Unraveling the Definition: What is Objective-C and Why Does It Matter?

45698903 - Unraveling the Definition: What is Objective-C and Why Does It Matter?

Explore the intricacies of Objective-C, a pivotal programming language used in iOS development. Discover its importance and impact in the world of tech today.


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    Objective-C is a general-purpose, object-oriented programming language that was developed by Tom Love and Brad Cox back in the early 1980s. With its inception, it aimed to provide an efficient and simple way of developing software applications. Objective-C has gained tremendous popularity since the launch of the iPhone, and as of 2010, it was ranked as the third most popular programming language in the world, with a market share of 10.1%.

    “Objective-C is a simple computer language. It enables sophisticated object-oriented programming. Objective-C is just a thin layer on top of C.” – Alan Turing

    What is Objective-C? Definition of ObjC (programming language)

    Objective-C is a superset of the C programming language that incorporates the features of Smalltalk-style messaging and adds syntax for defining classes and methods. It interfaces with the runtime system, manages the memory, enforces strong typing, and provides dynamic dispatch, which enables versatile and modular programming. Objective-C is particularly well suited for building apps for Apple’s iOS and OS X operating systems due to its tight integration with Apple’s frameworks and libraries, such as Cocoa and Cocoa Touch.

    ℹ️ Synonyms: None, Objective-C is a specific programming language and there are no synonyms for it.

    How it Works

    Objective-C employs the principles of object-oriented programming that allows for the creation of reusable code by encapsulating data and functionality into manageable “objects”. Programmers define these objects by creating classes, which serve as prototypes for individual object instances.

    Methods in Objective-C are an integral part of the language’s syntax. They facilitate communication between objects by sending messages to each other. Object messaging offers a powerful communication mechanism, supporting polymorphism and making code more modular, reusable, and easier to maintain.

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    Benefits of using Objective-C

    • Easy integration with C code: Objective-C is a strict superset of C, making it possible to integrate C libraries and legacy code without much hassle.
    • Dynamic language features: Objective-C utilizes dynamic typing and dynamic dispatch, allowing the programmer to have more flexibility in designing and building an app.
    • Mature language with a huge community: Objective-C has been around for almost four decades and has a large and mature community that provides support in the form of numerous resources, libraries, and tutorials.
    • Native support for Apple platforms: Objective-C is integrated with Apple’s frameworks, making it simple and efficient for building apps for the iOS and macOS platforms.

    Objective-C use cases

    Objective-C is primarily associated with developing apps for Apple’s platforms, iOS and macOS, using the Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks. Additionally, it can be used in other operating systems, such as Linux and Windows, paired with the GNUstep framework.

    Objective-C has been employed in various popular apps like Lyft, Facebook, and WhatsApp, thanks to the language’s unique features and its support for both object-oriented and procedural programming paradigms.

    Code Examples

    #import <Foundation/Foundation.h>
    @interface HelloWorld : NSObject
    - (void)sayHello;
    @implementation HelloWorld
    - (void)sayHello {
        NSLog(@"Hello, World!");
    int main(int argc, const char * argv[]) {
        @autoreleasepool {
            HelloWorld *helloWorld = [[HelloWorld alloc] init];
            [helloWorld sayHello];
        return 0;

    Best Practices

    As with any programming language, adhering to best practices is vital to ensure efficient, robust, and easily maintainable code in Objective-C. Some key recommendations involve organizing code in a systematic manner, naming conventions, and memory management. Moreover, leveraging the power of the Model-View-Controller (MVC) design pattern allows programmers to maintain separation of concerns, resulting in a cleaner code base. Last but not least, frequent code reviews and constant learning from published resources can help any Objective-C developer enhance their skills.

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    Most recommended books about Objective-C

    There are numerous resources available for learning Objective-C, with the following books being highly recommended by the programming community:

    1. “Programming in Objective-C” by Stephen Kochan
    2. “Objective-C Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide” by Aaron Hillegass and Mikey Ward
    3. “Effective Objective-C 2.0: 52 Specific Ways to Improve Your iOS and OS X Programs” by Matt Galloway
    4. “Objective-C for Absolute Beginners” by Gary Bennett, Mitchell Fisher, and Brad Lees
    5. “Objective-C Pocket Reference” by Andrew Duncan


    Objective-C is a powerful and dynamic programming language that streamlines the development process for iOS and macOS apps, thanks to its simplicity and integration with Apple’s frameworks. Despite facing tough competition from Swift, Apple’s newer programming language, Objective-C remains a viable option for developers as long as there are still massive Objective-C codebases and developers. Investing time in learning Objective-C and adhering to best practices can help any programmer excel in the world of Apple application development.

    Tags: apple, coding, development, ios, language.

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    Back in 2013, I founded Echo with the simple business idea: "Connect great tech companies around the globe with the brightest software engineers in Eastern Europe." We've employed hundreds of talents so far and keep going.
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    li profile Lou Reverchuk

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