iOS Development Horrors

This past week, a client asked me to write a mobile application for both iOS and Android. I don’t do much native iOS development, so my first choice is typically Cordova – particularly for simple applications that don’t require native support. As I started setting up my client’s new project, I decided to go back and update some of my old iOS apps. They don’t get near the attention my Android apps do, and this seemed as good a time as any to do some needed updates.  I have three iOS apps on the iTunes store – one is native and the other two are Cordova. I got everything setup for the Cordova apps, then went into Xcode to build the final release. Xcode started by telling me  my icon resources were invalid. No further information was given – just that they were invalid. It appears that Cordova doesn’t generate all the right icon sizes, so I had to generate my own. This is great because you need 30 – that’s right, 30 – icons for an iOS app. You need to generate all thirty icons and then assign them to their associated spot in a giant tree of devices. Of course, the spots where you place the icons don’t say anything useful like 60px – no, it says 20px 3X – or 57px 2x. So, first I generate the maddening amount of icons and then I have to do math to figure out where to put each icon. Next, I try to change the splash screen from the Cordova icon to my company logo. Of course, Xcode provides even less information for that. Simply a heading like “iPhone 6s Landscape”. The only way to get any help is to stick an image with the wrong size in the spot and see what the warning message says – which includes the desired dimensions. This process took an hour just to get the splash screen and icons working. Why? Every single icon is square. Can’t I just provide the highest resolution and have Xcode figure out the rest? For my splash screen, can’t we find a more elegant solution? For instance, I provide an image and tell you the sizes to use it for – just crop, I don’t care. I would need to provide a few different images to account for smaller sizes, but it should be an hour just to get such trivial work done. After that, I tried to build but received errors about my signing certificate – so I had to redownload and jump through some more hoops. Finally, I uploaded to Apple only to receive an error message that my build included images with an alpha channel. (It’s 2017, Apple, why can’t you support transparent images yet?) Almost there…. I add my text to describe what I’ve changed, and hit submit. I get an error on my text saying there is something wrong with my internationalization. Another half hour of trying to figure out why my text is wrong, and then a trip to Google only  to find out that the problem was that I didn’t have enough screenshots. More image fun – I need to post pictures for 5″ devices. I’m not exactly sure what devices are 5″, so I have to try various emulator settings until I figure it out. And, finally, my app is off to Apple for approval. Then, on to the second Cordova app for more fun!

After that, I move on to my native app. Already knowing what to expect, I gather the necessary images and prepare for the new build. But wait – my storyboard is all messed up. Apparently, during one of the more recent Xcode updates, they changed everything. No problem – I’ll go into their interface builder and fix it. Or not. The interface builder is so slow it’s unusable. Back to Google, I find everyone complaining that Xcode 9’s interface builder is horrible. Their experiences mirror mine – minor changes taking 10 seconds to be reflected, spinning beach ball, CPU pegged, etc. I have an utterly trivial interface – just a series of labels and text inputs for logging ham radio contacts. But after an hour, I was no further then when I started. Apparently, I’ll be waiting till the next version of Xcode to fix my app since the current version of Xcode is unusable.

And that brings me to my real frustration. During my career, I’ve used countless development environments – everything from Delphi to Borland to Visual Studio to Eclipse to Lazarus. And in all my years, I have never seen an IDE as bad as Xcode. Apple – it’s time to move into the 21st century and create an IDE that’s as amazing as your laptops. Stop forcing us to use an environment that should have been abandoned decades ago.

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