Ten Different Takes on Objective-C Since 2011

I thought it would be fun to post quotes from various articles/blog posts I found around the web about the Objective-C programming language. Objective-C is still my primary programming language. I would like to believe that for Swift to win, Objective-C does not necessarily have to lose. I cannot help but wonder if many are discrediting the language because it is simply a trendy thing to do on the blogosphere. Has the tone changed?


Alex Payne, when asked “Are you surprised at the popularity of any current languages?” during the preview of emerging languages for OSCON 2011’semerging languages track:

Alex Payne: I’m constantly surprised at the popularity and success of Objective-C. Almost everyone I know tells the same story about Objective-C: they started learning it and they hated it. They thought it was the worst of C and the worst of dynamic languages. And then eventually, they learned to love it. Most of the time, that software works pretty darn well, so who am I to judge? I’m pleasantly surprised by the continued success of Objective-C, and I think it should be taken as a lesson for the language designers out there.

*Blog Post Title: The surprising thing about Objective-C…
In the past few years, quietly, almost invisibly, Apple has transformed its Objective-C language into the best language available. I have been working with Objective-C since the release of the iPhone App Store in 2008. In that time Objective-C has evolved from a clunky, boilerplate-heavy language, into a tight, efficient joy. It is an amazing tool. Anything that I would not write in C I would want to write in Objective-C, were support available. The changes that made Objective-C this way are fairly recent. Basically, they were introduced in 2011, and weren’t supported by enough iOS devices until some time after that. Developers have been able to observe the new features only recently. So I am fairly certain that what I have to say is news.

*Blog Post Title: Apple Could Power the Web

It is interesting to note that both Java and C++ are losing ground while Objective-C is gaining significantly,€ said Don Babcock, a software engineer at Wake Forest University Health Services. €œI’ve always disliked C and C++ because of all the €˜warts€™ [pointers, memory management hassles, etc.] and I’m a longtime fan of Java [ever since the 1.1 days]. However, my new favorite language is Objective-C because it has all of the best advantages of both.€

*Blog Post Title: Objective-C Overtakes C++ in Programming Language Popularity
Though the Apple App Store is the main reason for the recent rise of the language, Eric Shapiro, technology chief of app developer ArcTouch, also argues that the language is easier to use than most. “Almost anybody can just pick up a book and learn [Objective C] basics,” he tells Wired. “That doesn’t make you an expert, but that does mean that so many more [developers] are familiar.”

*Article Title: iPhone Coding Language Now World’s Third Most Popular
Obj-C is a beautiful and simple extension to plain vanilla C, giving you both the simplicity of C, and the power of C++. It is a major reason why the Apple toolbox is as good as it is, and the apps work as well as they do. Don’t underestimate that.

Java looks more like an extension to xml, with its endless nesting. Where Obj-C teaches you good programming habits, java does the opposite. In even basic java templates, you will see methods with the same name. In my first project, made from Wenderlich’s tut, I never dropped below 200 warning. Two hundred. Inline overrides and methods might be good for quick fixes, but they will quickly turn your code into a bloated mess. There are no headers, to in a glance tell you what a class does, and you will in no time lose track of what you are doing. I could go on.


I strongly disagree that java is anywhere near as good a programming language as Obj-C. I actually believe, that the reason that I am a good programmer – NOT implying that you are not 😉 – is because I keep it simple. And for that, I need a simple language, and a simple editor. And a biscuit and some water …

*Cocos2d Forum Post in Thread Titled: 30 days of Android

I cut my programming teeth on Java, and didn’t think much of Objective-C at first, in large part because of its excessive verbosity: a line like

String s2 = s1.replace(“abc”,”xyz”);


NSString *s2 = [s1 stringByReplacingOccurrencesOfString:@”abc” withString:@”xyz”];

but I’ve grown very fond of Objective-C. It’s just better and cleaner than Java.

*Article Title: Android vs. iOS Development: Fight!
Android vs. iOS Development: Fight!

When the iPhone came out, the Objective C language became a hot topic. I was so excited about the thought of writing games for iPhone that I forced myself, despite wariness at [[funny foreign] syntax], to learn Objective C and begin writing a game. Boy was I surprised when I came to love Objective C’s simple elegance and powerful Foundation classes.

Now, after nearly three years of making games in Objective C with Cocos2D-iPhone, I’ve discovered Cocos2D-X and unearthed a whole new love for C++.


If Objective C is an automatic transmission car, then C++ is a manual.

One might argue that the automatic car is superior because it’s easier. However, that one hasn’t had the experience of clutching into neutral across a gravelly patch to avoid spinning the tires.

C++ has more speed and control, yet it requires a greater level of skill from the programmer.



Here’s another fundamental difference. Objective C is inherently more readable than C++ because method parameters are built into the name of the method. Consider:

// Objective C
[layer addChild:sprite z:1];
// C++
layer->addChild(sprite, 1);

*From the online book: How to Make a Platformer Game with Cocos2D-X
Even without knowing a thing about programming, it’s easy to understand this is a big deal: Apple’s current language of choice, Objective-C, has been in the mix for Macs since the launch of OS X, and for iPhones and iPads from day one. For Apple to throw out the developer playbook across its entire product portfolio suggests there’s a big change afoot — and many devs aren’t sad to see it happen. “[Objective-C’s] a real pain,” says Alex Chung, the co-founder of Giphy, who has created multiple iOS apps. “If you’re off by one character it all falls apart. It’s just really old school, you know, it’s like speaking Latin.”

*Article Title: The Swift effect: Apple’s new programming language means way more iPhone developers and apps
Indeed, Swift is much, much simpler than Objective-C, with syntax that barely appears like English to the average person. Here’s how you would print “Hello, my name is Swift” using the language’s print command:

let name = “Swift”
println(“My name is \(name)”)

You can see how it’s a little more understandable than the garbled Objective-C code below:

NSString *name = @”Swift”;
NSLog(@”Hello my name is %@”, name);

*Article Title: Go Ahead, Tim Cook, Write An App In Swift—We Dare You
Go Ahead, Tim Cook, Write An App In Swift—We Dare You
From a pure programming standpoint, you’re almost guaranteed to be more productive using Swift. Of course, if you’re an expert Objective-C developer, that might not be the case.

Swift is the obvious choice if you’re new to iOS and looking to get up to speed quickly. The language will stay out of your way allowing you to focus on the things that matter: making your app work the way you want it to!

*Blog Post Title: Swift vs. Objective-C
Swift vs. Objective-C

So which is it? Is Objective-C readable or too verbose? Is Objective-C complicated (like Latin?) or is it so easy that anyone can pick up a book and learn the basics? I personally did not find Swift any easier or harder than Objective-C when adding Swift support to Visual Attributed String. I wonder how much, if any, of the praise and criticism expressed in these quotes, has to do with influence from a very powerful, external force.