The Exponential Curve of Mobile Development Workflows

In 2009, I got my first Apple Computer. That May, I downloaded a free application called XCode to see what app development was like. In that time, it would probably take me 5 days to wire up a simple game. It would take another 2 weeks to test it on a device. I didn’t publish my first app until 2011, when I had enough skill to navigate the app store submission process.

The first application I built for the store took me 6 months to code. I was 16. When I turned 18, the same application would probably take me 1 hour to code. Today at 20, I code probably write the same application in 30 minutes.

It is not just a developer’s skill which changes over time, but it is also the tools that developers use to prototype, test, and deliver products. Today, the workflow for creating these complex applications is now dramatically more productive. Prototyping is done with less code than ever before.

Today, I can use AWS, Firebase, or Parse to get an app’s backend up and running in less than 5 minutes. The time it takes me to flesh out a prototype in Sketch on the Mac is also reduced. Third parties have created interface elements and everything you need to make a quick, realistic mock-up in minutes.

Beyond this, tools like Origami or Framer let you import your Sketch art boards and add motion.

Simple tools like this increase the rate at which developers can prototype products. The same prototype that would take 4 days to build in 2011 now takes 30 minutes.

At this rate, the ability for developers to create more and more complex applications will only rise. In 4 years, the workflows we use to develop products will allow us to be more productive and explore more ideas than ever before.

The productivity of developers to build these experiences over the next 10 years is on an exponential curve. The time is takes to build a complex experience is going down, and the quality of these products with these enhanced workflows will only go up.