Simon Says SDK Not OK. And Simon's Wrong.

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John Gruber and the Macalope have made an artful science out of reasonably, logically, and methodically skewering the most pathetic punditry and junky journalism surrounding Apple and the iPhone.

Case in point is Gruber's recent and rather succinct dismantling of Simon Brocklehurst's complaint that Apple chose Objective C as the language behind the SDK. And while he certainly doesn't need my help, there are a few points I'd like to add.

First, anyone (but especially Simon) who thinks Apple just now (or even recently) decided to create an SDK for the iPhone knows little about SDKs and less about the polish and maturity easily observed in even the beta SDK Apple released at their special Roadmap event. The briefest look at actual developer blogs and tweets -- including developers with substantial experience in jailbroken iPhone apps -- would see the flood of remarks on the maturity of the beta SDK. Bottom line, if Apple hadn't been planning the SDK for a long time (perhaps since the launch itself) they have a hidden supply of killer engineers capable of truly mind-boggling delivery.

Second, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that, while I don't know anything about Brocklehurst's background, quoting Jonathan Schwartz indicates some level of Java-centricity. By serendipitous contrast, I just this week had a conversation with a developer at work who was being brought onto a new project. Since he'd recently done a lot of C++ and PHP, he was looking for a new language with which to stretch his skills. He wanted to try Ruby or Python, wanted to see what Rails could do. Gruber's right, good programmers can (and want to) program and can (and want to) stretch themselves to do it (even when it's not so far a stretch). Good programers who want to make good iPhone apps won't think twice about adding Objective C to their skill set.

Third, the iPhone/iPod halo is clearly helping Apple gain traction in their Mac market, and there's no reason to think the iPhone SDK won't help Apple gain traction for Objective C and Cocoa via Cocoa Touch. Apple has shown time and time again -- to the point of frustration on some occasions -- that it is a future thinking company. Getting a bunch of convenience-oriented programmers now by putting out a Java or C++ iPhone SDK pales to insignificance when compared to the mindshare Apple could gain by delivering a powerful, delightful Object C/Cocoa Touch development environment (and experience) to the uber-keen developers of the next generation, whose newfound skills -- and more importantly, tastes -- will flow right back into the Mac and future Apple products.

While Apple certainly fumbles the ball on occasion, this time they look to be smashing their way clear to a touchdown.

Sorry Simon.

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Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Simon Says SDK Not OK. And Simon's Wrong.

2 Comments

I've written lots of huge programs in C++ and C, and learning objective-c over the last few months has been no problem. Other than syntax there are only a couple of important differences, and, frankly, I think objective-C is probably the better language.
The only downside is that you can't really leverage the skill to do much other than program for apple products, and you can't leverage the billions of lines of c++/c libraries already written by other people. (at least not very easily).