NSBrief with Justin Spahr-Summers (Permalink)

GitHub for Mac developer Justin Spahr-Summers has been the featured guest on the most recent episode of NSBrief where he talks about libextobj, Mantle and of course ReactiveCocoa. If you haven't heard of these yet, let me give you a quick run-down:

libextobj is a library that seeks to extend Objective-C with patterns found in other programming languages. I think it's great to see someone push the envelope of what's possible in Objective-C.

Some of the more practical highlights include:

  • Safe categories, for adding methods to a class without overwriting anything.

  • Simpler and safer key paths & Compile-time checking of selectors

  • Easier use of weak variables in blocks

  • Scope-based resource cleanup, for automatically cleaning up manually- allocated memory, file handles, locks, etc..

  • EXTNil, which is like NSNull, but behaves much more closely to actual nil

Mantle, a model framework used in GitHub's Mac client, takes away some of the common boilerplate when dealing with JSON APIs by using convention over configuration. However, it's not incompatible with Core Data and can easily be used alongside of it.

Last but not least, ReactiveCocoa is a powerful library that brings the concepts of Reactive Programming to the land of rounded corners. By modeling behavior as values that transform over time, rather than mutable state held in variables, Reactive Programming can greatly improve the locality of your code and make it more concise. For this topic alone, the podcast is worth a listen.

I've been investigating ReactiveCocoa at SoundCloud recently and I think it's a powerful tool when dealing with asynchronous IO and complex user interactions – but more on that later.

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