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Back from Voices that matter: iPhone developer conference

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#VTM_iPhone

The conference was hold in Philadelphia, PA. Note there was a VTM_iPhone conference this past spring in Seattle. This is my first time attending an Apple themed conference, my first time to hear names like Omni Group, Mike Lee, which are almost like household names in Mac/iOS community.

Ok, let me get to the topic, the people and topics of conference. First I want to thank Chuck and Barbara (and all other Pearson Publishing organizers, venue helpers) for their hard work on logistics (food, drink, website etc.), if there is anything could be improved, I think it’s the Wifi access point. Probably due to the overwhelming of iPhone/iPad, and laptop, sometimes we had difficulty connecting to Wifi. But that’s a minor thing, compared the quality of speakers, and the openness atmosphere of participants (Mac community is much friendly than some of the other dev community as I know of).

Technical sessions are excellent, sometimes I had hard time to make a choice but I like to attend all 3 sessions running at the same time. Eventually I decided to take more UI (user interface) and Graphics Design classes as that is my weakness, coming from coder/programmer background and not graphics Q. Here is the schedule of classes. Some of the highlights: Aaron Hillegass talked about the product cycle and going form “independence to interdependence” as business grow. Not entirely new topic, but good reminder to me. Mike Lee reminds me a Chinese guy names Lu Xun (after I gave it more thought): he fired at a lot of places and I think many of his points are valid criticism of “lack of effort/thoughts” in design. I think yesterday Steve Jobs’ fire at Android fragmentation is along the same line. When “Open” is just for business and marketing purpose, how meaningful really is open of Android?

Into technical. I sit in the following sessions.
Universal Application Design: Reaching the Widest Audience
Kirby Turner — Huntington

Designing Graceful, Gracious Interfaces for iPad
Bill Van Hecke — J. Cooke (I learned Omni Group the first time from Bill 🙂

A RESTful Architecture for Cocoa: Pragmatic and Robust Code
Andrew Donoho — J. Cooke (This session is quite technical)

Mixing Metaphors: A Look at Realism in Interface Design
Cathy Shive — Huntington (One of my favorite, I like Cathy’s artistic/psychology view at things)

……

Panel discussion
Besides technical sessions, a lot indie (or bootstrap) developers came to this conference to learn “how to go indie”. Interestingly many speakers already went indie and organizers saw our need and hold a session at 6 PM of day one. Some questions being discussed:

1) What particular moment (if any) made you jump the gun (quit corporate job and go indie)?

Jeff Lamache: for Jeff it was simple because has been doing Peoplesoft consulting for a while. After Sept 11, he moved his family to NY to be closer to big family, while doing “remoting” work. New VP came in and laid off remote workers.

Jeff’s colleague Rob (author of briefs.app) was working on a day job, while doing things he really loves (Cocoa, iPhone) at night. His wife made him dropped one thing out of three: his wife, day job or evening job.

Mike Lee: world toughest programmer. Quite a story. Jeff’s comments were even more fun: you don’t have to drop everything including family to “go indie”.

General theme is: people already have some consulting or technology experience, and they don’t enjoy the corporate culture much. “Going indie” gives the space for them to do more creative things.

2) Product/business decision questions on app dev. Pricing: free or paid, how much if paid? Ad or no Ad? If using Ad go iAd or AdMob? etc.

The majority answer is develop a product (1.0) first, of course think about those questions along the line. About Ad, most panelists don’t like it. If there is possibility of In-App purchase, that’s better. The reason Ad is bad is it usually makes user experience worse.

3) If I already have an idea, should I request an NDA if I share this with a friend or another party?

No need, the majority answer. Regarding NDA, try best not sign it if being presented. Because we don’t want to be handcuffed by this.

Interestingly today I saw iPhone development blog (Nick) talked on the similar topic.

4) Looking back, is it worth to go indie? (Chuck asked this question to the panelists)

This is emotional question, because some people like Mike Lee sacrifice quite a bit for the career change. Jeff LaMache (author of Begin iPhone development, More iPhone development, and upcoming Open GL iPhone dev book) put it well: we don’t have to sacrifice family for this.

Rob’s comments was checking email on Friday morning, and had to putting out fire before going off Friday afternoon. It’s actually more busier life compared to corporate job.

5) Discussion on be efficient while working from home.
Find a small office, or share office with other people;

Take a shower, wear shoes even if work from home;

Work, life balance. Jeff: play with kids in evening hours, then start working again after kids going to bed.
……

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