Seven Questions with Developers: @boxenjim

This is the latest in our series Seven Questions for Developers on App.net, where we ask  developers the same set of questions to learn a bit more about their apps and the stories behind them.

IMG_2829Our next developer is @boxenjim, who makes Patter for iOS. @boxenjim lives in a small town in northern Utah, almost in Idaho. He lives with his wife and son (and dog) in a little house with a yard and a garage and “a little patch a dirt to grow stuff in.” Apparently no picket fence though.

Tell us about your App.net app. What are you looking to accomplish with it?

Patter for iOS is a messaging application that lets people chat with friends privately or in public chat rooms. As the name implies it is the iOS version of the Patter web application built by @duerig.

The primary goal for my app is to support, promote, and enhance the Patter web application…the mothership as it were. Some secondary goals for me are to learn the App.net API better and to be more involved in the community. I also hope it can be an example of an interesting way to build on top of the API.

Currently, the app is more tailored to somebody that has already used Patter but I hope to make it clearer for those who have little or no exposure to Patter or even, for that matter, to App.net.

All files are hosted in your personal App.net file storage, so we don’t keep your content on our servers.

What qualities make a great app?

I like apps that are immediately obvious how to use and are uncluttered in appearance. I like apps that have a bit of personality and character embedded throughout their interface. I want to be able to get a laugh or two or see something unexpected.

With just about every app I’ve made I try to add in a few little Easter eggs just for fun. With Patter for iOS I decided early on to add something fun or unexpected with every release. I’m trying to do it in such a way that if you aren’t really looking you’ll never notice or be bothered by them, but, if you dig around a little, you will be able to find this whole other world inside the app that you never noticed before.

 

IMG_2830What tools are important to you as a developer?

A super amazing, super beautiful and supportive wife, a little boy that needs me to bring home the bacon and be a good dad, a whiteboard, a pencil and paper, a quiet place to work, adequate sleep and lots of reference materials. I also have a unicorn and a few other mythical creatures on standby.

As far as a list of hardware/software, I use a 2010 13″ MacBook Pro and I have an iPhone 4S, an iPad 2 and an iPhone 3GS for testing. I regularly use the following apps/services: Xcode, Tower, GitHub, TotalTerminal, Droplr, Dropbox, Soulver, 1Password.

I also have some super awesome beta testers that are exceptionally good at finding all my screw ups and helping me squash bugs. I guess a little bit of imagination and curiosity can’t hurt too.

Why did you decide to build something on App.net?

I was drawn to App.net pretty much immediately after seeing its core values. I joined early on in the original campaign. I had dabbled here and there on the API and had worked on a really simple implementation of App.net for my previous job.

I really just woke up one day with a determination to get more involved on a personal level and to try to build something awesome. So that’s what I’ve been trying to do since.

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What got you started writing code? 

To be totally honest, I intentionally avoided it for a really long time. I was born into a family of nerds and actually pushed back against my nerdy heritage, but it finally caught up to me. I didn’t really do any actual programming till my mid 20s.

Eventually, after working for a while as an IT/business manager, I decided to back to school. During my first semester, I took a computer science course as an elective and quickly got hooked. I started teaching myself iOS development and within a few months found a “real” job building iOS apps.

I’ve been programming on the iOS platform for something like 3 years and and also did a little web development for about 5-7 years.

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

Just go build something. All you really need is a desire to do it and a little initiative. It doesn’t matter much how much you know or don’t know. Just put yourself out there and try stuff out and after a while, work will just come. Just take it a day at a time and a line of code at a time. A lot of the apps I’ve built I did it just to build them.

When you’re not coding you’re…

Um, probably thinking about coding, sleeping or spending time with my family or a combination of all three. I enjoy cycling, photography, metal working, wood working, yard working, camping/fishing/outdoorsy stuff, rifle/pistol shooting, jeeping, fixing stuff like cars and lawn mowers and 4 wheelers, and basically anything I can turn a wrench on. I find that unless I balance the mental activities with some sort of physical activity, I’m just not quite whole as a person. I need to get out and get my hands dirty and calloused and cut up from time to time.