Craig Hockenberry, Iconfactory

Craig H Photo_WWDCLogo-Iconfactory

Craig is a Principal and a Senior Software Engineer at the Iconfactory.

  • What do you currently do?

I work on Mac and iOS apps at the Iconfactory.

  • How did you get started in Mac and/or iOS programming?
I’m an old fart. I started writing code when I was 15 years old. In 1975, the smallest computer you could buy was about the size of a microwave oven.

I’ve been programming on the Mac since it was first introduced in 1984. In my early 20’s that machine seemed impossible: small, powerful and graphic. I had studied art in college and the Mac was the first machine that exercised both the logical and artistic sides of my brain. I was hooked.

In 2007, when the iPhone was announced, I wanted to write code for it as soon as I held it. It was obviously the future and I wanted to understand it. I did a Jailbreak and started using the crude tools we had at the time to start writing a Twitter app.

That Twitter app eventually became one of the first apps in the App Store and went onto winning an Apple Design Award.

  • What was the first app you created and what did it do?

Back in 1975, the first app I wrote made the LEDs on the front of an IMSAI 8080 blink in fancy patterns.

It was a painstaking process. There was no development environment like Xcode: I had to compile the code by hand and enter it using switches on the front of the computer. There was no debugger and it took me weeks to get it right.

But when I did, there was a sense of accomplishment that I’d never experienced before. There will be many times in the development of an app where you want to give up because it’s just so damn HARD. But don’t: the feeling you get when everything works will make it all worthwhile.

It feels so good that you’ll want to go through this painstaking process over and over again. In my case, at least until you’re 53. And each time you do, you’ll  get better at the craft of building software.

  • Where did you get the idea for the app?

For Twitterrific, the idea came in my favorite place to think: the shower.


I had just discovered Twitter and loved the service. But I didn’t like that it was running in a web browser because it was hard to locate on my desktop and there weren’t any notifications when a new message arrived.

So while I was bathing, I had an idea to use the recently announce Twitter API and small desktop window that I could call up with a hotkey. The rest, as they say, is history: the Iconfactory released the first Twitter app. And helped Twitter become what you see today (including coming up with the word “tweet”.)

  • What went well? What could have gone better?

The hallmark of good products is group of developers and designers that collaborate well on the same goal. I think we did that really well in the latest version of Twitterrific.

Of course, even if you create a great product, there’s always the chance that people won’t like it. It’s always hard when your pride and joy isn’t a hit. We’ve had our share of disappointment and it never gets easier. But don’t give up, if you’re like me, there’s always another idea!

  • What is your favorite among the apps you’ve developed?

xScope. I use it every day to make our apps look great.

  • What advice do you have for young people who want to make apps?

Start building and keep learning.

Follow Craig on Twitter and

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.


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