WWDC Favorites?

I hope you’re all enjoying WWDC21 so far!

There’s so much to chew on, from SwiftUI improvements and additions, Xcode Cloud, RealityKit additions, Object Capture, Accessibility. AND BUILDING APPS IN SWIFT PLAYGROUNDS!

But I’d love to hear from you, what is the most exciting technology or thing they’re highlighting at WWDC this year?

Who knows, this might help us add things you care about to Teaching Develop in Swift Online in two weeks!

Build your own QuestionBot

Happy WWDC! It’s that magical time of year when developers working on Apple platforms have all their dreams come true!

Well, okay, maybe not, but we get a very fun week of new tech and demos and excitement about the platform.

If you’re watching all of this (or watching the people watching it and wondering what the heck is all the fuss about), we’ll probably have some words about it this week. But before that all kicks off, I threw a little playground up for you to experiment with, especially if you’re new to Swift, Apple’s programming language for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and AppleTV apps.

QuestionBot

There’s a really fun exercise in Develop in Swift Explorations called QuestionBot. In it, you build the brains of an app to answer whatever question a person might type in. You can make it super complicated, or very, very simple.

We use this exercise during our Teaching Develop in Swift online class, and it’s usually impressive how different the apps can be.

Well, now, even if you don’t have a Mac, you can play around with QuestionBot. I created a REPL on replit.com with some simple instructions so that you, too, can create a functioning QuestionBot. Try it out:

http://replit.com/@mhanlon9/questionbot

There are two files, just tap on the Code tab and you’ll see main.swift and QuestionBot.swift.

Those show you the brains of our app.

The fork button

If you want to edit the code, just tap on the Fork button, which will create a copy of the code. You need to create a free replit.com account or link it to your Google, Github, or Facebook account, if you have one.

If you want to change QuestionBot’s behavior: how it asks questions and how it answers them, look in the QuestionBot.swift file.

If you want to change something else about the program, maybe limit it to only allowing you to ask three questions, or only letting people ask it questions on a Thursday, you would edit the main.swift file.

Coding for All

I really like replit.com because you can use it with any device, and it’s a great way to get an introduction to Swift before jumping in with an iPad or Mac.

I’ll be recording a short video introducing the QuestionBot on replit.com in the near future, but in the meantime, good luck coding!

The Code Hub: Adventures! New Swift Playgrounds

Inspired by some recent teacher questions via email and Twitter, I threw together some more advanced Swift Playgrounds.

Adventures!

Right now there are two of them. As Swift Playgrounds, they’re designed to run in the Playgrounds app on your iPad, so you can take your code on the go with you, or monkey around with them in the Playgrounds app on your Mac. Playgrounds is a great environment for tinkering with code and it just keeps getting better and better.

I split them into a separate feed from our normal playground feed because the original is aimed at beginners, learning to code. This new set of playgrounds comes with fewer instructions and tackles more complex material.

Add the feed from our playgrounds page, if you’re on an iPad. If you’re using Playgrounds on a Mac, you can select File > Add Subscription… and add this URL: https://www.thecodehub.ie/playgrounds/adventures/feed.json

SwiftUI

The first playground tackles the @StateObject and ObservableObjects in SwiftUI, “the new hotness,” as my old boss would say.

In this playground, we use new files in the UserModule to create a model that will hold minutes for a timer (seconds, really)… we show you how to organize your code to keep the “model” in one place that you could use from multiple locations in your SwiftUI-based app.

UIView and Animation

The second playground shows off creating a UIView in code, making it the live view and animating an image view across the screen.

It’s a nice way to start playing with animation and checking out all the properties you can animate on a UIView.

More to Come

There are more to come, of course, this is just the start. Hopefully these playgrounds will give you an idea for what you can do with the Playgrounds app. Post-WWDC, I’m sure, we’ll have lots more goodies to explore all the fun new toys we have to play with.

So check them out and try your hand with some Swift code on the go!

WWDC21 Wish List

Last year we had a little wish list for WWDC, so I figured I would take a look at what we’d love to see today.

Last Year

Well, first, what did we get last year?

From our list, we did wind up getting new books, a whole load of them! Some didn’t ship during WWDC, but now we have Develop in Swift Fundamentals, Develop in Swift Explorations, Develop in Swift Data Collections, Everyone Can Code Adventures. That’s quite a lot of stuff to read through!

We even now have a huge resource in the App Design Workbook, which introduces app design process as well as a bit of SwiftUI in Playgrounds to keep you busy.

One thing on our wishlist was more dev on iPad, and Swift Playgrounds is still getting a lot of love, which is excellent, and getting more interesting with each release on both the Mac and iPad.

This Year’s Wish List

Okay, so what would we love to see this year?

Obviously I’m biased towards things that will help us teach coding, but I’ve got a few more this year I’d love to see under the proverbial WWDC Tree.

Swift Playgrounds

  • I would love to see an easier way to author Swift Playgrounds (like last year). I’ve run two sessions on creating Swift Playground Books, one with the Swift Playground Author Template and one by copying an existing playground book.
  • I loved the sessions on Swift Playgrounds last year, in particular the first in the Swan’s Quest series. It would be amazing to see more this year. Using those sensors is pretty amazing and eye-opening for a lot of students.
  • A Swift Playgrounds Community site: some sort of way to easily share Swift Playgrounds with students, fellow developers, where you can just show off your work easily, would be amazing. Think of it like a dynamic Swift Playground feed people could publish to easily from within the Swift Playgrounds app…

Xcode and teaching Develop in Swift

  • If Xcode had a remote sharing option, so the teacher or co-coder could observe one person typing, that would be an amazing addition to teaching coding. It’d be icing on the cake if we got the same with iPads and Swift Playgrounds, and I need to have a look at the Classroom app update to see if maybe that’s already done.
  • Some of these collaboration features would be a real boon to teaching people how to code, especially in as rich an environment as Xcode, so any more integration with Github, remote sharing, and the rest would be much appreciated
  • A web-based version, for those folks who want to try out Swift and app development, would also be amazing. I really like repl.it, especially with its implementation of the Swift REPL and readLine()… but it never hurts to have more options.

RealityKit and Reality Composer

  • Lastly, and by no means is this an exhaustive list, I would really, really love to see the ability to support more than one image anchor in a Reality Composer scene. We’ve had a few questions lately about supporting them inside the one Reality Scene… and while there are ways to handle this (multiple scenes for each image anchor you want to support, using code and loading ARImageAnchors yourself), this would be a really fun addition to an incredible app. Reality Composer makes it so easy to create engaging, robust experiences with very little to no code already, but a few additions would just ice the cake.

Now You

WWDC21

That’s our list, what do you want to see from WWDC21?

Teaching Develop in Swift Online – June Edition

We’re going to be back (online) teaching you how to teach the Develop in Swift material — Explorations, Fundamentals, and Data Collections — in June!

If you’re an educator thinking about teaching Swift and app development (or already doing it), this is a really fun, packed week.

Coming June 21st!

We’ll be holding hands-on workshops, lectures from the books, special sessions, and some takeaway projects you can run with your own classrooms.

Teaching App Development with Swift runs from 21-25 June 2021, from 8am to 16:30, Irish time, each and every day. You get a chunk of time in the middle of the day to work on your projects and finish anything you were working on in the workshops. And then in the afternoons we have some app showcases planned, where you can show off your work!

You can register here, and it’s all free.

We’ve brought back some old favorites and added some new activities that I really think you’ll like, so hopefully we’ll see you online!

Teaching and Presenting with Keynote

When I’m teaching teachers how to teach coding we spend a lot of time in Keynote.

The excellent Develop in Swift series, from Apple, comes with a whole set of keynote files for presenting nearly every lesson in the book. If you download the teacher materials from the Teacher Guide, you’ll find the slides, presenter notes, animations in the keynote files already, as well as Xcode playground-based labs for your students to try.

Now, if you’re new to the Mac, you might to be super familiar with Keynote. So I’ve put together a short video which you can watch below, or you can head off to YouTube, to help you orient yourself in Keynote.

I show you how to present on a Mac with only one screen so you can see your presenter notes, too. If you have an iPhone or an iPad, you might want to watch the Using Keynote Remote to Present video to see how to use the Keynote app on your device to remote control your Mac’s presentation.

If you’ve got all that down, but need help sharing your screen over WebEx, well, I’ve got a video for that, too.

Of course, if you’re new to the Mac or Keynote you’ll still need to get some hands-on practice, but at the very least this video above will start you out on the right foot!

Creating Xcode Playgrounds

On the back of our Swift Playground series, I created a quick video to show you how to create an Xcode Playground, like the ones you would use if you’re taking (or teaching) the Develop in Swift material.

You can watch it below or head off to YouTube:

You’ll find out how to create additional pages for your Xcode playground and how to create links between them so students can navigate.

Playgrounds are a great tool for teaching. The markup you’ll see in this brief video will show you how to author some of your own.

A few links from the video:

#SwiftStudentChallenge: How to Build a PlaygroundBook, Part 2

#SwiftStudentChallenge

Well, that was a ton of fun Thursday!

As some of the commenters mentioned, that is a daunting session. Xcode, Swift Playgrounds Author Template, mucking around in packages in the Finder, it can certainly be overwhelming.

But the goal of these sessions is to show you how you can create a playground book, for use on an iPad in Swift Playgrounds. And Thursday was definitely not for the faint of heart.

Like we mentioned in the description of the video, if you’re really creating a playground book, you’ll want to read the Swift Playgrounds documentation. That will give you loads more information on how playgrounds are structured, how your code will interact with the app when it’s running, and other cool stuff.

Part 2

Mac image
You will need a Mac for this session.

Like Thursday, we’ll be using a Mac for the next session. We’ll also possibly be using an iPad, to show you how to edit on the fly on your iPad. I haven’t quite thought that one through, though, so buyer beware.

The goal of this session will be to show you an alternative way of creating a Swift Playground Book, in case the other way was too overwhelming.

We’ll monkey around with a playground book and see if we can’t cobble something interesting together.

Ask Questions

Do you have an idea for your Swift Student Challenge but have some questions?

I can try my best to answer them on the air, come along and ask during the session!

#SwiftStudentChallenge: How to Build a PlaygroundBook

#SwiftStudentChallenge

Better late than never, let’s try a live session!

Tomorrow, April 15th, at 1pm, Irish time (2pm CET), I’ll jump back on the live stream (or jump right to the stream here). We’ll walk through creating a Swift Playground Book with the Swift Playgrounds Author Template.

The main goal of this session is to show you how to get ready for the Swift Student Challenge for WWDC 21

Get a Head Start

You will need a Mac for this session.

If you want to get a jump on the game, you can go and download Xcode, first and foremost, if you don’t have it already.

The next thing we’ll be working with tomorrow is the Swift Playgrounds Author Template. You can download this from developer.apple.com. You will need to have a free developer account set up, which you can do when you’re prompted to log in.

Building Your Playground

Other than those tools, you could come with an idea for what you want to build. The standard is high for these student submissions, but maybe the idea you implement this time becomes a mind-blowing playground book for WWDC2022. Or you learn how to build something your friends and family can run on their iPads.

Or are you looking for inspiration? Maybe seeing how we can build Swift playground books might jog some idea out of you.

Whatever stage you’re at, whatever ideas you have, feel free to join us tomorrow. Or if that time doesn’t work for you, catch the recording!

Ask Questions

Do you have an idea for your Swift Student Challenge but have some questions?

I can try my best to answer them on the air, come along and ask during the session!

WWDC21 Dates Announced!

Update: Due to the due date for submissions for the Swift Student Challenge, the live sessions will likely be the week of the 12th of April. See you then!

It looks like you’ll have another set of dates to block off on your calendar in June, in addition to the ones I told you about last time!

Apple has just announced that WWDC, their Worldwide Developer Conference, will be held online from the 7th to the 11th of June this year!

Details are scarce right now, other than the dates, as per usual, but there’s plenty of info about the Swift Student Challenge!

If you’re 16 years of age, here in Europe, 13 in the States, you can submit your playground to show off your skills with Swift. Last year we ran a lot of sessions talking about the Swift Student Challenge. If you’re curious, you’ll find it in the AR sessions.

#SwiftStudentChallenge

It’s just the nugget of an idea, but in late April and May I’m planning on returning to the live stream. We’ll work on some ideas for Swift Playgrounds that you (or your students) could use.

As I’ve only just had the idea of kicking it off, I’m still thinking through the content and format, but we can certainly show off some of the fun stuff you can do with Playgrounds.

If you’re a teacher, feel free to join the Teaching Swift Slack and drop me a note and maybe we can have your class on to talk about ideas for the Swift Student Challenge.

If you’re a student or you don’t want to join yet another discussion board, shoot me a note. I’d love to hear what people have planned or help you get started!

I’m always inspired by the work put in by these students, and would love to help more people strut their stuff.

Watch this space for more news and when we’ll be broadcasting, but it should be a lot of fun!