Developer Spotlight: Martin Dufort and Fred Brunel of WhereCloud
TiPb's developer spotlights are like DVD/iTunes Extras for the App Store -- a weekly look behind the scenes at the programers and designers that bring you the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad apps and games you love. This week Rene talks with Martin and Fred from WhereCloud.
What are your names? Martin Dufort (CEO), Fred Brunel (CTO)
What's your company's name? WhereCloud Inc
Where do you live? Montreal, Canada
Where can we find you on the web? http://www.wherecloud.com
How long have you been a developer? Martin: I graduated in 1984 and been developing software since then. However nowadays, my software involvement is very limited. Doing a bit of Objective-C and some Python/Tornado to support some of the applications we do.
Fred: I've been a developer as long as I can remember, started young (around 10) and graduated in 2000. I've worked in a lot of startups for the last 15 years, always being on the edge of technology (from 3D games to mobile apps).
How long have you been an iOS developer? Martin: Since the SDK was available. Fred: Same here.
Do you develop for any other platform in addition to iOS? If so, which one(s)? We do web development only to support our mobile initiatives, we also have done some Android development. However 95% of our work is on iOS.
What primary computer setup do you use for your iOS development? Martin: I have a MacBook Air with 2.13 Ghz Core 2 Duo with 4GB ram and a 256GB SSD. Connected to a 24in DELL Monitor. Fred: I have the latest MacBook Pro 2011: 2.3 Ghz Core i7, 8GB RAM, ATI Radeon 1GB RAM, 512 SSD. Connected to a 24in DELL monitor. I also have a 23in Cinema Display at home.
What iOS device(s) do you personally use most often? Martin: I use my iPhone 4 a lot. I also have an iPad 2 but given that my MacBook Air is so light I don't use the iPad as much as I want to. Fred: Like Martin, my iPhone 4 is my primary mobile device. I also have an iPad 2 of course and I use it pretty much everyday. I also have a Kindle.
What mobile devices, other than iOS, do you currently use? Martin: Google Nexus One, Samsung Captivate S Fred: Martin is the Android guy, I don't use any of those, even though I've been testing them intensively.
What's your favorite thing about developing for iOS? Fred: The tools and the framework are really mature (after all, the foundation has been around for 15 years). You're pretty close to developing for a gaming console. You can make the best of the platform and make sure users have the best possible experience. I like that Apple is eating their own dog food, the way they design apps is always a great inspiration.
What's your least favorite thing about developing for iOS? Fred: The flexibility of UIKit could be improved a lot. You can see that Apple designed it for their own purpose first, and third-party second. It becomes complicated if you want to do things on the edge of the framework, but there is always a way to do it. That said, the same could be said from other platforms, it becomes very hard to make a UI framework flexible & performant in all situations. Apple is always about making compromise on the technology to ensure that the user-experience is the best.
What feature would you most like Apple to add to the iOS 5 SDK? Martin: The ability to sync content and application using a wireless connection. Support for NFC. Fred: Beyond the obvious things you can read in the rumors, I'd like to be surprised!
What feature would you most like Apple to add to the App Store? Martin: The ability for a developer to comment on reviews for applications Fred: Being able to contact the customer directly (or through a form within the App Store) would be very important, sometimes you get back reviews because the user missed something. Continue to improve the discovery of new apps (Apple should also begin to sort apps out, there is still a lot of crap in there). The user experience of the iOS App Store app is not my favourite, I think there is room for improvement.
If we were to eavesdrop on you while you were coding, what curse word would we hear you use the most? Martin: Calisse de tabarnack! Fred: Eh oh, fait pas chier!
What do you do when you're not coding iOS apps? Riding the road bike (Just got a new BMC SLX01) or cross-country skiing. Fred: It's summer! Partying with my friends, biking (not like Martin) and having good time in the city. I'm trying to keep a balance, but I'm kind of obsessed with technology, I just can't help myself to spend time reading and experimenting with new stuff outside the job (like I've always done).
What should we look for from you next? Martin: We are looking at providing a very interesting framework combining the team experience we put in all our projects. Fred: Yeah, putting our own iOS framework on the market would be our next move. It's taken from our experience building dozen of products for the last 2.5 years, as well as our experience in designing systems for the gaming industry. We like to call it the framework Apple forgot. As far as products are concerned, we're always taking some time to experiment with new ideas and build prototypes. So stay tuned!
Bonus Question: With Reportage, you created one of the most innovative Twitter clients we've ever seen. What are your thoughts on Twitter now trying to lead developers away from producing strict client apps? Martin: That is a very interesting question especially since Twitter is really trying to own the client application space. We are seeing this now that they have acquired TweetDeck and introduce new policies to access Direct Messages. This is putting additional burden on us to provide a compliant application. Not sure it is worth it in the end. But Reportage was and still is a very innovative and we tried to break the timeline-based reading mechanism. However the mind shift was too big. We even got a 2 mice review by MacWorld.
Merci Martin et Fred!