Happy Monday, everyone!
We made it to Issue #80! Thank you to everyone who read last week’s issue ❤️
I’ve decided to launch something new this week! Announcing… Build in the open!
I’ve created a new form for indie developers to submit apps they are building in the open 👉 Fill out this form. This form is also available on the Look At Me page. I love watching Twitter thread or blog of apps being built in the open. It’s fun to watch the creative process and early community feedback.
I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing this the “Build in the open” form submissions yet. I don’t ever know what I’m doing when I start something. I might include update summaries in the weekly newsletter. I may have a page for all the things being built in the open. I may use these to find future indie developer to spotlight.
But please don’t feel pressure to build in the open! It’s not for everyone. But if you are… please let me know 😉
Today’s Spotlighted Indie Dev
📆 Today I’m featuring Will Bishop.
Will has a pretty amazing suite of apps availble on the App Store right now with Pestle, Chirp, and Nano. It turns out I was actually one of Will’s user without even knowing 🙈 Both Chrip and Nano were one of the first Apple Watch apps I used. I was a big fan of being able to browser Twitter and Reddit when I couldn’t use my phone and (as you’ll read in today’s issue) is the reason why Will created them. Will’s newest app is a bit different than Chirp and Nano but it’s so well done! Pestle is a gorgeous cookbook and recipe saver app that so many people will enjoy. Give all or either of these apps a try today! Will has an app for everyone ☺️
👉 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?
I’m Will Bishop, from Adelaide, South Australia.
2) Introduce yourself. Education? Background? Main job? Interests outside of tech? Interests inside of tech?
Hey everyone, I’m Will! I’m a 19-year-old developer from Adelaide in South Australia. I’ve been developing for iOS since around 2016/17, and released my first app in 2018. I have no formal training in app development and have never been to University. So I fill my days working on things like Pestle. When I’m not working, you’ll usually find me either listening to music, incredibly crudely playing guitar (I am trying to learn the same way I learnt to make apps, by just doing), trying to cook new things or bothering my girlfriends family.
3) Have you ever considered yourself an indie developer?
I’ve always considered myself an indie developer, never anything else. I’m not sure I even know what ‘indie’ truly means. I believe it means “independent”, but you can have “indie” teams, so I’m not sure. To mean ‘indie’ is more about a spirit than a team-size, and I definitely think I follow the indie spirit of having a healthy work-life balance.
4) What got you started/interested in creating your own applications outside of your “normal” job?
For me it started with frustrations with my schools website. We’ve have our grades posted at random times of the day with no notice or notification. So I’d find myself hitting refresh all night after a big test, leaving me with no time to do my homework. So to fix this I built a Python script to check my grades for me, and alert me when new ones were posted. Then, wanted to have even more information scraped off the site, I taught myself Swift and ported it to iOS, along with class information and more.
5) How do you balance your time between friends/family, work, hobbies, and indie dev?
I understand the need to switch off my brain, and so that mostly manifests as endlessly scrolling Twitter, Reddit, and TikTok, or watching TV Shows with my girlfriend. I try to never work after 5pm, unless I really really need to, and rarely work before 10am. I rent a coworking space so I can truly seperate work and home, though I’ve found myself blurring those lines in the lead up to launching Pestle. Working from home has it benefits for me too, such as being able to take a 10 minute break from work to do anything else, which often leads to me solving whatever problem I was stuck on.
6) Pestle - Congrats on your recent release of Pestle! I saw a lot of press about it which is 🔥 What got you inspired to make Pestle? Have you always been into cooking? Or did you just recently start and realized recipe websites are hard to use while cooking?
In 2020, like most people around the world, I spent a lot more time at home. My parents also seemed to be the only people in the world who managed to find time to travel that year, and left me at home for 3 months. Prior to this, I knew little more than boiling water and tossing in some pasta. So with the fear of soon being in my 20s and being unable to cook, I set out to learn. I started making all sorts of things, from homemade pasta to various cheesecakes to Bao. However that was a constant annoyance in dealing with recipe blogs. It wasn’t so much that the sites were bad, they just didn’t fit my way of cooking. If I discovered a recipe needed more of something, I had no good place to write that down. I used the Notes app for a while, but they quickly got lost amongst all my other notes. So naturally I went to the App Store to try some recipe managing apps, and to my dismay I found myself not satisfied with any of them. Many of them were fantastic, but just did things I would do differently. So I started building Pestle, pivoted the idea a few times, and here we are.
7) Pestle - I’m super in love with the “Discover” feature! I’ve never realized I wanted to follow the creators of recipes that I save but it turns out I do 😊 Was this idea included in you original plan or hit you during development? Does this use RSS or do you get new recipes another way? And have this 🏆 for this awesome feature!
Thank you! So glad you like this feature! This wasn’t included in the original idea but I did a little survey with the people in my coworking space and found that recipe discovery was something they all needed. I looked into some APIs but they all were very costly and has a lot of rules that didn’t fit Pestle. So given my own experience with Wordpress and its inbuilt RSS feeds, I figured I might be able to build something from the recipes you already had in your cookbook. The first pass of this feature was done in a day and I was really happy with it. Gradually I added features like adding feeds manually and automatically linking out to Safari for recipe blogs that post stories as well as recipes.
8) Pestle - Pestle’s guided cooking is pretty neat! It makes following recipes very pleasant 😇 The highlighting and starting timers are great. How many iterations of this design did you go through? Did you have to do a lot of testing with different recipe websites to make sure it all worked as you wanted? How do you handle any errors when parsing recipes?
Guided Cooking was one of those features from the original idea of Pestle (which, fun fact, was not even called Pestle. I learnt after I bought the domain name that the name I wanted already existed). This was one of those features that came together quicker than I was expecting. Once I relearn UIPageViewController for the upteenth time it all fell into place rather nicely. The highlighting is one of the trickiest parts of it however. A recipe may call for “1 onion”, then later refer to it as “onions”, which makes matching them a bit tricky. I ended up using NLP and some other trickery to have a pretty high success rate at matching, if not a little too keen at times. Error handling is something Pestle doesn’t really do that strongly. It will correct some little mistakes but ultimately, I didn’t want to interfere with the recipe.
9) Pestle - Not really related to the app but what are some of your favorite recipes to make? 😁
Bao is a personal favourite and one that prompted me to make Pestle in the first place. It’s a laborious process that left my friends and I not eating until 8:45, but it was so worth it. My favourite is the BBC Good Foods version :)
10) Chirp, NanoReddit - Chirp and NanoReddit are amazing! These were both some of the first Apple Watch apps I ever really used. Do you love building Apple Watch apps or did you just want to see what you could all do on this platform? What was one of most difficult things you encountered when building either of these? What was the most fun?
Chirp & Nano both came out at a time when developers were leaving the Apple Watch in droves. Like my reasoning to learn Swift in the first place, Nano came out from school frustrations. We’d have to sit in a massive hall through 90 minute assemblies in the heat, unable to distract ourselves. We obviously were not allowed on our phones, and headphones were banned also. This may sound shallow, but given that I wasn’t a particularly studious kid, these assemblies never mentioned me (ironically once I released apps my name began to pop up more), which led to me being even more bored. So that’s why I built Nano, so I could just be glancing at the time for an hour, while secretly browsing r/AskReddit and r/tifu. It didn’t really come out of a love for the platform, and my feeling towards it eventually became somewhat resentful as even in 2022, developing for the Apple Watch is a miserable experience. The most difficult and simultaneously most exciting part of developing Nano was the testing and release phase. Nano was the first time I’d ever built something that people were going to judge. I was putting something out there that I’d spent 5 months of my life on. But now I can look back and laugh at how anxious I was, not knowing what was to come.
11) Pestle, Chirp, NanoReddit - What’s next?! Do you have any future features that you can share with us?
Sure do! The #1 request for Pestle has been shared cookbooks, and shared meal plans. I haven’t started building this yet, but I have started sketching out backend plans for this feature. So it’s coming, probably not soon, but it’s coming!
12) What’s been the hardest part of being an indie dev? What is the most fun part of being an indie dev?
Calling anything about what I do the “hardest part” feels a bit disingenuous, as I recognise how lucky I am to be in the position that I am. I can’t pick 1 thing that i can label as being the hardest. Income fluctuations make moving out plans tricky as you never know month-to-month what your income is going to be. Besides that, it’s pretty breezy. And by far the best part of being an indie developer is never having to ask for time off. I can go camping with my friends and I don’t have to tell anyone. I can pick where and when I work. Speaking of, from February 1st I’ll be travelling from Adelaide up the east cost of Australia in my self-converted campervan. Having the freedom to travel and work from anywhere makes any associated stresses well worth it.
13) Is there anything else you’d like to tell the indie dev community about you?
I like to consider myself super approachable. If you have a question about development, releasing apps, marketing tips and such, message me on Twitter and I’ll be sure to get back to you!
14) Do you have any other indie devs that readers should follow / lookout for?
I’ve gotta shout out my fellow Adelaide based developers. While perhaps not indie, PocketCasts is developed right here in Adelaide, so readers should follow Russel Ivanovic. On a more indie-level, Quentin Zervaas is a good follow (developer of Streaks), @twolivesleft & @johntwolives are always tweeting interesting things.
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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