UI Designer plugin for AppCode is available in early preview

! Update: AppCode 3 released with an integrated UI Designer !

We have exciting news for all Objective-C developers who use AppCode as their IDE of choice—for some time we’ve been working on one of the most desired features: UI Designer.

Today we are going to share with you the first early preview of it. For now, it is available as a plugin which you can already download and play with. The work is still in progress, and at the moment there are some limitations, for instance, plugin only supports .xib format for iOS platform from Xcode 3 up to Xcode 4.6. Support for .xib format for iOS platform from Xcode 5, .xib format for OS X and .storyboards is on its way.
Now, here’s a number of things that you can already do with the plugin:

  • Adding new component to Canvas or Component Tree with one click.
  • Move, Delete, Copy and Paste operations within Canvas and Component Tree.
  • Powerful Properties Editor allows editing any number of selected components.
  • Component Tree, which shows the hierarchy of components.
  • Component Palette with all the components supported by iOS SDK.
  • Creating/editing/deleting connections between components.
  • Creating outlet or action for a component in an Objective-C class that is specified for File Owner.
  • AutoLayout support.

Watch this short overview of AppCode UI Designer in action:

Installation instructions:

  • Update AppCode to 2.5.3.
  • Open Preferences | Plugins and click Browse repositories… button, then use Manage repositories… button to add the following custom plugin repository: http://www.jetbrains.com/updates/appcode-updates.xml
  • Find AppCode UI Designer plugin in the list and click Download and Install button
  • Restart AppCode.
  • Enjoy!

The plugin is still under construction, and we need your feedback on it. We encourage you to try the new UI Designer and tell us what you think via forums or tracker.

Sincerely,
The AppCode Team

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23 Responses to UI Designer plugin for AppCode is available in early preview

  1. sacred says:

    Amazing news) Finally!

  2. Andrew says:

    So excited for this! Have been waiting for the opportunity to completely drop Xcode.

  3. Raymond says:

    Great, hope .storyboard support coming soon.

  4. Daniel says:

    This looks really great, guys!

    One thing I’ve never understood is why there isn’t any sort of method provided by Apple for making custom components that have a drawn preview appearance in Interface Builder, the way the default UIKit components do. And why I can’t expose properties in my own custom classes for editing through the Interface Builder inspector pane. For example, something like a custom chart component that is configurable with color options, chart display type options, etc. that could be dropped into Interface Builder where those options can be modified and a preview of the resulting chart object could actually show in the view instead of an empty bounding box.

    So…is there any chance of UI Designer having some of these features that are missing from Interface Builder? Specifically a way of specifying a preview appearance for a custom UIView subclass, UIControl subclass, etc. and a way to expose custom properties in your Properties Editor?

    Since you’ve reverse engineered how Apple is setting up editable properties for their own built-in components, and how to display the dynamic preview of the built-in components, is there not a way to open this same methodology up to custom components?

    • Anton Makeev says:

      Daniel, it’s early to say about such advanced features – we’re only in the preview phase at the moment. But your suggestions are very welcome in our issue tracker anyway.

    • Jon Gilkison says:

      They used to have this when Interface Builder was stand-alone. They took it out when they integrated it into Xcode.

    • Jasper Blues says:

      @Daniel,

      +1 : I’ve been waiting for Interface Builder to support custom views (and render some sort of visual feedback – even an associated design asset) too.

      Without this the value of IB/StoryBoards is diluted – I only use it for simple cases/rapid prototyping.

  5. Edu Garcia says:

    I think this is a nice improvement, but I can’t understand why is one of the most wanted features. We can do the same with Xcode right now (I know, you can also code with it, but that’s not the point) and the experience is not that bad.

    I’d certainly like more bugs solved than an UI editor. I know you’re not going to drop work on main features, but obviously if you spend more programming resources on this, you’ll spend less on the core itself.

    Anyway, nice work as usual :)

    • Peter says:

      Yeah, I don’t see myself using this, either. There’s so much room for improvements in code editing, why waste time re-implementing Interface Builder?

      I hope you guys have some ideas on how to actually beat Interface Builder.

  6. Hongya Cui says:

    Amazing.
    but “New XIB format support is not implemented yet” :(

  7. Paul says:

    Very cool, and catchy music too!!

  8. Pawel Kata says:

    That’s awesome news! I’ll wait for full storyboard support, though.

  9. akhenakh says:

    Great news but need storyboards support ore useless !

  10. Bimawa says:

    YA kon4il!

  11. Bimawa says:

    I love you JB more and more…..

  12. Fabio says:

    This is SO awesome! Can’t wait!!

  13. Pavel says:

    Really hope to see integration of storyboard as soon as you can.

    Good luck, you bring the amazing IDE to developers life !

    - See more at: http://blog.jetbrains.com/objc/2013/12/ui-designer-plugin-for-appcode-is-available-in-early-preview/#comment-21670

  14. Eugen Martynov says:

    I suppose it doesn’t support Xcode 5.1 xibs now. At least I was not able to open them in AppCode

    • Anastasia Kazakova says:

      Blog post was introduced before Xcode 5.1. So, you can try it only with Xcode 5.0 or 4.6. But we are working over 3.0 release and the EAP build that should come out soon where we are going to have UIDesigner integrated with Xcode 5.1 support already.

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