- What do you currently do?
My day job is working at Intuit on TurboTax for the iPad and Mac OS X. At night after putting my two young daughters to sleep (4 and 2) I work on my personal apps at ChromeDome Software. I’m currently wrapping up a very large release of Check Off, a task management app.
- How did you get started in Mac and/or iOS programming?
I started off Mac development when I talked my dad into getting us a Mac Plus, and started with Turbo Pascal. I puttered around learning the Toolbox, just writing odd little bits of apps. After graduating from the University of Calgary with my degree in computer science, I moved to Toronto to work for a small company working on a multimedia presentation app called Astound (An ancient link on it: http://www.ideaforum.com/astound.htm#text.mac ).
But I like to think I really got started seriously developing Mac software when I joined Apple to work on the connectivity software for the Newton.
- What was the first app you created and what did it do?
The first real iOS app that I wrote that other people could get was a pregnancy tracking application.
- Where did you get the idea for the app?
When my wife and I were pregnant with our first daughter, everyone kept asking us how far along we were. This was about the end of 2007, so the app store was around, and I thought to myself I could go buy an app, or hey, I’m an app developer, I could write one myself. It seemed like a great reason to dig into UIKit and see how it compared to AppKit. Plus it was solving a personal itch I had.
- What went well? What could have gone better?
Doing the actual development went really well – it was a lot of fun to learn UIKit, and get my wife to test it during the pregnancy. Thinking back, what could have gone better was finding other couples that were pregnant, and asking them to help test it. I suspect I would have gotten a lot of other great ideas to add to it. When I update it in the future, I’ll look for more outside testers, so I don’t develop it in a vacuum of just me and my wife.
- What is your favorite among the apps you’ve developed?
Hmm. Thinking about my personal apps, I’d have to say Check Off, as it has a small but vocal group of users. Hearing from them keeps me going on the latest release. I’ll also always be partial to the pregnancy tracking application, as it was fun developing it and watching the process of being pregnant (from the sidelines!) 🙂
In my corporate life I’ve been pretty lucky work on some fun and challenging apps over the years. Because it’s so recent, TurboTax for the iPad is my favorite there – doing taxes on your iPad and making it fun and engaging is a fairly challenging problem. 🙂
- What advice do you have for young people who want to make apps?
To quote Nike: Just Do It.
Find a personal pet peeve of yours and think about how you might solve the problem, and then just jump into it. Don’t worry about shipping it either – the education in just attempting an app and learning how to develop an app is worth the time, in my opinion.
That said, seeing your app on the app store is pretty fun too.
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