Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Non-Exhaustive List Of Things That Xcode Sucks At

I do a lot of cross platform development, ranging from PC to consoles to Mac/iOS, and as a result I've used a lot of terrible tools before. Some were early in the development cycle of a new platform so they were understandably rough around the edges. Xcode, however, is a whole new level of terrible. Device registration and provisioning is a pain but this is mitigated by not having to do it all that often.

  • It crashes. A lot.
  • No mixed source/assembly debugging. Having source interspersed with assembly makes it much easier to find your bearings and orient yourself with respect to your code. Mind you mixed listings shouldn't replace either source-only or assembly-only debugging, but should complement them.
  • Registers view is at the bottom of the watch window. If I'm in assembly land I don't want to see my symbolic locals, I want to see my registers. Allow me to put my registers front and center!
  • Focus moves from debugger command window when "step instruction" commands are issued from outside my own code. I have to re-click on the debugger command window every time I punch in "si". On what planet is this acceptable?
  • The debug menu says that control-F7 will step one instruction. Pressing control-F7 on my keyboard (ultra thin USB) does not step one instruction. In fact, it doesn't do anything.
  • Hovering over the debug icons say that pressing control and clicking "step into" will step a single instruction. But this isn't a sticky setting, so if I press control and click "step into" twice, the first time will step an instruction and the second will perform a source line step. Mondo fail.
  • It would be nice if the callstack window was separate from the thread selection control. This way it's quick to cycle among multiple threads to get an idea of where each one is without having to expand, and contract, multiple drop-downs.
  • Tabs with source files would be *super* *handy* for switching back-and-forth between multiple files when debugging. Often I find my self changing (enabling/disabling) breakpoints in separate files regularly as execution progresses and it's a huge pain to have to go back to the folder view to find my file.
The principle of least astonishment is a good guideline for putting together a good user experience, unfortunately whenever I have to use Xcode in anger it consistently astonishes me.

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