Happy Monday, everyone!

We made it to the 19th issue! Thank you to everyone who read last week’s issue ❤️


📆 Today I’m featuring James Thomson, Travis Stanifer and… myself?

I promised myself I wouldn’t use Indie Dev Monday to promote anything I’m working on but I launched an app last week and got a few requests for me to be put into an Indie Dev Monday issue 😅 Emmanuel, from Issue #5, sent me some interview questions over the weekend so I attached myself into this issue.

James is the creator of PCalc for iPad and iPhone, PCalc for Mac, and Dice by PCalc. I have been a big fan of James for so long. James has a lot of experience living the indie dev life and has been an inspiration to so many of us. PCalc is a fully featured scientific calculator with support for hexadecimal, octal and binary calculations, as well as an RPN mode, parentheses, programmable functions, and an extensive set of unit conversions. Dice by PCalc is a physics-based simulation of polyhedral dice for use in tabletop role-playing games with dungeons and/or dragons. PCalc is the best calculator you can possibly get on macOS and iOS. It's not only beautiful and easy to use but has infinitely more features than the default system calculator. I haven't come close to using the full functionality of PCalc but it's so worth on any level. Dice by PCalc is also so 🤯 It's a physical-based dice rolling app that feels incredibly real. Dice allows rolling of any dice combinations as well as making custom dice. You can even choose from an incredible amount of textures. Check out both PCalc and Dice by PCalc today! You for sure need one or both of these apps 🙃

Travis is the creator of XLaunch. XLaunch is a SpaceX launch tracking app for space enthusiasts. I've just recently discovered XLaunch and I'm loving it! I've been interested in SpaceX launches but I've missed so many in the past 😱 I found out about one launch in the past from one of my neighbor ladies on Facebook. It worked out well but I figured I should probably also know for myself 🙂 XLaunch is perfect for me! Not only do I get information about information about launches, a live stream, and space news... I also get notifications before and when launches happen! XLaunch is a beautifully built app. Download it today and never miss space again!

Josh is the creator of ConnectKit. ConnectKit is the best way to interact with the App Store Connect API on iOS. ConnectKit securely stores API Keys and provides Shortcut actions to use the API Keys to make authenticated requests. I originally created ConnectKit as prototype but got so inspired by all of the indie devs that I've been interviewing that I owed it to myself and all of you to do the indie dev thing 😀 I've used ConnectKit to submit itself to the App Store with Siri over Car Play, add new people to TestFlight groups, and create widgets with WidgetPack and Charty. ConnectKit is a fun app to experiment with the App Store Connect API! Give it a shot today 😉

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


Indie Devs

James Thomson

Glasgow, Scotland

Runs TLA Systems making apps for Apple products

Travis Stanifer

Lake Forest, CA, USA

iOS QA Software Engineer and creator of XLaunch

Josh Holtz

Chicago, IL, USA

Owner of RokkinCat, lead maintainer of fastlane, creator of Indie Dev Monday and ConnectKit


James Thomson

Q&A

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

I’m James Thomson, and I live with my wife in Glasgow, Scotland. Together we run a software company called TLA Systems making apps for Apple products.

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

I’ve been doing this full time since 2000, so this is my main job and has been for some time now. I started programming the Mac when I was at university studying for a Computing Science degree in 1990, and I’ve been playing with computers ever since I got a Commodore 64 as a kid in 1983. My interests outside of tech are fairly vanilla for a man of my age I’d say - comics, video games, lego, and movies. Inside of tech, I like playing with the cutting edge, so at the moment things like AR and VR, and 3D graphics generally.

3) Have you ever considered yourself an indie developer?

The term indie developer is relatively new, but I think I was one even back when I was distributing freeware via usenet in 1992.

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

I was creating my own apps before I even had a normal job - indeed I was doing it to try and get one in the first place! I put out PCalc and DragThing for free in the early 90s, as a calling card, in the hope that I would be noticed by a big company. And it worked - I ended up working for Apple from 1996 to 2000, before I started doing my own thing full time.

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

Very poorly, is the honest answer. Because I work from home, and have done for 20 years, I try hard to have some boundaries between work and personal life. One room of my home is an office, and I know when I’m in there in front of the computer, that’s it’s “work time”. And I try to keep regular hours, and only work weekdays. Of course, it gets rather blurred at the edges. I will answer work emails from the sofa at any hour of the day, and sometimes I end up writing code on my laptop there too. The company is only myself and my wife, and she handles all the financial and paperwork side of things, so it’s almost impossible to keep things entirely separate.

Josh Thought

I’m blown away by all of the functionality PCalc offers every time I used it. There are probably a million questions I want to ask you about PCalc so I’m going to try to ask the important ones 😉

6) PCalc - What would past you have thought in 1992 (when PCalc was created) that you would still be working on PCalc 28 years later? And that PCalc runs on TVs and computers that fit in our pockets? 😇

Absolutely not! It was always intended to be a “first app” that I wrote to learn how to program the Mac, and then I would move onto the next thing. I didn’t anticipate that it would actually be popular, or provide me with an income I could live off. I had a calculator on my watch back then, but I never expected I would make one!

7) PCalc - I can’t even begin to imagine everything that you have learned over the years. Were you a big into math when you started working on PCalc? What have been some of the hardest math functions to learn and implement along the way?

The truth is that I wasn’t, and I wouldn’t even describe myself that way now. I am big into user interface design though, and that’s where my passion lies. A calculator was just a small thing I could make to explore that, and is part of the reason I port PCalc anywhere I can - it’s a different challenge and learning experience each time. A lot of the actual maths is performed by Apple’s own maths library. The hardest parts are around things like following the correct order of operations, or working out the logic of custom user conversions or functions.

8) PCalc - What have been some of your favorite features to add to PCalc over the years? Are there any that stand out that have been extremely fun or frustrating?

I think it’s fair to say that the About screen of PCalc is actually the most fun I’ve had programming anything in years. For those that don’t know, I was experimenting with Apple’s SceneKit 3D APIs at the time, and I implemented amongst other things, a working AR calculator, a physics simulator, and a driving game.

9) PCalc - I can’t even imagine how many people and industries have used PCalc over the years. Have you ever gotten any cool stories over the years from users of PCalc? Has PCalc ever been used in calculations to send somebody to space? 🙃

I do know that I’ve sold copies to NASA in the past, so potentially a calculation was made at some point that might have helped. But there’s not really any way to know - people write in and request features, but don’t really tell me what they do with them. I think that’s for the best, in some ways! I know people use it in the cockpits of planes, in hospitals, and in nuclear facilities. That’s a lot of pressure!

10) PCalc- The PDF documentation for PCalc is 🤯 72 pages is a lot of pages. What is the process like for putting that documentation together? Did you start some basics and keep adding to the documentation when users asked question? Is it hard to keep the documentation up to date?

Most of the manual was written by Glenn Fleishman, who is a technology writer, reporter, and friend who I’ve known for years. The process was really pointing him at the app, and paying him! I did write some of the sections at the back about what each function does. I am very bad at doing documentation, which is why I decided I would get somebody else to do it for me - I always want to spend my time writing code and polishing the app itself. But the downside is also that it hasn’t stayed as up-to-date as I would like either. I’ll take that as feedback

11) Dice - This app is so fun to use! I sadly don’t play games that would use dice (yet) but I’ve purchased it and I just love playing with the dice 😛 What inspired you to create Dice? Was it the technology? Or was it the app functionality itself?

A bit of all of the above, really! Last year, I started playing Dungeons & Dragons online with friends - for the Total Party Kill podcast from The Incomparable network - and my friend Jason Snell said he was surprised I hadn’t made a dice app, given all my recent experience with 3D graphics programming. It seemed like a fun idea for a small project, and I made an app from selecting “New Project” to having it on sale in two weeks. It was fairly bare bones though, so I’ve been polishing it ever since and adding new features as they come to me. It’s also a useful testbed for playing with the new APIs and technology such as Catalyst, which I used to make the Mac version.

12) Dice - I’m blown away by how real the dice look. The textures, lighting, and rolling motions just don’t make sense to me. How did you go about learning everything needed to make this happen? Did a lot of experience come from your “About” screen in PCalc? 🙃

Yes, the About screen definitely gave me a good starting point, though they don’t share much code. Since then, I’ve been learning about more advanced features of SceneKit, and things like how to run code on the GPU to generate some of the textures and normal maps on the fly (the way the numbers look carved into the dice). That meant I could start to make completely custom dice with user text and images. I also got some professional 3D modelling and painting software to use to create the difference dice styles. Like pretty much everything I do, I just jumped into it and started to mess around with things to see what works and what doesn’t. I learned a lot about SceneKit from http://raywenderlich.com too.

13) Dice - The animals dice is my absolute favorite. I did not expect to see that 😝 Being able to fully customize the dice to anything you want is really cool! This is not really a questions but take this 🏆 for making the best dice ever.

Thank you! When I was working on the custom text support, I realised that users could type emoji as well, and because of that, I created the animals dice as one of my test cases. I figured people might enjoy it!

14) Dice and PCalc - Marketing apps is always the hardest part… at least in my opinion 🤷‍♂️ Dice seems like it may have a very different target market than PCalc. How has building and marketing Dice been compared to PCalc? Has user support been any different too?

Marketing is definitely harder than writing the actual code, especially for me. I’m not great at it, because I don’t feel like saying “hey, this is great!” about my own stuff, because I always think it could be better. Generally, I think my visibility on podcasts (both tech and non-tech) has led to a certain degree of familiarity with my apps, and that definitely helps. Also, Apple has been very good at featuring them. I think that’s partially because I’m known for adopting new Apple technologies, which is useful when they are looking to show off some new hardware or software. In terms of the two apps, I think there is actually a pretty big overlap between my customers! It’s all numbers in the end.

15) Dice and PCalc - What’s next for Dice and PCalc? Any new future features that you can share with us? 🙂

This has been a longer than normal Apple release cycle, under some pretty stressful circumstances, so what’s next for me is a rest! I will likely take some time off soon, and think about what to do next at the start of the year. But I have a lot more ideas already written down, and it’s a case of figuring out what’s the best thing to tackle first.

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

The hardest thing is sitting down to a blank slate every morning, and deciding exactly how you’re going to spend your day. That’s probably also the fun part. I do have a significant amount of freedom, which is a great thing, but there is also something to be said for being told what to do and doing it, then going home and leaving your work behind. But from what I remember the work always follows you home, regardless! At least this way I have a bit more control, even if I only have myself to blame for the stress.

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

Nothing else springs to mind here!

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

This is actually the hardest question of all! Not because I can’t think of anyone, but because it’s so hard to narrow the list down, and I don’t want to offend anybody by not mentioning them! I’ll single out Vidit Bhargava (@viditb) who makes the dictionary app LookUp. He works twice as hard as many people I know, including myself, and has done a lot with Catalyst over the last few years.


Travis Stanifer

Q&A

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

I’m Travis Stanifer! I currently live in southern California in Lake Forest, which is in the Irvine/Newport Beach/Laguna Beach area of Orange County.

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

I received my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2015, and continued on to earn my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Indiana University in 2019. Biology, psychology, and healthcare in general were oviously my primary interests during my education, but I was always interested in tech as well. I even completed an intro to computer science course in undergrad, but it didn’t really spark anything in me to pursue it further.

After graduation from my physical therapy program, I moved to California and became a licensed Physical Therapist after months of studying for my licensure exams. I was glad to be out of school and leave the stress of studying behind me, but I never truly enjoyed my work. I worked in an outpatient clinic for some time, but felt that I was overworked and undervalued, and wasn’t being challenged much. I switched jobs and started working in the acute setting in a large regional hospital, which I enjoyed a lot more, but I still had a feeling of just emptyiness towards my job. Like it wasn’t a passion anymore, it was just a job that I did more or less the same exact thing every day.

While working as a PT, I started learning programming in my free time. I never really understood the world of software engineering, and the more I learned the more I was hooked. Being a big fan of Apple, it was easy to start with Swift. I had a MacBook Pro and an iPhone, and so one day I downloaded Xcode and started the most basic tutorials I could find.

About a year later, I was hired for my first iOS dev job! It was exciting, but it wasn’t without caveats. It was a contract position, where I worked for the company as an independent contractor rather than an official employee. This meant no healthcare, salary, or other benefits – just strictly hourly pay for my time. It was also a startup, which always comes with it’s fair share of risks. Unfortunately, this endeavor didn’t last long, and after just a few weeks, the work dried up and I was averaging less than 5 hours of work per week.

It took nearly three months of non-stop applying for jobs and zoom interviews, but I finally found a full-time developer position. I was hired for a QA Software Engineer position specifically working on client apps for iOS written in Swift. I never expected to go into QA for my first position, but I love it. Writing automated tests of iOS applications is a challenge, but is so satisfying once everything comes together. I don’t plan on working in QA forever, but it’s been a fantastic start on my developer journey.

3) Have you ever considered yourself an indie developer?

Generally, I’m not a big fan of labels – but I suppose I am! I don’t consider my app as a product, but rather a hobby that I enjoy working on for myself that I just happen to share with the world. I’m just a guy that likes to code and build cool stuff. Which, to my surprise, lots of other people think it’s cool too! I’m very grateful for that.

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

Shortly after graduating and moving to California, I started learning programming in my free time as a hobby. I was drawn to the “blank slate” nature of it all – using some basic, general knowlege, you can create something completely unique and brand new using just your own creativity. To me, it’s a lot like woodworking or some other trade – everyone can use the same hammer, saw, and nails, but the results will be completely different. The tools are just that, and it’s your creativity and vision that makes the final result something unique and impressive, which I think is really cool.

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

Admittedly, I’ve done a poor job of balancing my time this year during the pandemic. Spending so much time inside is easy if your a software developer with lots of project ideas and things to learn. Recently I started a new job which has really restricted my time that I have available for working on personal stuff, so that’s forced me to use my time more efficiently which I think has helped.

I’ve always been fascinated with science! My biology, chemistry, and physics classes in undergrad were hands down my favorite. I love learning about the world and universe we live in, and love reading about the things we don’t understand even more. Naturally, I love Space and grew up watching NASA’s shuttle launches and have been a space fanatic ever since. I follow SpaceX and NASA the closest, but I’m interested in all things space. I’ve been paying lots of attention to Rocket Lab and Arianespace lately as they make some awesome progress!

7) XLaunch - What go you interested in creating XLaunch? Did you first make this as a personal app or did you always have plans to make this the best SpaceX app available? 😉

I was looking for a solid API just to learn how to interact with APIs and perform network requests in Swift. I wasn’t finding anything super interesting so I googled “space API”, which is how I came across the amazing open-source SpaceX API that XLaunch uses. While learning how to use it I just mocked up an app that used the data. Then one day I realized that, at that time, there weren’t any SpaceX apps on the App Store that were native or “looked” iOS. So my learning project then became an App Store project.

8) XLaunch - The design of XLaunch is soooo clean looking! I have such a hard time understanding how you were able to show so much information on the screen and and make it so easy to read 😛 How many iterations of design did you have to go through? Have you always had an eye for design?

A lot. A lot, a lot, a lot haha. Not long after I started building out the design in code, I discovered Figma and learned to create UI designs there. Figma became my personal sandbox and I just kept mocking up design after design, throwing every idea that popped into my head onto the canvas. It really scatches a creative itch that I never really knew I had. I wouldn’t consider myself a designer, but I do pay attention to details and appreciate the little things. I think those little things are what makes something really great from a design perspective.

9) XLaunch - What was one of the most challenging parts about creating or releasing XLaunch? I’m going to guess the data source or displaying videos but 🤷‍♂️

Data management and video playback were definitely challenges, and it’s an ongoing battle to this day haha. However, the thing I spent hands-down the most time on is the draggable card view at the bottom of the screen when viewing a launch. I have worked on that until my head is spinning from scroll view delegates, pan gesture recognizers, swipe gesture recognizers… but it’s finally something that works respectively well, so I’m proud of that one.

Falcon Heavy is a beast. I love that it’s quite literally just three Falcon 9 rockets strapped together, but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The Falcon Heavy Test Flight video stream from it’s maiden flight remains my favorite rocket launch livestream. The energy and excitement that you can hear and feel as that thing lights up, nails every move, and lands two boosters in synchrony is just awe-inspiring, and I recommend that video to anyone, space-lovers or not. All-time favorite rocket, though? Saturn V without a doubt. I won’t drone on about it here though in the interest of time haha.

11) XLaunch - The notifications feature of XLaunch is probably my favorite feature! I can’t even tell you how many launches I’ve missed before installing XLaunch. I found out about one previous launch from a Facebook post one of my neighbor ladies made. Thankfully I have XLaunch so I can post to Facebook first 😝 This is not really a question but more of a thank you 🙏

I’m glad to hear it! I’m still very new to the notification frameworks, and there’s plenty of room for improvements. So stay tuned! :)

12) XLaunch - What’s next for XLaunch?! Do you have any future features that you are able to share with us? 😁

I just did a major redesign of the entire app which updated the look and feel, but something that isn’t obvious to a user is that I rewrote the entire app from the ground up. I’m crazy, I know, but this got rid of a lot of old, messy code from a older, more inexperienced me haha. This, along with the new design, laid the groundwork for some things that I’m working on. Right now, I’m focused on squashing some bugs and make things overall more consistent. I’m also working on picture-in-picture support for iOS 14 so that you can keep watching a livestream while browsing around in the app or in another app. As far as future features, I’m working on bringing some cool stuff to the Home screen as well as another redesign for the bottom card/page when viewing a launch. I won’t say too much, but Twitter and live rocket telemetry are involved :)

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

I think the most difficult thing for any indie dev is getting your name and your project out there and known. Which kind of perfectly segues into what I think is the most fun thing about being an indie dev, which is the community. I’ve found an amazing community of iOS developers on Twitter, and I can’t recommend getting a Twitter account enough and getting involved. I truly believe it’s the best community on the internet. Everyone is so supportive, helpful, and basically just cheering each other on and offering advice wherever they can.

14) Is there anything else you’d like to tell the indie dev community about you? (there is probably more i could have poked at but I’m still learning over here 😇)

I think we’ve covered quite a bit! If I could take a moment to be a little cheesy, I would tell anyone that’s reading this to not give up on what you want. I’ve always been a believer of the mindset that if you’re not happy with something, change it. That might mean learning something new, or practicing your skills more, or even changing careers. Whatever it is, give it your best shot and no matter what happens, at least you’ll never wonder “what if” later down the road.

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

Absolutely! I want to give a shameless plug for Allen W (@codeine_coding) and his brainchild iOS Dev Happy Hour, which is a monthly online meeting of iOS developers, both new and experienced, where we just get together and hang out. It’s an amazing way to meet more of the community and get to know one another. It’s a ton of fun and I’d recommend it to anyone, especially new developers!

Some of the most useful learning & general resources to me:

  1. Hacking With Swift by Paul Hudson (@twostraws)

  2. Sean Allen (@seanallen_dev) and his courses on Teachable (https://seanallen.teachable.com/)

  3. Ray Wenderlich (https://www.raywenderlich.com)

  4. Swift by Sundell (https://www.swiftbysundell.com/)

  5. iOS Dev Weekly (https://iosdevweekly.com/)

  6. SwiftLee (https://www.avanderlee.com/)

Some amazing devs & community members that I follow: (I can’t list them all, there’s so many!)

  1. Scott Smith (@scottsmithdev) & shoutout to his awesome podcast iOS Building Blocks!

  2. Tim Isenman (@TimIsenman)

  3. Frank Foster (@frankefoster)

  4. Adrian Eves (@swifteves)

  5. Novall Swift (@NovallSwift)

  6. David Hodge (@DavidHodge)

  7. Sebastiaan de With (@sdw)

  8. Christian Selig (@ChristianSelig)

  9. Rudrank Riyam (@rudrankriyam)

  10. Lauren Roth (@lauren_n_roth)

  11. Chris Wu (@MuseumShuffle)

  12. Veronika Markova (@decodeVeronika)


Josh Holtz

Q&A

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

My name is Josh Holtz. I grew up in Milwaukee, WI but I now live in Chicago,IL.

But like… if you are from Chicago, I don’t actually live in Chicago. I live in Chicagoland but more specifically in the west suburbs. I don’t want to offend any of you 😉

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

Most of you might already be familiar with me as I started Indie Dev monday but might not know my background.

I want to college at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) in Milwaukee, WI for a degree in Software Engineering. The software engineering classes were pretty fun but I still liked to work on my own things. I picked up Ruby and Android during my college years. I also primarily used Ubuntu during college so I learned a lot about breaking and fixing Linux installs 🤦‍♂️ A lot of my side projects here helped directly with what I do these days 😁

While at MSOE, I also met two of my current business partners. Long story short, the fall of 2011 after graduation we started a software consulting company called RokkinCat. It’s nine years later and we are still going strong at RokkinCat with a total of 10 employees 💪 Each of us do something a little bit different. We have some backend people that mainly do Elixir (but flex when needed), frontend web people, and mobile people.

I used to do a lot of mobile consulting but these days I’m working on fastlane full time 🚀 Being able to work on fastlane as my my “9 to 5” job now as been so so nice (instead of morning, nights, and weekends). Not only can I give fastlane the time that it needs, I also have more time now for side projects (like ConnectKit)!

My interests outside of tech is a bit different since 2020 happened 🤷‍♂️ But in previous years I used to go rock climbing a lot! I live in Illinois and it’s a long to trip to real rocks but I have a climbing gym a few miles from my house that I would go to about three days weeek. Sadly (but understandably) it’s been closed this year 😞 I’m also into woodworking and playing the occasional video games. Most of my video game playing is fishing in either Minecraft, Startdew Vally, or World of Warcraft 😛

3) Have you ever considered yourself an indie developer?

I actually have not really considered myself an indie developer! I started a software business with some friends so I’m more of entrepreneur and builder but with the release of ConnectKit I feel like I’m creeping closer towards indie developer.

One of the reasons I started Indie Dev Monday was because I found the indie developer world so I intriguing and wanted to be a part of it 😇

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

I’ve been creating my own applications outside of my “normal” job since high school 😎 I took my first programming classes in high school. I couldn’t get enough of it in class so I started building my own projects at home. I built some of my first applications in Visual Basic 5 and PHP and that same attitude kind of carried forward 15 years to the present day 😅

But I just love building things. And there is a different feeling in building things for somebody else (school/work/clients) versus building your own projects. I can be a little more yolo and put some personal passion into how I build things or what I build.

I think what it comes down is I like learning. I’m not necessarily learning when I make applications for other people. My main goal when I build my own projects is to have at least one goal of learning something that I can apply to things in the future.

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

Ha! I’d like to say I do a good job but it’s probably not the case. I will put family and work before my hobbies and indie dev. But if I get some free time at night when I’m just chilling on the couch I will probably pull out my development machine and start working on something. I’m not real great at just sitting and relaxing 😛

But as of lately I try to timebox my life. Example:

  • 5:30am to 7:00am - Indie Dev Monday
  • 7:00am to 8:30am - ConnectKit / An Otter RSS
  • 9:00am to 4:00pm - Work (fastlane)
  • 4:00pm to 5:00pm - Exercise
  • 5:00pm to sleep - Family time, hobby, or more side projects

This doesn’t alway work out well but that is what I try to do 🤷‍♂️

6) ConnectKit - First of all, this is awesome! I know from Twitter that you spend most of your time working on fastlane, but this is another fantastic contribution to the developer world, and a really huge thank you for building + launching this app. I’ve been trying to move as much of my life over to the iPad way of life so the timing couldn’t be more perfect. I’m already a huge fan of Charty and was so stoked to see you include two sample integrations at launch. Where did the idea come from for the app, and how long have you been working on it (excluding App Review time; touching on that question next!)

Thank you! I’m glad that people are also excited about ConnectKit 😁

The idea actually started as a way to teach myself how to both use and make Shortcuts. Prior to iOS 14, I was not sure how I could personally make use of Shortcuts. I subscribed to r/shortcuts and tried to see what others were using Shortcuts for but nothing really opened the door up for me. At the time I was working on An Otter RSS and I was wanting to add Shortcuts into that. When I don’t know how to do something I create a new project for it 😊 I also just discovered Charty by Rodrigo which inspired me to make a Shortcuts app!

My wife and I were staying at my parent’s house this summer for about two months so I ended up making the majority of ConnectKit there ☺️ I didn’t have any house work to do so my parents won’t let me do anything when I stay there so I used that time to start Indie Dev Monday, An Otter RSS, and ConnectKit. My initial prototype of ConnectKit took only one evening. It provided just one action which is now the free “Get JWT” action. It simply made a JWT that I needed for the “Authorization” header when using the “Get Contents of URL” action. I wanted to do something cool and tweet about what I just did so wanted to take the Sales Report from App Store Connect API and make widgets with WidgetPack and Charty. I spent about four hours trying to parse .tsv file with Shortcuts. It was the a nasty Shortcut but it worked. I tweeted it on September 23rd. This was really just an experiment at first but the tweet got a decent amount of interest so it made me wonder if I should actually try to release it.

That following week Tyler Hillsman released Sticky Widgets and had a crazy successful launch. This got my super inspired to polish up and productize ConnectKit. I also got a bit of a pep talk and confidence boost from Jordan Morgan and Charlie Chapman 🤣 I started on that journey and October 1st and had the app submitted for review on October 4th.

In total, I probably spent about two side project hour weeks (mornings/nights,weekends) working on the ConnectKit app itself. I think I ended up spending more time on creating example Shortcuts and marketing materials than on the ConnectKit app (as of right now). ConnectKit is 100% not done though. There are so many additional actions that I plan on adding more endpoints and common interactions. I just didn’t want to go to hard on that before knowing if would get approved or what most users would want to use it for 🤷‍♂️

7) ConnectKit - I think I read that you spent over 30 days in App Review with ConnectKit, some back and forth but mostly a lot of waiting. What do you think was the reason for that? So happy to see you didn’t just pull it and just give up!

Yup yup, I spent 36 days “In Review” 😅 I heard some feedback after 4, 6, 16, and 26 days with the app being approved after 36. In between those times that app almost want instantly from “Waiting for Review” to “In Review”. I’ve been shipping apps for clients to the App Store for the past 9 years and I’ve never experienced anything like this. It was really wild…

My personal email was never cleaner during this time though 🤣 I was checking my email about every 15 minutes. But I would also wake up a few times every night thinking about the review. I also checked my email every night between 2am and 3am for those 36 days. I was starting to go a little loopy… But this was okay because it gave me time to make a bunch of examples to put into the app and get marketing materials and launch plan together!

I don’t know what the reason for the long “In Review” process was for certain but I think it was something to do with either:

1) Security of the API Key (having a third-party asking for API Keys) 2) Making something that can compete with Apple’s App Store Connect app 3) Offer In-App Purchases around the App Store Connect API

I have such a huge passion for automation, the Apple developer community, and the App Store Connect APi that I was going to do whatever it took to get this app through!

ConnectKit did finally get approved on Thursday, October 19th 🥳 I also found out (through Twitter) that another app got approved to use the API Key that following Saturday. That app was “In Review” for about 46 days. It seems like there may have been a few apps that were queued up waiting for internal discussions to happy but that is just me assuming things 🤷‍♂️

8) ConnectKit - Using GitHub to track issues and pull requests for example shortcuts is really clever! I’ve seen some companies use GitHub project management to share roadmaps and such as well, is that your plan or are you keeping the roadmap private? Would love to know what else you have in store for the app in the future.

Thank you! I actually was planning on just hard coding the example in the app but with the review process taking a while I knew that was going to make updating a whole thing. I ended up sneaking the examples pulling from GitHub between app rejections 😂 I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to think of all the cool things that could be made with ConnectKit so I really wanted to share what the community is doing with it. In future version I plan to find a cool way to add some meta info to the examples with who donated the examples!

I actually didn’t think about sharing a public roadmap on GitHub projects but I’m totally going to do that now! It would be great to get people’s feedback on what features they’d like to see next 😁 Stay tuned for that!

The next few updates for ConnectKit will be adding more actions to make it easier to get highly used endpoints. There is an action for “Get Apps” right now and I will be adding some similar like “Get Beta Testers”, “Get Beta Groups”, “Get Builds”, and “Get Versions”. I will also add some specific actions for “Submit latest build”.

I’m also thinking of trying to recreate fastlane’s match 😈 I’m going to use Working Copy to get my match repo, find some way to decrypt it, find a way to create a certificate request, make actions for creating certificates and profiles, encrypting the certificates and profiles, and then updating the repo with Working Copy. It’s totally not what people should do but it seems like a really fun experiment to me 😛

9) ConnectKit - You’ve already gotten some great press, including 9to5Mac, congrats on that! How will you keep the fame from getting to your head and does this mean the death of An Otter RSS Reader or will the otter live to eat some more RSS feeds another day?

Thanks! I totally did not expect to get press, especially from 9to5mac, since ConnectKit is a pretty niche app for Apple developers who like Shortcuts. I really don’t think it’s fame though 😇 I’ve always tried to stay humble and thankful for everything and anything that comes my way. I’ve put in a lot of hardwork and extra hours to get to where I’m at today and I don’t take any of that for granted. I’m super happy with the splash that ConnectKit has made so far but there is more I’d like to accomplish and letting things get to my head won’t help me get there 🙃

Plus… there are sooooo many people that helped with ConnectKit. I can’t take sole credit for ConnectKit 😁 Rodrigo was sole beta tester. He (and Charty) was a big inspiration on how I developed ConnectKit and he also created all of the icons 🥰 My first icon was so bad that Rodrigo created new icons without me even asking for icons 🤣 My work on fastlane and integrating with the App Store Connect APi has been a huge help with making ConnectKit. I didn’t work on ConnectKit during my fastlane work time but I used a lot of the experience from that in making ConnectKit. I also got a lot of inspiration from all the indie dev’s that I’ve already featured in Indie Dev Monday and one’s that have yet to be featured. I wanted a part of the indie action 😄

And nope nope, this does not mean the death of An Otter RSS Reader! I’m still using the app everyday myself so I still have a passion and use for it. And as mentioned earlier, most of the development for ConnectKit was has be done for a while. My current pause on An Otter RSS Reader was due to some work/life balance that needed adjustment. I’ll be updating you all soon on that but development for An Otter RSS will pick up again here shortly!


If you thought that the guest interview was a treat, have I got something special for you – a guest interview inside of a guest interview! Aidan Fitzpatrick (@afit) has a few questions for you as well:

10) How do you balance ConnectKit with your day job?

Great question! I mentioned this a little bit earlier but the most of ConnectKit was built earlier on in the year (end of September and early October). Those hours were at night at my parents house 😇 It sat in review for most of October where I was able to focus my day job. Going forward though its going to be more a delicate balance. I’ll either be adding to it in the mornings, night,s or weekends! That doesn’t meant that ConnectKit won’t be a high priority but my day time priority for sure needs to go to fastlane and the fastlane community 🚀 Most likely though ConnectKit work will happen a little bit every morning as nights is first dedicated to family ❤️

11) What are your hopes and aspirations for ConnectKit?

I understand that ConnectKit’s target market is fairly small compared to most apps but I’m hoping for a few things!

First is that it can really help the people that want to use it! Interacting with the App Store Connect API and responses can be pretty intimidating at first. There are a lot of different resources types and relationships. I’m hoping that ConnectKit makes it easier for people who want to use the App Store Connect API but don’t have the time to use it directly.

Second is I hope ConnectKit can spark more interest in the App Store Connect API both my developers and by Apple 😁 The development by Apple on the App Store Connect API is amazing and I would love it if even more resources could be put into it to add even more features and endpoints for all kinds of developers to use. Not only from automation tools like fastlane but in other apps. I want other developers to know that it is possible (hopefully it stays this way) to use the App Store Connect API in their apps. There are probably some cool things that can be done with sales and finance reports or future APIs that have not been developed out yet 🙌

12) What are your favourite (British spelling left intact!) indie apps?

Ohhhhh, this is a tough question! It is so hard to pick a favorite since there are so many indie devs and apps that inspire me. I think I’ll answer this as my favorite indie apps that I use regularly 😁


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