Bear with me everybody because today is going to be mostly geek news as every major company I follow has seen fit to release new versions of stuff. Apple has finally released the newest version of their integrated development environment (IDE), Xcode 4. I will say it’s a major update as practically the entire IDE has changed.
Apple seems to be moving from the separate window interface of yore to single window interfaces. Xcode 4 integrates most everything into a single window now including the console (which even using the single window interface of Xcode 3 was a separate window). Another thing Apple seen fit to do is integrate Interface Builder into Xcode. I don’t really see any upside or downside to this but it does remove an icon from my already crowded dock.
I’ve not determined if all the interface changes are for the best as I’ve only played with a tiny bit of it last night. I do find adding linked libraries to be more straight forward and I feel the debugging interface is improved. I’m still up in the air on the new way auto completion is done. Instead of simply filling in the word you’re typing with the most likely (to the IDE, probably not you) word Xcode 4 now presents a pop-up menu under what you’re typing with every potential option (think the Eclipse IDE). I’m finding the new method faster but also much more in your face.
As I said I’ve not had time to really play with it but so far I’m liking it. One thing I don’t like is the fact Apple now charges for the IDE unless you’re a registered developer (registered Mac and iOS developers still get it for free, which means I didn’t have to pay for the upgrade). They aren’t charging much, only $4.99, but it’s still a barrier for entry. An advantage of providing free developer tools is you’re more likely to get people willing to try developing software for your system. Most people don’t want to spend any money to try something they may or may not enjoy. Even Microsoft offers free version of their development tools in the form of Visual Studio Express. I haven’t a clue what made Apple decide to start charging for a previously free product.