Sunrise and Sunset at Ladeez First Media
It’s funny how sometimes your side projects can reveal more about your day job than…your actual day job. As a developer, oftentimes your day job’s work is hidden behind VPNs and only visible in hard-to-find Github repos. So many developers boost their portfolios, keep sharp, and keep engaged in the field by spinning up side projects. I’m no different; I launched Ladeez First Media as a side project with one app: PracticeBuddy, written in Objective-C, purely because I was bored with my day job, felt unappreciated, and had just received a new iPhone 4 as a present and was excited to build apps for it. Simple as that.
What began as a brief side project quickly snowballed into a really large app portfolio, especially when I discovered Corona SDK and became Boston’s Ambassador for this 2d game development software. Corona’s community is really great, for the most part, and I leveraged it to build over 20 mobile apps in the iOS app store, with a substantial cross-platform footprint for Nook, Amazon Kindle, Google Play, and other, smaller stores.
If you look at the dates of these apps, you’ll find an ebb and flow; you can see that when I was bored, frustrated, or unengaged in my day job, my app portfolio exploded.
Recently my apps have been focussed less on items that met a consumer need and more having to do with proofs of concept to demonstrate various technologies. ThisOrThat, SchoolBellWeather, and PocketRave are NativeScript apps, a product for which I am Developer Advocate at Progress Software. Beacon Hunt is an IoT integration written using Kendo UI Mobile, also by Progress. Giftler is an Ionic app that I wrote purely to learn that technology. PocketRave is my latest app, still in development, that, like ThisOrThat, was written primarily to demo at a conference.
The problem with having a huge app portfolio is that you have to maintain it. Backends disappear (hello, Parse!), software evolves, phones change. I feel that, if I don’t have time any more to maintain this portfolio, it’s time to make some changes!
So here’s the plan.
Seven Minutes (Corona SDK): although it was my most successful app, financially, is retired as it should be rewritten and has been done better elsewhere. The Apple Watch version was retired a while ago as the requisite WatchKit 2 upgrade would force a rewrite as well.
Minute Stretches (Corona SDK): another fitness app, time to go!
Holiday apps (Christmas Math Challenge and MathBrew, Corona SDK): fun to make, generated a little revenue, but time to retire them
The Belly App (Corona SDK): This was a passion project near to my heart with a thriving Facebook integration and Facebook community page, but it should be rewritten to better handle the video and its 40 videos are currently hosted on Parse, which is itself sunsetting. I would eventually like to rewrite this but can’t promise anything!
Gabbler (Corona SDK): What a fun kickstarted project, with a lot of audio and game design. I’m sunsetting it until I can reuse the content. I am considering creating it as a chatbot, as it’s essentially a chat interface. The graphics are wonderful and should be reused so it’s waiting for the right platform.
Giftler (Ionic): This app gets popular at Christmas, but it generates very little ad revenue. If I could find time to rewrite this from Ionic to NativeScript, I would do so, but for now I’m retiring it until I can rewrite it with a better monetization strategy and less Christmas focus.
Snappy Squirrel e-books (series of 5 plus bundle, Corona SDK): Although I let the domain name expire, I have a soft spot for these e-books. Anything with heavy graphics is a great use for Corona SDK and I wouldn’t rewrite the underlying code. I plan to upgrade these and create 5 more when I can, as this passion project is done in tandem with my father and is full of good content.
School Bell Weather, Pocket Rave, ThisOrThat Game (NativeScript) — These apps are all done to demonstrate the technology that is NativeScript and have articles associated to them, so I will keep them live and maintain them.
And then there is PracticeBuddy!
My first app, and the app closest to my heart, is PracticeBuddy. PB was first written in Objective-C, then redone in Corona SDK, then redone in Kendo UI Mobile…and very soon to be relaunched as a NativeScript app! I have big plans for this app, primarily because its userbase is so great. I have teachers emailing me asking for help, asking for more, asking for more features. Sometimes music students contact me with feedback. This is an app that is designed for children and their music teachers, and I love this demographic. They are so kind. I even have music teachers lined up to beta-test the new PracticeBuddy!
Currently the app has a few bugs and problems, is not available for Android, and has no ability to record music. It also has a weird architecture in that it has a student app and a teacher’s companion app…probably a bad idea, as per user feedback. I am currently rewriting it in NativeScript with a beautiful new interface, with Firebase as its backend, and one single app for both students and teachers. There will most likely be a web interface so that teachers can assign homework to their students. I hope to monetize it using Kiip.
You can see a sneak peek here:
It’s an exciting day for Ladeez First Media! Please stay tuned while I do a bit of a pivot and concentrate on the creation and maintenance of quality apps. Thank you for your patience and support!