Brett Terpstra, AOL Tech


Brett Terpstra is a coder, writer and web developer. He works behind the scenes at blogs including Engadget, Joystiq and The Unofficial Apple Weblog. He also writes for The Unofficial Apple Weblog, and contributes to Macworld.

Brett develops Marked for Mac and recently co-authored “60 Mountain Lion Tips” with David Sparks for the iBookstore. You can find Brett as “ttscoff” on Twitter and, and at his website,

  • What do you currently do?

I’m a Senior Developer for AOL Tech, working behind the scenes on blogs such as Engadget and The Unofficial Apple Weblog. I write, blog and develop Mac apps in my free time. I tinker with code whenever I can (I don’t sleep much). You can find a lot of my projects at

  • How did you get started in Mac and/or iOS programming?

I got my first Mac in 2000 and started playing around. As I discovered the power of AppleScript and other scripting languages, I started to really dive into seeing what I could do. Eventually that led to developing standalone applications.

I learned just about everything I know about programming, for better or worse, to others who share their work on the Internet. As repositories like Github became more available, finding resources and examples became easier. I love finding code that accomplishes a task I need and picking it apart to understand how it works, and I do my best to pass along what I’ve learned in kind.

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

My first app, MoodBlast, was an AppleScript Studio app that served as an introduction to Cocoa for me. It was in the very early days of Twitter, when Jaiku and other services were still competition. It could post simultaneously to nine different social services, including Plurk, Twitter, Jaiku, Facebook and more. MoodBlast popped up a HUD with a hotkey and had a special syntax similar to a command line which allowed you to tailor your messages per service with just one string.

  • Where did you get the idea for the app?

There were just too many social services to keep track of. My initial version of the app only handled Twitter and Facebook, but it turned out to be quite popular among readers of The Unofficial Apple Weblog. I got a lot of ideas for new features from the conversations that took place in the comments there.

  • What went well? what could have gone better?

The development process was a blast (no pun intended). It led me to meet all kinds of people who shaped my future and became long-term friends in the development and blogging communities. I’d say it’s where I got my start.

I forgot to make any money on it, though. While great things have happened for me since, I often look back and wonder why it took me so long to start charging for my work.

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

Marked is my current favorite, and where most of my development time goes. I really enjoy building out the feature set and working to balance the advanced functionality with an elegant interface. It’s a challenge that I’ve given myself after realizing that my favorite apps did just that.

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

Take a great idea and figure out how to make it happen. It’s a lot easier to focus and learn techniques when you’re concentrating on a specific goal. Don’t copy and paste all the pieces, learn how they work and it will build a foundation for the next problem you want to solve.

Follow Brett 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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