I’ve been wanting to learn how to build apps for iOS for quite a while now. I even have ideas for what they could be, but it’s always seemed very daunting to learn a whole programming language. I’m not a coder and as a graphic designer, very much a visual person.

However, Apple’s recent SwiftUI platform, announced in 2019 has made the idea much more appealing. As someone who, back in the day, built websites in Dreamweaver with basic knowledge of HTML this seemed like it could work for me.

So I did some research of the best ways to learn. There were free courses. Thorough looking ones on LinkedIn. (One of which I actually started) But most didn’t approach it with the excitement and visual flare that you would expect. The designs were often pretty terrible too.

Then I found Meng To. Meng has been designing, coding and teaching for years now and is fast amassing a small empire. He has created a video tutorial set for a decent price that takes you through building an app from scratch.

So this is part one of my journey. I hope by the end I’ll have an app - though that may be well into the future. But this should be a fun journey. If you’re a dev maybe it’s interesting to see a complete newbie - who can only code basic HTML - learning a completely new language. If you’re a newbie maybe you’ve been interested in doing the same. Hopefully I can be the canary in the mine for you.

Here we go.

Week 1

Set up

There’s a certain way to learn these things and you often have to work out what’s best for you. Since I wanted to work along with Meng I set up the videos on my iPad below my iMac screen. This proved to be not great. Meng goes at a decent pace but if you miss something and want to pause or rewind it’s not efficient to reach out and touch the iPad.

After several screen arrangements including a second monitor, I settled on the below arrangement on one screen.

My screen setup

Opening the videos in VLC allowed me to change the speed to 85% which I found to be the perfect for me to keep up with. Having it in the same window also meant I could quickly command-tab to VLC and press the space or back arrow should I get left behind.

First impressions

I’m very early in the process but what struck me about SwiftUI is how powerful it is and how you can create really compelling layouts or animations with only a few lines of code. With just 150 or so lines of code (with some chunks being actual duplications) I was producing a great looking card/wallet style  interface with wonderful animations you would see in the best apps. It’s quite an experience and definitely spurs you on - “Well, I’ve created this so why don’t I create this next bit since I’m here?!”

You can create really compelling layouts or animations with only a few lines of code.

The course is also really well designed. Meng is a designer so he’s taken the time to create a great looking app, one you could see being in the App Store. That makes any new things you create even more exciting. Meng is enthusiastic but very methodical, explaining everything and why along the way.

Meng To's Designcode Website

So that was my first week. I’ll be back soon with part 2 and more detail on exactly WHAT I’m learning. I’ll keep the posts shorter in the future after this intro one. That way I can post more frequently.

Meng To is on Twitter and you can check out the course here.