Issue #110 - Ian Keen
Happy Monday, everyone!
We made it to Issue #110! Thank you to everyone who read last week’s issue ❤️
Deep Dish Swift is a brand new conference being held in Chicago April 30th to May 2nd in 2023. The conference aims to bring togethe Swift and iOS developers of all experience levels and backgrounds in an inclusive environment to share knowledge and experience from a diverse set of speakers. The first day is focused on indie development and and the next two are focused on Swift and iOS!
Today’s Spotlighted Indie Devs
📆 Today I’m featuring Ian Keen.
👉 Please make sure to follow them or support them anyway you can! 😇 I’m excited to share their indie dev stories.
1) What is your name? Where do you live?
My name is Ian Keen. I currently live in Whistler, Canada. I’ve been here around 9 years but I’m originally from Australia.
2) Introduce yourself. Education? Background? Main job? Interests outside of tech? Interests inside of tech?
I have been writing code for Apple platforms for around 12 years, coding in general for about 25 years.
Inside of tech I’m kind of boring compared to most devs I’ve met I think 🤣. I love writing code and that’s about it, I don’t follow developments within Apple or any other company, I’m not really into having the latest hardware. Before my recent M1 my machine was a 2018 mbp 🙈
Outside of tech I love snowboarding, mountain biking and soccer.
3) Have you ever considered yourself an indie developer?
I’ve always dabbled in open source and worked for other people but I’ve never really had any apps of my own until recently, so I’m really happy to think of myself that way now.
4) What got you started/interested in creating your own applications outside of your “normal” job?
I’ve definitely always had an interest but I never made time to actually build something of my own. I am doing my best to carve that time out now.
5) How do you balance your time between friends/family, work, hobbies, and indie dev?
This is honestly tough for me and something I am always trying to work on and improve. I want to give my best effort in everything I do, day job and indie apps. But it’s super important to me to spend time on the mountain doing the sports I love. What works for me right now is structuring my time so I have dedicated blocks of time for all of these things. Just as it’s important to have dedicated work time I also force myself to take dedicated play time. This keeps me sane 🤪
6) Top Drop - This is super cool! Top Drop is the exactly the kind of app I was missing in my workflows but I would not have thought of this implementation. What problems were you facing that triggered you to make Top Drop?
Thanks! I’m always really happy to hear something I made is useful. It’s one thing that keeps me excited to build!
The idea came about because I was sending my wife photos from my Mac and I found myself jumping between Finder windows to drop them to her.
The notch idea specifically was something I stumbled upon when looking at the NSScreen apis. I knew I wanted something to pop up for quick access and I noticed there was a way to determine if there was a notch and its position. It seemed like it might be really cool to have it pop out from behind that and it went from there.
7) Top Drop - Top Drop provides are so many great actions. Airdrop, Messages, Trash, Folder Proxy, Open With, and Top Shelf will all totally get used every day. How did you pick what actions to all include? Are there any actions that you wanted to add by macOS made it real hard to do?
The original actions were airdrop, messages and email. These are actually all driven by the same share api so that was a no brainer. From there I just thought about things that are already achieved by dragging but aren’t always accessible. But I also had some fantastic ideas from the community after I shared the initial concept on Twitter.
The hardest action to build was probably Folder Proxy. It was the first action where I needed to figure out the sandbox/bookmark apis for file access.
8) Top Drop - I think the AirDrop, even though it won’t be my most used, is probably my favorite action! Using AirDrop in Finder was also such a huge pain and this makes it so easy! I probably would have purchased Top Drop for this action alone. No real question but have this 🏆 for solving one of my biggest annoyances with macOS!
That’s super nice of you to say! AirDrop was obviously the original inspiration and in fact the apps code name was “Operation Airdrop” 🤣
9) Top Drop - What was one of the coolest thing you’ve learned when building Top Drop? What was one of the toughest challenges you faced?
I think the tightest but coolest thing I’ve learnt would be the sandbox/bookmark apis. They were tricky but they unlocked the actions that were the most fun to build. The feature I really enjoyed building was Top Shelf and it’s actually become the thing I use the most lately.
10) Top Drop - What’s next?! Do you have an future features planned that you can share with us?
I am actually on a bit of a holiday right now so I’m trying to unplug a little 🤣. As far as TopDrop goes, I would love to hear any ideas or suggestions people might have! I do have an iOS app I’ve been working on that I am hoping to release later this year to help people out with gift ideas 🤫🎁 it’s in a TestFlight closed beta right now, but I plan on opening it up later.
11) What’s been the hardest part of being an indie dev? What the most fun part of being an indie dev?
The hardest part is treating it like a job. It’s important to structure the work and use the processes you would use in any venture you hope to make a success. It’s easy to skip things when it’s just you.
The most fun part is getting to work on my own and decide for myself if it’s worth using the latest and greatest apis (I usually decide it is 🤣)
12) Is there anything else you’d like to tell the indie dev community about you?
If anyone would like to chat or follow me I am usually on iOS-Developers slack (https://ios-developers.io/). I also try to tweet (@IanKay) and blog(https://iankeen.tech/) useful things, not as frequently as I’d like sadly.
13) Do you have any other indie devs that readers should follow / lookout for?
Besides yourself of course, Jordan Morgan (@JordanMorgan10): his Best in Class App book/tweets are fantastic, Andrew Zheng (@aheze0) is one to watch: he has already produced some very impressive open source and Joe Fabisevich (@mergesort): he has some big thing coming out soon and is one of the most thoughtful people I’ve been lucky enough to become online friends with!
Newly Released and Updated Indie Apps
Here are some newly released and newly updated apps from this past week! If you would like to possibly see your app in this list, please submit your app to the look at me form 👀
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