Developing Perspective

#47: Just beyond your grasp


00:00:00   Hello and welcome to Developing Perspectives. Developing Perspectives is a podcast discussing

00:00:04   news of note in iOS development, Apple, and the like. It's never longer than 15 minutes.

00:00:09   I'm your host, David Smith. I'm an independent iOS developer based in Herndon, Virginia.

00:00:13   This is show number 47, and today is Wednesday, May 17th.

00:00:17   All right, so before I get into the main topic for today's show, I just wanted to briefly

00:00:22   touch on yesterday's launch. So if you've been following along for the last couple of

00:00:27   episodes. That's kind of in the arc that I've been talking about, kind of the process of

00:00:30   launching an app.

00:00:31   Yesterday was a big day, and I'd say it went well. You know, it's nothing sort of wild

00:00:36   and crazy. My server configurations and all those things held up just fine. A little bit

00:00:41   of extra load, but nothing too unheard of. Certainly no more than things like Christmas,

00:00:46   for example, or those types of days where the servers have, you know, held on.

00:00:49   You know, it was overall a good day. I've gotten some great feedback. And, I mean, the

00:00:52   The thing that honestly was the most reinforcing is, I mean, it's always weird when you go

00:00:56   to sleep as an independent because you never know what's going to happen with your servers,

00:01:00   you never know what's going to be going on.

00:01:03   And you know, I woke up this morning, opened up the app store, and audiobooks has a five-star

00:01:06   review.

00:01:07   You know, all the reviews so far have been five stars, people are loving it, and that's

00:01:11   just incredibly satisfying.

00:01:13   So I'm sure that I've had one crash report come in from somebody and, you know, a few

00:01:17   little things.

00:01:18   But, you know, in general, it went well.

00:01:21   And thanks to all of you who went out and downloaded it or told a friend or whatever,

00:01:27   I really appreciate that.

00:01:28   But overall, it was a good day.

00:01:31   And so I guess that's kind of the fun part of being a developer.

00:01:36   I got home, my wife had made a nice dinner to celebrate, and it's nice.

00:01:42   It's nice to be able to finish something and to see it in the store and to be proud of

00:01:47   it.

00:01:48   because it's kind of a funny thing where I was just thinking about it yesterday about how,

00:01:53   even if it had sort of bombed in some ways, or even if the, you know, like the download didn't

00:01:58   go up right as much as I may have hoped, but at the end of the day I know the app is better than

00:02:02   it was. You know, I am very confident of that, and at the end of the day I think that, you know,

00:02:09   I'm proud of what's in the store now in a way that I wasn't necessarily as proud before, and so,

00:02:14   So, you know, it's a big win.

00:02:16   Alright, so I'm going to kind of transition into the main topic for today, which is a

00:02:21   little bit about, sort of, I guess, goals.

00:02:24   This is kind of the thing I've been thinking about today and yesterday as I've kind of

00:02:27   wrapped up this big arc that I've been working on for months and months and months.

00:02:31   It's finally out, it's finally in the store, I'll do a few bug fixes and things, but I'm

00:02:34   not expecting to kind of be working on audiobooks as intensely for the next, you know, sort

00:02:40   of short period, at least until WWDC.

00:02:43   And so it kind of got me thinking, okay, so what do I want to do next and those kinds

00:02:48   of things.

00:02:49   And I have some app work I need to do on one of my other apps, which is a recipe manager.

00:02:52   But moreover, it was kind of like I was trying to ask the meta question, kind of ask the

00:02:59   question behind what I should do next rather than just, oh, I should dive into working

00:03:04   on this next app.

00:03:05   And it was kind of like, what do I want?

00:03:10   What does success look like for my apps?

00:03:11   What does success look like for my writing?

00:03:13   success look like for this podcast. And the reality is, I found that in general, it's

00:03:21   easy and constructive to kind of measure yourself if you can create kind of goals for what you

00:03:28   would kind of define success for yourself as. And often I find these best aren't at

00:03:34   best if these aren't financial goals, if these aren't things that it's like, "Oh, I want

00:03:39   to make a million dollars.

00:03:42   It's very concrete, but it's also very ephemeral.

00:03:45   Like, okay, you've made a million dollars.

00:03:47   But the process of getting there, what does that even look like?

00:03:51   How do you go about doing that?

00:03:54   And moreover, are you going to be optimizing for the right things if your goal is to make

00:03:58   a million dollars?

00:03:59   It's kind of like if you're a game developer, are you trying to be Zynga and make money?

00:04:04   you try, you know, who's like sitting there churning out, you know, having, making people,

00:04:09   you know, sort of addicted to your game in a way that just sort of forces them to keep

00:04:12   giving you money, like, ugh, versus, you know, making an awesome game that is successful

00:04:17   because it's awesome. And, you know, I imagine, you know, if you're the kind of person who

00:04:21   listens to a show like this, you're probably more of the, more of the latter. You want

00:04:24   to make something awesome. And so that's a bit more subjective and a bit more difficult

00:04:28   to kind of put your finger on. But it's still, I think, a worthwhile thing to kind of try

00:04:32   of put into perspective for yourself of like what does success look like for you.

00:04:37   And so this is kind of where I've been thinking about, you know, as I've been working on my

00:04:40   next things and kind of where I am more generally for where I put my attention.

00:04:45   And so there's kind of three areas right now that I'm putting my attention in.

00:04:48   And that's my apps, that's my blog, DavidSmith.org, and this podcast, which you're listening to

00:04:54   right now.

00:04:56   And I've kind of come up with, I think, my goals.

00:04:58   And I think it's worth even to talk about them publicly, both because they may be helpful

00:05:02   for you, but also because if I talk about them publicly, I'm more likely to sort of

00:05:08   hold myself accountable to them.

00:05:10   And so this is just kind of where I am today, and it may change, but this is kind of, these

00:05:16   are my goals, this is what I'm aspiring towards.

00:05:20   And in general, what I try and do is to set my goal to be something that is clearly sort

00:05:26   of definable, that I'll know when I get there.

00:05:28   It's not something that I'm going to struggle to know, like, "Well, I want to have a successful

00:05:34   app," for example, would be a very bad goal because what does that mean?

00:05:38   What does it mean to be successful?

00:05:40   What does it mean to be any kind of subjective word there?

00:05:45   I want to be well-known.

00:05:46   I want all those kinds of things.

00:05:48   You want something that you can kind of be concrete about.

00:05:52   And so today, for apps, I think my goal for an app is to be featured by Apple in iTunes

00:05:59   as one of the apps they do.

00:06:01   New and noteworthy, staff picks, all those kinds of categories.

00:06:05   And what I like about that is you want a goal that's just beyond your grasp, in the sense

00:06:12   that it's not something that you can easily do, or that for you is easy to do.

00:06:17   Not that it's necessarily an easy task.

00:06:19   For some people, shipping an app is the goal.

00:06:22   The goal is the process of getting it out the door.

00:06:24   For me, I've been doing this for long enough that that's not so much the difficulty.

00:06:27   The difficulty is then, okay, I want to make an app that's noteworthy enough that Apple

00:06:32   puts it up front in the store.

00:06:34   That has other financial benefits.

00:06:36   That has all kinds of other perks.

00:06:38   But it's something that I can look at and say, if I'm building an app and I'm trying

00:06:42   to optimize it for it attracting Apple's attention, what does that look like?

00:06:47   kind of apps tend to have that effect. And it works well for me to kind of be thinking

00:06:54   in those ways. For a while, I used to think, "Oh, my goal is to win an ADA, to win an Apple

00:07:00   Design Award." But in reality, what I think is that was actually not as motivating as

00:07:05   I would like because it's one of those things I can say it, "Oh, I want to win an ADA."

00:07:11   But in the back of my mind, my internal second thought is, "Oh, that's never going to happen."

00:07:17   A, there's only like five or six people in the world who ever win a year, and of those

00:07:25   people most of them have skills beyond what I have on the design side.

00:07:31   I think my coding is one of those things that I think I could perhaps compete on, but I

00:07:36   don't think on a design side, that's just not the skills that I have.

00:07:41   And so having that as a goal is just perhaps a bit unrealistic and unmotivating because

00:07:45   if I don't believe it myself, it's just never really gonna

00:07:49   happen.

00:07:50   That's kind of where I am. It's like I want an app

00:07:53   that would be featured and we'll see what happens tomorrow. The app

00:07:56   store refreshes on Thursdays.

00:07:58   And I mean if audiobooks was there, I'd be thrilled. It'd be awesome.

00:08:03   It's important to celebrate and I would.

00:08:05   I've had a couple of apps featured and it's just been a privilege

00:08:09   to see your app there and

00:08:12   It's the kind of thing that what I do is I go in and

00:08:16   you know, I take screenshots and I print them out and I put them up in my

00:08:21   office and I

00:08:23   celebrate and remind myself that yeah, you did it, you can do that.

00:08:27   So when you're hitting

00:08:28   a really rough day and you just don't want to do

00:08:32   whatever it is you're doing, you can kind of look over and be like

00:08:35   yeah, I can do this, I've done it before.

00:08:38   And so that's kind of where I am with apps.

00:08:40   And then, sort of, the next area where I was talking about it was, like, with my blog.

00:08:43   And this is, again, an area where,

00:08:46   as I started, I'm not necessarily a writer by nature.

00:08:50   It's not something that comes easily to me or

00:08:53   I have a lot of skill,

00:08:55   just in generally.

00:08:57   And so,

00:08:58   when I started writing, I was kind of being like, "Why do I want to blog?

00:09:02   Why do I want to write?"

00:09:04   And I think it's because I feel like I have

00:09:06   useful insights to share

00:09:09   that would benefit other people and that I'd like to share that voice, you know,

00:09:13   with other people.

00:09:15   And, you know, it's not really financial. There's no ads on my blog.

00:09:19   I'd be surprised if there ever were. It's just not the kind of thing that

00:09:22   I seek to make money from. I'd rather it be a place that people can just go and find useful.

00:09:28   You know, I may make some money from it just sort of

00:09:31   tangentially from people going and liking my apps

00:09:34   and buying them, but

00:09:35   you know, it's not financial as its goal,

00:09:41   and so

00:09:43   instead it makes me wonder like,

00:09:44   you know, so how do I measure that? It's not like I want page, it's not like I need a

00:09:48   million page views, I want a hundred thousand uniques.

00:09:51   It's like, I find those things kind of because you can't...

00:09:55   you're optimizing again for the wrong things. If my goal is page views,

00:09:59   it's like I should just be posting like

00:10:02   crazy rumor iPhone 6 will have, you know, shiny black blah blah blah.

00:10:08   Like it's not...

00:10:09   like you can drive page views by just kind of speculating and being sensational,

00:10:15   but that's not

00:10:16   particularly interesting to me.

00:10:18   And so for me I've always kind of...

00:10:20   my goal...

00:10:21   this may sound a little funny, but

00:10:23   my goal is always to write

00:10:24   such that I could be... feel...

00:10:27   sort of... it would feel appropriate to be linked to on Daring Fireball.

00:10:30   So Daring Fireball is, you know, I think my favorite website of all.

00:10:35   And it, you know, is John Gruber's site where he, you know,

00:10:39   writes great articles and links to interesting stuff.

00:10:41   And I've always, my goal is kind of you,

00:10:43   I always kind of write with that quality bar in mind,

00:10:47   that it's good enough to feel

00:10:49   at home in that environment.

00:10:51   And so,

00:10:52   that's kind of what I, you know, sort of what I keep in mind. So I'm writing an article.

00:10:55   I'm keeping that in mind. I'm thinking about

00:10:57   what,

00:10:59   you know, is this concise enough? Is this to the point? Is it

00:11:03   interesting enough? Does it grab things?

00:11:05   That I'd feel proud of it being

00:11:07   sort of listed in and amongst many of the great articles and things that

00:11:11   get linked to there.

00:11:12   And even moreover, that sense of that, you know,

00:11:15   John Gerber would think is

00:11:18   sort of worthwhile, is interesting enough. So, and that's happened a couple of

00:11:21   times. And the first time it happened,

00:11:24   you know, same thing. Took a screenshot of,

00:11:26   you know, my article, "LinkedIn Daring Fireball," and printed it out, put it in a frame, and it's

00:11:29   up in my office. And

00:11:32   it's nice to have

00:11:34   something so concrete that

00:11:36   I can kind of measure and look at and say,

00:11:39   "Yeah, I did that. I think I've had three links there." And so, it's something I'm proud of.

00:11:44   And then, kind of thinking about this podcast, it's something...

00:11:48   For me, I started off just kind of as a

00:11:51   side project. And in many ways it is still a side project, but it has an increasingly

00:11:55   large following and so

00:11:57   I kind of was thinking about how do I quantify that? It's like number of downloads, number of

00:12:02   people who mentioned me on Twitter about it.

00:12:04   That doesn't sound very

00:12:05   motivating or interesting and so

00:12:07   you know it's like I'm a big 5x5 fan. I love the network that Dan

00:12:11   Benjamin runs and

00:12:13   you know I'm a bit of a super fan if I'm honest and

00:12:16   for me it's kind of, I've always tried to do a show that has sufficient quality

00:12:21   that it would fit in in that lineup of shows.

00:12:24   and one day maybe I'd end up on the 5, you know, being invited to join the 5x5

00:12:27   network. I mean, that'd be awesome.

00:12:30   But that's kind of the goal for what I'm thinking about it as. It's like, I want a show that

00:12:33   fits in there.

00:12:34   So when I'm doing something or I'm tweaking something or I'm playing with stuff, it's like,

00:12:39   you know, if this was, you know,

00:12:41   a show that came on between build and analyze, hypercritical,

00:12:45   incomparable, and the talk show,

00:12:47   you know, would it fit in?

00:12:50   would the sound quality make sense? Would the subject matter? Would the polish?

00:12:55   Would all the things that kind of go into a show

00:12:58   fit in?

00:12:59   And if it does, then I'm doing well and

00:13:01   who knows, maybe one day that'll actually happen, but even if it doesn't, the goal

00:13:05   is that I'm...

00:13:06   that's kind of what I'm keeping in mind

00:13:09   as I do the show.

00:13:11   So that's kind of how I do it, and I think it's just a constructive exercise

00:13:15   to be thinking of ways where you can

00:13:17   objectively measure

00:13:19   success,

00:13:20   but ideally in ways that aren't

00:13:22   sort of purely sort of quantitative.

00:13:25   So that you're, you know, these things where you're almost, you're drawing your

00:13:28   success from other people thinking you're awesome.

00:13:31   And by choosing people with excellent taste

00:13:34   to define that for you.

00:13:36   And that's kind of how I do it. It may not work for everybody, but you know, that's kind of

00:13:40   what I do. And so when I write an app, I'm thinking, would Apple like this?

00:13:44   Would it be feature worthy?

00:13:46   When I'm writing, it's like, is this the kind of thing that someone like to, you know, John Gruber would like?

00:13:49   Could it be good enough quality for him to think is interesting and give a link to?

00:13:54   And it's like with my podcast, are the words I'm saying is the environment and the technology

00:14:00   and the editing and all the things that go into it, are they of high enough quality that

00:14:04   it would fit in in that context?

00:14:07   So that's how I do it.

00:14:08   All right, that's it for today's show.

00:14:10   Hopefully that's interesting.

00:14:11   Definitely, if you have questions or thoughts, now that I finished that big arc on launching

00:14:14   an app, it would be helpful if you have any questions or thoughts to let me know so I

00:14:18   I can address them on the show. The best way to get a hold of me is on Twitter. I'm @_DavidSmith

00:14:24   on Twitter or the show is @devperspective on Twitter. You can reply to either of those

00:14:29   with questions, comments, concerns. As always, if you have any thoughts, I'd love to hear

00:14:35   them. It's always just encouraging to me to know that other people are listening. And

00:14:39   if you like the show, please either rate it on iTunes. Apparently that's helpful. I'm

00:14:43   not really sure. Or just tell a friend. Either way, it would be a big thank you from me if

00:14:48   did that and otherwise I hope you have a good day. Happy coding and I will talk to you later. Bye.