Apple has announced that starting August 30, 2022, developers can sign up for paid subscriptions to the Xcode Cloud service. Prices start at $50 per month and go up to $400. There is a free trial plan until December 2023.
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On June 7, 2022, the Xcode Cloud service, which is Apple's CI/CD solution, became available to developers. All this time, users were only available with a free plan for 25 hours of cloud computing per month. Now the company has opened up paid subscriptions that allow them to increase the number of hours to 1,000.
For now, the basic paid plan will cost developers $50 a month. The plan will increase the number of hours to 100. The maximum plan costs $400 and gives 1,000 hours. Until December 2023, there will be a completely free plan with 25 hours. After that, the plan will become a paid plan and will cost $15 a month.
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The company has prepared instructions to help understand the Xcode Cloud service and talked about how the hours of use are calculated. Along with this came guides on how to test mobile applications on the platform.
What is XCode
XCode is a software development environment for Apple operating systems. You can use it to write and check code, run programs, and describe graphical interfaces and their connection to code.
XCode - IDE: this is an acronym for Integrated development environment. It is the name of a tool that has everything you need both to write code and to build the finished project.
The environment is designed for the macOS operating system. Projects that are created with it, you can also run on iOS, tvOS and watchOS. XCode supports the programming languages Swift, Objective-C, C, C++, as well as AppleScript, Python, Ruby, and Java. Third-party developers have also implemented support for other languages, including older ones: Haskell, Pascal, Ada, and others.
XCode is available for free for macOS users from the Mac App Store. The current version as of March 2022 is 13.2.1.
Who uses XCode
- iOS developers, as well as creators of apps for Apple's smart watches and TVs: these are driven by watchOS and tvOS, respectively.
- MacOS developers creating new software for this OS or porting existing programs to it in Swift, AppleScript, and Objective-C.
- Developers in Python, Ruby, Java, and other languages who create cross-platform or web-based applications.
- Writing code quickly and easily with a dedicated text editor with syntax highlighting and checking, line counting, and other functions.
- Creating and organizing large projects that may include many files and folders. The environment helps you structure your work.
- Compiling or interpreting code, that is, converting it into a machine-understandable format.
- Code execution. With the help of the IDE you can run the program and track the results of its work.
- Debugging and testing - the work of finding and fixing bugs in the code.
- Creating graphical interfaces and relating them to the code.
- Automating the assembly of the finished project.
- Simplifying architectural and design tasks: they can be solved by auxiliary tools that visually show the structure of the code or project.
What XCode consists of
The tools that are present in this IDE are selected so that the developer could easily go through the whole cycle of creating an application, especially for Apple platforms.
Code Editor. It is similar to the text editor, but has a wider functionality. The code editor recognizes language syntax and highlights its constructions for better readability. It can signal syntax errors or give brief help about a particular command. It counts lines, has flexible options for navigating code, and performs many other functions.
In the editor, the programmer writes code and then saves it as a file in the desired format. XCode lets you open and edit it.
GUI Editor. XCode comes with Interface Builder, an interface editor by default. You can use it to quickly create GUIs for your programs. The editor contains sets - palettes of standard interface elements: you can create, customize and edit them.
The created interface can be linked to the code and thus a fully functional application can be created.
Support for programming languages. XCode programming is largely adapted for Swift and Objective-C - the languages most widely used in the Apple ecosystem. Also other programming languages are supported for comfortable use of the IDE.
Compilers. A compiler is a program that translates a written program into machine codes to run it. There are also interpreters - they, unlike compilers, execute the code line by line instead of converting it completely.
The IDE must have compilers for the languages it supports: without them the program cannot be run and tested in the environment. XCode uses the converted GCC, or GNU Compiler Collection: a free collection of compilers for popular programming languages.
Debuggers. A debugger is an integral part of any large-scale IDE, a program for finding and debugging bugs. You can use it for:
- trace code, i.e. execute it line by line;
- place marks or breakpoints in definite program fragments;
- track the state of entities at different moments;
- adjust the logic for tracing, stopping and other actions.
This makes it easier for the programmer to track at what point in time an error occurs in code and what it is related to. He can figure out how to fix it faster.
XCode uses a debugger based on GDB, or GNU Debugger, a free debugging software.
API. An API helps to link different services and software products together. The IDE should have APIs for different development areas. In the case of XCode, it is primarily the APIs that are needed for Apple programming: Cocoa, Carbon, and others. For example, they are used to connect the developer interface and code together.
Frameworks and libraries. These are additional development tools that help extend the language and add new features: functional and architectural.
XCode includes frameworks for creating server-side, desktop, and mobile software, programs for the Internet of Things and smart devices, neural networks, and much more.
Documentation. XCode by default includes most of Apple's documentation on the development environment and its tools. If you're learning from scratch, you'll have to check the documentation often, but it should be at your fingertips, not just for beginners.
Version Control. Version control systems allow several programmers to work simultaneously and introduce various changes into the code and then merge them. With systems, you can roll back to previous states, or have several "branches" of development at once. The most popular is Git. XCode supports Git out of the box: you can create "savepoints", rollback to them or merge versions directly from the IDE interface.
Simulator. XCode can be used to "simulate" the launch of an application on an Apple mobile device. This helps you understand how the application will work on a real phone or tablet, and test it better.
Swift Playgrounds. This is the name of the environment for learning and developing in the Swift language. It has a very distinctive interface, support for the SwiftUI graphical user interface framework and the ability to instantly display the results of the code. Swift Playgrounds includes interactive tutorials to quickly teach language concepts, and the environment is also suitable for experimentation and small projects.
You can create a "playground" in the same menu as the project.
Features of XCode 12 and 13
XCode 12 was released in 2020 and XCode 13 in 2021. In these latter, the environment has a slightly changed interface and new features:
- detailed analytics of everything that happens when you run the program, down to battery consumption;
- more convenient work with the graphical interface elements;
- improved auto-completion of commands, version control, testing and emulation of mobile devices;
- testing of purchases in in-app stores;
- vim mode, a popular text editor for Linux;
- the ability to create your own documentation, including languages to describe it, and much more.
You can read about the differences on the IDE page in Apple's official store. Different versions of the IDE are supported in different versions of macOS itself.
XCode in other OSes
XCode is officially developed only for Apple's operating systems. To run the environment on Linux or Windows, a macOS virtual machine is required. We do not recommend using unofficial builds of the IDE for other operating systems which can be found on the web.
There are also online services that provide a "virtual environment" of macOS with all its features. Linux and Windows users will be able to work in XCode with these.
Apple is developing a cloud version of the environment - Xcode Cloud. At the time of writing, the project is in closed beta testing. This means that to participate in the testing a developer must write to Apple which will decide whether they allow access to the product.
How to start using XCode
A macOS user can go to Apple's official store and download XCode from there. A paid developer account is not required for this: you need one to publish applications to the store. XCode is distributed free of charge.
After installing the environment, you can start a new project. The IDE looks like a kind of file browser with tabs, additional panels and tools. You can use the help section to understand it.
To work in any IDE, you need to know one of the languages it supports. To program for macOS or iOS, you need to know the peculiarities of those systems.