Best Practices, Resources

Learning TDD

I’m currently intrigued with how TDD (Test Driven Development) can help me become a better developer. The problem is…you see TDD mentioned a lot on the Internet, but it’s hard to come across good explanations of HOW to actually DO Test Driven Development.

I first became interested in learning TDD because I read in the book I’m reading now called The Clean Coder: A Code of Conduct for Professional Programmers that TDD isn’t optional–it’s required if you want to be seen as a professional coder, which of course I want to be! 🙂 In the book, Robert Martin discusses using Katas for TDD, so I thought I’d give it a try.

What is a TDD Kata?

TDD Kata was first introduced in the book The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master (which I have yet to read…it’s next on my list). Essentially, it’s taking a set of predefined programming steps that take you through a programming problem from start to finish, using proper TDD techniques right from the start. Its goal is to teach via muscle memory. This blog post describes it well.

My First TDD Kata

Today I did The Bowling Game Kata (linked below) from start to finish. I plan to do it daily for 15 minutes (as suggested by Marlena below). I definitely see the benefit now.

My first reaction as I went through each step of the kata was to check to make sure my logic was correct…but then I realized that that’s why the test was written before writing the logic–it was already verified to be correct since the test passed. Still–I found it hard not to try to run through the logic to make sure (which is muscle memory from non-TDD habits–exactly what I’m trying to break :)).

Fun!

TDD/TDD Kata Resources

Here’s what else I’ve come across that I’ve found helpful thus far in terms of TDD:

Marlena Compton’s Learn TDD with Katas

Marlena describes a 15-minute-per-day technique of learning TDD using Katas. The point is to follow the Kata step by step, which goes through the proper method to do TDD, bit by bit, day by day, to practice and make the act of writing tests before logic the most natural and comfortable way of coding for you.

Jon Reid’s Xcode TDD Kata: Practice with the Bowling Game

Jon adapted this Java TDD Kata so it is in both Objective-C and Swift. It describes what TDD Kata is, and how to do it.

Martin Fowler’s Mocks Aren’t Stubs

Martin describes the different ways in which you can create your app’s objects needed to test your app. It’s an oldie, but I found it to be very good at describing different techniques for actually building your tests for TDD.


I’ll update this post as I learn and find more resources!

-Justin

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Resources

My Favourite iOS Development Podcasts

Podcasts are an essential part of my learning workflow. I’ve only discovered the power of podcasts in the past couple of years, and I find them super useful for learning new things and keeping up with the latest news and tips and tricks!

I subscribe to many different podcasts, but right now I’ve been mainly sticking to iOS Development-themed shows to help accelerate my learning rate. I’m confident in saying that it’s accomplishing that goal!

Typically I’ll digest these podcasts in the shower using my Bluetooth speaker, in my car to and from work, and sometimes during work.

Here are my top picks (in no particular order)!

Top Picks

More Than Just Code

Website: http://mtjc.fm

Description: Each week, Aaron Vegh, Jaime Lopez, Mark Rubin (sometimes Greg Heo), and Tim Mitra discuss iOS and Mac development, including current issues, what developers are talking about, what their apps are about, what they are using to create their apps and what advice they have for other developers (or those looking to become one). It also features news, notes and tech tips for developers.

Why I Like It: It’s got a Canadian perspective, eh! 🇨🇦 A minimum of 50% Canadian hosts—sometimes 100%! 👌 The crew has great chemistry and each episode is always full of entertaining shenanigans. The show talks about real-world problems developers face and how they deal with them. Also I always love the picks.

Under The Radar

Website: https://www.relay.fm/radar

Description: From development and design to marketing and support, Under the Radar is all about independent app development. It’s never longer than 30 minutes. Hosted by Marco Arment and David Smith.

Why I like It: Marco and David are influential and successful indie developers who know their stuff. Each episode is focused on a single focused topic that’s to the point and under 30 minutes. Start from the beginning as it’s rather new.

iOhYes

Website: http://5by5.tv/iohyes

Description: A podcast by iOS developers for iOS developers, delivering news, tips, and rants for professional iOS/Mac developers, with something for enterprise and indie developers alike.
Hosted by Darryl Thomas, John Sextro, and Nolan O’Brien.

Why I Like It: These guys always have very focused, intelligent, technical discussions that are very detailed—we’re talking calling out and describing actual APIs. I always come away learning something new and/or understand better! Nolan is excellent at explaining technical topics.

Release Notes

Website: http://releasenotes.tv

Description: Release Notes is a weekly podcast about the business of Mac and iOS indie software development. It discusses inspiration, design, trends, and tools — everything but the code. The show is hosted by Charles Perry and Joe Cieplinski. Each week it covers topics for the new or curious independent developer looking to make his or her way in the iOS and Mac ecosystem. Tips and tricks, success stories as well as failures.

Why I Like It: It covers a wide range of topics with really great perspectives. I’m always learning something new about the business side of software. Great hosts!

Core Intuition

Website: http://www.coreint.org

Description: A podcast about indie software development for the Mac, iOS and other Apple technologies. Hosted by Daniel Jalkut and Manton Reese.

Why I Like It: Daniel and Manton are down to earth hosts who have great chemistry and aren’t afraid to say it like it is. It’s always a great way to keep up on the latest trends and often discussion of the softer parts of being a developer. Lots of tomfoolery.

Honourable Mentions

The RayWenderlich.com Podcast

Website: http://www.raywenderlich.com/rwpodcast

Why It Missed The Top: It recently moved to two 20 minute topics per episode…and while the content and focus is great, I just find it a bit too rushed now. Still recommended!

Concepts In Code

Website: http://podcast.conceptsincode.com/size/2

Why It Missed The Top: It’s a great podcast that discussed really good best practices, but sometimes it goes a bit on a tangent and it’s also a bit difficult to just listen to since it relies on the github project discussed. Great discussion nonetheless!

Are there any I’m missing that you find are key? If so tweet them at me @jstheoriginal or leave a comment below. 🙌

P.S. I use Marco’s Overcast podcast app…if you do as well make sure to hit the Recommend button on these podcasts!

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Best Practices

The Style Guide for Prolific Interactive’s Swift Codebase

https://github.com/prolificinteractive/swift-style-guide

As my blog makes clear, I’m all about clean code and following best practices.1 Example: I always need to delete extra spaces between closing braces in my code. It must look perfect. 🙈

Prolific Interactive created a github repository that outlines their style guide for all of its Swift codebase. Great best practices. I align with most of what’s included, so take a look!


  1. I follow Ray Wenderlich’s Swift Style Guide found here
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Resources
Xcode: Navigating Through Your Project

Xcode can be a bit daunting at first when you’re starting out as an iOS developer. It’s a very complex and capable program, which means it can be hard to find what you’re looking for.

Thomas has some good tips for Xcode, including using landmarks (TODO:, MARK:, FIXME:), search, groups and callers—which all make it much easier to find what you’re looking for or what you need to come back to later.

Check it out!

Link
Best Practices

Thomas Hanning has a great overview of the use-cases for stored properties and computed properties here.

Essentially, stored properties allow you to perform actions as the property’s value is about to be set (using willSet {}) or after it has been set (using didSet {}). With computed properties, you can also calculate a new value on the fly without storing a default value.

Link
Best Practices, Tutorial Resources

Enumified TableView with Dynamic Prototype Cells in Swift

How I refactored my app’s Settings screen code to be much more flexible and readable, while unlocking a more complicated TableView at the same time! Win-Win!

I stumbled upon this amazing post by Frédéric Adda over at Nova Era called Structure Your UITableView Better with Structs and Enums in Swift as I was searching for a way to refactor the Settings page in my app, BB Links, to make it easier to add in new settings options anywhere, or change around any items/sections, without needing to manually worry about the section and row index numbers.

The linked post above explains how you can use enums and structs to replace the indexes for section and rows–it’s really cool!!! 😎 Exactly what I was looking for! Below is my implementation of it for my app’s Settings screen, and I took this concept even further later on in so I could easily have different Dynamic Prototype Cells! 😱

With this change, I can move any item to any section and change the order of sections and items all within a couple of seconds! To do that with section and row indexes requires a bunch of index changes which can get confusing to keep track of.

Here’s how I set it up in my app, first implementing the enums and structs, as Frédéric’s article suggested:

private enum SectionType {
  case Account
  case Other
}

private enum Item {
  case ManageAccounts
  case ActiveAccount
  case DefaultCountry
  case AboutMe
  case Donate
  case RateApp
  case ShareApp
}

private struct Section {
  var type: SectionType
  var items: [Item]
}

First, I created the SectionType enum which represents the different sections I want to have in the Settings screen. I have an Account section and Other.

Next, I create the Item enum which contains all of the different tableView rows I have in the Settings screen.

Lastly, a Section struct is created which is identified as containing a SectionType enum and an array of Item enums.

Once those three components were set up, the next step was to create an instance of an array of Section structs, which will hold the various sections in the Settings screen.

class SettingsViewController: UIViewController {
  private var sections = [Section]()
  ...
}

In the viewDidLoad() method, I assign the items that belong in each section:

override func viewDidLoad() {
  super.viewDidLoad()
  // Setup sections/rows for table
  sections = [
    Section(type: .Account, items: [.ManageAccounts, .ActiveAccount, .DefaultCountry]),
    Section(type: .Other, items: [.AboutMe, .Donate, .RateApp, .ShareApp])
  ]
  ...
}

The Account section contains the ManageAccounts, ActiveAccount and DefaultCountry tableview rows, and the Other section contains the remaining four rows.

Next up…the UITableViewDataSource implementation which I have as an extension to my SettingsViewController class.

// MARK: - UITableViewDataSource
extension SettingsViewController: UITableViewDataSource {
  func numberOfSectionsInTableView(tableView: UITableView) -> Int {
    return sections.count
  }

  func tableView(tableView: UITableView, numberOfRowsInSection section: Int) -> Int {
    return sections[section].items.count
  }

  func tableView(tableView: UITableView, titleForHeaderInSection section: Int) -> String? {
    switch sections[section].type {
    case .Account:
      return "Account"
    case .Other:
      return nil
    }
  }
  ...
}

For tableView:numberOfSectionsInTableView:, you just return the count of your sections array, which will be 2 as it contains my two Section structs.

for tableView:numberOfRowsInSection:, return the count of items in each section, and for tableView:titleForHeaderInSection:, I setup a switch statement to switch through the types, returning the name for each section. (For Other, I just wanted it to be blank, so I didn’t return a title).

Before I show how I used these enums and structs to help me easily implement three different dynamic protoypes, here’s how I implemented the UITableViewDelegate methods:

// MARK: - UITableViewDelegate Methods
extension SettingsViewController: UITableViewDelegate {
  // Goes to product detail when cell tapped
  func tableView(tableView: UITableView, didSelectRowAtIndexPath indexPath: NSIndexPath) {
    switch sections[indexPath.section].items[indexPath.row] {
    case .ManageAccounts:
      performSegueWithIdentifier("ManageCoachIDs", sender: self)
    case .ActiveAccount:
      performSegueWithIdentifier("DefaultCoachID", sender: self)
    case .DefaultCountry:
      performSegueWithIdentifier("DefaultCustomerCountry", sender: self)
    case .AboutMe:
      performSegueWithIdentifier("About", sender: self)
    case .Donate:
      performSegueWithIdentifier("Donate", sender: self)
    case .RateApp:
      rateApp()
    case .ShareApp:
      shareAppFrom(indexPath)
    }
    tableView.deselectRowAtIndexPath(indexPath, animated: true)
  }
}

I just switch between the section and row using the sections array, and perform my segues or functions for each Item. It’s all very clear what is what thanks to the Item enum setup earlier! I love it! ❤️ Without this setup, you’d just have combinations of sections and row index numbers and you’d need to keep track of which is which with comments. And don’t even think it would be simple to switch them around. With the way this is setup, it really doesn’t matter which order you put the case Items…it’s all handled by the way you place them in your section variable up in the viewDidLoad()! Brilliant! 🙌

For the final part, I’ll show how I easily implemented my three dynamic prototype cells, which are just a simple Basic Cell, a Subtitle Cell and Right Detail Cell (setup as such in the storyboard with appropriate cell identifiers):

Here’s how my storyboard is setup:

Storyboard

And implementation of tableView:cellforRowAtIndexPath::

func tableView(tableView: UITableView, cellForRowAtIndexPath indexPath: NSIndexPath) -> UITableViewCell {
  // Setup a cellIdentifer string to store the cell reuse identifier you want to use for each row.
  var cellIdentifier: String

  // Switch through each row and set the appropriate cell reuse identifier
  switch sections[indexPath.section].items[indexPath.row] {
  case .ManageAccounts, .AboutMe, .Donate:
    cellIdentifier = "BasicCell"
  case .RateApp, .ShareApp:
    cellIdentifier = "SubtitleCell"
  case .ActiveAccount, .DefaultCountry:
    cellIdentifier = "RightDetailCell"
  }

  // Populate your cell reuse identifier into the cell
  let cell = tableView.dequeueReusableCellWithIdentifier(cellIdentifier, forIndexPath: indexPath)

  // Switch through each cell, and implement the labels/setup for each row
  // The order of the cases is irrelevant!
  switch sections[indexPath.section].items[indexPath.row] {
  case .ManageAccounts:
    cell.textLabel?.text = "Manage Coach IDs"
  case .ActiveAccount:
    cell.textLabel?.text = "Active Coach ID"
    let coachID = dataModel.getActiveCoachID()
    if coachID != "" {
      cell.detailTextLabel?.text = coachID
    } else {
      cell.detailTextLabel?.text = ""
    }
  case .DefaultCountry:
    cell.textLabel?.text = "Default Country"
    cell.detailTextLabel?.text = dataModel.getDefaultCountry()
  case .AboutMe:
    cell.textLabel?.text = "About the Developer 💪🤓"
  case .Donate:
    cell.textLabel?.text = "☕️☕️☕️?"
  case .RateApp:
    cell.textLabel?.text = "Rate BB Links ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️"
    if let reviewCount = reviewCount {
      cell.detailTextLabel?.text = "\(reviewCount) people have rated this version"
      UIView.animateWithDuration(0.3, animations: {
        cell.detailTextLabel?.alpha = 1.0
      })
    } else {
      cell.detailTextLabel?.text = " "
      cell.detailTextLabel?.alpha = 0.0
    }
    cell.accessoryType = .None
  case .ShareApp:
    cell.textLabel?.text = "Share BB Links 🗣👥"
    cell.detailTextLabel?.text = "Know a coach who would love this app?"
    cell.accessoryType = .None
  }

  // Return the cell
  return cell
}

I love the way this worked because it’s clear exactly which row I’m working with, and I can quickly change the cell type by moving around the row Item where the cellIdentifier variable string is set in the first switch statement and changing its cell implementation details! So. Much. Clearer! 🙌

With all of this setup the way it is, adding new sections or rows is a cinch! I could totally rearrange this tableView to look completely different switching a couple of lines of code. The normal way would be way more difficult.

Here’s the finished result in-app:

Settings Screen Result

It’s now setup for quick modifications in the future! 🎉

If you ask me, enumified tableViews with dynamic prototype cells rock! 😎

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