What I Learned at CocoaConf Atlanta

I recently attended the Atlanta CocoaConf, a touring conference that focuses on Apple technologies (iOS and OS X). They have several conferences each year in major cities across the U.S. I chose Atlanta because it was December, and I needed a break from the cold Michigan climate. In this blog post, I wanted to give you the highlights of what I learned at the conference and some impressions on the future of iOS programming.

Is Swift the Future?

On the first day of the conference, they held all-day workshops. I attended “A Swift Kickstart: Introducing the Swift Programming Language” by Daniel Sternberg. I had’t had a lot of time to seriously take a look at the language, and the workshop was a great introduction.

We used the playground feature of Xcode 6 to write little snippets of code in Swift. I liked the improvements they have made to the language since Apple originally released it. It was nice to see the language support some functional programming concepts. I came away from the workshop confident that I could start writing Swift on my next iOS application. 

I was surprised at how many other sessions at the conference included their sample code in Swift or at least mentioned how a task in Objective C could be performed in Swift. For example, I attended a great session by Johathan Blocksom that gave us some real world tips for dealing with interoperability between Objective C and Swift. After talking with other attendees, I get the impression that Swift is here to stay.

Auto Layout & Interface Builder

If you have read my other blog posts, you know that I am a fan of Auto Layout—Apple’s new constraint-based layout engine for sizing and placing UI controls on iOS and OS X.

My favorite session was “Winning with Interface Builder in Xcode 6” by Jack Cox, which covered the new size classes that were introduced at WWDC. Size classes allow you to support iPhones and iPads of different sizes and portrait and landscape layouts easily. I especially liked the advice he gave us to separate the UI into major components using sub views then figure out whether those views belong in each size class and where to place them.

Lots Of Core Data

The topic Core Data was well represented at the conference, which was great because—as anyone who’s used Core Data can tell you—it’s really easy to shoot yourself in the foot with regards to concurrency issues.

One interesting session I went to was “UIManagedDocument for fun and profit” by Josh Smith. He showed us how we can use UIManagedDocument as a wrapper to Core Data. One nice advantage to using UIManagedDocument is it is really easy to store your Core Data objects to iCloud. I will definitely use this on my next project.

Find a CocoaConf Near You

You can see if there is a CocoaConf in your area by visiting cocoaconf.com. Many of the speakers travel to several of the conferences, so you may get to hear some of the same great content I experienced.

What is your favorite Apple conference?