Erik Bye, a smartphone app developer who runs Ellie’s Games has kindly taken part in a text interview.
He has a wealth of experience as a smartphone app developer and has many apps up in the App Store as well as having apps on Android devices. Erik is unique in his approach to creating apps, as his partner and tester is his two year old daughter Ellie. What a great partnership and a fun way of programming games involving the family.
1) How many apps do you have and what is your most popular app?
I currently have 14 apps published to the iOS App Store along with 3 Android apps published to Google Play & Amazon.Â Color Dots is the most popular in both App Stores with over 30,000 downloads2) What made you start creating apps?
The company I work for wanted to build an internal reporting app for iOS. Â I expressed interest in the project and was given the hardware to have at it. Â Over the next few weeks I hacked together a working application and delivered the requested reporting app, in a user friendly package. Â I had a great time developing the project and continued investing time and effort into iOS even after our internal project got canned.3) Have you had to overcome any learning curves or hurdles in your developing experience?
Tons of hurdles. Â Thereâ??s problems to be solved every time I start coding. Â I really enjoy problem solving, which is why I think I enjoy programming so much. Â Each development task involves some sort of problem to solve. Â Thereâ??s an infinite number of solutions, but only a handful of them are elegant. Â I always try to look for the elegant solution.4) What languages do you program in? What is your favourite programming language?
Iâ??m a front end developer during the day, so lots of HTML/CSS/JS. Â I work with Java to support the front end stuff, but Iâ??ve never really been interested in service development. Â I learned C++ in college, although never used it when I got out. Â Over the past few years Iâ??ve taught myself Objective-C.
I truly enjoy programming in HTML. Â Itâ??s such a simple language to learn, but takes years to get good at. Â Completing a perfectly semantic document brings me lots of geek joy.5) I know that you develop with your daughter’s valuable input. Can you tell us a bit more about this unique family team working arrangement?
Ellieâ??s an amazing teammate. Â She has almost no filter and I donâ??t think she understands that I am creating these games from scratch by myself. Â She doesnâ??t know there are a collection of games tailor made for her. Â She just enjoys playing. Â It works well because if thereâ??s something she doesnâ??t understand, I can pick up on it right away through visual queues and make adjustments. Â Sometimes itâ??s tough with a 2 year old partner. Â She can get bored pretty easily, so I donâ??t force her to play games or answer questions when sheâ??s not interested. Â I let it happen naturally. Â In fact I had almost completely finished Dot Collector before she had ever tried it.6) Can you tell us a bit about your personality and hobbies?
I take pride in having a positive outlook on every aspect of my life. Â Itâ??s important for me to be happy and bring happiness to other people when I can. Â It may be cliche, but one of my greatest strengths is my positivity and the people around me would agree.
Iâ??m a very active person. Â Fitness is an important part of my lifestyle. Â A typical week includes 3 volleyball sessions, 2 rock climbing sessions, 1 personal training session, 1 golf session Â and at least an hour of soccer. Â And of course chasing Ellie around the house every evening after work.
I also consider myself a bit of a beer connoisseur too. Â Iâ??m lucky to live close to a handful of breweries and enjoy the fruits of their labor.7) Do you have a future app or project planned for the near future?
Iâ??m currently working on 4 new apps, 6 app updates and 3 websites. Â When I finish all that, Iâ??m sure there will be another app, or project right behind it too. Â Time management is extremely important with so many projects in the works. Â It helps to set obtainable goals and quickly move on once they’re met. Â Itâ??s too easy for project scope to creep to an unobtainable goal, so every week I try to take a big picture perspective on what Iâ??m working on. Â Iâ??ll check if Iâ??m still on track or if Iâ??ve gotten derailed somewhere and make adjustments if needed.8 ) Where do you see the future of the app markets going?
My opinion is that the app stores are going to be around for a long while. Â This isnâ??t a question of Apple vs Android as I think both environments will exist for quite some time. Â Itâ??s more of a general question on where the medium as a whole is going. Â The handheld hardware available now is incredible. Â I see that trend continuing well into the future. Â Therefore the apps built for those devices arenâ??t going anywhere either.9) What tips and advice would you give to novice programmers beginning to create apps?
Program because you like programming, not because you want to make money. Â Iâ??ve spent hundreds of hours programming â??the next best appâ? only to have it flop after release. Â Iâ??m not upset about it, because Iâ??ve gained experience that I wouldnâ??t have had if I didnâ??t build the app. Â Donâ??t be afraid to make mistakes as itâ??s how you avoid them in the future.10) Have you had any interesting or funny experiences whilst programming apps?
One time I tried to access an object before instantiating it and got an EXC_BAD_ACCESS error. Â So silly…
Color Dots Screenshots:
A big thank you to Erik whose advice as a smartphone app developer will be of interest to many people looking into developing smartphone apps.