- What do you currently do?
- How did you get started in Mac and/or iOS programming?
I bought a 128K Mac as soon as they were available in 1984 and fell in love with it. When Lightspeed C (later known as Think C) came out in mid-1986, I bought the multi-volume Inside Macintosh developer documentation manuals and dove in.
- What was the first app you created and what did it do?
Back in 1986, I wrote a shareware app called Evolutions. It was a text parsing app that allowed people to take plain text files, typically reports from other computers or services, and convert them into delimited files. Other apps at the time were slow and took minutes to process large text files and Evolutions parsed most in under two seconds. It was available for download on many Mac bulletin board systems at the time (no App Store back then). If people found it useful, I asked them to mail me $10.
- Where did you get the idea for the app?
My business partner had a company that used an IBM System 34 minicomputer and he was always downloading text reports that couldn’t be imported into Excel without preprocessing. Evolutions was my solution to this problem and I decided to make it generic enough for others to use it.
- What went well? What could have gone better?
The Mac APIs were tricky to learn and I stumbled about with the development process. It seemed like I was spending way too much time reading documentation and fighting to make certain controls to work on the dialogs. I was also concerned that my binary was getting too large at one point (it was almost 36K, yes kilobytes). There was also a problem with System 6 compatibility that was a bit tricky to resolve. These all look trivial to me today, but at the time I was overwhelmed.
Sales are what went well. I had very low expectations because payment was on the honor system, but people would mail me checks on a regular basis. They typically would also include a letter thanking me for Evolutions—some even paid $20 because they thought my price was too cheap. This feedback was intoxicating and fueled my desire to be an entrepreneur (I started five different companies and only two have survived).
- What is your favorite among the apps you’ve developed?
MoneyWell is my favorite app because I feel like I’m making a difference in peoples’ lives. Like the letters I received 25 years earlier, reviews and comments online drive me to keep improving our software and my development skills. Positive feedback is the greatest feeling in the world.
- What advice do you have for young people who want to make apps?
Find something in your life that is broken and build software around that. Don’t just build an app for money, you won’t enjoy maintaining it. Instead, create apps that you are passionate about and strive to make the experience using your apps delightful for your customers.
Help more girls learn software development. Contribute to the App Camp For Girls Indiegogo fundraiser, get a cool perk, and enjoy the feeling of having helped the next generation of software developers.