Busy day over in Cupertino, not only have we seen the public release of iOS 4.3 but Xcode 4 is also finally out. There have been two GM builds, the last released only a week ago, so we knew the final release was imminent. The build number (4A304a) is the same as the last GM build so it should not be necessary to download again.
Xcode in the Mac App Store
One curious thing about the release is that Apple is making it available through the Mac App Store for $4.99. To be clear, if you are a registered Apple developer (for the Mac or iOS) you can still download it for free. My initial reaction to this though was who is going to buy Xcode?
If you are interested in developing iOS or OS X apps for the App Store you are going to have to register sooner or later and at that point you can get Xcode for free. My guess is that Apple is hoping to encourage new developers to play with Xcode 4 before joining (and paying for) the registered developer program. But in that case why not just make it a free app in the App Store?
The other question this raises is whether Xcode will continue to ship with future versions of Mac OS X such as the upcoming Lion release? Then again I guess (or maybe fear) that Lion will also be a Mac App Store download so perhaps we should not be surprised that Xcode is now a separate download.
The other concern I would have about getting Xcode via the App Store would be the updates. It makes me nervous to thing of the Mac App Store pushing me updates of Xcode. I feel that is something I should control myself especially as having multiple versions of Xcode installed is very common. Of course you are not forced to accept an update from the App Store but I would not want to make a mistake whilst upgrading to the latest version of Angry Birds and also prematurely update my production copy of Xcode.
Xcode 3 is not dead yet
The Apple developer pages now point you towards downloading Xcode 4 but maintains a link to also download Xcode 3 if you want it. It will take a while for everybody to move over to Xcode 4, partly because of the learning curve but also because a lot of people are still experiencing issues. What I have not yet seen is any announcement from Apple that Xcode 3 is no longer supported for App Store submissions. The iOS 4.3 SDK is of course available for download with Xcode 3.2.6 but I wonder if future releases will be? Since we are already hearing rumours about iOS 5 it would not surprise me if that is the cut off point for Xcode 3.
Now that the NDA is lifted I will start posting some of my notes on transitioning to Xcode 4 over the coming weeks. For now I am maintaining Xcode 3 as my main install under /Developer and I have Xcode4 installed under /Xcode4. I guess I will keep it that way at least until Lion ships in the summer.