Seven Questions for Developers: @scruffyfox

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.

Our next developer is @scruffyfox, Callum Taylor, a 20-year-old, lead Android developer working for 3 SIDED CUBE in Bournemouth, in the south of England. He’s been working there for the past two years, and, before that, one year as a PHP web developer.

@scruffyfox studied computer science for one year in 6th form and completed a BTEC national diploma for IT Practitioners in college with full distinction. He never went to university.

Screen Shot 2013-01-22 at 11.10.19 AMTell us about your App.net app. What are you looking to accomplish with it?

Robin is, or will be, one of the top Android clients for app.net. It’s just been released on January 1st and is available to download at http://rbn.im/store. We hope to become the best Android client for ADN and be a comparable app to the tens of iPhone apps already made on iOS. We’re kinda fed up of people slagging off Android and saying that there’s no decent apps on there, and we aim to change that.

What qualities make a great app?

The UX plays a vital part, we’re trying crazy new UX patterns in our app, in the hopes that users will find it more intuitive to use and easier to navigate whilst having lots of ways to customise and provide the user with every bit of detail.

So far, it’s working out pretty well. We’re using a new UX library for sliding out drawers with icon options which don’t take up as much space as other apps do. We’re using a lot of ‘long press’ options for things and my own UX I’ve created is the ‘hinted view’ which essentially tells you what the button does when you long press. Simple but useful UX can be found on my gist.

 

What tools are important to you as a developer?

Crash reporting. It’s very hard to develop for Android because you have to cater for so many different devices, and each device behaves slightly differently. We have a lot of error catching and crash reporting that gets logged to our server every time a user has a crash so we know where it happened, who it happened to, and what caused it so we can work on a fix right away.

 

Screen Shot 2013-01-22 at 11.09.54 AMWhy did you decide to build something on App.net?

Well, when I signed up to ADN, I was torn whether or not to make one but this post by Romain changed it all. That and I needed a new project to work on that would allow me to explore new design patterns, new APIs, and a new community. So far it’s been great. All the guys currently using the app are very supportive with each build (even if they are extremely buggy) and that helps us continue writing the app.

 

What got you started writing code?

I got interested in how computer systems interacted with different file types about seven years ago and began exploring what they did. From there I started learning about DOS and batch scripts. After that I started getting into web, learning PHP, HTML, and hacking together mods for PHPBB forums. I then discovered Runescape (yep, I was only 13 mind you) private servers and decided to learn Java to mod a private server. You can see a list of the stuff I’ve made/worked on over at my portfolio.

 

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

Never stop looking for an answer to a problem. I guarantee you someone out there HAS had the same problem and has posted a fix. I sometimes spend hours looking for a fix for certain bugs and have always either found the solution or found a work-around for it. Never rely too much on asking people for help. I find it more beneficial to find the answer myself. The best tool you have is right in front of you.

 

When you’re not coding you’re…

I never stop coding. Sometimes I play Borderlands.