Gift Guide

Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X / Edition 3

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 96%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (67) from $1.99   
  • New (3) from $3.47   
  • Used (64) from $1.99   


The best-selling introduction to Cocoa, once again updated to cover the latest Mac programming technologies, and still enthusiastically recommended by experienced Mac OS X developers.

“Aaron’s book is the gold standard for Mac OS X programming books—beautifully written, and thoughtfully sculpted. The best book on Leopard development.”

—Scott Stevenson,

“This is the first book I’d recommend for anyone wanting to learn Cocoa from scratch. Aaron’s one of the few (perhaps only) full-time professional Cocoa instructors, and his teaching experience shows in the book.”

—Tim Burks, software developer and creator of the Nu programming language,

“If you’re a UNIX or Windows developer who picked up a Mac OS X machine recently in hopes of developing new apps or porting your apps to Mac users, this book should be strongly considered as one of your essential reference and training tomes.”

—Kevin H. Spencer, Apple Certified Technical Coordinator

If you’re developing applications for Mac OS X, Cocoa® Programming for Mac® OS X, Third Edition, is the book you’ve been waiting to get your hands on. If you’re new to the Mac environment, it’s probably the book you’ve been told to read first. Covering the bulk of what you need to know to develop full-featured applications for OS X, written in an engaging tutorial style, and thoroughly class-tested to assure clarity and accuracy, it is an invaluable resource for any Mac programmer.

Specifically, Aaron Hillegass introduces the three most commonly used Mac developer tools: Xcode, Interface Builder, and Instruments. He also covers the Objective-C language and the major design patterns of Cocoa. Aaron illustrates his explanations with exemplary code, written in the idioms of the Cocoa community, to show you how Mac programs should be written. After reading this book, you will know enough to understand and utilize Apple’s online documentation for your own unique needs. And you will know enough to write your own stylish code.

Updated for Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5, this revised edition includes coverage of Xcode 3, Objective-C 2, Core Data, the garbage collector, and CoreAnimation.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Mac developers worldwide are oohing and aahing at Mac OS X and Aqua. Wouldn't it be so cool to be building OS X applications right now? To do it right, though, you've gotta bite the bullet. You need to master Apple's Cocoa framework, and (realistically) you should be working with Apple's language of choice, Objective-C.

While Objective-C isn't a big stretch for experienced C/C++ programmers, the Cocoa framework can be pretty challenging. That's where Aaron Hillegass comes in. His company, Big Nerd Ranch, is the world's leading independent Cocoa training firm. This guy goes back a long way with Steve Jobs: at NeXT, he wrote the first course on OpenStep, the development environment that led to Cocoa. He knows his stuff. His new book, Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X, is utterly authoritative.

It's full of real code, and answers to the questions Mac developers have been asking in Hillegass's seminars. Questions about Aqua interface development. Custom views. Pasteboards. Compilation. Debugging. Most of all, this book reflects a deep understanding of the powerful design patterns that underlie Cocoa. You've got to "think different" to program today's Macs. Nobody's more qualified to show you how. (Bill Camarda)

Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer with nearly 20 years' experience in helping technology companies deploy and market advanced software, computing, and networking products and services. He served for nearly ten years as vice president of a New Jersey–based marketing company, where he supervised a wide range of graphics and web design projects. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.

From The Critics
Five new chapters were added in this 2nd edition, which discuss creating AppleScriptable applications, integrating OpenGL, adding Undo abilities, creating reusable frameworks, and tinkering with GNUStep, the raw open-source tools for those curious about making Cocoa apps under Linux.

If you're a UNIX or Windows developer who picked up a Mac OS X machine recently in hopes of developing new apps or porting your apps to Mac users, this book should be strongly considered as one of your essential reference and training tomes.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780321503619
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley
  • Publication date: 5/30/2008
  • Series: Pearson Custom Computer Science Series
  • Edition description: Third Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 433
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Aaron Hillegas runs Big Nerd Ranch, well-known for its popular Cocoa programming classes. Previously, he was a developer at NeXT and Apple. At Next, he wrote the first course on OpenStep, the predecessor to today's Cocoa tools. At Apple, he created and taught courses in Cocoa directly for and to Apple engineers. This book is based on Aaron's Big Nerd Ranch course and is influenced by 15 years of work with OpenStep and Cocoa.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 12: Custom Views

All the visible objects in an application are either windows or views. In this chapter, you will create a subclass of NSView . From time to time, you will create a custom view to do custom drawing or event handling. Even if you do not plan to do custom drawing or event handling, by learning how to create a new view class, you will learn a lot about how Cocoa works.

Windows are instances of the class NSWindow . Each window has a collection of views. Each view is responsible for a rectangle of the window. The view draws inside that rectangle and handles mouse events that occur there. A view may also handle keyboard events. You have worked with several subclasses of NSView already: NSButton, NSTextField, NSTableView, and NSColorWell are all views. (Note that a window is not a subclass of NSView .)

The View Hierarchy

Views are arranged in a hierarchy (Figure 12.1). The window has a content view that completely fills its interior. The content view usually has several subviews. Each subview may have subviews of its own. Every view knows its superview, its subviews, and the window it lives on.

Here are the relevant methods:

  • (NSView *)superview ;
  • (NSArray *)subviews ;
  • (NSWindow *)window ;
Any view can have subviews, but most don't. Here are five views that commonly have subviews.
  • The content view of a window.
  • NSBox . The contents of a box are its subviews.
  • NSScrollView . If a view appears in a scroll view, it is a subview of the scroll view. The scroll bars are also subviews of the scroll view.
  • NSSplitView . Each view in a split view is a subview (Figure 12.2).
  • NSTabView . As the user chooses different tabs, different subviews are swapped in and out (Figure 12.3).

Get a View to Draw Itself

In this section, you are going to create a very simple view. It will simply appear and paint itself green. It will look like Figure 12.4.

Create a new project of type Cocoa Application (Figure 12.5).

Name it ImageFun

After the new project is created, open MainMenu. nib, and select NSView in the classes browser (Figure 12.6).

Press return to create a subclass, and name it StretchView (Figure 12.7).

Create the files for StretchView (Figure 12.8).

Save the files in the project directory.

Create an Instance of a View Subclass

Now create an instance of your class by dragging out a CustomView placeholder and dropping it on the window (Figure 12.9).

Resize the view to fill most of the window. Open the info panel and set the class of the view to be StretchView (Figure 12.10).

Notice that creating an instance of a view is different from creating an instance of a controller object like AppController . To create an instance of AppController in Chapter 7, you used the Instantiate menu item. When creating a view, it is important that you attach it to a window and give it a size and location in that window.

Size Info

Your StretchView object is a subview of the window's content view. An interesting question is: What happens to the view when the superview resizes? There is a page in the info panel that allows you to set that behavior. Open the size info panel, and set it as shown in Figure 12.11. This means that it will grow and shrink as necessary to keep the distance from its edges to the edges of its superview constant.

If you wanted the view to stay the same size, you could let the distance between the edges of the view and the edges of the superview grow and shrink. In this exercise, you do not want this behavior. But in a parallel universe where you did, the inspector would look like this (Figure 12.12).

Save and close the nib file.


When a view needs to draw itself, it is sent the message drawRect: with the rectangle that needs to be drawn or redrawn. This method is called automatically, and you will never need to call it directly. Instead, if you know that a view needs redrawing, you will send the view the message setNeedsDisplay...
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface xvii

Acknowledgments xix

Chapter 1: Cocoa: What Is It? 1

A Little History 1

Tools 3

Language 4

Objects, Classes, Methods, and Messages 4

Frameworks 6

How to Read This Book 6

Typographical Conventions 7

Common Mistakes 7

How to Learn 8

Chapter 2: Let’s Get Started 9

In Xcode 9

In Interface Builder 13

Back in Xcode 23

Documentation 29

What Have You Done? 30

Chapter 3: Objective-C 33

Creating and Using Instances 33

Using Existing Classes 35

Creating Your Own Classes 46

The Debugger 58

What Have You Done? 62

For the More Curious: How Does Messaging Work? 62

Challenge 64

Chapter 4: Memory Management 65

Turning the Garbage Collector On and Off 66

Living with the Garbage Collector 68

Living with Retain Counts 68

What Have You Done? 77

Chapter 5: Target/Action 79

Some Commonly Used Subclasses of NSControl 81

Start the SpeakLine Example 85

Lay Out the Nib File 86

Implementing the AppController Class 88

For the More Curious: Setting the Target Programmatically 90

Challenge 90

Debugging Hints 92

Chapter 6: Helper Objects 95

Delegates 96

The NSTableView and Its dataSource 99

Lay Out the User Interface 102

Make Connections 103

Edit AppController.m 105

For the More Curious: How Delegates Work 108

Challenge: Make a Delegate 109

Challenge: Make a Data Source 110

Chapter 7: Key-Value Coding; Key-Value Observing 111

Key-Value Coding 111

Bindings 113

Key-Value Observing 115

Making Keys Observable 116

Properties and Their Attributes 118

For the More Curious: Key Paths 120

For the More Curious: Key-Value Observing 121

Chapter 8: NSArrayController 123

Starting the RaiseMan Application 124

Key-Value Coding and nil 132

Add Sorting 133

For the More Curious: Sorting without NSArrayController 134

Challenge 1 135

Challenge 2 135

Chapter 9: NSUndoManager 139

NSInvocation 139

How the NSUndoManager Works 140

Adding Undo to RaiseMan 142

Key-Value Observing 145

Undo for Edits 146

Begin Editing on Insert 149

For the More Curious: Windows and the Undo Manager 151

Chapter 10: Archiving 153

NSCoder and NSCoding 154

The Document Architecture 157

Saving and NSKeyedArchiver 161

Loading and NSKeyedUnarchiver 162

Setting the Extension and Icon for the File Type 163

For the More Curious: Preventing Infinite Loops 166

For the More Curious: Creating a Protocol 167

For the More Curious: Document-Based Applications without Undo 167

Universal Type Identifiers 168

Chapter 11: Basic Core Data 171

NSManagedObjectModel 171

Interface 173

How Core Data Works 180

Chapter 12: Nib Files and NSWindowController 183

NSPanel 183

Adding a Panel to the Application 184

For the More Curious: NSBundle 194

Challenge 195

Chapter 13: User Defaults 197

NSDictionary and NSMutableDictionary 198

NSUserDefaults 200

Setting the Identifier for the Application 202

Creating Keys for the Names of the Defaults 202

Registering Defaults 203

Letting the User Edit the Defaults 203

Using the Defaults 205

For the More Curious: NSUserDefaultsController 207

For the More Curious: Reading and Writing Defaults from the Command Line 207

Challenge 208

Chapter 14: Using Notifications 209

What Notifications Are 209

What Notifications Are Not 210

NSNotification and NSNotificationCenter 210

Posting a Notification 212

Registering as an Observer 213

Handling the Notification When It Arrives 214

The userInfo Dictionary 214

For the More Curious: Delegates and Notifications 215

Challenge 216

Chapter 15: Using Alert Panels 217

Make the User Confirm the Deletion 218

Challenge 221

Chapter 16: Localization 223

Localizing a Nib File 224

String Tables 226

For the More Curious: ibtool 230

For the More Curious: Explicit Ordering of Tokens in Format Strings 231

Chapter 17: Custom Views 233

The View Hierarchy 233

Getting a View to Draw Itself 235

Drawing with NSBezierPath 240

NSScrollView 242

Creating Views Programmatically 245

For the More Curious: Cells 245

For the More Curious: isFlipped 247

Challenge 248

Chapter 18: Images and Mouse Events 249

NSResponder 249

NSEvent 249

Getting Mouse Events 251

Using NSOpenPanel 251

Composite an Image onto Your View 256

The View’s Coordinate System 258

Autoscrolling 261

For the More Curious: NSImage 261

Challenge 262

Chapter 19: Keyboard Events 263

NSResponder 265

NSEvent 265

Create a New Project with a Custom View 266

For the More Curious: Rollovers 274

The Fuzzy Blue Box 275

Chapter 20: Drawing Text with Attributes 277

NSFont 277

NSAttributedString 278

Drawing Strings and Attributed Strings 280

Making Letters Appear 281

Getting Your View to Generate PDF Data 283

For the More Curious: NSFontManager 286

Challenge 1 286

Challenge 2 286

Chapter 21: Pasteboards and Nil-Targeted Actions 287

NSPasteboard 288

Add Cut, Copy, and Paste to BigLetterView 289

Nil-Targeted Actions 290

For the More Curious: Which Object Sends the Action Message? 293

For the More Curious: Lazy Copying 293

Challenge 1 294

Challenge 2 294

Chapter 22: Categories 295

Add a Method to NSString 295

For the More Curious: Declaring Private Methods 297

For the More Curious: Declaring Informal Protocols 297

Chapter 23: Drag-and-Drop 299

Make BigLetterView a Drag Source 300

Make BigLetterView a Drag Destination 303

For the More Curious: Operation Mask 307

Chapter 24: NSTimer 309

Lay Out the Interface 311

Make Connections 312

Adding Code to AppController 314

For the More Curious: NSRunLoop 316

Challenge 316

Chapter 25: Sheets 317

Adding a Sheet 318

For the More Curious: contextInfo 324

For the More Curious: Modal Windows 325

Chapter 26: Creating NSFormatters 327

A Basic Formatter 328

The delegate of the NSControl 334

Checking Partial Strings 335

Formatters That Return Attributed Strings 337

Chapter 27: Printing 339

Dealing with Pagination 339

For the More Curious: Am I Drawing to the Screen? 344

Challenge 344

Chapter 28: Web Service 345

AmaZone 346

Lay Out the Interface 347

Write Code 349

Challenge: Add a WebView 353

Chapter 29: View Swapping 355

Design 356

Resizing the Window 362

Chapter 30: Core Data Relationships 365

Edit the Model 365

Create Custom NSManagedObject Classes 366

Lay Out the Interface 369

Events and nextResponder 372

Chapter 31: Garbage Collection 375

Non-object Data Types 376

Polynomials Example 377

Instruments 383

For the More Curious: Weak References 385

Challenge: Do Bad Things 385

Chapter 32: Core Animation 387

Creating CALayer 388

Using CALayer and CAAnimation 390

Chapter 33: A Simple Cocoa/OpenGL Application 397

Using NSOpenGLView 397

Writing the Application 398

Chapter 34: NSTask 405

Multithreading versus Multiprocessing 405

ZIPspector 406

Asynchronous Reads 410

iPing 411

Challenge: .tar and .tgz files 415

Chapter 35: The End 417

Challenge 418

Index 419

Read More Show Less


If you are developing applications for the Mac, or are hoping to do so, this book is just the resource you need. Does it cover everything you will ever want to know about programming for the Mac? Of course it doesn’t. But it does cover probably 80% of what you need to know. You can find the remaining 20%, the 20% that is unique to you, in Apple’s online documentation.

This book, then, acts as a foundation. It covers the Objective-C language and the major design patterns of Cocoa. It will also get you started with the three most commonly used developer tools: Xcode, Interface Builder, and Instruments. After reading this book, you will be able to understand and utilize Apple’s online documentation.

There is a lot of code in this book. Through that code, I will introduce you to the idioms of the Cocoa community. My hope is that by presenting exemplary code, I can help you to become not just a Cocoa developer, but a stylish Cocoa developer.

This third edition includes technologies introduced in Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5. These include Xcode 3, Objective-C 2, Core Data, the garbage collector, and CoreAnimation.

This book is written for programmers who already know some C programming and something about objects. You are not expected to have any experience with Mac programming. It’s a hands-on book and assumes that you have access to Mac OS X and the developer tools. The developer tools are free. If you bought a shrink-wrapped copy of Mac OS X, the installer for the developer tools was on the DVD. The tools can also be downloaded from the Apple Developer Connection Web site (

I have tried to make this book as useful for you as possible, if not indispensable. That said, I’d love to hear from you if you have any suggestions for improving it.

Aaron Hillegass

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great book for beginners and good reference for experienced Cocoa programmers....

    The book is well organized and easy to follow. Some areas may require more focus than others, but Aaron explains things in a way that is fairly easy to remember and definitely easy to follow. For a beginner in iPhone/iPad and Mac OS programming this is just one of the many books I recommend. If you are a new to these platforms and programming, then I would recommend getting both this book and "Programming in Objective-C 2.0" by Stephen Kochan. Those two books go excellent together. All they need now is an ePub format for my iPad of both and I will be set..

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 1, 2011

    Great Book to Learn Cocoa

    Mr. Hillegass and the Big Nerd Ranch brains do a great job at explaining how to program Cocoa in an easy, understandable manner. Chapters take you straight to the "how-to" and then explain what is happening inside the program.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 12, 2010

    Very helpful for a programmer new to Objective-C and Cocoa

    I have programmed in Visual Basic and FORTRAN in the past and am new to the Apple environment. I found this book very helpful in learning to use the Xcode tools and Interface Builder. Some examples need to be modified just a bit if you are using Snow Leopard since the book was written for Leopard, but these adjustments are minor. All in all it was a good place to start to learn how to use Objective-C and Cocoa.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)