We All Have to Start Somewhere

I only know one person in the 3-dimensional world (aka “real life”) that develops iOS apps. We went to college together but were a few class years apart, so we never really got to know each other that well. However, I had the opportunity to talk with him a bit last week and came away from the conversation feeling encouraged, so I thought I’d share the reasons for that here.

I would consider my friend (I’m not sure he’d want me to publish his name, so I won’t) to be a pretty successful programmer. He was the sole developer contracted to build the iOS app Lens Distortions, which has done really, really well in the Photography category. You can read a fairly recent review of it on Fracture’s blog. Although my friend didn’t invent the photo filters featured in the app, I think he did a good job with the UI and the overall user experience.

What encouraged me was when I brought up one of his first projects, a matching game for iOS released in 2009. One of the things I loved about the game was that all of the artwork was literally drawn with colored pencils by his mother, who is one of my dearest friends. The game was adorable and quaint, with unique and challenging mechanics. But when my husband asked how much money the game made, my friend laughed. “Probably about 50 bucks,” he said. “Sometimes I think about going back and making it work again.” (The game is no longer for sale and is broken on most devices.)

I joked that he should rewrite the whole thing in Swift.

Reminiscing about one of my friend’s first apps reminded me that we all have to start somewhere. I’m currently where he began: creating my first game, with far-from-polished graphics and little hope of making more than a few bucks. But it’s all part of the adventure, right? Maybe in 7 years I’ll be where he is now…maybe I won’t. All I know is that these things take time.

Now here’s a challenge for you: If you want to encourage and inspire newbies like me, write a blog post about your first app. Share some screenshots from that good ol’ version 1.0 and talk about what was good and not-so-good about your first effort. Everyone says things like “yeah, the first apps I built when I was learning to program were terrible.” But like…pics or it didn’t happen, amiright? And if you already wrote about it awhile ago: I’d love it if you’d share the link.

(Note: this post was also inspired by Marco Arment’s recent interview with Computerphile, where he reiterates that it took him about a decade to build his audience and create the success he enjoys today.)