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Building Cocoa Applications: A Step-by-Step Guide

Garfinkel & Mahoney

The book looks hefty, but it's not. The authors have the pedigree of having authored the first wide-spread tome on NextStep over ten years ago, but they do not come through in this book. And the title does not belie the fact that the book looks only at three exclusively graphics-oriented application domains, and does not touch at all on most of the more important aspects of Cocoa.

The book is given the stamp of approval by ADC (Apple Developer Connection), but as anyone knows, although that can be good, it is most often the opposite. It also gets rave 'two thumbs up' reviews by friends of the authors on the back cover, but again, the astute computer scientist will not take such quotes all too seriously - a wise choice in this case.

Building Cocoa Applications weighs in at an impressive 620 pages, and given the paltry market for Cocoa programming books, this in itself may be enough to induce the potential customer to take a chance. Caveat emptor: Look first at the table of contents, and then page through the book. The actual 'programming content' is only 465 pages: The first 140 are wasted on a sightseeing tour of the Aqua interface from the point of view of the uninitiated user, and a 15 page chapter is devoted to explaining, in the most cursory terms, 'how Unix works'.

The book does contain better documentation than the Hillegass tome, but the expensive page layouts and screen dumps are given arbitrarily - that is to say, they are not necessarily what you need, only what the authors want, and much of this book is 'filler' and no more.

Entire pages are wasted on console dumps of the Unix command ps; other pages are wasted on larger than life dumps of Process Info; several chapters are wasted on how to use yacc and lex; and many so-called programming exercises are wasted on projects like 'write the documentation for your yacc utility'. If you want to learn Cocoa programming, this book is not where you go.

As perhaps the meanest of all possible insults, the authors - one of which holds a masters degree in journalism - seem to have deliberately embarked on a 'wordy' writing style to fill up even more pages - with senseless things. Wasting half a page on explaining why you would want to minimise other windows when you are working is typical of this (lack of honest) effort.

Building Cocoa Applications by Garfinkel & Mahoney gets the lowest possible rating.

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