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AppCode vs Xcode: A Comprehensive IDE Showdown

Author
SPEC INDIA
Posted

November 3, 2023

Updated

March 11th, 2024

When it comes to iOS and macOS app development, choosing the right integrated development environment (IDE) is crucial. Two of the most popular choices for iOS and macOS development are AppCode and Xcode. In this blog post, we’ll compare these two IDEs to help you make an informed decision about which one is best for your development needs. Ultimately, the choice between AppCode and Xcode will depend on the specific needs of your project and your personal preferences as a developer

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Xcode: An Overview

Xcode is Apple’s official IDE for iOS and macOS development. It’s a free IDE tightly integrated with the Apple ecosystem and offers a wide range of tools and features for building apps for Apple devices. Xcode is the go-to choice for many iOS and macOS developers due to its official support and seamless integration with Apple technologies.

A Quick Walkover of XCode :

When we create a new XCode Project, the following window is shown which provides the target information of the XCode Project. It shows every project information including Bundle Identifier, App version, Build Version, Signing Information, Deployment Information, Linked Binaries and framework information, and application launch icons.

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Above the target information, there is a pane of project information which shows all the information about the project given in the following image. It contains information about the iOS version for which the application is created. It also contains release information.

Standard Editor :

The standard editor is shown in the middle of the window. As the name suggests, it is the standard editor of the project in which the project files are edited. It contains the information about the file commented at the top and the initial View Controller class file with the lifecycle method created. (The lifecycle methods will be discussed later in this tutorial. At the topmost pane of the Standard editor, the hierarchical information about the project file is shown. It can also be used to open other files in the same editor. However, we can also navigate to other project files using the project navigator.

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Assistant Editor :

The Assistant Editor is mainly used to create outlets of the storyboard components (Text field, Label, etc.) in the corresponding View Controller class file. However, the Assistant editor facilitates us to look at two files in the editor simultaneously.

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AppCode: An Overview

AppCode, on the other hand, is an IDE developed by JetBrains, known for its powerful IDEs for various programming languages. AppCode is primarily focused on Swift and Objective-C development for iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. While it’s not an official Apple product, it offers a compelling alternative to Xcode, with features aimed at improving developer productivity.

A Quick Walkover of AppCode :

The most convenient way to install AppCode is via the Toolbox app. From ToolBox, you can install and manage different versions of AppCode and other JetBrains IDEs. See more in Install using the Toolbox App. Another option is to download the AppCode installation file from our website. See more in Standalone installation. You can evaluate AppCode for free for up to 30 days. After that, you need to buy and register a license.

To be able to work with AppCode, you also need to install the supported Xcode version and launch it at least once. AppCode uses the same project model and synchronizes all changes with Xcode. You can work simultaneously in both IDEs and jump back and forth – AppCode will synchronize the changes and make sure everything is up to date.

Open an existing project in AppCode

From the Welcome screen, click Open Project.

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  • Alternatively, when the IDE main window is open, select File | Open or File | Open Recent from the main menu.
  • Select the .xcodeproj or .xcworkspace file or a directory containing these files.

Check out a project from Version Control

You can download sources from a VCS storage or repository.

  • From the Welcome screen, click Get from Version Control. Alternatively, when the IDE main window is open, select VCS | Get from Version Control from the main menu.
  • Select your version control system from the list that opens.
  • Enter a path to the sources and click Clone.

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Look around

When a project is open, you can see the main window divided into several logical areas.

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The Project tool window on the left side presents your project in a familiar way as Xcode does.

Customize your environment

Feel free to tweak the IDE, so it suits your needs perfectly and is as helpful and comfortable as can be. Go to AppCode | Preferences to see the list of available customization options.

Appearance

Go to AppCode | Settings | Appearance and Behaviour | Appearance to select the UI theme: IntelliJ Light, macOS Light, Dracula, or High contrast.

Editor

Go to AppCode | Settings | Editor to adjust the editor’s behavior. A lot of options are available here, such as drag-drop enabling, scrolling configuration, color configuration for each available language, tabs and code folding settings, code completion behavior, and postfix templates. For more information on the editor settings, see Editor Basics.

Code style

Code style settings can be defined for each language under AppCode | Settings | Editor | Code Style. With settings, you can have your code automatically formatted as you type, without any additional actions. You can also create and save your coding style schemes.

Keymap

AppCode uses the keyboard-centric approach, meaning that nearly all actions possible in the IDE are mapped to keyboard shortcuts.

AppCode supplies you with a default keymap. Select Keymap Reference from the main menu to see the whole list of predefined shortcuts.

However, you can always change it in AppCode | Settings | Appearance and Behavior | Keymap. There are various predefined keymaps, such as Xcode, Emacs, Visual Studio, Eclipse, or NetBeans, and you can also create your keymap based on an existing one.

Write code with smart assistance

The following features will help you save time and avoid errors when writing code.

Code completion:

There are two types of code completion in AppCode: basic ^ Space and smart ^ ⇧ Space. Basic completion works as you type and complete any symbol instantly. Smart type-matching completion analyses the context you’re currently working in and offers more accurate suggestions based on that analysis. It filters the list of functions and variables to match the expression type.

AppCode vs Xcode: Key Differences

  • Language Support:

Xcode:

Xcode primarily supports Swift and Objective-C, the two main programming languages for Apple platform development. It offers robust tools and integrations for these languages.

AppCode:

AppCode is renowned for its extensive language support, including not only Swift and Objective-C but also other languages like C++, JavaScript, and HTML. If you work with multiple languages, AppCode may be more versatile for you.

  • Code Assistance and Refactoring:

Xcode:

Xcode provides excellent code assistance and refactoring tools, but some developers find AppCode’s suggestions and code analysis to be more advanced and accurate.

AppCode:

AppCode is famous for its intelligent code assistance and refactoring capabilities. It can detect code issues, suggest fixes, and automate repetitive tasks, which can significantly boost productivity.

  • Code Navigation

Xcode:

Xcode offers solid code navigation features, including jump-to-definition, find-references, and code folding. However, some developers prefer AppCode’s navigation capabilities.

AppCode:

AppCode excels in code navigation. It provides quick navigation between classes, methods, and symbols, making it easier to understand and work with complex codebases.

  • Version Control Integration

Xcode:

Xcode integrates seamlessly with Git and other version control systems, offering features like source control history and branching.

AppCode:

AppCode also supports Git and other version control systems but is renowned for its advanced Git integration, making it a preferred choice for teams that heavily rely on version control.

  • Third-Party Plugins

Xcode:

While Xcode does support third-party plugins, the plugin ecosystem is not as robust as that of AppCode.

AppCode:

AppCode has a vibrant plugin ecosystem, allowing you to customize your development environment with various plugins and extensions.

  • Performance

Xcode:

Being an Apple product, Xcode is optimized for macOS and offers excellent performance.

AppCode:

AppCode’s performance is generally good, but it may be slightly slower than Xcode for certain tasks.

AppCode vs Xcode: To Sum Up

The choice between AppCode and Xcode ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you’re deeply embedded in the Apple ecosystem and primarily work with Swift and Objective-C, Xcode is a strong choice due to its official support and seamless integration.

However, if you value advanced code assistance, cross-language support, and extensive refactoring capabilities, AppCode could be the IDE for you. AppCode’s strong points lie in its versatility and productivity-enhancing features, making it an attractive option for developers who work with multiple languages or require advanced code analysis.

In the end, both IDEs have their strengths, and the right choice depends on your individual workflow and development requirements. It’s worth trying out both IDEs to see which one aligns better with your development style.

Remember that your choice of IDE is a personal one, and what matters most is your comfort and productivity while developing iOS and macOS apps.

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Author
SPEC INDIA

SPEC INDIA, as your single stop IT partner has been successfully implementing a bouquet of diverse solutions and services all over the globe, proving its mettle as an ISO 9001:2015 certified IT solutions organization. With efficient project management practices, international standards to comply, flexible engagement models and superior infrastructure, SPEC INDIA is a customer’s delight. Our skilled technical resources are apt at putting thoughts in a perspective by offering value-added reads for all.

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