This is the latest in our weekly series Seven Questions for Developers on App.net, where we ask a different developer the same set of questions to learn a bit more about the people behind the apps. If you’d like to participate, contact @ben.
In general, I knew that I wouldn’t use a stream-style service without a desktop app, so I created Wedge. iPhone apps are great for killing time while waiting for something, but I’d rather use a large screen and a real keyboard. I don’t like using a website for services like App.net because I feel that native applications can provide a better and more focused experience.
I also like writing for the desktop because I can push out releases whenever I’d like. For example, I released an update supporting the unified stream API about half an hour after it was released. You can’t do that on iOS.
What qualities make a great app?
A lot of it depends on the platform and the purpose of the app. An iOS app gets to own the device entirely, and because of that, you get a lot of flexibility in the way that you style your app.
When you’re making an app that needs to live in a space alongside others, I don’t think that you can have the same kind of flexibility. I’d love for Wedge to look more like the work I’ve done on iOS apps, but it would stick out on the desktop. Since Tweetie, the icon-based side tabs have become a de facto Mac desktop standard for apps of this type, so I went with those. I think that there’s a balance between building an identity while not feeling like a context shift for the user.
What tools are important to you as a developer?
I spend most of my development time inside Xcode, and if you’ve seen the “Texts from Xcode” Tumblr, it pretty accurately describes my experience.
Hardware-wise, I use a 15″ Retina MacBook Pro, and an Apple keyboard, Magic Trackpad, and an external display when I’m at a desk. I have a Dell Ultrasharp at home and a Cinema Display at work.
Initially, I planned to write Wedge in a weekend. That didn’t exactly happen, but it came out eventually. I started writing against the documentation on Github before my account had been approved, and most things actually worked when I first tried them. I think that speaks to the quality of both the API design and the documentation, and both make developing for App.net really enjoyable.
What got you started writing code?
I started writing code on a TI-83 in middle school. From there, I worked on PC games in high school, and started building desktop and mobile applications after high school.
Any advice for aspiring developers (all the young coders out there)?
I think that it’s important to make things outside of your classes – most of the things that I knew when I graduated from college were learned building things with my roommates in our apartment.
When you’re not coding you’re…
I go to a lot of shows and ride my bike around the city.