Microlearn for Swift: Learn with videos and the Martin Lexow app

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It has been a few months since I left Martin Lexow received the email that I could test his MacApp "Microlearning for Swift". A short post Martin's Youtube videos are already on my blog and I installed the app at the time so that the voucher code doesn't expire, but I only recently took a closer look at it. The reason for this was that I started planning the Sir-Apfelot app and was confronted with the programming languages ​​Swift and Objective-C.

The aim of the whole campaign: learn Swift! But what is the best way to start?
The aim of the whole campaign: learn Swift! But what is the best way to start?

Why do I want to learn Swift?

Fortunately, I don't make my living from programming (otherwise I would probably live under a bridge), but I've always been interested in the subject itself. In the past I had even struggled with assembler on the C64 for a few years as a hobby, but now so much has happened with the programming languages ​​that I am starting from scratch. Only a little understanding of logic and experience with PHP could be seen here as an advantage over other beginners.

Since I have the possibility to program both Mac and Apple Watch as well as iOS apps with the relatively new programming language from Apple called "Swift", I think there is a good reason to get closer again deal with programming.

Objective-C or Swift?

One of the questions that got on my fingertips at an early age was whether to study Swift or Objective-C. The Internet hasn't been terribly helpful with this, as I've had many supporters of Objective-C, but as many are enthusiastic supporters of Swift. Without further ado I wrote to Martin Lexow and asked him for his opinion. I thought to myself, if anyone here can give a well-founded tip, it is him.

Objective-C or Swift - which programming language should you choose? I chose Swift.
Objective-C or Swift - which programming language should you choose? I chose Swift.

His statement was that Objective-C is much more represented on the Internet because it is simply over 30 years old. Accordingly, there are many voices who break a lance for this programming language. According to Wikipedia, it was developed back in the 1980s, while Swift wasn't introduced by Apple until 2015. So 30 years versus 3 years - at first it sounds like Objective-C is reliable and serious, while Swift is more for hipsters.

My concerns were because Objective-C might be superior to the relatively young Swift in terms of "power" and certain projects can only be solved with ObjC (abbreviation). But Martin was able to reassure me here too: From his point of view, you can develop just as complex software with Swift as with ObjC and it is also less complicated and easier to understand in use. For complete newbies like me, Swift would be a better choice for this reason.

Learn Swift with video tutorials and examples

Now that I've decided on Swift, it made sense to pull out Martin's "Microlearning for Swift" app and check it out. And since I've already worked through several chapters of the app, it's time for me to write a small review of the app and give you additional tips for learning the Swift programming language.

In a nutshell, Microlearning for Swift is a collection of videos and learning materials accessible in the form of a Mac app. The advantage of the app compared to YouTube is that you can quickly see which videos you have already watched, and videos that have started can be quickly identified with a progress circle and watched further. Code snippets are also available that can be tried out directly in Xcode - a feature that no YouTube video can boast of either.

And "micro learning" is a well-considered name, because the app wants to bring the viewer closer to the Swift programming language in very short chapters with video running times of a few minutes (sometimes only 2 and sometimes 5 minutes) without spending a lot of time "at a time". must take for learning. The app invites you to watch a chapter or two from time to time to get a little further in your "Swift studies".

If you want a little insight into the app, this "teaser" video (which, by the way, is only 5 minutes long) is a good choice:

Why the app is better than Youtube

As already indicated above, the app offers some "features" that a YouTube video does not have: On the one hand, Martin asks for certain terms in the video whether he should explain them in detail again. You can then acknowledge this directly with the displayed buttons "Explain", "Repeat" or "Continue" (see screenshot below).

For specific technical terms, a button can be used to call up a detailed explanation.
For specific technical terms, a button can be used to call up a detailed explanation.

On the other hand, files with example code are supplied directly with the video by the micro-learning app. You will find a "Files" button for the respective chapters in the video, which you can click on. After that, a "Save" dialog will appear in which you can decide where the .playground file (Swift Playground) should be saved on the Mac. So you can understand directly in Xcode what Martin explains in the video.

The micro-learning app provides sample code in the form of playground files.
The micro-learning app provides sample code in the form of playground files.

Clear and suitable for beginners

What I really like about the app - which, by the way, was also implemented with Swift - is the visual design and the explanatory style of Martin, who doesn't lack a pinch of humor. The videos are provided with overlays and code examples so that you can get further information while watching them.

I have to admit that I was a bit "rushed" by the videos at first, because the cuts are made very quickly one after the other, so that you actually get a lot of information in two to five minutes. In addition, Martin is not exactly a "Rüdiger Hoffmann" when it comes to the number of words per minute. Both together mean that the videos show a decent pace and you really have to pay attention to catch everything.

Luckily, Martin has an understandable pronunciation and he assured me that all the breathers and "ums" that were cut off wouldn't have really contributed much to the learning success. For this reason, the speed of the videos is desired and not a coincidence.

If you are like me, then don't get stressed and just look at one or the other chapter again. So far I've gotten most of it after the first time and only had to repeat a few chapters.

The progress indicator in the app shows how far you have come in a chapter and whether you have already worked through it completely. The display of the chapter length helps you decide whether you can still manage a chapter or not.
The progress indicator in the app shows how far you have come in a chapter and whether you have already worked through it completely. The display of the chapter length helps you decide whether you can still manage a chapter or not.

My and other reviews of the app

Micro learning app iconI have read through various sources that report and judge the app. Sometimes I found the reviews to be quite harsh. In some reviews it was read that you could learn all of this with Youtube or from a book. Yes, that may be ... you can also attend a VHS course, but they are just different things. If you take a book to study, you usually have no learning success in periods of three minutes. You already have this with the app, as the information is prepared accordingly for this period of time.

The videos are really well made for this. The sound is flawless and what is said is also visualized through fade-ins. So far I have not seen a Youtube video on learning from Swift that was so well structured didactically - except for the ones that Martin himself made for free on his Youtube channel Is available.

And on the subject of books: one does not exclude the other. For example, I am someone who likes to learn with videos and then still has a book to leaf through certain things. In terms of depth of information, books are usually always superior to a video, but I simply enjoy a video tutorial where I am entertained audiovisually.

With screen recordings, the app also shows how to move around in the Xcode program. A very helpful addition for beginners, otherwise you will quickly be overwhelmed by the many options in Xcode.
With screen recordings, the app also shows how to move around in the Xcode program. A very helpful addition for beginners, otherwise you will quickly be overwhelmed by the many options in Xcode.

My conclusion

I'm currently running version 1.0.0 of "Microlearning for Swift" on the Mac. Since I was there quite early, I still know a version in which there were only 10 chapters. Now the number of chapters has grown to 22 and Martin just wrote to me a few days ago that he is producing numerous new chapters again. So it's a project that's slowly growing.

If you need to know everything about Swift right now, you should perhaps look for an alternative or supplement to the app. But if you - like me - are not pressed for time, you can buy the app from Martin Lexow (it currently costs EUR 24,99) and is happy every few weeks when new videos appear in the content.

So that you know which chapters already exist, I have put together a small list here (as of March 13.03.2018, XNUMX):

  • Microlearn for Swift (App Presentation)
  • Why programming
  • Why Swift
  • Install Xcode
  • Program Developer
  • Create a playground
  • Create Project
  • Variables and constants
  • Strings
  • Integer and double
  • tulips
  • Dictionaries
  • arrays
  • Boolean
  • if-else query
  • Optional
  • for loop
  • while and repeat loops
  • Features
  • Comments
  • Xcode Basics
  • StatusBar demo

As you can see, the basics have been explained so far. According to Martin, there are still many chapters to be added and then also cover advanced topics. For me as a Swift newbie, for whom almost everything is new territory, there are already enough chapters to give me an insight into the programming language.

I also really like that Martin starts “at the very beginning”. He explains why programming is so important today, how to install Xcode, and even how to join the Apple Developer Program. In fact, my questions started with the developer program. :D

If you are now interested in the “Microlearning for Swift” app, take a look here or sign up for my newsletter. I will be giving away a free code for the app in the next newsletter.

[appbox app store id1252806618]

Complementary learning materials: book and Udemy

As already mentioned, I like to learn new programs or the like with multiple media. Martin's app is certainly a very good choice for the micro-learning department. Nevertheless, I would like to suggest a few additions to this.

Book

If you are still looking for a book for your Swift learning adventure, you can take a look at "Swift 4" by Michael Kofler. I found this 1300-page tome as a recommendation in various places and will also get it when I have a little more time to deal with Swift. Martin's app can certainly provide a quick introduction to Swift, but more in-depth information is often available in book form.

Tutorials on Udemy

Another great source for tutorials is the Udemy portalwhich is a collection of video tutorials for almost any topic. I've already got myself courses there for Premiere, Lightroom, and photography, as well as filming with drones, and I'm thrilled with the way they learn. Most of the time, I use the Udemy app on the iPad to watch the courses. The progress is also recorded there and you can stop or continue at any time. Only in the short time you learn you don't learn as much as with Martin's app. If you still want to pay a visit to Udemy, you will find it here Swift 4 courses on Udemy.

Udemy is actually international, but there are even numerous German courses on Swift that cover programming for iPad, iPhone and Mac (prices on the screenshot may of course have changed in the meantime!).
Udemy is actually international, but there are even numerous German courses on Swift that cover programming for iPad, iPhone and Mac (prices on the screenshot may of course have changed in the meantime!).

Tip: You can even find it on Udemy a special course on “Core Data” - a topic that is currently still missing in the Swift book mentioned above.

objc App Architecture - English Ebook

I also received a tip for further reading directly from Martin. If you feel at home in English and like to read ebooks, you can here at objc.io drop by. I didn't buy the ebook because I prefer to use German books. Surely there is one or the other reader among you who will be happy with it.

The ebook "objc App Architecture" is also available in a more expensive version with videos.
The ebook "objc App Architecture" is also available in a more expensive version with videos.

Swift Playgrounds iPad app

As a last recommendation, I would like to mention the iOS app "Swift Playgrounds", with which Apple offers a free app that is suitable for a playful approach to programming. In principle, this is a game in which you program a character to perform certain tasks. For example, she has to press switches, collect jewels and use teleporters. In this way, one learns commands and functions, which in turn summarize a series of commands. And abstract thinking is encouraged too, as you have to imagine the character moving across the playing field with the program.

The Swift Playgrounds iPad app is a playful approach to learning about programming in Swift. The app is free and can be downloaded from the app store.
The Swift Playgrounds iPad app is a playful approach to learning about programming in Swift. The app is free and can be downloaded from the app store.

I definitely think the app for children is a fun introduction to programming. However, children under the age of 10 are likely to be overwhelmed quickly, as you have to think a bit abstractly to solve tasks that go beyond the first five levels. Nevertheless: A very nicely made (and also free!) App that is definitely worth a look.

[appbox app store id908519492]

I hope I have collected enough information for you. Actually, the article was only supposed to be a small presentation of Martin's Mac app, but now I've digressed a bit again... I'm sorry if it "was off topic", as my German teacher used to say. ;-)

 

 

 

 

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