Apple doesn’t like developers

I have been working with the web for years now, and I have attempted to keep my distance from closed systems like the one Apple uses. I have always felt that the app environment was oddly specialized and unnecessary- a modern web browser has the capacity to do exactly the same thing as an app(there are some performance differences for a few things, but generally they can be mitigated). Websites aren’t device specific, which allows me to write familiar code once, rather than write unfamiliar code multiple times.

In fact, I am not as familiar with Cocoa or the Android SDK as I would like to be. If I am forced to write an app in a devices’ native language I wold spend all of my time sifting through documentation and what code I would write would be sub-standard. If I have a client that insists no making an app over an optimized I turn to Appcellerator or Phonegap.

I can now write an app in javascript. Hooray! I can write code quickly and use whatever JS framework I want to. But once the app is done, I still have to deploy it to the App and Play store.

Google makes this easy- pay $25 for a developer account and upload your APK. Boom, you have an Android app ready to be used.

Apple doesn’t. An Apple developer account is $99 a year. When I was first starting out as a baby developer, I was in school working a part-time job to pay for food. $100 to get internal documentation, test, and deploy apps? I couldn’t afford that. Then, once you are a developer, you have to use Apples’ ‘SDK’ – Xcode. In order for you to develop for the latest version of iOS/OSX, you have to have the most recent version of Xcode. This makes sense. In order for you to have the most recent version of Xcode, you need the most recent version App OSX. Because of this, you have to pay for the latest OS. I’m about ready to deploy an app, and I need to see if it is iOS 7 ready. My 2011 Macbook now needs 10.8. At $20 it isn’t painfully expensive, but it is inconvenient. The unfortunate part comes when I want to develop and am given a much older mac. A 2009 iMac isn’t terribly capable of running 10.8. You are forced to have modern technology to develop.

This is all without mentioning that you are required to develop on an Apple computer if you want to develop for iOS. I should thank my wherewithal for buying an Apple. But if a whim hits a developer and he has a Linux machine he is SOL, or is forced down some questionable paths.

It’s a toxic  place fora developer to be, but until people stop spending wads of cash on the iPhone, and even more on Apps, this will never change.

Startups and creativity

I saw a picture on facebook that disparaged what happened Founders Pad after UF took over the space. What only weeks before had bean bag couches, ping-pong tournaments and had a distinct lack of cubicles turned into a farm of cubicles and meeting agendas. There was quite a long thread that all agreed that what was done was quite unfortunate and was the very opposite of what a good startup needed- the corporate culture was not conducive to the embodiment of a startup. I contend that by limiting what you think is conducive to your startup, it is not the space that limits your fledgling idea, it is your own bias.

A little history: I was once an intern for Grooveshark in the very room that is so very disconcerting. It was a full year ago, and I visited very rarely, but I have at least spend an amount of time there. After the internship at a startup incubator, I did the antithesis of what I had at GS: I wrote a resume, cover letter, applied for and eventually got a job at UF, the largest employer in Gainesville by far. This about-face has taught me a lot, and changed my opinion of a few things, one of them being that a space defines your level of creativity, collaboration, and/or ability to be productive.

Now I have a desk in an environment with a half-dozen developers and a designer. I have a workday that starts at 8am and ends at 5, and I have meetings. Lots of meetings. Yet I am able to be productive, collude with other developers, invent and innovate. I have managed to be the driving force behind the UF official app, and the continuing development of new additions to it thanks to student feedback, as well as jump into a new phonegap app with angular(amongst actual web developing).

Then I take a look at startups today, or at least the ones I can glance at here in Gainesville. My situation is the nightmare many in this society, and they have been granted full license to do as they please with the space they are provided. I see ideas half-baked, apps that are bogged down longer in a lack of bureaucracy than any project I have worked on(which is rife with paperwork), and implementations never finished, only talked about.

Naturally there are opposite anecdotes to all of this but my point remains: the space should not define the product. If I were to guess what makes a good space is not the atmosphere defined by the things, or the walls, but the people. It shouldn’t matter if you are in a cubicle farm or an ever-hip abandoned dirigible hangar if the people that you surround yourself are kind, open, honest and helpful.

That all said, I still find that most of my best development moments and breakthrough happen at a coffee shop. There must be something about the smell of beans, terrible music and the drone of a dozen conversations that shoves my brain in a higher gear.