Seven Questions with Developers: Kiwi’s @isaiah

This is the latest in our series Seven Questions for Developers on, where we ask  developers the same set of questions to learn a bit more about their apps and the stories behind them. If you’d like to participate, contact @ben.

Our next Developer is @isaiah, who makes Kiwi. He’s a Californian recently transplanted to sunny Austin Texas. @isaiah runs YourHead Software with his wife Christi and a few friends. They’ve built cool stuff for Macs since the 1990s.


isaiahTell us about your app. What are you looking to accomplish with it?

Kiwi is a full featured client for Mac OS X wrapped in a clean, simple UI.

We wanted to create an amazing app with tons of features, but without a lot of fiddling or tweaking. So we kept the UI light and friendly to let the content be the main attraction.

What qualities make a great app?

I think what makes Kiwi great is its simplicity:  we created a amazingly simple app in spite of all the features.

A great example is the toolbar: We wanted the functionality of the iOS Nav Bar and Tab Bar, but a verbatim copy wouldn’t have felt right on the Mac. Instead we combined them:  the edges of Kiwi’s toolbar work like a nav bar and the center buttons create a contextual tab bar. We packed navigation, contextual status, and tabs into one simple UI. And you probably didn’t even notice, which is just the way it should be.

Creating a completely custom UI was a lot of extra work, but we eliminated the dead-space sidebar area so common in other clients, so it was worth it.


Screen Shot 2013-04-03 at 11.16.37 AMWhat tools are important to you as a developer?

For software, I keep it simple: Xcode, Photoshop, Dropbox, bash, and of course, vi.

On the hardware side a great keyboard is a must-have. I like quiet keys with a short throw and a super lightweight mouse: low impact is the goal.

Also: an Aeron chair and a ton of screen real estate sure make coding easier.

Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 6.29.20 PM

Why did you decide to build something on

Here’s some background on Kiwi, for anyone not familiar with our history.

We’ve wanted to bring Kiwi back in some way ever since.  When turned up last summer it seemed like the perfect fit.

What got you started writing code? 

In 1981 I was 10, and Apple donated two Apple II+ computers to our school and an engineer who came twice every week to teach six students the fundamentals. After six weeks, they narrowed it down to just two kids and taught us BASIC and Logo. I was hooked immediately. I wish I knew who to thank for that early introduction.

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

Finish! Debug the code, draw the icons, build the website, write the documentation, collect money, support your customers. Any hack can write a bit of code and post it on github, but finishing a real product is something else entirely.

When you’re not coding you’re…

…sitting still, listening to music, drinking a cup of coffee, and watching the world go by.