Xcode 5: 11 years in the Making

June 26, 2013 | By Joe | Filed in: tech.

Xcode has become a systematic update for Apple. Beginning in 2003, even before the Apple iPhone, Xcode has been in the lives of many Apple Developers. While the updates have become more subtle as the years go by, the product has continued to strive as the main program for people to create iOS and OS X applications, and it has also become a program people use for languages C, C++, Objective-C, Objective-C++, Java, AppleScript, Python and Ruby source code with support for APIs. For most people who download Xcode, the objective is simple.. make an iPhone application. This goal requires the use of Objective C and you can make use of code that has already been created as a basis in Xcode.Here are a few interesting statistics, as of June 2013 there are roughly 900,000 applications in the iOS app store and they have collectively been downloaded 50 Billion times. That’s no surprise to anyone who tuned into WWDC 2013, but what didn’t get spoken about on June 10, 2013 in any of the keynotes was a newer and more powerful version of Xcode. This means that Xcode is unused and unpopular right? That’s actually far from the correct answer, Xcode is the premier program for creating apps and proof of this is that it’s in the top 3 free applications in the Mac App Store.


Xcode found its roots in software designed for neXT, which Apple acquired in late 1996. Xcode was based on of something called Project Builder which had actually been more popular than Xcode at the release of 10.3 Panther. There was good reasoning for this. As with any 1.0 software, Apples software didn’t escape lag and early bugs. Xcode also had a learning curve which pushed to be disliked by the programming community. This changed when Apple released newer versions of Xcode.
Xcode 5 code ex

Xcode 2.0: Apple released the second version of Xcode with their new version of Mac OS X (10.4 Tiger) and at this point they introduced Quartz Composer. Quartz Composer is like any other programming language except it’s very visual so it requires more from your GPU. This means that your GPU must have 32MB of VRAM to be able to utilize Quartz Composer.

A few of Xcode’s other improvements with their 2nd version also included:

• unit testing targets
• shared precompiled headers
• conditional break points
• watchpoints.
• dependency analysis.

Xcode 3.0: Xcode 3 was released with Apples updated version of OS X (10.5 Leopard) in 2007. The main updates were Objective C 2.0 which included a cool feature called garbage collection which overrides memory used in parts of the program that have been deleted, or won’t be used. Before this, programmers were stuck going through and manually managing their memory usage. Message Bubbles was also a capitalized feature because it showed programmers where their problems were instead of simply notifying them that there was an error.
A few of Xcode’s other improvements with their 3rd version also included:

• Project Snapshots
• New Compilers
• Static Program Analysis

Xcode 5

Xcode 4.0: Overhaul, this is the word that could be used to describe Apples 4th version of Xcode. Apple actually announced it at the Developer Tools State of the Union address. The main features they detailed were that they had combine all Xcode tools into one application, and some other enhancements that they thought justified a price point of $4.99 for everyone who wasn’t in their developer program. After this, Apple changed their mind and made Xcode 4.1 free when OS X Lion was released.
A few of Xcode’s other improvements with their 4th version also included:

• Automatic Reference Counting
• Updated SDKs
• Bug Fixes
• New Objective C features for iOS

Xcode 5 dev preview

Xcode 5

Xcode was secretively released onto the internet on June 10, 2013. I’ve been testing the developers preview of Xcode 5, and while what I say should be taken as a grain of salt, here’s what I’ve found. The new debugger is feels quicker than Xcode 4 This time around the LLVM compiler seems to have a slight edge compared to the previous version of Xcode. The message bubbles (released with Xcode 3.0) are even more precise which makes the debugging process a bit less painful. You are also given a very clean backlog of the times that you ran your program, it tells you if the build failed or succeeded. For someone trying to find where they messed up, this is great to have. The menu is cleaner and simplified. It does away with organizers and a few other things int he top menu bar.
An interesting note is that non-retina iPad will not be supported in future seeds of Xcode 5.
A few of Xcode’s other improvements with their 5th version will include when it is released:

• Assistant Editor
• Interface Builder
• Fix-it
• Open Quickly


Xcode is there when you need it, but it’s an application that hides from the eyes of people who’d rather not see it, and even then it has made it to the top of 3 “top free” in the mac app store. That’s saying something about the general enthusiasm for programming. Overall, Xcode is a product of Apples idea of improving a product instead of abandoning it. That’s why I’m writing an article on 10-year-old software that has been meticulously updated over the years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *