Objective-C Programming For Dummies
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When you write an Objective-C program for your iOS or Mac OS X apps, all you're doing is providing a set of instructions for the computer to follow. Fundamentally, programs manipulate numbers and text, and all things considered, a computer program has only two parts: variables (and other structures), which "hold" the data, and instructions, which perform operations on that data.

This Cheat Sheet provides some of the main aspects of Objective-C programming, including making a statement, built-in and new data types, operators, and more.

Making an Objective-C statement

Programming iPhone and Mac apps in Objective-C is about making a statement. You can recognize a statement in Objective-C immediately by noting the semicolon at the end:


You will see other lines of code, but unless the line ends with a semicolon, it is not an Objective-C statement.

Objective-C built-in and new data types

The variables you declare in Objective-C, Objective-C data types, must be a type that the compiler can recognize. Objective-C comes with a number of built-in data types, as well as mechanisms to create new ones, for programming your iPhone or Mac OS X applications.

Built-In Types
Type Description Size
char A character 1 byte
int An integer — a whole number 4 bytes
float Single precision floating point number 4 bytes
Double Double precision floating point number 8 bytes
short A short integer 2 bytes
long A double short 4 bytes
long long A double long 8 bytes
BOOL Boolean (signed char) 1 byte

Enumeration types

enum  typeName { identifier1, ... identifiern};

Identifiers are of constants of type int.


typedef  typeName  identifier;

Associates an identifier with a specific type.


const type  identifier  = value;
#define identifier value

Allows you to define names for constants.

Objective-C operators

Objective-C operators, like those in other programming languages, let you perform operations on variables (hence the name). Objective-C provides many operators, and keeping track of all of them can be difficult as you program your iPhone or Mac OS X apps.

Use the following tables to jog your memory as to which operator accomplishes what task.

Arithmetic Operators
Operator What It Does
+ Addition
* Multiplication
/ Division
% Modulo
Relational and Equality Operators
Operator What It Does
== Equal to
!= Not equal to
> Greater than
< Less than
>= Greater than or equal to
<= Less than or equal to
Logical Operators
Operator What It Does
&& Logical AND
|| Logical OR
Compound Assignment Operators
Operator What It Does
+= Addition
-= Subtraction
*= Multiplication
/= Division
%= Modulo
&= Bitwise AND
|= Bitwise Inclusive OR
^= Exclusive OR
<<= Shift Left
>>= Shift Right
Increment and Decrement Operators
Operator What It Does
++ Addition
*= Multiplication
/= Division
%= Modulo
&= Bitwise AND
|= Bitwise Inclusive OR
^= Exclusive OR
<<= Shift Left
>>= Shift Right
Bitwise Operators
Operator What It Does
& Bitwise AND
| Bitwise Inclusive OR
^ Exclusive OR
~ Unary complement (bit inversion)
<< Shift Left
>> Shift Right
Other operators
Operator What It Does
() Cast
, Comma
Sizeof() Size of
? : Conditional
& Address
* Indirection

Control statements and loops

In programming, as in life, you have to make decisions and act on them. Objective-C provides control statements and loops to help your program take action. You may want to repeat a set of instructions based on some condition or state, for example, or even change the program execution sequence.

Here is the basic syntax for Objective-C control statements and loops:

if else

if (condition) {
  statement(s) if the condition is true;
else {
  statement(s) if the condition is not true;


for (counter; condition; update counter) {
  statement(s) to execute while the condition is true;

for in

for (Type newVariable in expression ) {


Type existingVariable ;
for (existingVariable in expression) {

Expression is an object that conforms to the NSFastEnumeration protocol.

  • An NSArray and NSSet enumeration is over content.

  • An NSDictionary enumeration is over keys.

  • An NSManagedObjectModel enumeration is over entities.


while (condition) { 
  statement(s) to execute while the condition is true 

do while

do {
  statement(s) to execute while the condition is true 
  } while (condition);

Jump statements

return ;

Stop execution and returns to the calling function.


Leave a loop.


Skip the rest of the loop and start the next iteration.

goto labelName;

An absolute jump to another point in the program (don’t use it).


Terminates your program with an exit code.

Declaring classes and sending messages

Object-oriented programming languages enable you to declare classes, create derived classes (subclass), and send messages to the objects instantiated from a class. This is the essence of object-oriented programming and part of the object-oriented extensions that Objective-C adds to C.

To ensure that everything operates smoothly, compiler directives are available that enable you to inform the compiler of your classes by using @class and #import.


#import "Superclass.h"
@interface ClassName : Superclass {
instance variable declarations;
method declarations
@property(attributes) instance variable declaration;


#import "ClassName.h"
@implementation ClassName
@synthesize instance variable ;
method definitions

Message Syntax

[receiver message]


#import “filename.h”

Guarantees that a header file will be included only once.


@class ClassName;

Clues the compiler into user defined types.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Neal Goldstein is a veteran programmer and trusted instructor of iOS programming topics. He is the author of all editions of iPhone Application Development For Dummies. Karl Kowalski is a programmer who specializes in security and mobile apps and author of Mac Application Development For Dummies.

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