What is the difference between Cocoa & Xcode?

Discussion in 'Mac Programming' started by carterx, Oct 2, 2009.

  1. macrumors member


    Dec 4, 2006
    I'm looking to try and self teach myself the basics of Cocoa then get into some minor Mac App developing but what is the difference between Cocoa & Xcode? Should I be trying to learn the basics of Cocoa or Xcode or is it technicly the same thing.

    Just looking to get my feet in the water to at least start reading up on the basics.
  2. Moderator emeritus


    Jun 15, 2000
    In a nutshell:

    Cocoa is the library of code you use to write applications. Cocoa usually refers to user interface code, such as windows and menu bars, but it also refers to code that lets you work with various data types, such as arrays.

    Xcode is the tool, specifically Integrated Development Environment, that you use to write your code and turn it into an actual application.
  3. macrumors 6502a


    Oct 26, 2003
    Richmond, VA
    To put it another way, Xcode is an app that lets you write Cocoa, but Xcode also lets you write code for other frameworks, using other languages. Likewise, Cocoa doesn't have to be written with Xcode; it can be written in any text editor. However, due to many conveniences, you'll typically find most people writing Cocoa Apps using Xcode and Interface Builder.

    You'll definitely want to learn Xcode and Interface Builder, but these are typically taught as you need them in most tutorials on Cocoa. When you're first starting out, you'll probably be using a text editor and the terminal. Take a look at the guides section at the top of the programming forum for some helpful references as well as doing a search for learning to program Cocoa. There's a lot of really helpful information available on this site for beginners.
  4. macrumors 6502


    Jan 9, 2007
    Dorset, England
    In addition to the reply above that answers your query very well, just a thought on the book you may choose. I found Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X by Aaron Hillegass excellent. If you go for this, make sure it's the third edition you buy as the first two releases of this book are now seriously out of date.

    Good luck with your programming! :) Drink plenty of coffee... :p
  5. macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    If you can't figure that out, attempting to be a developer is probably not the best idea.
  6. thread starter macrumors member


    Dec 4, 2006
  7. macrumors 68040

    Apr 22, 2005
    Just to mince words, you don't write Cocoa- you write Objective-C code (or possibly another language) that uses Cocoa.
  8. macrumors 6502a


    Oct 26, 2003
    Richmond, VA
    You are correct, although it's pretty common to see that phrase with the implied meaning you stated. My apologies to the OP if that was a point of confusion.
  9. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 7, 2009
    Another way of looking at it, if it helps make it a bit more clear:


    C++ (programming language) using Microsoft Foundation Class library (provided premade functions) with the Visual C++ IDE (editing and compiling environment).

    C# using .NET Framework (which includes a class library) with the Visual Studio IDE.

    MacOS X:

    Objective-C using Cocoa library with the Xcode IDE.

    Bottom line is:

    Language, library, editor. Cocoa being the library and Xcode being the editor and compiler.
  10. macrumors 68040

    Apr 22, 2005
    XCode isn't a compiler, just an IDE. GCC is the compiler that XCode uses for your code.
  11. macrumors newbie


    May 14, 2012
    What's with the hate? Why discourage someone who asks sincerely for your help and knowledge?
  12. macrumors 604


    Nov 26, 2007
    I realize this post is 4 years old, but because someone else revised the topic today I thought I'd just mention that the compiler that Xcode now uses is Clang.
  13. macrumors 601

    Mr. Retrofire

    Mar 2, 2010
    Not in 10.9.

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