Thursday, March 26

Scratching my own itch again leads to a new iPhone app

Several weeks back I was down at Barcamp Miami and I wanted to send a quick tweet from my iPhone. I have several Twitter clients on my phone - there's a bazillion of them out there - but most of them are very slow to start as they have to load all their fancy views and suck down all your friends tweets and blah blah blah. I wanted a small simple fast app that just let me post a quick tweet and be done with it. I couldn't find one, so I decided to write one.

Later that afternoon I discovered there was already one out there, for free no less, but I'd decided that this was a great entry-level application for me learn how the whole iTunes store process works, so I pressed on, determined to reinvent that wheel. I'd been dabbling with the iPhone SDK for months but things really kicked into high gear when I picked up Beginning iPhone Development; it's the book to get if you're new to iPhone and Cocoa development.

I wrote the app one Saturday evening, spent a few hours here and there afterwards rounding off the rough edges or applying things I'd picked up from the book (I'm still working my way through it). I asked an old designer friend and colleague if she'd create an icon for me and she agreed. I knew it would take her a bit to find the time to get the creative juices flowing, so I was in no hurry. It was time to start the red tape with Apple.

It's not a fun process. It's not a pretty process. But by gawd I have to give Apple credit for providing documentation that quite literally holds your hand and walks you through every last step of the grueling process. There were articles of incorporation to fax. Bank account routing numbers to supply. Certificates to be generated and signed. First born children to by sacrificed. It was hairy. But one glorious morning I opened up my inbox and found the "you may start uploading apps and selling them in the iTunes store" e-mail, and it was good.

I'd heard the horror stories of developers waiting months for their applications to be approved, and the stores of applications being rejected and resubmitted ad infinitum, so I had prepared myself for a long period of trepidation capped off with disappointment. When the shiny new icon arrived from my designer friend, I compiled my "release" build and uploaded my baby, praying everything would be fine. To my shock and awe, it was exactly one week later I received the "OK your app is on sale" e-mail. I was giddy.

I announced it to my friends and followers on Twitter and bless their hearts a lot of them bought the darn thing. Unfortunately I've not yet deciphered the financial section of the app store back-end so I have no clue how many copies were sold or how little I've made off it. The morning it went on sale, I received a support e-mail from a gentleman in Denmark who wasn't able to get it working. I haven't yet resolved his issue, and thus far he's the only person to report the problem, but I'm not one to rest on my laurels - last night I hacked up a few improvements and uploaded version 1.1 for review.

This isn't the iPhone application that's going to make me a zillionaire, but now that I've gone through the process and I've cut through all the red tape, I'm ready to start working on the real killer app.

Oh yeah, if you're feeling curious or just generous, please grab a copy for yourself. They're cheap while supplies last!