Xcode Plugins – Supercharging your IDE

When I first started out in iOS development, interface builder was separate, the iOS certificating process was a nightmare, and CocoaPods had only just arrived on the scene.

Fast forward 5 years later and now I can finally do something about Xcode being ugly. Yay!

I received a comment earlier this year that Xcode was ugly. And Actually, they weren’t too far from the truth. See below for a comparison between vanilla Xcode and vanilla Visual Studio 2012.

Xcode 6

Screen Shot 2557-02-12 at 2.16.13 PM

Visual Studio 2012

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As you can see the differences are striking. UX aside, the dark theme and the orderliness of the page in Visual Studio is far better developed than that of Xcode. Of course, though, it’s been around much longer. But I digress.

Even the color palette is incredibly less awful. At least I can choose a dark theme!

ALCATRAZ TO SAVE THE DAY

http://alcatraz.io

It’s basically the package manager that Xcode never quite shipped with. Since being introduced into my workflow, this is possibly about as important to my day-to-day development as thinks like CocoaPods and maybe Carthage one day.

The point here is to begin using Xcode to really do smarter things.

You can find a pretty good article summarizing everything here: http://nshipster.com/xcode-plugins/

The Plugins I like

BBUDebuggerTuckAway

To fix a little quirk in Xcode that I never really liked. When you launch the simulator, the debugging console often comes up and stay up. On a non retina screen – especially now on a Macbook Air, my screen real estate is a premium and I can’t be bothered to take that extra 1 second to close the debugger every time I recompile my application. This solves that.

CocoaPods

Again, more of a nice to have. Strictly speaking, you don’t need CocoaPods integrated into Xcode, it’s definitely designed to be installed and handled on its own. So why the plugin? Again, the issue here is time. I could pop open Sublime or VIM and jot down a quick Podfile and run pod install – but that would shift my focus away from my app.

Plus CocoaPods is the de-factor equivalent of gems that never quite became official. Why it never did is beyond me, and is probably of another topic.

SCXcodeMinimap

Like Sublime? Believe in clean beautiful and balanced code? Get this. Seeing all your code at a glance definitely helps for getting a sense of balance and length when you’re in the thick of it.

VVDocumentor-XCode

Wow do I find documentation comments to be such a chore to format. I don’t even care what they might look like – even if they do look like Javadocs. I just want something that works when I it \\\ three times. Boom.

Oh wait, there’s more!

Okay, remember that color stuff I mentioned earlier? Well in Xcode 6 we kinda lost the ability in Xcode to easily modify out text colors (as if that was a straightforward thing to begin with!). Now, Alcatraz even handles different color themes you might use.

Like Sublime? Use Monokai Revisited

What’s next?

Well – I urge you to go ahead and go through and install Alcatraz and browse around and see what plugins are available. You’d be surprised as far as what works these days – and the different things you can integrate with.

Hate having to explore Cocoa Controls through the browser? Can’t be bothered to context switch? There’s a plugin for that