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The Top Big Nerd Blog Posts of 2016


Jade Hill

This year, our Nerds really outdid themselves with their blog posts. We’ve had a lot of content to write about—Android Nougat, Swift 3, iOS 10, Elixir and more— and they didn’t disappoint. Check out the top developer blog posts of the year in each category:


Understanding Android’s LayoutInflater.inflate()

Avoid crashes, misbehaviors and misunderstandings when using LayoutInflater by learning to correctly use attachToRoot.

A View Divided: Adding Dividers to Your RecyclerView with ItemDecoration

One common task that isn’t as convenient in RecyclerView as it was in ListView is the addition of divider or offsets between list items. Fortunately, you can create your own dividers with ItemDecoration.

Customizing CoordinatorLayout’s Behavior

You don’t hear much about CoordinatorLayout, probably because when you use it, you generally don’t need to know many of the details. Things just work and they just work well. However, CoordinatorLayout is more powerful than it first seems.


Neural Networks in iOS 10 and macOS

Apple has been using machine learning in their products for a long time, and at WWDC 2016, they introduced not one, but two neural network APIs called Basic Neural Network Subroutines (BNNS) and Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) to allow developers to integrate machine learning into iOS and macOS apps.

Introducing Freddy, an Open-Source Framework for Parsing JSON in Swift

Parsing JSON can be tricky, but it shouldn’t be. We think parsing JSON should feel like writing regular Swift code, so we’ve introduced Freddy, a new open-source framework for parsing JSON in Swift.

Hannibal #selector

The selector is key to Objective-C’s dynamic runtime nature. It’s just a name that’s used, at runtime, as a key into dictionary of function pointers. Whenever you send a message to an Objective-C object, you’re actually using a selector to look up a function to call. Sometimes selectors bubble up in Cocoa/Cocoa Touch API, and you will need to deal with them in Swift.

Web Development

Getting Started with Elixir Metaprogramming

After spending a little time with Elixir, you might have found out its secret. Elixir embraces metaprogramming. In fact, most of Elixir is written in Elixir. Let that sink in.

Elixir and IO Lists, Part 1: Building Output Efficiently

If you’re going to build up some output and then write it to a file, write it to a socket or return it from a plug, don’t concatenate strings. Use an IO list to build your output quickly and with minimal memory usage.

CSS Sprite Management with Gulp, Part 2

Learn to use Gulp and Spritesmith to generate Sass that defines sprite sheets and customize Spritesmith to further customize the generated Sass.


UI Updates in a Multi-Window World

Until this year, it has been common practice to kick off and cancel UI updates during the foreground lifecycle of an activity. However, with the advent of multi-window in Android Nougat, the visible lifecycle is no longer as roughly equivalent to the foreground lifecycle as it was before. In turn, you should carefully consider what your UI is doing when your activity is visible vs. in the foreground rather than treating them the same.

Make It Spectacular: Choosing the Right Spec’ing Tool

Once you’ve finished designing your amazing UI, how do you ensure that it is implemented correctly? Handing a design over to development without documentation leaves a lot of details up to interpretation, but spec’ing your document correctly will help eliminate the guesswork.

tvOS: Use Case Considerations

Designing meaningful products for Apple TV requires taking into account many more additional factors than when designing for a mobile device. To prepare for this, there are some things to keep in mind when designing an app for tvOS.

Client Education

Which Programming Language Will Earn You the Highest Salary?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that app developers earn a median of $98,260 annually. With such a high salary, more and more people are beginning to learn the skills needed to obtain a position as an app developer. You may be considering doing the same, but which programming language should you choose?

The Big Nerd Ranch Approach to App Development Services

If you have ever thought about contracting with Big Nerd Ranch, you may have wondered what to expect. This post gives you a high-level view of how we build apps and why we do it the way we do and how it helps to ensure success for our clients.

Five Common Challenges That Will Sink Your App Development Project

Custom app development can get complicated, fast. Business needs and use cases must be taken into account, and technologies change rapidly. When projects enter stormy seas, they can often be steered back to safety, but not without costing time and money. However, many of these issues can be solved before they even occur by knowing what is expected of you.

Amazon Alexa

Did you think we would forget about all our work on the Amazon Alexa training? Not a chance. Our six-part series begins with Developing Alexa Skills Locally with Node.js: Setting Up Your Local Environment, which discusses the benefits of using a local development environment versus testing on a live server. The rest of the series walks you through how to build and deploy your first Alexa skill. Plus, you can go even deeper into Alexa development with the YouTube series on the topic.

Looking to 2017

Stay tuned to the Big Nerd Ranch blog for additional content as we move into the new year. Our Nerds are constantly learning new things, which means that they always have new information to share with you. And if you like what you see, consider learning from them in person! Our coding bootcamps and corporate training courses are taught by the very same people who write these posts!


Jade Hill

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