Happy Monday, everyone!

We made it to Issue #133! Thank you to everyone who read last week’s issue ❤️

And like… this should really be issue #134 but its not because I completely forgot to make a new issue last week 🤦‍♂️ I have no idea what happened I somehow forgot it was Monday until it was Friday and it was just too late to make an issue 😛 I guess my 132 issue streak was broken but 🤷‍♂️

One other thing I want to mention that I’m so excited about is about… Deep Dish Swift (You’ll see an ad for it below, I’ve mentioned it in early issues, and its all over my socials)

But I’m super excited that there will 25-ish featured developers from Indie Dev Monday will be attending Deep Dish Swift 🥳 Indie devs have always a strong community inside of the iOS/Swift community so I really wanted an event that had could highlight the indie dev community and that is what the first day of Deep Dish Swift does. I’m so excited to meet all of these featured indie developers in person but I’m also excited to meet all of the other indie devs that have not been featured… yet 😉

Today’s Spotlighted Indie Devs

📆 Today I’m featuring Lena Mattea Stoxen.

Lena is the creator of MerkMal. MerkMal is a tool for tracking chronic or pain-related illnesses. With a simple user interface, you can easily add symptoms and track them over time. The easy interface to interface makes this the ideal way to track your symptoms when you aren’t feeling well. It provides some powerful and useful ways to view the severity of your symptoms and how often they occur. You can use this to see how kind of environmental factors or treatments are helping. I just love how easy MerkMal is to use and how it can help improve your health that his is a must-have app for anyone with chronic or pain-related illnesses! Download it today 💪

👉 Please make sure to follow them or support them anyway you can! 😇 I’m excited to share their indie dev stories.

Indie Dev

Lena Mattea Stoxen

Hannover, Germany

Computer science student and creator of MerkMal

Lena Mattea Stoxens


1) What is your name? Where do you live (city or general area)?

My name is Lena, but online I often use Thea or Tea online. I live close to Hannover in Germany.

2) Introduce yourself. Education? Background? Main job? Interests outside of tech? Interests inside of tech?

I study Computer Science at Volkswagen. In my free time I enjoy playing golf and painting with Acryl. Accessibility, SwiftUI (it’s better than UIKit and I won’t argue :) and Augmented Reality are topics I really enjoy. Currently I do a lot of CoreData, so I’ve grown to love that as well. Sadly I don’t have a lot of time for Augmented Reality right now.

3) Have you ever considered yourself an indie developer?

Sort of, I guess? I’m not sure what exactly “Indie developer” even means (It might be a language barrier, the word combination just doesn’t really have a meaning for me). I make apps because I like programming. So I think that makes me a developer. Indie? I don’t know.

4) What got you started/interested in creating your own applications outside of your “normal” job?

I read an article about the WWDC Scholarship. It was about someone going to the WWDC and he was talking about how great it was. When I read it, I thought “I want that too” and “programming really can’t be that hard”. So I got myself a book and started teaching programming in swift to myself. Back then I was still in school.

5) How do you balance your time between friends/family, work, hobbies, and indie dev?

I have never thought about that. Mostly, I do what I need to do first, followed by whatever I want to. If I feel like programming, I do that. Currently I feel more like doing acrylic paintings, so I haven’t been coding that much outside of work. 

What I love about university is that I get to spend quite a lot of time with my friends and that I see them very often. And thanks to social media I can text with the friends I’m seeing less regularly. And as I live very close to my family I see them often as well. So I don’t have to do a lot of balancing right now.

6) MerkMal - MerkMal is such a great solution to symptom tracking! My wife gets migraines and I could totally see her using MerkMal 😊 When did you start making it and what were your goals?

I had the idea about three years back. Since then I’ve built the app from scratch three times. This is the first version I have been able to finish 😂. When making this version, I wanted to make a simple app, a small proof of concept. Just to fix some issues I had with the version before that. 

But I ended up liking the new interface more. I wanted it to be easy to use (symptomTrackingAppSimple was the working title for this app). I had looked at some other apps and in my opinion they were (as were my first versions) to complicated. They tracked minute by minute, but I felt that this was too detailed. I didn’t like that you had to enter data for basically every minute. Of course that can be helpful, but I felt like it’s too detailed if you only have symptoms sometimes and not all the time. 

Making it easy to use was most important to me.

7) MerkMal - I love the ease of use that MerkMal provides! The symptom intensity sliders are big and easy to use. It takes no time at all and its actually fun to log the symptom intensities 🙃 Did you have any other user interfaces that you were testing with? I can’t think of anything but is there anything you’d like to do different to the current intensity interface?

Thank you! 

As I mentioned before, this is version 3 of this app. It’s actually the first version that got a product name. My older interfaces had steppers, but I didn’t like them. 

I don’t think I would do something different. Though, I feel like I want to add some more description to the type of pain.

8) MerkMal - I think one of my favorite parts of MerkMal is the calendar view showing the last 6 months of sympom intensisties. I think that having the day’s background be a gradient that matches four level of intesities logged in genius! That’s so much data packed into one little block and its 🔥 No real question here but have this 🏆 for a great way of representing data!

Thank you ☺️ it took so long to make it.

9) MerkMal - I’m assuming here that you created MerkMal to track your own symptoms. How has it been helping you? Have you been able to understand symptom triggers to help prevent them?

I don’t want to talk about my own health too much, but I do use my own app. Most ideas I have for new features come from using my own app. I do feel like my health has improved. I feel like I have more control because I know how I’m feeling. For a long time I struggled to accurately describe how I was feeling, so seeking treatment was difficult. Writing things down has helped me in getting a better treatment for myself.

10) MerkMal - What was the most fun thing to build in MerkMal? What was the hardest?

Most difficult was the slider. I had a simple version working directly in the beginning, but it had some major issues. You could slide it off screen on the right side. In my first approach to fix the slider, you were still able to move it further to the left than to the right. It wasn’t much, but very noticeable. 

Getting the data for the charts was also very difficult.

Most fun…. this is a hard question… I think most fun was seeing how much I leaned through the whole process of making the app. I managed to fix the slider about three days before I published it. When I looked at the broken code of the slider that time, it became so obvious to me what I did wrong and why it was broken. 

When I started I always had this idea of making a calendar, but I just didn’t get how to make one, and when I did, that was a really good feeling.

So I guess the most fun part was solving the issues I was having. Finding solutions to the problems my code had and improving it.

11) MerkMal - What’s next?! Do you have any future features planned that you can share with us?

I have planned so many things 😂. I keep lists of all the things I have planned, grouped by how realistic they are. 

I am quite scared to crowd the app too much though. 

So next on my list is a macOS version. I’m hoping to have it ready by end of next month.

12) What’s been the hardest part of being an indie dev? What’s the most fun part of being an indie dev?

Staying motivated is the hardest I think. And actually pulling though and finishing a project. As I said, there were multiple versions of MerkMal before it. And whenever they approached a finish line, I would get so scared of a minor inconvenience I was having with the app, that I’d quit working on it. I would just start to trash the whole project in my head (telling myself that I can’t fix the issues, and that it’s broken beyond repair and that the idea was bad in the first place) and then I started from scratch all over again. 

The most fun part is solving the mystery of how to do something. Like when you come back to a problem you had some time ago, and then you know how to solve it. Or when you find an article online and suddenly you realise whats wrong with you code. That just makes me very happy. As you may have realised I tend to be a nerd; I love learning and I love solving/thinking through coding problems. Currently I have a lot of fun learning about databases, CoreData and accessibility.

13) Is there anything else you’d like to tell the indie dev community about you?

Minding that I have said a lot already; I believe I talk too much. Especially about programming.

14) Do you have any other indie devs that readers should follow / lookout for?

I’m not quite sure all of them are considered indie devs. There is a long list of people in the community I like and some I can even call my friends. 

There is Isabella (@bencardinob), Tai (@taiomi), Henri (@henricreates) and Audrey (@MvpOhhhDrey). Most of whom I had the great pleasure of meeting in “real” life as well. 

As for following, I quite like the YouTube videos of Karin Prater. I’m not really a fan of videos, but I always enjoy watching hers. 

And over on Instagram I love Tru Narla (she’s also on Twitter and YouTube I think) (@mewtru on Instagram).

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 👀

Retro Arcade for Watch Newly Released
Retro Arcade is a FREE collection of classic arcade games for the Apple Watch and iPhone. It includes games inspire by the classic arcade games Gyruss, Galaxian, Asteroids and 1942. It is free to play and built exclusively for Apple Watch and iPhone using SwiftUI and SpriteKit.
The latest version of Mockup brings new and improved features for a seamless design experience. You can now arrange objects, copy & paste, publish your created elements to the community, use a new TV template, enjoy an enhanced toolbar, and more.
Happyfeed Updated
Now you can create a mashup movie from all your photos and videos from the previous month. Movies are generated on your device and downloadable.
Suitable for the round frame Polaroid.

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