Jeff is an independent developer working on OS X and iOS apps.
- What do you currently do?
Currently I am working on a Mac application, called Netboard. I have been developing for IOS for the past 5 years, and thought it would be great to get back to the Mac, so to say.
- How did you get started in Mac and/or iOS programming?
I actually started back in the early 1990s on a system called NeXTStep, which was the basis of both OS X and IOS today. My first official app was a media manager I wrote for the Mac for a media player we were building at a company I founded. Then I built a series of tools for embedded systems work we did at the company.
- What was the first app you created and what did it do?
I have had the privilege of creating two IOS apps:
The first IOS app I create was for the music service Rhapsody. I thought “wouldn’t it be great to have a streaming music service on the iPhone?”. Since I was experienced in Mac OS X programming, adapting to IOS was a bit of a learning curve, since the the view APIs are a bit different than for OS X. But it was pretty easy to adapt.
- Where did you get the idea for the app?
Well, I was in charge of the device eco-system for the Rhapsody Webservice, and thought it would be a great platform to bring the service to.
- What went well? What could have gone better?
Well, what went well is how easy it was to create tableviews to display artists, albums, now playing, etc. The difficulty was talking to the server. In those days, the web service was based on a language called SOAP, a chatty XML interface. Now a days, web services are based on REST/JSON, which have support in the platform. But in 2008, the iPhone did not support SOAP, so in a sense, we had to use an XML/RPC interface and a XML parser on the iPhone to talk to the web services.I believe that was the hardest part. When Rhapsody for iPhone first shipped, it did streaming of music from the service. After I had departed the project, the IOS SDK had matured and the app provided more features, such as library management, downloading for offline playback, and higher quality audio streams.
- What is your favorite among the apps you’ve developed?
My Favorite app was my second app: Sidecar. Sidecar was an IOS app that integrated many methods of communicating, into one app. Text, Photos, Videos, Audio Notes, Locations, etc, all could be sent to a friend using Sidecar. If you felt a live audio conversation was needed, press a button and a voice channel opened with the other user. If you also wanted to add video, you would tap a button and a video channel would open up. Once you closed the audio/video channel, you could go back to just using text, audio notes, etc to communicate.
- What advice do you have for young people who want to make apps?
Just do it and have fun learning. I have been programming for 30 years, but I learn something new everyday. Apple has made a fantastic platform to build an application that can solve a problem, bring joy to the user of that app, or make a difference in someone’s life. You as a person, wanting to get into app development, may have a fantastic idea, and you should have the opportunity to make that happen. While writing, creating music, etc can help one express their thoughts, programming is another way to express those thoughts, and have a positive impact of your app users.
The one thing I will always say to a person wanting to develop an app: YOU CAN DO IT. All of these “legends” in the IOS community are no smarter than you. At one time, they were like you, starting out. The IOS/Mac community is one of the best places to learn and flourish. Other devs are always willing to listen to a problem you are having and suggest a way to solve it. And the platform and the frameworks, at first, seem daunting, but in no time you can master them.
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