AILW: Learning in the Dev Forums

watchOS series

This is Part Two of a new series I’m doing here on my blog called As I Learn WatchKit.

One of the most productive venues I’ve found for keeping up to date with the state of things with WatchKit is its section of the Developer Forums. Back when Apple development was under a pretty strict NDA this was essentially the only semi-public place to discuss new platforms. As those rules have relaxed things like Stack Overflow have also sprung up for asking questions and working through issues. However, the official Developer Forums are still probably the most useful for one single reason…the evangelists.

Apple’s developer program has a dedicated group of engineers focused on helping us learn and take advantage of their new technologies. These are the people who’s job it is to help us make great apps for the platform. While you can always reach out to them directly (their email addresses are at the end of every WWDC presentation) it is often more efficient (for us and them) to learn from other people’s questions.

This is where the the Developer Forums are great resource. While the evangelism team does do some communication via things like Stack Overflow, their primary focus seems to be helping in the Forums. This is the best place to go and ask questions about how a technology is intended to be used. Also, it is the quickest way to work out if some strange behavior you are seeing is intended or a bug. I’ve saved countless hours of banging my head against the wall by checking the forums as soon as I hit a weird issue, only to find it is a known bug.

A little ‘trick’ I use to keep an eye on what the evangelism team has said here is to bookmark the profile pages for a handful of the Apple folks that I find particularly useful. Whenever you are browsing in the Forum and you see a person with one of these avatar pictures:

It means they work at Apple. You can then click on their name:

To see their profile page containing all the posts they have made. I’ve built up a reasonably large collection of these that I will periodically go through. This saves me from having to search through dozens of unrelated forum topics to find the things said ex cathedra.

David Smith