It’s very strange, after having had so much to do solidly for so long a time, to be able to pick and choose what to work on again. There was a big stack of paperwork, of course, including our end-of-year accounts for 2009/10. And my desks had degenerated into a big pile of letters, both spam and ham. So clearing that was a requirement, not just a nicety. But aside from clearing those backlogs, the decision as to what to work on next has been quite tricky. In the end I opted to try and catch up on Tim in terms of iPhone knowledge. Tim has done the vast majority of the work on our iPhone apps so far, and despite working on the UI design with him, I’ve not had any time to get my hands dirty with implementation. So with some free time to play with, it was time to get some serious crash-course learning done.
Cue some virtual attendance of CS193P, the iPhone Application developer course from Stanford University. Taught by developers from Apple, and with all of their lectures videoed and put online, it has been a great way to get quickly up to speed with Objective-C and Cocoa Touch development. Of course that’s not the only way to develop for iPhone, you can (and in my opinion, should) implement the large part of any game or simulation app in standard C/C++. But for working with the iPhone operating system, and implementing interfaces (arguably where the real challenge and value in an iPhone app lies), it has to be done in Objective-C.
So while Tim was busy with some other work-for-hire, I took the opportunity to bash through the majority of the CS193P course, and start to tackle an app idea we’ve been talking about for a while: the Drunk Compass. More on that in later blog posts. Actually watching the lectures brought back a load of memories of university: it was nice to remember a time when all I had to do was take in as much knowledge as possible and try to retain it long enough to pass exams with.
Thankfully, as this was just one course, condensed, it didn’t last long enough to evoke the things that annoyed me about university: the feeling that I was always doing throw-away coursework. I’ve always preferred the hands-on approach, and by the time my university career ended, I was already itching to make something real, and loose it on the world. A shame then that my first shipped title with VIS didn’t see the light of day until 5 years later (although technically i-Race shipped much earlier than that).
Anyway, learning is good, and I think it’s been a welcome change of pace after the hectic nature of Crackdown 2 or our other client work. Hopefully now that I’m comfortable with the Cocoa interface tools, I can prototype our most promising app idea, and get it one step closer to reality.