Happy Monday, everyone!

We made it to the 17th issue! Thank you to everyone who read last week’s issue ❤️


📆 Today I’m featuring Becky Hansmeyer and Cesar Palma. Both of whom are designers!

Becky is the creator of YarnBuddy and Scribblet. YarnBuddy is beautiful, easy-to-use project tracker and row counter for knitters and crocheters. Scribblet is an app to add quick doodles, sketches, and scribbles to your home screen through widgets. I've been a fan of Becky's for some time now 😊 She made a big splash with her release of YarnBuddy earlier this year and then made another big splash with Scribblet around the iOS 14's release! I'm not a knitter or crocheter (yet) but I can 100% see why Becky made YarnBuddy and why it's been such a hit. She made it incredibly easy to keep track of project status and row count. You can even use YarnBuddy to find yarn substitutions 🤯 I'll be keeping YarnBuddy in my back pocket for when I have time learn to knit or crochet in the future. Scribblet, on the other hand, is an app that I can make full use of right now. It's a beautiful merger of iOS 14's PencilKit and Widgets. I'm not much of a doodler so my home screen is full of terrible looking widgets but I love it. It's great for both writing notes and personalizing your home screen. Check out both of these apps today!

Cesar is the creator of Days OnSite - CRA Tracker. Days OnSite is the best app to keep track of your monitoring visits, research sites, and study protocols as a clinical research assistance. I'm not a clinical research assistant and I didn't really know what one did until last week when Cesar launched his app. But I was quickly interested in his origin story as a clinical research assistant and development of the Days OnSite app. You can tell from the first use of this app that Cesar put a lot of time and care into Days OnSite. It's polished, easy to use, and has some nice personal touches that a lot of clinical researcher assistants should enjoy! You need to download Days OnSite today if you are a CRA. This app will for sure make your job easier! And if you aren't a CRA and know somebody that is, you need to introduce them to Days OnSite!

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


Indie Devs

Becky Hansmeyer

Nebraska, USA

Stay-at-home mom and creator of YarnBuddy and Scribblet

Cesar Palma

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Clinical Research Associate and creator of Days OnSite


Becky Hansmeyer

Q&A

1) What is your name? Where do you live?

Hi! I’m Becky Hansmeyer. I live on a farm in rural Nebraska, about a 30-minute drive from the capital city of Lincoln.

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

I took a rather unconventional route to becoming an app developer. I graduated from college in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education. By the time I completed my student teaching experience as a senior, I realized that I just did not physically have the energy to be a K-12 music teacher. After graduating I took a job at my alma mater as an administrative assistant for the music and theater departments. I began thinking that maybe I could somehow combine my love of computers and education, so I got an online masters degree in Educational Technology Leadership from George Washington University. The year I graduated was the year Tim Cook gave a commencement speech there; unfortunately, I wasn’t able to fly across the country to see him in person!

Anyway, while I was working on my masters, I taught myself Objective-C, and then as soon as Swift was announced I switched over and began using Swift. I released my first app, a simple app that displayed bible verses, in 2015 and had so much fun that I knew I wanted to make more apps! The next year I gave birth to my son Charlie, and began what I consider to be my main job of being a stay-at-home mom. We now have two kids, Charlie (4) and Penny (2).

Outside of programming, I really enjoy photography, reading, nature walks, and playing video games. I got a Nintendo Switch Lite this past spring, so a rather significant chunk of my free time during this strange quarantine period was spent playing Animal Crossing! 😆 Within tech, I’m primarily interested in Apple products and iOS development. I’m an enthusiastic early adopter of new tech, so I’m especially interested in SwiftUI.

3) Have you ever considered yourself an indie developer?

Yes! When I first started learning how to program, I purposefully sought out solo iOS developers that had blogs, Twitter accounts, podcasts, etc. I wanted to hear about their experiences and they largely inspired me to keep pushing toward my dream of releasing my own apps. Meanwhile, I did my best to think of myself as one of them—to sort of get in that mindset and gain a sense of belonging to that community. So yeah, even though my main job is to be a mom, I definitely consider myself an indie developer as well.

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

I didn’t get an iPhone until the 4S, but I did have a first-gen iPod Touch. A college friend of mine made a cute little memory/matching game and released it on the App Store shortly after it debuted and I was just in awe that it was so easy to make something fun and distribute it to millions of people. It would be a few more years before I started teaching myself programming in earnest, but I’d definitely say that my experience with the iPod Touch is what kickstarted my interest in app making.

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

Rather poorly! 😅 No, but seriously, this is something I struggle with. My kids take up the vast majority of my time, and I feel like I have to divide what’s left between my spending time with my husband, doing basic chores/errands, and working on my apps. Sometimes I’ll only have 30 minutes a day to sit down with my laptop. It’s frustrating, but I know it will likely improve when the kids start school someday!

6) YarnBuddy - I, sadly, do not know how to knit or crochet but I would be in love if there was an app like YarnBuddy for woodworking! The tools provided by YarnBuddy (multiple counters, yarn stash, conversions, and yarn substitutions) make this seem like the ultimate tool for knitters and crocheters. What was life like before using YarnBuddy? Was all of this information kept on paper or in a notebook?

So, back before smartphones and tablets really took off, people would find knitting/crocheting patterns in books or magazines, or print them off and mark them up with highlighters and pens to keep track of their place. You could also buy little plastic stitch counters that slipped over one of your knitting needles, or even electronic ones you could wear around your neck or keep nearby, about the size of a stopwatch. Personally, I made a lot of tally marks on sticky notes or pieces of scrap paper. There are also a handful of other knitting/crocheting apps on the App Store; however, I couldn’t find one that I really liked.

7) YarnBuddy - I’ve heard and seen soooo many great things about you and YarnBuddy! I actually just found out that you announced YarnBuddy in July of this year. I totally thought it’s been around for years 😛 What was your launch plan like? Did you have a community in particular that you wanted to build this for? Or did you build this for fun and mainly for yourself?

I actually seriously thought about launching it in September, alongside iOS 14, just because I thought I could generate a little more buzz that way. However, impatience got the better of me and I decided that it would be more helpful to release it earlier and see what feedback I got so that I could start making improvements. Since YarnBuddy is such a niche product, I felt it would be a waste of time to contact the tech press about it. Instead, I just wrote a quick blog post, fired out a tweet, and let it out into the wild! I built the app both for myself and the knitting and crocheting community at large. I’m actually still struggling to get the word out to my intended audience, mainly because so many of the popular online knitting and crocheting communities have strict rules against self-promotion unless you’re an active member, which I’m not. However, word-of-mouth advertising seems to be working, albeit very slowly, and the feedback I’ve gotten has been great.

8) YarnBuddy - The YarnBuddy app icon is so 🔥 It’s probably the cutest app icon on my phone. Did you do this icon design yourself? And do you have YarnBuddy t-shirts? 😊 I would wear this shirt so much

Haha, no t-shirts yet, but I’m definitely considering some merch in the future! Yes, I designed the icon myself, using Affinity Designer on my iPad Pro. I would have preferred to hire someone to do it, but my indie budget was a bit too tight for that. At any rate, I’m pleased with how it came out; I wanted it to be something cute and playful that made folks smile when they saw it. From the feedback I’ve gotten, it sounds like mission accomplished! 😄

9) YarnBuddy - I believe that YarnBuddy was created with SwiftUI. I’m fairly certain I had at least 40 tabs open to “Hacking with Swift” for my first three months of learning SwiftUI. I loved it but it felt like my 8 years of iOS experience never existed 😛 Was this your first SwiftUI project? What were your learning experiences like with SwiftUI? Do you have a favorite and least favorite thing about SwiftUI?

You’re right, YarnBuddy is totally written in SwiftUI and was my first SwiftUI project. My learning experience was very similar to yours—lots of “Hacking with Swift” tabs open and generally questioning everything I knew about how apps are supposed to be architected. However, once things really started to click, I found myself able to progress and iterate so much more quickly than I could using UIKit and storyboards (and I was a storyboard fan!). So my favorite thing about it is probably how fast you can move from an idea to something really tangible, functional, and even decent-looking. My least favorite part is just all the little holes in the API that have to be filled with UIKit or weird little hacks. Things like the appearance APIs for modifying navigation bar colors, and `controls like search bars, the share sheet, etc.

10) YarnBuddy - I currently don’t have much free time but I would love to learn how to either knit or crochet at some point 🙂 Although, I have no idea where I would even begin. Do you have any recommendations on which to learn first and how to start learning? Is there like a knitting/crocheting version of “100 days of SwiftUI”? 😇

In my mind, crocheting is easier to learn… but I may just think that because I don’t know how to knit. 😆 My mother taught me how to crochet, but I’ve also picked up some techniques from books and YouTube videos. It’s actually a lot like programming; you find a pattern for something you want to make, and as soon as you hit a term or type of stitch you aren’t familiar with, you can just search for it and get a zillion tutorials. I’d really like to learn how to knit sometime soon; I think I’ll start by picking up the book “Knit a Hat” by Alanna Okun. It looks like a really great book for beginners, and at the end you wind up with a new hat!

11) Scribblet - Ummm… Scribblet is so dope. My doodling is terrible but it’s so easy to draw anything I want to be in a widget ❤️ I’ve been wanting to learn and experiment with PencilKit but I feel slightly intimidated by it 😅 And PencilKit was just introduced in iOS 14 so I haven’t talked to too many people that have used it yet. What are your initial thoughts on PencilKit? Was it fairly easy to pickup? Does it work well with SwiftUI?

Ha, I’m glad you like Scribblet! 😄 In my experience, PencilKit is one of those APIs that is really easy to get started with, but is also capable of doing more complex things depending on your needs, like letting you examine individual strokes and points inside of a drawing. For Scribblet, I wrapped a PKCanvasView using UIViewRepresentable and it pretty much “just worked!”

12) Scribblet - I saw in the App Store description that you mention you can use Scribblet to make a comic which 🤯 Have your users shared some of their cool scribbles with you? What have been some of your favorite uses of Scribblet that you’ve seen or didn’t expect?

I actually haven’t gotten much feedback about Scribblet (I wish people would send me cool scribbles!). There were a few reviews of it shortly after it came out and based on those, it seems like the most popular use case is jotting down a quick note or list to remember.

13) YarnBuddy and Scribblet - What’s next for YarnBuddy and Scribblet? Have any fun new features in the works that you want to share?

For Scribblet, the most asked-for feature has been iCloud sync, so I may try to implement that at some point. Right now you have to import/export widgets individually if you want to transfer them between devices.

I have a huge list of new features I want to build for YarnBuddy, enough to keep me busy for several years! In the short term, I’m focusing on ways to export and backup your data in the app. Eventually I also want to add things like time tracking, Shortcuts support, a way to keep track of all the different tools you own, and even some AR/machine learning features.

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

Marketing has definitely been the hardest part. Without a huge advertising budget, it’s hard to get the word out about your app, and reaching out to the press can be really hit-or-miss. It’s also been difficult to manage my expectations; I’d wager that even indies who claim they don’t care if they make money off their side projects occasionally fantasize about striking it rich (I know I have!). It’s always a bit of a let-down to see sales both bottom out and flatten out after launch. However, there are so many more upsides to being an indie, and I’d say the most fun part for me is just hearing from users who are enjoying my apps! I’ll never get tired of reading reviews from happy customers. 😊

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

Hmm let’s see…people usually like to hear about pets! So I’d like everyone to know that we have an adorable Welsh Corgi named Daisy and a total of 12(!) outdoor farm cats that are extremely cuddly and friendly and occasionally charm their way into our house. We used to have ten chickens, but all of them got chased off by an unknown predator except for one, which we have named Hen Solo.

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

Oh wow, yeah…probably more than I could ever remember to list here! However, off the top of my mind, here’s a few folks you should follow: Malin Sundberg (@malinsundberg, developer of Orbit), Federico Zanetello (@zntfdr), who always posts great SwiftUI tips, Samuel Coe (@thesamecoe, developer of Relate), and Dario Roa (@_darioroa, developer of Iconboard and Codye).

Cesar Palma

Q&A

1) What is your name? Where do you live?

My name is Cesar Palma and live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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

I have a degree in Chemistry and Pharmacy. I have been working in the pharmaceutical industry for the past 15 years. The last 10 years I’ve been working in Clinical Research as a Clinical Research Associate working closely with pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs and treatments from Dengue fever vaccines in the Brazilian jungle to complicated studies on enzyme disorders in North America.

I started playing with computers since internet’s early days. I didn’t have access to a computer back then, so I regularly visited my local library where a bunch of computers where available for general use and the person in charge was an enthusiast of GNU/Linux. Of course, a couple of those computers ran Debian and that’s how I started.

For years I was a heavy user of Debian and then Ubuntu. I traveled abroad to meet other Linux communities and I gave a couple of presentations on the topic. I even had a blog circa 2004 where I shared all things Linux.

All things changed when I got my first iPod. It was an iPod nano and I fell in love with Apple’s design language. Then I bought my first MacBook and by that time I was using Mac OSX almost all the time. No turning back.

All that journey was done with my headphones and metal music in the background. Long time metalhead here🤘🏻 I enjoy playing distorted guitar riffs. I own four guitars and to this day I still have the feeling that I can add just one more.

I’m also a proudly retired gamer. I played all kinds of games with some “highlights” Diablo 2 and 3 and Lineage II. I do not own any game console and and the only thing I still have from those years is my game tag. R4S3C is my reversed name with a twist.

3) Have you ever considered yourself an indie developer?

I’ve been making apps since late 2014, after I started to learn Swift and UIKit. A lot of toy/example/just for fun apps, but it was until I met my mentor in the middle of 2019 when I recognized myself as an iOS Developer.

From the start, our meetings were full of great conversations about frameworks, design decisions, architecture, the current and future state of development for Apple platforms. I was having a conversation with a Senior iOS developer and I did not feel intimidated at all. On the contrary, we had discussions about my decisions on what architecture or technologies I was using. The why and how and at that point I felt for the first time like an iOS Developer.

Also, I feel the community is the glue that holds everything together. I am part of this community, I buy books and courses, I support other developer’s work, I rate my favourite tech podcasts, I share content that I like and that is also important.

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

Mainly because it’s fun for me but also because I have this urge to create and build something. Coding and music fulfill this need for me. I didn’t have a specifically-tailored mobile tool to help me schedule and track my daily activities. You can use a spreadsheet, of course, you can use a pen and paper, sure, but I’m an advocate for automating all those boring and time consuming tasks, so I created the app I needed with the look and feel that I like.

Every time I showed the app to a colleague, they asked the same the question: “It’s available in the App Store?” So I decided to turn it into a product for all my colleagues to use and benefit from.

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

Oh boy, I am that freak that wakes up 6:00 AM to do a daily workout and goes to sleep at 10:00 PM. I love to get things done. I’ve been developing the habit of separating my important and urgent tasks of the day (no more than 5) and most of the time I get them done. There is just one rule: my family first. I don’t care if the app is crashing or if I have a deadline to meet, my family is first and is at the top of my priorities. I learned that when you put things in perspective, it’s all clear: your loved ones are the ones who make you happy. That’s why I invest in my family, I invest in creating memories. All other things you do that don’t fulfill your priorities like family, health and recreation are just a waste of your time and effort.

At the end of the day, there is nothing to balance when you have your priorities clear.

6) Days OnSite - First of all, congrats on your app release today! (Well, its’s your release day when I wrote this question). You made a huge splash on Twitter with your announcement! I think I saw your post in my timeline like 10 or more times 😛 What kinds of plans or expectations did you have going into your launch day?

I shared my story on Twitter for two main reasons: To share with others that might be in my same situation as me and feel that they don’t belong or it’s not possible. That was my way to say: “Just try and have fun while you can” And also, as a way to say thank you to the people that inspired and taught me in the way.

7) Days OnSite - I want to talk about your design, colors, and gradients in your screenshots. I just love them so much. Do you also have interest in design outside of programming and pharmacy? Do you have any tips or tricks on how to make good screenshots and marketing materials? This is somewhat of a selfish question 🙃

It’s so nice to hear you like the design of the app! I tried to build it so it looks, feels and behaves the way I like. Days OnSite is the app that makes me enjoy checking my numbers, trackers, deadlines and metrics in one place.

I got inspiration from indie developers who care about the platform, a lot of them were mentioned in my Twitter post. Also, I used the same tools that those developers use to create their marketing materials and designs like Sketch or Figma. I love Angle.sh and Shape.so from Meng To. I can’t recommend them enough! I used those resources through all my marketing materials.

8) Days OnSite - What were your learning experiences like when first learning iOS and Swift versus learning SwiftUI? SwiftUI made me feel like I did’t know anything 😝 Did you have more fun and frustration with one over the other?

I was comfortable transcoding my ideas into apps with UIKit. I like UIKit a lot. SwiftUI made me think in a different way, the whole paradigm was completely different than the UIKit approach and made me feel a little bit uncomfortable. We tend to be scared of failing. My approach was different: I was looking forward to breaking things. Embracing the failure as quick as possible was huge for me. Find the rock bottom quickly to then just improve every day.

I really enjoy SwiftUI and I’m grateful with the Apple folks that have been working on it.

9) Days OnSite - I’m not a CRA but I totally wish I was so I could regularly use this app 😊 What kind of processes or tools did you use before you developed Days OnSite? What made you decide to pull the trigger and make an app replacement?

Every company has their workflow to record and display metrics, but normally CRAs use a spreadsheet with a bunch of filters and pivot tables in it. Until now ;)

I think the main reason was that, in order to review my metrics, I needed to grab my computer, log into a VPN to have access to my documents and only then use the filters in the spreadsheet to get my information. I needed that information at a glance, easy to check offline, easy to modify or delete, and also displayed in the way I would like to see it.

10) Days OnSite - I love the personal touches in this app! It put a smile on my face to see “Now it 🍷 time” and “Go hug a loved one 🤗” on “Send Confirmation” screen. I don’t know if this is a question but its so great to see! Things like this make come back to app. Please take this 🏆!

Thank you! Being a CRA is a time-consuming job, we spend a lot of time away from our families and in some cases it’s a lonely job. I needed that reward, a word of encouragement or just a funny one like one I tell my wife when I finish doing the dishes: “Like a Ninja 🥷” So Days OnSite rewards you after cleaning your pending tasks… like a ninja 😉

11) Days OnSite - What’s next?! Do you have new features already lined up?

I’m expecting my colleagues will dictate that. My priority will be to listen to them and add features that matters to them.

I have a prototype of a watch app, iMessage stickers, Face ID, machine learning to identify error in documents and notifications. Those are the features I would like to add, however, this could change if my colleagues ask for something else.

12) In one of your tweets you mentioned that you had other apps that you’ve created but haven’t released. Do you have any plans to bring any of your other apps to the App Store? Are you able to share what they are? I’m asking because I’d love to have more of your apps on my devices 😁

Have you ever created an app and then you notice that @JPEGuin already shipped a better version, you buy that one and then you need to move on? No, just me?

My first app was a timer to track the time my wife took to solve problems in preparation for a GMAT exam. It was a success with her and since then I have been building tiny tools for myself.

One of those tiny tools is the perfect candidate for my next project, but hey! I’m focused on Days OnSite for now. Hopefully we can chat again when my next project is out.

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

The best: the constant learning and the warm community around it. I like to solve problems and coding gives me that opportunity every day. I code because it’s fun not because I have to.

The hardest: reaching out to media outlets and promoting the app as an indie is hard when your target audience is such a specific niche. You would think that it’s easier because they are well identified but it’s not. But I’m confident that the app will grow in downloads with time, with word of mouth within my colleagues.

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

Please reach out, let’s talk, share experiences, review code together. If we fail we are going to do it together and we are going to have fun for sure.

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

There are a lot of them out there, but lately I’ve been getting inspiration from:


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