Giving Something Back

January 31, 2010

I’m currently on the train down to Reading to attend NSConference, a small, community oriented conference aimed at independent developers for the Mac, iPhone and (presumably now) the iPad.

In many ways it’s fitting that I’m writing this, my first post on this blog, on the way to the conference as the main driver for starting this blog is the same reason I’m attending NSConference:

I want to be less of a bystander in the Mac/iPhone developer community and contribute more to that which has given so much to me.

In the four short years since I left University I’ve spent three of them at a blue chip company and one (and counting) at a small start-up. Both of these have involved writing screeds of Java and Perl code for, mostly, faceless customers. For the last 18 months I have also been running a part-time iPhone development business and this has really opened my eyes to what it means to be an independent developer and to be part of a community of developers.  In short, I like it. I like the people I’ve met, I’ve liked the knowledge I’ve gained and I like how inclusive it feels. There’s no ego (well, Matt Gemmell aside), it feels like we’re all in this together. Our goal is to make great software, whether by ourself or by enabling our peers to do so.

The Mac/iPhone developer community is stronger than any online group I’ve experienced before.  Largely driven by Twitter, receiving answers to questions or even just getting to know your fellow devs is simply a case of broadcasting it to the ‘hive mind’.  Most devs are even happy to answer questions by email or on Stackoverflow.  People like Matt Gemmell, Todd Ditchendorf,  Peter Hosey and MANY MANY others supply thousands of lines of high quality open source code with liberal licenses. I’m looking forward to NSConference as, from everything I’ve heard about last years and from my experiences at the iPhone World Tour Tech Talks, this kindness and willingness to share bleeds into real life gatherings too. I’ve never come across anything like this in the Java or Perl world.  Maybe I’ve just not looked hard enough or maybe we do have something quite special.

Thus far I’d say I’ve mostly been a taker from the community.  I attribute this mostly to shyness about the quality of my Cocoa code, I may have a couple of ‘successful’ iPhone apps out but they were written when I was largely a beginner and I think this shows in the quality of the code.  More recently I’ve been working on pet projects for the Mac and I think I’ve turned a corner in terms of quality and, more importantly, usefulness and reusability of the code and I’m ready to share my insights.

So expect to see some Tutorials and Sample Code coming your way in the near future.  And if you read this in a month or so and I haven’t followed up on my promise please drop a comment or send me a @mention me Twitter (I’m @neilinglis) and slap me back on track!

(PS: I’m not disatisfied with my current day job, on the contrary, I love it but I do feel there’s room for me to grow my part-time business too and bring the experience from that into my day job)

One Response to “Giving Something Back”

  1. Nice to see you writing, Neil.

    Definitely look forward to seeing some tutorials and code samples. I’m going to start looking at Objective-C in the next few weeks myself.

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