31
Dec
2012
 

Leveraging Basic SEO

by Matt Long

Being that I’m a blogger as well as a software developer, I’m going to deviate a little from the normal Cocoa specific programming fare and focus a bit on leveraging basic SEO on your blog. These are some of the lessons I’ve learned and I think they might be helpful to others.

People do some pretty shady things to try to improve their page rank. There are companies who claim to be able to improve page rank. In fact it’s an entire market full of snake oil sales people. I’m sure there are some legitimate “consultants” out there, but they’re tough to find. In the end, the techniques for “optimizing” your page so that search engines find your content more readily are the same for the legit folks, like bloggers such as those of us who write for CIMGF, as they are for the folks who are trying to game the system. The difference is that gaming the system is exactly what true SEO helps eliminate. Google will blacklist your site if they detect you are trying to game them and getting off of that list will prove very difficult. It is not worth it to game the system. In the end when leveraging basic SEO, the old adage remains, “Content is King”. That single principle is the one and only differentiator. Write great content for your users and everything else will fall into place. (more…)

 
13
Dec
2012
 

Xcode LLDB Tutorial

by Matt Long

What inspired the Xcode LLDB Tutorial? Well, I tweeted this the other day:

LLDB Tweet

A few people then responded over twitter asking that I would elaborate by writing a tutorial here on CIMGF. So here it is. Your wish is my command, The Xcode LLDB Tutorial

(more…)

 
11
Jul
2012
 

A Better Fullscreen Asset Viewer with QuickLook

by Matt Long

Since last year I’ve spent a lot of time working on iPad apps for medical device companies. These companies want to be able to display their sales materials/digital assets to potential buyers on the iPad because of its gorgeous presentation. We can’t blame them. This is a great choice especially with the retina display on the third generation iPad. It’s incredibly compelling.

Our go-to solution for presenting these files until recently has been to just load everything into a UIWebView because it supports so many formats. Voila! Done! We like simple solutions to problems that would otherwise be very difficult.

This solution has worked great, but over time it’s become a noticeably dull spot in the app with some UX problems to boot. This is not good–especially for the part of the app that gets the most customer face time. It needs to shine. To go fullscreen, we just load a full size view controller modally. One issue with this approach though was that it only worked in landscape. For some reason it would get wonky (engineering parlance for, “um, I don’t know”) if we allowed both orientations since the rest of the app supported landscape only. It also had a nav bar that would never be hidden, so the user would always see it even when they were scrolling through the document content. Finally, there was no way to jump down deep into a document. If you needed to get to page 325, for example, you had to scroll all the way there. That’s just a bad user experience–incredibly tedious making it unlikely anyone would use it with a large document. These were some significant drawbacks and I didn’t have a good solution to bring the polish that this segment of the app deserved. (more…)

 
29
May
2012
 

Importing Data Made Easy

by Saul Mora

Importing data is a problem that feels like it should have a library of work ready for you to use. Especially when it comes to importing data into Core Data where you have a description of your data to work with. What if there was such a library, or reusable framework, of importing code that basically converts raw data to Core Data entities? Well, wonder no further because in this post, I’ll be discussing a new addition to the MagicalRecord toolset, MagicalImport available now on Github!

(more…)

 
15
May
2012
 

Unit Testing with Core Data

by Saul Mora

Whether you subscribe to Test Driven Development (TDD) or another testing practice, when it comes automated unit testing with Core Data, things can be a little tricky. But if you keep it simple, and take things step by step, you can get up and running with unit testing using Core Data fairly quickly. We’ll explore the what, how and why of unit testing with Core Data. We’ll also be using the helper library MagicalRecord. MagicalRecord not only lets us get up and running faster, but helps to cut down on the noise in our tests.

(more…)

 
17
Feb
2012
 

Extending NSData and (not) Overriding dealloc

by Tom Harrington

A couple of weeks ago Matt Long was having a problem with an app running out of memory. He had a ginormous data file he needed to load up and process, and that memory hit was more than the app could bear. It would load just fine, into an NSData, but before he could finish with it the app would run short of memory and die.

Until recently the obvious thing would have been to tell NSData to create a memory-mapped instance. Given NSString *path pointing to a file, you could create an NSData with almost no memory hit regardless of file size by creating it as:

Starting with iOS 5 though, this method has been deprecated. Instead, what you’re supposed to do is:

So, fine, whatever, it’s a different call, so what? Well, it wasn’t working. Instruments was showing that the app was taking the full memory hit when the NSData was created. Mapping wasn’t working despite using NSDataReadingMappedAlways. So what could he do? The wheels of my mind started turning.

(more…)

 
11
Jan
2012
 

Handling incoming JSON redux

by Tom Harrington

A few months ago I wrote here about a generic approach to safely take incoming JSON and save values to Core Data object. The goals of that code were twofold:

  1. Provide a safe, generic alternative to Cocoa’s -setValuesForKeysWithDictionary: for use with NSManagedObject and its subclasses
  2. Handle cases where JSON data didn’t match up with what the managed objects expected. Getting a string where you expect a numeric value, or vice versa, for example, or getting a string representation of a date when you want a real NSDate object.

The first item was the most important. It’s tempting to use -setValuesForKeysWithDictionary: to transfer JSON to a model object in one step. The method runs through the dictionary and calls -setValue:forKey: on the target object for every entry. It has a fatal flaw though, in that it doesn’t check to see if the target object actually has a key before trying to set it. Using this method when you don’t have absolute control over the dictionary contents is an invitation to unknown key exceptions and nasty app crashes.

Fixing this for managed objects was relatively easy because Core Data provides convenient Objective-C introspection methods. The general approach was:

  • Get a list of the target object’s attributes
  • For each attribute, see if the incoming dictionary has an entry. If so,
  • Compare the incoming type to the expected type, and convert if necessary.
  • Call -setValue:forKey: with that key and its value.

And then just last week I had the thought, wouldn’t it be nice if this worked for any object, not just for managed objects?

(more…)

 
14
Oct
2011
 

Parent Watching Its Child

by Marcus Zarra

Recently on [StackOverflow](http://stackoverflow.com) I have seen several questions regarding the desire for a parent Entity to be updated whenever an attribute within the child has changed.

There are several different ways to solve this problem. The easiest is to have the child ping the parent whenever it changes and then the parent can update any values it needs to as a result of that ping.
(more…)

 
11
Oct
2011
 

Core Data and the Undo Manager

by Marcus Zarra

*Note: This is a re-print from the Mac Developer Network.*

One of the nice things about developing software for OS X is all the “freebies” we get out of Cocoa. For example, when we are building a UI with text input we get undo support for free! How cool is that?

Likewise, when we are working with Core Data, it also has undo support built right in. Every NSManagedObjectContext has a NSUndoManager that we can use. However there are some situations where the default undo support is insufficient.

In this article we are going to walk through one such situation.
(more…)

 
22
Aug
2011
 

Importing and displaying large data sets in Core Data

by Marcus Zarra

*Note: This is a re-print from the Mac Developer Network.*

I tend to frequent the StackOverflow website and watch for questions about Core Data. Generally if it is a question I can answer I will and if it is a question I can’t answer then I really dig in for a fun session of exploration and attempt to find the answer.
(more…)

 
12
Aug
2011
 

Conference: MacTech (Los Angeles, CA, USA)

by Marcus Zarra

When: November 2-4, 2011
Where: Los Angeles, CA

[Schedule and Additional Information](http://www.mactech.com/conference/about)

The speaker line up for MacTech this year is amazing. I am quite honored to be sharing the stage with such a group of people.

## What is MacTech Conference? ##

MacTech Conference is a 3-day, immersive, technical conference specifically designed for Apple developers, IT Pros, and Enterprise. “The whole idea of MacTech Conference is to allow members of the Apple community to meet and exchange ideas,” said Edward Marczak, Conference Chair and Executive Editor of MacTech Magazine. “This will be spurred on by presentations from some of the best and well-known experts in the community.”

MacTech Conference will have two separate tracks: one focused on programming / development, and the other on IT/Enterprise. Sessions will focus on both desktop and mobile, with appropriate levels of attention paid to the Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod.

 
8
Aug
2011
 

Transient Entities and Core Data

by Saul Mora

Core Data has many features, one of which is the Transient attribute. This type of attribute on a Core Data entity is part of a data model, but is not persisted in your Core Data persistent store. If you open up the raw SQLite store file and peek at the schema, you will not find any transient attributes. These transient attributes are still handy despite no data being persisted to the data store. One useful scenario is when a value is calculated based on other attributes. This calculation can be performed in an entity’s awakeFromFetch method, and stored at run time in this transient attribute.

One scenario I’ve been asked about on more than one occasion recently is that of temporary, or transient entities. It seems that more and more developers have a need for temporary, or transient instances of entities in your Mac or iOS apps. Having temporary object instances can be useful and necessary in certain situations. Unfortunately, Transient Entities do not technically exist within the Core Data framework, however there are simple solutions to add temporary, un-persisted, data within the context of Core Data. Let’s go over some methods to effectively use the concept of Transient, or more appropriately Temporary Entities in Core Data without direct built-in support.

(more…)

 
1
Aug
2011
 

Conference: 360 iDev (Denver, CO, USA)

by Marcus Zarra

When: September 11-14, 2011
Where: Denver, Colorado

[Schedule and Additional Information](http://360idev.com/)

I am very pleased to announce that I will be speaking at this year’s 360 iDev conference in Denver, Colorado. Previously it was a foregone conclusion that I would be attending this conference since it was so close to my home. However, now that I am living in California, that is no longer the case.

However, I am happy to say that I will be attending this year despite a change in my home address. The speaker line up at 360 iDev keeps getting better each year and I am happy to be a part of this [great lineup](http://360idev.com/speakers).

If you are on the fence about going to this conference then please take my advice; GO.

Not only is the speaker line up great but Denver has a great walking downtown and the after session events should be just as entertaining as the speakers themselves.

I look forward to seeing you there.

 
28
Jul
2011
 

Conference: Update 2011 (Brighton, UK)

by Marcus Zarra

When: September 5-7, 2011
Where: Brighton, UK

[Schedule and Additional Information](http://updateconf.com/)

I am very pleased to announce that I will be speaking in Brighton at the Update conference starting on September 5, 2011. The Update conference is a bit different than the normal “developer” conference that I attend and speak at. Instead of just or primarily focusing on the developer; a great deal of focus is put upon the user and the user experience. If you have been in attendance for any of Aral Balkan’s talks then you know very well what his focus is.

In addition to speaking at the conference I will be giving **two** one day workshops on Core Data. The first workshop will be an introduction to Core Data. I hesitate to call this a beginner workshop because *you*, the attendees, will be directing the workshop. If everyone wants to start at step one then we will. However throughout the day you will be setting the pace of what we learn and discuss. This format has worked very well in the past and the last time we did a workshop like this the day ended with some pretty advanced discussions.

The second session is labelled advanced and will be starting off with the assuming that we all know and understand the principals behind Core Data. In this session we will deep dive into some of the more complex areas of Core Data. Again, I have a list of topics but you, the attendees, drive the session. Therefore it is intentionally open ended so that you can come with your questions and problems and we can discuss them together. I plan on wrapping up the second workshop with some real world examples of edge cases and situations I have run into and how they were solved.

I invite you to join me in Brighton this September to attend Update 2011. I expect it to be a great time.