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From the Diary of an App Developer: Getting Started

March 29, 2010

The App Store has hundreds of thousands of applications. It is full of games, utilities, weather apps, weight-tracking apps, tip calculators... Almost anything you can think of is present in the ever-growing market of iPhone applications. But there's always room for more applications. Ideas can be improved on and an innovative idea can come from almost anywhere. Even from you. I am confident that a great application can come from anybody, so I have started this column. This column will walk you through all of the steps needed to develop, market, and enjoy your very own iPhone application. I have developed several applications, and am working on even more, and I love doing it. Application development is fun, simple, and can be very lucrative, too. So, without further ado, the first entry From the Diary of an App Developer: If you are looking around on this site, then you love apps. And if you love apps, then you have thought about making your very own iPhone application. Even if it just crossed your mind for a split-second—“This application is awful. I could so much better!” “I wish the App Store has an application like this...”—then you're in the right place. Creating your own iPhone app is a lot easier than you think it would be, and is so rewarding. But I don't want to make the process sound like a tea party. Like any endeavor, creating an iPhone app has to start with passion. If every fiber of your being doesn't want to make an app, then don't. It will require commitment, hard work and focus, but it will all be worth it in the end. Don't go into this thing just wanting to make money. With so much competition and skill out there, chances are that you won't get any real cash or attention until you have developed several apps and have honed in your skills. The first one or two tries will be more of a test; it will be you trying out the development waters to see if you want to swim in deeper with the big fishes. This post will just get you started, but you can look forward to plenty of future posts that will help you to get into the App Store. With that being said, if you've read this far, let's dive in to our first post so you can start developing your very first application. The first step to making your own app isn't what you think it would be. I thought for a long while about how I started my first application. I didn't really know how to get going, but ultimately decided that the most crucial first step is getting a partner. The most important asset when developing for the iPhone is a partner. Take my partnership for instance: I am the design and content guy. I gather the information for the app and decide how it will be accessed and laid out. I pass on the information to my partner, the hardcore programmer, who then pieces together the puzzle I have given him. Along the way, he may have some ideas or need artwork or notify me of limitations to my designs, and then I'll pitch in some more work. Having a partner lightens the load for both of you, stimulates more thinking and better ideas, and eventually leads to a far stronger final application. Developing an application doesn't need to be a collaborative process, but I think that going down the development path all alone will be a lonely and boring journey. A partner makes the trip bearable, productive, and even fun. When picking a partner, it's important to not pick a perfect stranger. You don't want to end up getting swindled or beat up. If you are like me, a design and content kind of person, than you'll want to find a really strong programmer who can do everything that you want. On the other hand, if you are a great programmer, you'll want to find someone who is able to create something beautiful that you can piece together so that your code isn't lost under an ugly app. I was lucky in finding my partner since we're both passionate about the iPhone and our side of the development. You can always hire a freelancer as your partner, but unlike a friend, he'll want a flat rate payment no matter what, and you don't want that. You want someone who you can learn with and have fun with. After all, you probably won't be making any serious money for quite sometime.

So, your task for this week is to find a partner. Make them someone you can rely on. Make them someone who has similar taste in applications, and make them somebody who is as skilled at their half of the development as you are at yours. Next week, we'll start developing an idea for your application. In future weeks we will go into great tools for developers, designing your app, programming your app, and marketing your application.

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