XCode 4: Lost in the woods or a NY penthouse view?

XCode 4 is outThe final version of the Xcode 4 development IDE was set loose into the world on March 9th 2011. Being busy learning Ruby and on construction work in my back yard i didn’t get the opportunity to take a look at the preview and GM versions that Apple made available to developers. So recently i downloaded the final product and dove right in and boy, was i supprised…

Did you like the brand new model of that nifty IDE? For the first time i cannot reply on a new product release by Apple with the same enthusiasm like before. I was reading up on the new features and the all-in-one environment (Interface Builder being baked right in there) seemed like a nice workflow-enhancer and remember thinking: nice that should add to it.

I installed the sucker and fired it up without even grabbing me a cup of coffee but one thing that instantly is noticeable when the bits run on your screen is that it, it’s, i mean… like.. , it’s, different!? Interface improvements are one thing but dude, where are the shortcuts in that thing. Where did they hide the console and man: how can i set the target of a file?

I like the improvements though, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t like them removing the known elements that i use every time when i start coding. After some reading up and Google i feel like i am becoming productive again. Too bad it took me a week or so to get a grip on the interface. That’s just not what i’d expect from Apple.

My conclusion about Xcode 4 is that i just about start to like the IDE. I am finding my way to the right shortcuts and the screens are becoming familiar once again. I just hope that the interface building will really be a lot sweeter because i remember liking the separate interface on another Space, flipping Spaces to build on the interface or coding in Xcode. Also the tool seems a little buggy – still – and that concerns me. I expect Apple to get some improvements going because the IDE has not the same speed and reactiveness as before. Also, editor text being sometimes gets smashed against the right side of the editor window making it unreadable doesn’t seem like a nice text spreading feature to me.

Wanna hit the ground running? I want to share you some nice tips and tricks that helped me gettin’ it on again with XCode.

My tips ‘n tricks:

  • Read up with Apple’s XCode 4 Transition guide (developer account needed) to get a first impression of what you’ll be looking at.
  • Do you also like to switch between the implementation (.m) and header (.h) files quickly?
    Although XCode 4 likes to fetch related things for you in the new Assistant View, it is nice to learn that one can switch using a three finger swipe on their mousepad as well. Works like a charm. (The new shortcut is CTRL + COMMAND + UP/DOWN but that is messing up with the SizeUp shortcuts so i don’t use that)
  • If you like to make a nice directory tree in your projects to keep the source code from becoming one big pile in that single directory, you surely want to know how to specify their directory settings:
    – Add a group like you would do normally (Right click in the project browser and add New Group)
    – Select the newly added group (called New Group by default) and rename it to your liking
    – Look at the Utilities bar (the thing alongside your entire right side of the screen). If it’s not there click on the button right next to the Organizer button in the upper right corner.
    – Under the Path property (it says “Relative to Group” by default) there is a small button that looks like a application window. Clicking on that little sucker lets you select the directory to use for your group (or create a new one). Nice to know that’s still in there 😉
  • Want to print a nice sheet with all the important XCode 4 shortcuts to hang over your bed or to nail into your bosses office door? Go on then, head to Cocoa Samurai’s blogspot or download the pages document from it’s GIT repository (yep, that’s right) to ensure that you have the latest version within reach.


What’s your trick? If you have any tip or info that will get people going in XCode 4 in a better way and that improves their workflow then leave me a comment on it. I’m always into learning new things and improving my workflow. If i get enough feedback i might even make a nice listing of that.

Happy coding