Objective-C — programming languages in a nutshell

6 December 2021

The Objective-C programming language is one of the oldest languages ​​that is used in the IT industry. It is an extension of the C language with the possibility of object-oriented programming based primarily on Smalltalk. It was created in the early 80s in a certain IT company and is for general purpose. Apple uses it for its operating systems such as OS X, iOS and APIs: Cocoa and Cocoa Touch.

When analysing the syntax of this language, two extensions that interact with the C language should be mentioned, square brackets used to call methods and the @ sign that allows you to call definitions declared just for Objective-C. This is the features that many developers have taken advantage of. Special types have also been introduced, which are unique references for an object already created from the C language.

Objective-C is also based on Smalltalk where the syntaxes are very similar, for example by characteristic multi-word methods. Note that, unlike Smalltalk, only what is provided by the overlay remains an object. It is worth adding that Objective-C does not have a language standard, as the two concepts of Apple and Steostone develop independently.


The oldest, but is it forgotten?

In 2014, Objective-C remained one of the most popular programming languages ​​in the world. When the Swift language entered the market, developers reached for it, which resulted in both languages ​​being placed further on the ranking list. Even though Objective-C has no longer been Apple’s main language for over 4 years, it is still used effectively.

This is probably due to the fact that rewriting most of the codes in existing projects would be expensive and not profitable, so it seems right to make it possible to use both the old and the new standard. If we follow the job offers for an iOS developer, we will probably notice the requirement to know both Swift and Objective-C. This is probably due to the fact that many projects work on both of these languages ​​and some are written in Swift, and older parts of the code are kept in Objective-C.

Objective-C’s syntax and similarity to other languages.

Swift coders notice a great resemblance to Objective-C, and this is a valid observation, as Swift was build on the foundations of this language. It retains such solutions as ARC and closure lambda. There are also tools which came directly from the C language, i.e. pointers, memory management, and others. It is known that some of the old code is still kept in this language, as it would be unprofitable to rewrite everything from scratch. There are also tons of libraries available for use by developers. Just browse the list of libraries available on the CocoaPods dependency manager. If you are fairly familiar with Swift, chances are that many of the Objective-C solutions will be quite simple for you.

Assuming you know C or C++, the memory management issues will seem simple. So if you are familiar with all the differences, then you will easily get used to the syntax, and you can easily start using Objective-C tools in your projects.


Is Objective-C worth learning even though it is an old language?

It all depends on the purpose of this education and the starting position as a programmer. For someone who wants to learn programming for iOS or another Apple systems, it is advisable to pay 100% attention to Swift 4. If you already know Swift 4, it’s a good time to start learning Objective-C. For many years, it has been used to create software and applications for Apple. At the same time, a bunch of new frameworks and libraries were created. Even today, most of the apps in the App Store are those written in Objective-C.


In conclusion

Objective-C is generally a simple computer language that offers the possibility of advanced object-oriented programming. It is a set of extensions for standard ANSI C language, and it’s mainly based on Smalltalk, one of the first languages. The language we’re talking about today was designed to give C the full power of object-oriented programming, and to do it simply and directly.

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