Human above all, with pathos, weaknesses and grumpy at times. Speak for myself; think out loud. Direct, seemingly hard faced. Urged to fix things. Am fortunate.
qnoid

An Apple Developer for 10 years

Back in September of 2009, I was let got of a role as a Java Developer. I had come to Athens looking for a job a few months prior. Instead of looking for another role, I decided to move back to Crete.

At that time, Stanford University was running “CS 193P iPhone Application Development” on iTunes U. I took the opportunity to invest in learning what seemed like the future. I was just an avid Mac and iPhone owner for some time.

Up until that moment I had been a Java Developer with a Web focus. Backend to frontend. An iPhone app was unlike anything I had seen on the web. I think, at that time, the most impressive website I had come across was Google Maps and its use of AJAX. It was jaw dropping.

Still, compared to the predominantly stateless nature of a website, building an app for the iPhone enabled me to better express my creativity and build a better experience with less effort as a developer. The user experience possible was immensely better to what I could come up by building a web app.

I remember working on an assignment as part of the curriculum created by Evan Doll and Alan Cannistraro at Stanford. It was a single view app where you could draw a polygon shape. If memory serves me well, the only control was a slider to define the number of angles. As you moved the slider with the touch of your finger, you could instantly see the shape morphing from a triangle, to a square, to a pentagon, a hexagon etc. This interactivity and responsiveness at the palm of your hand felt insanely exciting at the time. I was hooked!

In May 2010 I moved to Edinburgh, Scotland. Even though I was working full time as a Java Developer, I wanted to be an Apple Developer1! In my spare time I was working on verylargebox. A mobile app that enabled local store owners to share their products with anyone in the city.

In June 2011, I landed my first role as an iOS Developer even though I wasn’t really hired based on what I could do as one. It was an entry level role, still it put a smile on my face. I could finally have an Apple Developer section on my resume!

Fun fact: I subscribed to iOS Dev Weekly on the 24th of October 2012 and it was already at Issue 65!

In July 2013, I released verylargebox as a free app. I finally had my very own iPhone app on the App Store, I was proud!

Even though I never pursued verylargebox as a business idea, it raised my status as an Apple Developer. I had an app! I felt like I was part of the Apple community.

Soon after, I joined Tesco Bank where I was responsible for the technical delivery of Tesco Bank Mobile Banking on the iPhone.

As an Apple Developer, 2014 was special. I traveled to NSConf at Leicester where both Evan Doll and Alan Cannistraro would be there. This was an opportunity to personally meet and greet the people that nudged me to become an Apple Developer.

My bond with Apple as a developer grew stronger and stronger. With every interaction and exposure, I became more involved with the people, more invested in the technology, more attached to Apple.

The same year, I won the WWDC lottery and got a chance to meet in person some of the developers at Apple that I have been interacting with on Twitter.

I also remember witnessing the winners of Apple Design Awards and dreaming of the day I could develop an app worthy of an award.

It was around that time, in 2014, when the idea of Windmill popped into my head. At Tesco Bank, I had hacked together a continuous delivery pipeline using Jenkins and Apple’s Command Line Tools and I thought there must be a better way to do this.

One of the very early iterations of Windmill. Notice, how this is only a menu bar item. Humble beginnings as an Apple Developer for the Mac.

Of course, I had a full time job at the time. I could only afford to work nights and weekends. Still, I pushed through. With every line of code written, with every technical note read, with every WWDC video watched, I made progress.

Years passed. I moved to London. The year was 2016, I had just left my job and I was thinking of quitting the software industry too.

Still, I had Windmill to carry me forward. In 2017, I decided it was time to commit to it full time. In September of the same year, I took a leap of faith and jumped into the unknown, being all poetic.

In the years that followed, I had to move from the U.K., to Australia, to Greece. It was shitty and tough.

In between all that (and a lot more on a personal level; not the post to disclose) one thing stayed consistent. My dedication to see Windmill through and in the process take control of my life and destiny.

I pushed long and hard to get Windmill on the iPhone out. I started working on it in January 2019 and submitted it to Apple at the end of May. It was rejected.

Windmill on the iPhone was a way for me to finally start making a living after 2 years of not making a salary and almost a year since my savings have been depleted.

I haven’t done any progress since Apple rejected Windmill.

I am definitely experiencing a burnout, still there seems to be something more at play that I’ve been trying to explain.

Every time I make an effort to think how to overcome this hurdle and continue with the development of Windmill, my brain switches off.

You see, Windmill as I envision it, is more than just a Mac app. Literally and figuratively speaking. It’s hard to put this into words, no matter how much I try. It’s a vision after all. My dent in the universe.

Windmill is on a mission to make continuous delivery of iPhone apps ubiquitous and accessible to developers and businesses.

I don’t feel motivated knowing what is possible will be subpar, constrained, unwelcome, unappreciated and on the bad side of Apple. I feel crippled as an Apple Developer to make the best of all available platforms and technologies.

On a personal level, Windmill allows me to have freedom of expression, be creative and pursue excellence.

To some extend this a cautionary tale about falling in love with a brand when an organisation is behind it. When the needs of the business precede those of the individual. Still, there is more. In the case of Apple and its developers, this is about our livelihood.

For Apple, this was just an app that was submitted, went through due process and was rejected. For me, this is a moment in time that will define what turn my life takes next.

Thinking back to that September of 2009 when life set me on a path to become an Apple Developer. It feels like that path is ending.-

  1. I would really like to thank Andrew Williams who really supported me in my early efforts as an Apple Developer. You have been an inspiration Andy.