Under the Bridge

Source: Bickboxx

Here’s another open source project for the iPhone that may catch your interest: the available-on-the-App-Store Bickboxx is open sourced on github:

Our vision with Bickboxx is to build a community of developers for source code sharing, discussion about building iPhone applications, and resource sharing.

When you go to build your first iPhone app or your 100th…you have a great resource to start with Bickboxx.

We’ll be adding more and more features to Bickboxx and committing them to the github.com repository…

We’ll also be posting more tutorials about how we added these features to TheAppleBlog.com. So feel free to kick back, grab a fork (pun intended) and contribute some great open source code!

My, they’re bright-eyed fellows over there, aren’t they? Always amusing, er we mean inspiring, to see such sparkly enthusiasm, indeed.

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NimbleKit

Here’s something that our web programming friends will probably find of intense interest, and real programmers (we kid, we kid) may be mildly curious about as well: it’s called NimbleKit, and it’s … well, let’s let them describe themselves:

NimbleKit is the fastest way to create applications for iPhone and iPod touch.
You don’t need to know Objective-C or iPhone SDK.
All you need is to know how to write an HTML page with Javascript code.

They do claim to have some fairly comprehensive  feature support,

  • Native iPhone interface elements
  • Full control of application appearance
  • Play bundle audio files
  • Play audio streams from the Internet
  • Support iPhone vibration
  • Support Address Book with full search and people picker
  • Access to bundled files
  • Check Internet availability
  • Location services (GPS)
  • Access to images (take photo or browse in library)
  • And much more…

Indeed. We’re not quite intrigued enough at the moment to bother downloading it ourselves, but hey if you are, be sure and let us know what you think!

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Tip: Firmware Downloading

Ever tried to find a particular version of iPhone/iPod firmware on Apple’s servers? Yeah, good luck with that. But courtesy of this iPhoneSDK thread we have a couple of handy places to take care of finding the right one for you:

Handy if you need it!

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Snippet: Data Sharing

Now here’s a snippet which will probably be a surprise to you: How to write a file to be shared between applications from within your sandbox! Yes, we said “from within your sandbox”. No, really, we did. And simple once you know how, of course — here it is:

BOOL result = [@"malc" writeToFile:@"/private/var/mobile/Media/DCIM/
malc.txt" atomically:YES];

Why does that magic incantantion work? Well, if you’re a particularly clever spark, it occurred to you that

I discovered this when I realised that the UIImagePickerController writes camera photos to that folder too, so your app must have write access, which it does :-)

Yes, when you think about it, indeed it must, mustn’t it now? And whilst I’m quite sure from Apple’s perspective this counts as unsupported, at first glance it doesn’t appear to be actually illegal by any currently published standards … so assuming that you put in appropriate writability verification in case the picker’s path changes or they get pickier (heh) about allowing access in future, this seems like a most excellent way to approach the problem of application data transfer/sharing on the device!

h/t: iphonesdk!

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Snippets: Generic Controllers

Over at iPhone Development they’ve  been writing a series of articles describing a variety of handy controller classes:

Source for the first four is handily available here. Enjoy!

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Source: Networking

This looks like an excellent tutorial on implementing Bonjour-based networking in your iPhone application, and of course there’s source code provided. Yes, most direct applications of this will probably be more appropriately addressed with GameKit.framework in OS 3.0 — but it certainly can’t hurt to supplement Bluetooth local networking with WiFi local networking … or, of course, offer both! Also note that the author offers ByteClub, a paid multiplayer gaming platform.

And in order to do that, an excellent place to look is MYNetwork the Mooseyard Networking Library from the redoubtable Jens Alfke … who has his own commentary on the above tutorial, and has even forked the above source to use MYNetwork. For any networking needs past GameKit only, that’s definitely where we’d start!

[UPDATE: And speaking of GameKit ... there's a pre-WWDC release of a contact sharing application and full source code here!]

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Tools: Reverse Engineering

So let’s round up resources for reverse engineering iPhone executables today, just for grins, shall we?

If you’ve been around the Cocoa world for a while you’ve probably heard of class-dump, and there’s a version of it that’s iPhone-executable savvy called class-dump-x. That gives you class interfaces; if you want to dig directly into disassembling the code, your tool of choice is otx. If you want to dig around and see just what the environment is like at runtime, the usefully named Runtime Browser is your tool, source now up at Google Code.

And for digging through the output of an iPhone application or the system itself, don’t miss the invaluable iPhone/iPod touch Backup Extractor for turning opaque iTunes backups into individual files and SQLite databases just right for mucking with.

Here’s a selection of other useful tidbits and background:

How to classdump SpringBoard header files and patch it

Armchair Guide To Cocoa Reverse Engineering

Reverse engineering Apple’s OS X

[EDIT: Check out this post on reverse engineering system_profiler!]

Now, there should be just about nothing that can be kept a secret from you! Any other useful little tools or tidbits to suggest, anyone?

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Tips: Site Design

Here’s a blog post worth reading if  you’re planning to make your website more iPhone-friendly than “yeah, installed WPTouch, there we go then”, like we’re going to get around to doing one of these days — no, really! — discussing how the dejal.com website looks so good on the iPhone. (Seriously, it does. Go check it out. A model for us all!) and most thoughtfully providing the CSS that enables all the nifty formatting discussed in this earlier post. Good stuff!

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Social Platform: OpenFeint

Whoops, we’re really not on top of the iPhone gaming industry that well; we just noticed that a whole whack of the cool kids have put together a social networking platform for iPhone gaming called OpenFeint. And it has a bunch of nifty features:

  • cross-promotion between participating games
  • Facebook & Twitter integration
  • cross-game lobbies
  • leaderboards
  • game chat rooms
  • privacy controls

Whew! That’s quite the list. Now, I can see a few issues here, for starters how does their per registered user cost account for the 50% to 90% or so of users that seems to be the general consensus are pirates? — but since they say it’s free to join for free games, well, we’ll certainly look into trying this out with a free game sometime!

h/t: TechCrunch!

UPDATE: So ok, there’s a variety of social platform options! Let’s line them up:

Anyone have direct experience with any of these? And are we still missing any?

POSTSCRIPT: OTHER ROUNDUPS

09.06.17: scoreloop vs open feint vs plus+
09.07.13: iPhone Social Gaming Service Roundup
09.07.15: iPhone Social Platforms Compared
09.07.17: Social Platforms Revisited

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Tools: Accessorizer

This looks like it might be a handy tool for the Xcode programmer: Accessorizer!

Accessorizer saves you tons of time … Those minutes add up  to hours, days and weeks over the lifetime of a project.

Accessorizer selects the appropriate property specifiers based on ivar type – and can also generate explicit accessors (1.0) automagically …  but Accessorizerdoes much, much more …

Accessorizer will help provide you with the init, keypath, keyed-archiving, indexed accessors, accessors for unordered collections such as NSSet, copyWithZone, KVO, key-validation, singleton overrides, dealloc, setNilForKey, non-standard attribute persistence (Core Data), locking, headerdoc, convert method to selector, NSUndoManager methods and more.

Well, it does sound handy, doesn’t it now. Anyone out there tried it? Worth the price you figure?

h/t: iPhone Development Blog!

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