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Apple NDA too probitive for iPhone developers?

updated 09:40 pm EDT, Thu August 7, 2008

Developers dislike NDA

The iPhone development community has seen large growth since the introduction of the SDK. The App Store has seen many great third party applications released but developers are now starting to run into problems while trying to to innovate new functions. All developers who download the iPhone SDK are required to agree to a NDA that does not allow developers to discuss code on forums or through email. This means that if a developer is unsure of how to code a certain function then they have no where to look for assistance.

Developers have become quite vocal about their frustrations, one developer, Justin Williams, even started a site as a way to showcase his fellow developers' frustration with Apple. He did not figure the site would see many visitors and only last about a week, but ever since it was found it has been commented on and linked to through Twitter.

Brian Dear of Eventful has praised Apple for the tools they have provided but feels as though he would be capable of more without the NDA. "We want the developer community to be a lot like the open source developing community where you can help and talk to one another about the best way to do things," Dear says. Dear even claims that a certain user interface enhancement for his project needed to be dropped simply because no one on his team could figure out how to implement it.

Dear also urges "Apple to transition from its current position to one of supporting and encouraging a thriving, open developer ecosystem for the iPhone." He believes that opening up the NDA would allow developers to create much more expansive, feature filled and bug free apps.

by MacNN Staff



  1. A grain of salt

    Joined: Dec 1969



    "Justin Williams, even started a site as a way to showcase his fellow developers' frustration with Apple."

    I just went to this site and all I found was heap of unintelligent dribble and bad language. If these people believe that Apple will respond to that style of prompting, then I believe they are fooling themselves. A well constructed site for developers to put forth intelligent, well thought out, comments about how the NDA is holding them back may have some impact. What I saw though, is at it very best sad and pathetic.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    What is the point of even having the NDA for the SDK, since pretty much anyone can download it? NDAs are usually done to keep new stuff secret, not diminish the ability of your developers to actually produce products on the current platform.

  1. QualleyIV

    Joined: Dec 1969



    "We want the developer community to be a lot like the open source developing community where you can help and talk to one another about the best way to do things,"

    When he says "a lot like the open source [] community", what he means is we would like the whole openness thing, but we sure don't want to give up the huge goldmine that is the iPhone development paradigm.

  1. ViktorCode

    Joined: Dec 1969



    NDA is irrelevant to the quality of iPhone apps. While having open forum discussion is handy for part-time upstarts this category of developers rarely produce top notch products, no matter the OS. More dedicated developers (or those with enough free time) would carefully examine Apple development documentation and samples and will participate in mailing lists that cover every topic left untouched by the documentation. Perhaps this is a bit discriminatory, though personally I see this like a flood gate against crapware, i.e. positive thing.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The headline

    I think you meant "prohibitive"

  1. sribe

    Joined: Dec 1969


    dumb comments

    ViktorCode has no clue at all--full-time professionals from big-name companies have questions all the time, if he were subscribed to any of Apple's development lists he'd know this. Documentation is never 100% complete and accurate.

    But the original article exaggerates too, because we do have a place to ask questions: see, there's this company called Apple, and they have email...

  1. ViktorCode

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I am subscribed to Apple mailing lists. I am full time developer. From a big name too. So according to you "I know".

    As for documentation never being 100% complete and accurate - have you ever opened some API reference? Most likely it was complete, though it doesn't teach you how to program because it doesn't have to.

    Also, did you try to find useful programming info for anything from Apple on open forums, that haven't been covered in Apple documentation already? If you tried and found something I would be very grateful for a link to this wondrous resource.


  1. slur

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Um, use your iPhones?

    Perhaps these frustrated developers can come up with a way to use their - uh - iPhones to collaborate and share information. They could even just set up a private list of cel phone numbers on their web site and call one another. That would avoid conflict with the NDA terms and be a really good use of their talent, time, and effort.

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