Issue #58 - Cameron Deardorff
Happy Monday, everyone!
We made it to Issue #58! Thank you to everyone who read last week’s issue ❤️
I’m excited to say that Indie Dev Monday’s subscriber count has seen some exciting growth lately! So thanks to all of you who’ve subscribed 🙌 But with that growth also comes the nearing of my max subscriber count on my current free plan 😅 Indie Dev Monday is a passion project for me and luckly its been pretty close to free to operate. But with the (soon to be) need to upgrade my newsletter plan to support the subscribers, I need to find a way to offset that cost and support Indie Dev Monday’s growth ⚖️
I’m first thinking of opening up sppnsor spots in the newsletter. I was a little but weary getting sponsors too soon but with the need and the growth I think that its starting to make sense. I’m also thinking of opening up a Patreon (or something similar) for anybody to support that wants to support. The Patreon would also have some sort of added benefits 😎
I would appreciate any feedback you all may have on this! I just want to keep the indie dev love going 🥰
Today’s Spotlighted Indie Devs
📆 Today I’m featuring Cameron Deardorff.
Not only is Landscape an amazing app but Cameron is an amazing indie developer and an even more amazing person. I had the honor of hanging out with Cameron all last week at 360|iDev in Denver, CO. I was aware of Landscape before meeting Cameron last week but I was able to talk to him about it more in depth and see his passion for it. This is definitely an indie develop and an app you need to keep your eyes on 👀 Download Landscape today!
👉 Please make sure to follow them or support them anyway you can! 😇 I’m excited to share their indie dev stories.
iOS Engineer at Chipotle and creator of Landscape: Mountaineering
1) What is your name? Where do you live?
Hey there 👋 my name is Cameron Deardorff and I live Colorado Springs, Colorado!
2) Introduce yourself. Education? Background? Main job? Interests outside of tech? Interests inside of tech?
While I now live in Colorado I actually grew up the small town of Kenton, Ohio. I think my love for LEGO, video games, and tinkering really in my life in general made programming an obvious career choice.
I studied Computer Science and Mathematics in college but often found my course work to be heavy on the theory side of things. Having something to build on my own where I could apply that theory became a necessity so…. hello iOS development!
I should really take these off of the store (as they haven’t been updated IN NEARLY 6 YEARS) but my first two apps in the App Store are Astro Antics and Pure Math. Astro Antics is a cute little game that never got an update because it was written with Swift 1. The migration + my poor coding capabilities at that time made iterating nearly impossible. Pure Math came about after my Number Theory homework became repetitive, so I put those algorithms into an app.
Thankfully, my work has improved since those early apps that I now work for Chipotle as an iOS Software Engineer! If you’ve ordered anything through the best burrito building app the world has yet to see then… I guess we know each other a bit already.
Away from the keyboard I love playing and watching soccer (go Chelsea!), brewing beer, playing video games, and of course hiking mountains.
3) Have you ever considered yourself an indie developer?
I’ve been making apps as a one person team since 2014 but I’ve never really considered myself an indie developer, maybe a hobbyist? I’ve had this mental barrier that to call myself an indie developer my apps need to be making up a majority if not all of my income.
4) What got you started/interested in creating your own applications outside of your “normal” job?
It all started in college as a way to solve my own problems and to make the theoretical more tangible. The latter isn’t necessarily a reason anymore but has morphed into a creative outlet to put my heart into.
5) How do you balance your time between friends/family, work, hobbies, and indie dev?
Recently balancing everything was a big struggle as I was preparing for a conference talk at 360iDev. To get up on stage and feel comfortable I have to prep like crazy. I think I rehearsed my 40min presentation in full 20 times. Plus there was research time, slide building, and so much more.
Now that I’m back into my normal routine it is much simpler. For me, balance comes through slow and consistent effort.
My app Landscape wasn’t built fast by any means, in fact the initial commit was in July 2018 and nearly 3 years later it finally shipped to the App Store 😅 It’s this slow, consistent, and most importantly sustainable effort that allows me to make something I’m proud of and enjoy life while doing so.
I have a blog post (or maybe even a conference talk?) brewing up on this subject because there are so many parallels with nature. This pine tree outside my window grows just a few inches in each direction a year. The growth in previous years compounds on itself in the years following. Eventually you get a beautiful and well-balanced tree.
6) Landscape - Landscape is so dope! I don’t have many big mountains to climb where I live but I’m super determined to find some so that I can use Landscape more often 😁 When did your love for hiking start and what did you use to record hikes before making Landscape?
Growing up, I absolutely hated hiking - like actually hated it. Even still, nothing about walking through a flat forest in Ohio with high humidity and 90ºF weather sounds fun to me. Part of it was lack of a challenge, there was no “apex” to such a trip.
It wasn’t until I was in Colorado for a summer internship back in 2017 that I developed a passion for hiking/climbing/… summiting mountains. My wife and I have taken it upon ourselves to climb the tallest mountains in Colorado; those over 14,000ft (aka the 14ers). We have summited 20 of the 58 so far and can’t get enough.
Before Landscape I was using the popular hiking apps already available, they’re great for what they are meant to do but mountaineering is not necessarily one of them. I wanted something specific to mountaineering with an emphasis on visualization and reliving previous adventures… thus Landscape!
Landscape is a mountaineering app for planning, recording, and reliving your greatest hiking adventures. You can read more about its genesis here
7) Landscape - The “Explore” tab inside of Landscape is so 😍 I have to admit that I spent a lot of time looking through all of the trails. I think the “Half Dome” trail was my favorite. But all of these trails are displayed in such high quality! Are all of these trails ones that you personally hiked? Do you take any user submitted trails?
Hey thanks! The list of mountains listed in the Explore tab is still very MVP, something to demonstrate the value of Landscape while I get more trail data and build out the backend service. Allowing users to provide trail data from their own experiences is 100% part of my roadmap 👍
I haven’t had a chance to hike each of them yet but I’m most excited for those listed from the Pacific North West, like Mount Hood and Mount Rainier!
8) Landscape - I thought being able to view the trails in 3D was 🔥 but I had no idea I could also experience them in AR 🤯 I was not expecting that feature! How did you go about starting these features? I feel like I’d be totally intimidated 😅 Did you run into any unexpected issues? Did you learn anything new while making these?
If you play with it for just a bit the 3D feature in Landscape should feel vaguely similar to another app, Slopes! Curtis was kind enough to share how his 3D engine worked a few years ago and it makes for such a compelling experience hiking up mountains as it does sliding down.
I spent loads of time making these 3D mountains portable. Remember at WWDC a few years ago when USDZ was announced? The promise is to share these 3D models and have any Apple device view them. From Landscape you can share a 3D mountain as USDZ and send to others so that they can have that same experience without even downloading the app!
I made this 3D gallery to demonstrate this as well!
9) Landscape - The ability to download maps offline seems so great! I can’t imagine that many trails have great reception 🤷♂️ Was this one of the first or main features that you had to implement? Is Landscape and downloading maps for offline supported all over the world? I know very little about how maps work and especially when offline 😛
This was a feature I knew Landscape needed to be useful as a hiking tracker, but it was something I put off building for a long time. There are a few 3rd party companies/packages that make this really easy but may require their own analytics, have difficult to work with licenses, or are even closed source. I was waiting to see how things would shake out but at the end of the day a core feature like this needed to be built in house.
The general idea is really simple; fetch a bunch of images, store them for later, and show them when needed. Of course there is a lot of complexity hidden there but that’s the gist of it.
It works globally too and is built to work when you’re in remote areas with poor to no reception.
10) Teleport - So, I discovered that you have an open source app that helps iOS Simulators by simulating GPS movement. This is so great 🙌 I don’t think I’ve ever thought how difficult this would be in the simulators without this. Was Teleport a byproduct of trying to test Landscape? How does Teleport control the the location in the simulator?
Testing location based apps can be a pain, particularly when that location is expected to change. Xcode provides some support with accepting GPX files and simulating a change of course from it. Though, GPX files are complex and can represent the same path many different ways, Xcode is very opinionated and only supports one of those variants. Xcode also doesn’t provide any simulation controls like speed adjustments or even play/pause controls.
Safety is a big concern, making sure my app works as expected and doesn’t lead someone off a cliff is very important. Teleport is 100% a result of testing Landscape and is meant to extend Xcode’s location simulation capabilities.
Teleport does a couple of things: It stores and manages GPX files and provides path simulation with play/pause and play speed adjustment controls. This way the iOS simulator thinks it is moving (GPS location), and it works great for simulating hiking on a trail!
I recently saw one the big dog competitors to Landscape uses Teleport to test their app as well. I had bit of a weird feeling at first but I’m actually really happy about that. With safety and reliability being such an important issue with this class of apps I’m happy that my developer tool can help keep people safe.
11) Landscape - What’s next for Landscape? Do you have any future features planned that you can share? 🙂
The fun thing about making such a niche app with such a vibrant community is that there are no shortage of ideas. I am always excited to work on Landscape because there are so many possibilities!
Here is a sneak peak of a small piece to a larger piece I’m working on. Landscape has an emphasis on reliving the hikes you’ve done in the past, possibly coming soon is an interactive hike replay. This is just proving out the environmental change capability but it has bee a little bit too excited already.
12) What’s been the hardest part of being an indie dev? What the most fun part of being an indie dev?
Building new features is always the thing that comes most natural for me, what is more difficult is deciding what to prioritize next. My favorite part of working on my own apps is always having a place to tinker and get ideas out of my head.
13) Is there anything else you’d like to tell the indie dev community about you?
While Landscape has my heart, falldown mini for Apple Watch is actually my most successful app by any measure. It is strange for an Apple Watch app to be doing well but it regularly gets tens of thousands of downloads. Maybe focusing on that for a bit and getting the star rating back up could prove valuable 🤑
All to say, maybe making apps for the Apple Watch isn’t entirely a bad idea.
14) Do you have any other indie devs that readers should follow / lookout for?
David Steppenbeck with McClockface and Michael Tigas with Focused Work have both been incredibly inspiring to me. I really like the care and personality that they impart into their apps.
Plus, at this point Curtis Herbert should have his own fan club right? I admire Slopes to an embarrassing degree and love using it skiing here in Colorado.
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 👀
Thank you to everybody who made it to this footer! You either spent the time to read or took the effort to scroll 😊
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