Seven Questions for Developers: @jazzychad

This the latest in our series Seven Questions for Developers on App.net. Each week we’ll ask a different developer the same set of questions to learn a bit more about the people behind the apps that are helping make the platform great. The goal of the series is to foster conversations and connections, encouraging collaboration and new ways of thinking about what’s happening on App.net.

Our second developer is @jazzychad, who is a mobile and web developer and entrepreneur specializing in iOS development and web API integration. @jazzychad is currently head of mobile at Exec, a startup in San Francisco.

 
Tell us about your app. What are you looking to accomplish with it?
I have two main apps I am developing for App.net. One is Adian, an iOS client that is focused on raw speed and performance. My goal with Adian is to create the mobile client that I want to use day-to-day. It’s not the prettiest client, but it works and feels exactly the way I want a client to work and feel.
The other project is LongPosts, a website that creates an instant blogging platform for App.net users to create long-form posts that can use basic formatting with Markdown. LongPosts’ goal is more of an experiment; it was born out of the App.net hackathon weekend, and I’m just adding features as users request them and seeing where the development leads.

 

What qualities make a great app?

The answer, of course, is “it depends.” For consumer apps, visual design has a disproportionately high affect on adoption. People like using sexy devices/apps because it makes them look and feel sexy by proxy. Great design can more than make up for lack of features or functionality. This has always been my downfall as a developer. I don’t have great design chops, but I do focus a lot on functionality. My lunch usually gets eaten by sexier apps. I’m having to learn and re-learn this lesson over and over.

However, for business apps, it just has to solve a pain point and it can look like absolute crap. Business customers often tend to pay a lot more than consumers, so that’s where the real money is. The problem is identifying valuable pain points for businesses and attacking them. They usually require domain knowledge about certain
industries.

 

What tools are important to you as a developer?

  • A top of the line workstation with a large screen
  • Fast internet access
  • Access to a terminal
  • ssh + screen
  • A keyboard driven text-editor (I use emacs)
  • I can’t live without SSDs anymore

 

Why did you decide to build something on App.net?
I like to play with different web APIs, and App.net seemed like a fresh take on the social stream/microblog type of APIs I have been coding against for the last several years. I love to tinker on new things, so when the App.net API started taking shape I wanted to play.

 

What got you started writing code?

My 4th-grade math book. Every 50 pages it would have a special section with a BASIC program typed out on the page. I had no idea what it meant, but I remembered seeing a button labelled “BASIC” on a toy V Tech computer I had at home. I started typing the programs into the computer and it worked! Then I figured out I could make this toy do things that I told it to do. I was hooked. I have been writing code everyday since.

 

Any advice for aspiring developers (all the young coders out there)?

Never stop learning. Also, do a lot of side projects. I have a rule about doing side-projects. It’s called the “One New Thing” rule. When I think about starting a new side-project, there has to be at least one new thing about the project that I don’t already know how to do. This forces me to learn something new with each new project. It could be learning a new language, a new technology, a new language feature, a new web API, a new piece of hardware, a new algorithm… After having done dozens (hundreds?) of various projects, I now have a giant arsenal of skills I can put together to create amazing systems to do my bidding.

 

When you’re not coding you’re…

Watching cartoons and spending time with my wife. Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time learning how to play Bridge.

 

If you’re interested in participating in this series, get in touch with @ben