iOS Pain Points – No strongly-typed collections

This is the first entry in the iOS Pain Points series. This series will detail some of the downsides and pitfalls of iOS development, and will include various aspects of Objective-C, Cocoa, and XCode.

Today’s iOS Pain Point is the lack of strongly typed or generic collections. .NET developers eat, sleep, and breathe generic collections, and this is something I found lacking when working with iOS.

Purists may¬†argue that due to Objective-C’s dynamic nature, there is no need for strong typing, but the reality is that it can prevent bugs. Consider the following code:

NSArray* names = [[NSArray alloc] initWithObjects:
                      @"Bob", @"Fred", @"James", "@Mike", @"Kyle", @"Steve", Nil];

It compiles, but crashes when you run it. And this is not a contrived example; it’s a bug I ran in to while first starting with Objective-C. Granted, improved syntax coloring in XCode could make this bug immediately obvious, but it’s still a bug that never should’ve existed.

If that’s too easy and obvious for you, consider this code snippet:

-(void) FireBullet
    Bullet* bullet = [[Bullet alloc] init];
    bullet.position = [self calculateBulletPosition];
    [bullets addObject:bullets];

-(void) Update
    for(Bullet* bullet in bullets)
        [bullet updatePosition];

This compiles fine too, but again, it crashes with an ‘Unrecognized selector’. And although it’s a trivial error that is easy to fix, it is, as before, an error that never should’ve existed in the first place.

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