Review: Xcode 5 makes better, faster, stronger iOS and OS X apps

Major upgrade to Apple's IDE scores high with faster compiling, 64-bit support, easier debugging, source control integration, and automated testing

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Hardening the code

Xcode 5 provides better support for source code control and unit tests. This allows you to manage your code and harden it against edge cases or bugs that attempt to creep in as features are added. To achieve this, Xcode 5 has better integration with source control systems. You can easily log into a source control repository from the Xcode editor and use source control commands such as check out, commit, update, and discard. The editor can also display information such as who made a change in a specific line of code. Furthermore, you can check out source branches, create new ones, and commit them. This helps you keep track of changes in the code and makes coding errors easier to trace.

For unit test operations, a new Test Navigator lets you point and click to select the tests you want to run. After the suite of tests completes, you get a status report on which of them passed and which failed. Clicking on a test report takes you to the program's source code, where you can -- courtesy of the source control system -- drill down with the editor to specific lines of code.

You can now make bots that automate a sequence of app builds, test runs, code signing, and archiving operations. A bot is simply an agent that resides on an OS X Server instance, which can be the same Mac that is running Xcode. The bot manages the builds of the specified apps and executes tests on various Apple devices. When done, the bot then generates a results report. Bots are good for performing continuous regression tests or nightly builds. Because bots run on the server, they are out of the way, and the server is a good place to share test devices. The server also functions as a repository for various builds and error logs. No rocket science is required to set up a bot -- a wizard in Xcode 5 guides you through configuring one. A bot requires that the app's project be under source control.

A sum greater than its parts

Xcode 5 combines a number of significant improvements that make life easier for iOS and OS X developers and improve the applications they produce: better source control, faster builds that make faster code, simple gauges that can provide a wealth of insight into the operation of an app, improved automated testing to keep the bugs away. Taken all together, the result is that Xcode 5 makes iOS and OS X code development not only faster, but better.

Xcode 5 is available as a free download from the Apple developer website. To download code to an iOS device you'll need to register as an Apple developer, which requires a $99 fee.

This article, "Review: Xcode 5 makes better, faster, stronger iOS and OS X apps," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in application development and mobile technology at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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