Interview with Beginning iOS Dev

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Sunset on The Great Salt Lake

I’m on day two of a three day move from Illinois to California right now, so I don’t have anything new ready for the blog. But, I didn’t want to miss my blogging slot completely, so I thought I’d link to an interview I did the other day over on the Beginning iOS Dev blog. Of you haven’t seen the website yet, you should take a minute to browse around. There are quite a few resources, and the interviews especially are interesting and very well done. There’s also a bit of a postmortem there of my app Click that’s been out for a while now if you’re interested in that. I may do a full write up on here sometime soon. In the mean time, one more full day of driving and we’ll finally be at our new home!

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Time Flies When You’re Trying To Ship That App

Crunch Time

Wow. I can’t believe it’s already been four weeks since my last post. For one thing, that means I missed my iDevBlogADay slot last time around. For another thing, it means I’m less than 2 weeks away from my deadline for uploading my metronome app binary (part of why I missed the last post – super crunch mode!). But alas, it’s not going to happen. For anyone who may not know what I’m talking about, iTunes Connect allows you to begin the process of submitting an app – reserving the name, adding metadata, etc. – without actually uploading an app binary right away. However, to prevent name-squatters, once you start that process, you’ve got 120 days to submit. If you miss the deadline, your app is automatically deleted, and the name is back up for grabs for anybody but you! That’s right, you can never use that name for an app again. You may have noticed above when I mentioned “super crunch mode.” But wait, you might be thinking, isn’t that against what being indie as all about? Working for yourself, when you can, no forced week/month long crunches with no sleep and mandatory overtime to push out a product by some unrealistic deadline…

Not THAT Email!

…So, there I am innocently checking my inbox, when, bam! “You have not yet uploaded a binary for your app…If you do not upload a binary for your app by 14 October 2011 (Pacific Time), it will be deleted from iTunes Connect. The app name will then be available for another developer to use.” When I reserved my app name and began this whole process, I was well under way with what I thought would be the hardest part of the programming. Turns out I was right, it was the hardest part. So hard – or at least I’m still enough of a noob – that three months later I’m still messing with a few weird edge case bugs that, when they occur, render the controls basically unusable. Yeah, I get that email, and start to panic – OK, if I can get such and such a feature done in the next two days, then I’ll have enough to send out to testers, oh wait, still gotta find more testers. Then, all I’ll have to do is crank out an icon, finish the main screen design, decide which features to cut even though they were part of what would make my app unique, oh yeah, and there’s still that nasty bug lingering around…no problem, I can get it done in four weeks! And I tried. Well, I tried for about a week – putting off classwork, procrastinating on responsibilities for my actual (part-time) job, barely sleeping, having no time for my wife and friends…and then life caught up with me and I just HAD to step back and do some other stuff. And to be honest, I’m glad I did.

What To Do, What To Do…

That week, when I was trying to power through and crank out an app – a 1.0 version that would certainly be buggy and with subpar, rushed design – I hated it. There were a handful of thrilling moments, when major improvements came together quickly by sheer force and will-power and it looked like maybe I had a chance, but for the most part, it was awful. So, I’ve decided to let the deadline pass. Will I lose my app name? Maybe, although I had a few variations in mind already, so maybe it won’t be so bad to lose this particular one. There’s also a variety of supposedly valid ways to game the system and work around the deadline, but I won’t go into those. Google will help you out if you’re curious, but I’m just not sure how much stock to put into random, usually old forum postings of people saying they tried such and such, and it worked to save their desired name without actually releasing the app. I’m not going to get sucked into two more weeks of hell only to put out a crappy, unpolished product. That’s exactly what’s already out there (with some exceptions of course) and the reason I’m trying my hand at an already well-saturated market. I’m not going to completely throw away some of my desired and unique features because I jumped the gun on registering my app name. This is only my second major app project, so needless to say, I’ve still got a lot to learn about programming and time-management and estimation; I think it’s OK to cut myself some slack. I’m not going to get bogged down by the extreme stress a crazy two weeks like this would produce. What am I going to do? Get my app fully functional and thoroughly tested, and actually enjoy doing it, not to mention try to make the most of the potential 1.0 initial release┬ásales bump with a quality product. I’m going to enjoy this beautiful fall weather and take my dog on walks like I did today. I’m going to go camping this weekend with great friends. I’m going to live life how I want to and allow space for some some hard work mixed with a little creativity and time to do its magic and hopefully lead me to a great app. And that’s how you do it indie style ­čÖé

Oh yeah, and I’m going to push that button over there and publish this post after midnight US central time. Oops, guessed I missed my iDevBlogADay deadline again. Oh well, at least Miguel won’t automatically delete my post and make me choose a new name!

Starting from scratch/Here goes nothing!

Happy New Year and welcome to my iOS app dev blog. Let’s see, how to start my first blog post…well, might as well jump right in and give you a little background about myself and how I got here. A few years ago, I was a graduate student at Lincoln Christian University in Illinois, a part-time worship minister at a Christian church in Springfield, IL and a huge Apple fan. Even though I had never personally owned an Apple computer, I’d used plenty of them. I had a free PC from my job, but I talked my wife into buying a Mac for school and I got the free first generation iPod touch that came with it in the Back-to-School promotion. This was the fall just after the release of iPhone OS 2.0 and the grand opening of the App Store, and what a time that was for developers and users alike! It was so amazing to have so much power and so many apps on that small, thin little device, and just as amazing to hear about the crazy amounts of money some devs were making selling anything from high quality 3D games to fart apps. Ever since I was a high schooler noodling around with the programming capabilities of my TI-83 graphing calculator, I had been interested in software development, and here was my chance to put my skills to work! Only one small problem – a didn’t actually know anything. And I mean nothing. For whatever reason, I never delved any deeper into programming than writing a few unit conversion utilities for that calculator. I listened eagerly to the Stevenotes talking about the new App Store, but I didn’t know an SDK from an API and couldn’t tell you what UIKit was or recognize an Objective-C method call if my life depended on it. At this point, the idea of actually making an app was far from a reality, just a faint idea in the back of my mind that I quickly put aside.
Fast forward about 8 months, and the story was quite different: Continue reading “Starting from scratch/Here goes nothing!”