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Article Written By:
Johann Dowa

The 3 Books Beginning iPhone Developers Must Read

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A question that I see commonly asked, and am asked at least once a week is “what book should an iPhone development beginner read?”.  So here are the 3 books that I believe beginning iPhone developers must read if they want to understand the SDK as fast as possible.  Please note that if you get these books understanding them will not be easy, it will take considerable effort, but I imagine that if you were to take college courses the content would be spread over several courses.

Update – Sept. 25, 2009

Since writing this article, I have found out about another book (in e-book format)which I now intend to use to train some local programmers to work with.  It covers what you need to know from raw beginner (C basics, Objective-C, and iPhone development basics) and includes several templates so that you can get an app out there very quickly.  This is my new #1 recommendation and you can check out the book here.

I recommend checking out this book first, and then if you have problems and need more in-depth study use the books below. This should save you alot of money, and time.  Please note that this is an e-book, and you can obtain a copy through instant download here.

Here’s the 3 other Books, and the order I suggest reading them.  My rating for all three of these books is 5/5 stars.

1. Programming Objective-C 2.0 – Beginner book goes through Objective-C basics, OO principles, and C language syntax.  Does not assume that you know C/C++ or Java.   This book may be a bit difficult for absolute beginners, but if you stick with it this book will teach you the basics you need to know.  This book takes you from the beginning to the point where you are learning the iPhone SDK.  By the way, there is now another book with the same name, do not fall for that and make sure if you get this book it is by Stephen Kochan.

2. Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X – While not specifically an iPhone book this book teaches many of the principles that you need to understand in great detail, beyond that of iPhone development books that I’ve seen.  The book also goes into libraries that may be included on the iPhone in the future.  This book can be a difficult read especially if you actually do the exercises, but it is well worth it.

3. Beginning iPhone 3 Development – This is probably my favorite programming book of all time, it’s a very easy read, but still manages to explain the key concepts used.  This is certainly not the most thorough programming book of all time, but combined with the knowledge contained in the two books above you should gain the knowledge required to understand Apple’s documentation and examples.  This book is currently being updated to include iPhone SDK 3.0 material.  UPDATE: The new edition of the book can be found here: Beginning iPhone 3 Development, all material from the old book is included.

Here are some other books that I’ve checked out that I found to be of solid value:

The iPhone Developers Cookbook – This book contains many “recipes” that you can use when developing your book, it does not go into concepts at the level of depth of Beginning iPhone Development, but I have found several times that I end up going back to this book and adapting a recipe for use within my own code.   This book is currently being updated to version 3.0, and from looking at the rough cut the added formulas look extremely useful. My rating 4/5.

Learning C on the Mac and Learning Objective-C on the Mac – These books basically go together so I’m mentioning them in the same phrase.  Combined they will basically teach you almost as much as Programming Objective-C 2.0, but you’ll end up buying two books instead of one and spend almost double. My rating 4.5/5 on C on the Mac, and 3.5 for the Objective-C on the mac book.

iPhone SDK Development – This is an ok book, it does not really go into anything in any depth, but it does point you in the right direction, and the sample code is very good.  It covers some concepts related to web programming that are not covered within the other book. My rating is 3.5/5.

I’ve created a small video where I talk a bit about the 3 books:

Please post about any other books that you feel are worth checking out.


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