Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X (Ch 6-8)

View Chapters (1-5) here, get the book here .

The title of chapter 6 “Helper Objects” did not sound good. Whenever I find classes with the words Helper or Util in their name, this usually indicates a “code smell” and most of time the underlying problem is a leaky domain model. Turns out something completely different is the subject of this chapter, delegates!

They can be compared with delegates in .Net though they are being used in a different way. I’ll illustrate with a sample.

The TableView UI component deals with displaying data like a table, compare this with the .Net grid. What it displays however is not part of his responsibility, this behaviour can be added though by using delegates. The tableView has a delegate member which you can set, if that object implements methods which map to delegate methods of the tableView they will be called, otherwise they won’t. This means that you don’t need to implement everything, just what you need.

I think in .Net this behaviour would be implemented by using interfaces. So if you had your own grid component, it’s datasource could be set to something of type IDatasource which would provide the necessary functionality that would be called by the grid component.

Overall this is off course a powerful feature, though implementing it requires attention, misspelling the method name means that your method won’t be called and you won’t get any errors. The author states that the best way is to look at the documentation and copy paste the method signatures in your code.

Chapter 7 “Key-Value Coding; Key-Value Observing”.

A short chapter, only 12 pages, but it seems to be a core concept. If you have an instance variable foo in class Bar, you can have other objects be notified of changes to it. This can be compared to the .Net INotifyPropertyChanged interface and its interweaving with databinding. Since the observers call the methods valueForKey: and setValue:forKey: you need to make sure your code follows the strict naming convention to get this functionality.

If you are changing the observed instance variable in methods you need to call the methods willChangeValueForKey: before changing it and didChangeValueForKey after you’ve changed it to alert the observers of the change. If you find that too much work just call the setter of the instance instead of changing it directly.

- (int)foo
    return foo; 
- (void)setFoo(int) x
    foo =  x;

A handy shortcut to write a property is to use the @property and @synthesize which do all the work for you, the above code can thus be replaced by a simple

@property(readwrite) int foo;

in the header file and

@synthesize foo;

in the implementation.

Overall familiar material, I’ve seen this in .Net and it’s available to me in Objective-C excellent! There even is a valueForKeyPath: method that traverses the object tree i.e: spouse.scooter.modelName.

Chapter 8, NSArrayController.

In this chapter all you’ve seen so far comes back, but in a different way. In the previous chapter you had to write a lot of plumbing to get your list of objects to display and be editable. The NSArrayController however can help you on this, it allows user interface components be bound using chapter 7’s techniques. You can automatically add and delete objects, display them and edit them without writing code, just hook everything up.

To solve challenge 1 for this chapter edit the sortKey to be personName.length and selector to compare:. I’ve attached the code for those interested.

RaiseMan – Chapter (69.85 kb)

KVCFun – Chapter (53.38 kb)

SpeakLine – Chapter (59.93 kb)

DelegateResize – Chapter 6 Challenge (47.51 kb)

ToDoApplication – Chapter 6 Challenge (57.66 kb)

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