Monster iOS: The novel way to teach app development

Editor's Corner
Shane Schick

"But why can't I just eat his brains? Maybe I'll learn all about app development that way!" Oh, if only it were that easy. 

That quote comes directly from Monster iOS: A New Beginning, a new book written by Farim Farook that was published about a week ago. A programming guide written in the form of a fantasy/horror novel, Monster iOS tells the story of Dave, who is abducted by various characters including a vampire, a werewolf and a zombie and forced to teach them how to create an app for Apple's mobile platform. Think Twilight meets Jonathan Ive meets coding camp and you'll kind of get the idea. 

"They don't have any laws saying we can't learn iOS development," one of the monsters explains, referring to a group of mysterious overlords that control them. "We do have access to iPhones and Macs after all. But they do try to make access to development harder for the common folk. That's why we were so happy to find you!"

Bear in mind that this is not a book review. I did not read the whole book, and wasn't willing to spend the $25 to get it, but the first few chapters are available online for free, so you can get a sense of whether you'll want it right away. What I find most interesting about Monster iOS is what it says about the education of future app developers.

There are countless books about programming, most of them thicker than my old university macroeconomic textbook, and most of them are aimed strictly at the specialists. With the recent launch of iOS 7, there has been a sense that the transition to new versions of apps will be particularly difficult, even for experienced developers. To have a training manual in the form of a novel aimed at beginners coming out around the same time suggests the opposite: that plenty of room remains for everyday people to contribute to the growing app economy.  

Some of the best teachers have always known that telling a great story is integral to learning, and while Monster iOS is one kind of story, there should be plenty of others. They are the stories about individual developers and individual apps--the journey from concept to launch and how all app makers experience some "character development" (good or bad) along the way. They may not need to write a novel, but developers should share as many of these stories as possible to support each other through blogs, industry conferences and, not least of all, through interviews with FierceDeveloper

Telling these stories is important because, while teaching the next generation of app developers could become easier as platforms and tools mature, the common challenges of getting apps found and making money off of them are tougher than ever. Frankly, most developers would probably rather try to fend off a group of vampires, werewolves and zombies. --Shane