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Using openFrameworks for iPhone dev

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

[Also available at ITPedia. Watch video of the BarCampNYC4 presentation.]

This is an overview of getting set up using openFrameworks for iPhone development.

What is openFrameworks?

openFrameworks is a “a C++ library for creative coding”. It shares a similar philosophy with Processing (as a library for Java). The intended audience “are folks using computers for creative, artistic expression, and who would like low level access to the data inside of media in order manipulate, analyze or explore.”

There are good resources for reading more about it below, under the Resources heading. This article assumes basic knowledge of programming and of the Xcode development environment. You can simply follow along and launch the demo app, but you should really read the resources to understand the structure of a typical openFrameworks-based application.


iPhone native application development is typically done in Objective-C. Not pressing the merits and detractions of Obj-C, but it’s *another* language to learn. If you have code / experience working in C++ then you can use oF to migrate those programs to the iPhone somewhat painlessly. Arguably easier to begin working with – espeically if you’re coming from experience with Processing.

Why not?

However, if you already develop in Objective-C, then maybe you don’t need to use oF. OpenFrameworks is not as well documented as Objective-C (even though Apple’s docs are as dense as the proverbial stereo instructions joke). Certain applications are not as suitable (lots of hierarchal views) It’s very easy to overwhelm the iPhone if porting desktop oF code over.

Ultimately, however, this eliminates 90% of Obj-C. Still need to use Obj-C (or Obj-C++) to use iPhone interface widgets. Don’t worry about it right now. (more…)