Love/hate relationship with Cocoa bindings

When I started ReceiptWallet over 6 years ago, I wanted to use the latest and greatest Mac OS X technologies, so I used Cocoa bindings to make it easier to bring the UI to life. Bindings allowed me to write less code and have UI elements updated automatically based on what was selected and other variables. Bindings work great for simple cases, but once things start getting complex, bindings almost become a problem. Bindings are quite hard to debug as there is no one place where you can see all the bindings and one slight change to the code can cause a crash; tracking down the crash can take hours. I had to write custom debugging routines to examine the bindings and eventually shipped a stable product.

Fast forward 6 years. This past week I wanted to write a simple app and choose to use bindings again to link up the user interface. This app didn’t do much, but it took me hours to figure out bindings again discovering that I had forgotten almost all I learned about bindings and the documentation wasn’t much help. My biggest problem was that I accidentally setup a binding for an NSTableView in addition to setting up a binding for the NSTableColumn. Of course, nothing warns you of this and debugging is a nightmare. I’m sure if I started using bindings again I’d get better at them, but with as infrequently as I write Mac applications, I’ll probably struggle the next time I attempt to use them.

Is there a simple guide I’m missing? Should I abandon bindings completely? I have no idea.

One Reply to “Love/hate relationship with Cocoa bindings”

  1. How about downloading the ‘wonderful’ 496 page Bindings reference from Apple for starters?

    It’s taken one week to get basic tutorials working and to get a small grip about what the hell is going on.

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