will need:

  • Access to the cPanel (or similar) on your server
  • Migrate DB plugin (or similar) in your local installation
  • FTP access to the server, or a way to upload files to your server (in cPanel>Files>File Manager)

Continue Reading…

HTML5 is for Slackers

I can’t deny it, I’m an old curmudgeon when it comes to HTML validation. I remember with fondness the good old days of XHML and a draconian W3C validator that wouldn’t let you get away with anything. I miss the unquestioned pride of a green “This Page is Valid HTML 1.0 Strict”.

Why this old lady rant? Last week, while doing some validation tests, I noticed that the validator no longer gives you an error if you don’t encode HTML entities, such as ®, ©, ™, or even & (when followed by a space), and >.  Every year I notice something else. Last year, I noticed that the validator no longer complains of unclosed tags (under certain circumstances). I know that is part of the spec, but I still don’t like it. It rubbed the wrong way so much, I made my own Closing Tag Checker.

I know these changes are meant to make things easier, more efficient, and all around better for everyone, but they make me uncomfortable. I’m a pretty uptight person who finds it hard to relax, and go with the flow. God knows it took me years not to cringe at the sight of a <br>  (notice the missing / at the end? Just madness!)

Eventually I’ll overcome this fastidiousness, but today I feel like kvetching! It’s Monday, and I don’t like that either!

 

Integrate Isotope with WordPress, Part 2 (Categories)

A few months ago I wrote a post on how to integrate Isotope with WordPress. Since then, I’ve received some requests on showing how to limit it to one category. In this tutorial I will show how to add the Isotope code and scripts to a  template, filtering the posts that belong to one category by it’s sub-categories.

You will notice that most steps are the same as with the original tutorial, but I have left them here, so people won’t have to go back and forth between articles. I’ll highlight the lines of code that differ from the first article.

Continue Reading…

How to Make a Kindle eBook from Scratch

There are many ways to create a Kindle eBook, but creating your own source files, and then using KindleGen to convert it into Kindle Format 8 will give you more control over the end result, than relying on a plugin.

If you are a web designer, like me, you already know the technologies you need to make Kindle eBooks from scratch: HTML, XML and CSS. All you need to know is how to put those technologies together, and you’ll be in business. Continue Reading…

Integrating Isotope with WordPress

Isotope is a very powerful jQuery plugin that allows you to create sortable, filterable (I’m sure that’s a word) masonry layouts (although you can have other layouts as well). Isotope is free for personal use (a commercial license costs $25, and an organizational license $90).

In this tutorial I will show how to add the Isotope code and scripts to a  template. In my example, I will use the categories to filter a list of posts.

Update: I wrote a part 2 for this tutorial that shows how to use one category’s subcategories to filter posts.

Continue Reading…

My new best friend: ajax_query_attachments_args

I’m working on a site were users will have extra fields in their profiles, among them, a user picture. To achieve this, I used Advanced Custom Fields. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

The problem was that when a user went to upload or chose a file for their picture profile, it showed all media files, from every user. Not ideal for this particular site (we are using some custom roles that let people upload pictures, but not create entries). Continue Reading…