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Developers Cubed: Stop Thinking, Start Building

Gizmodo’s Developers Cubed series offers a behind the scenes look into Australia’s up and coming dev scene. This week: We talk to Dan Sowter of NetEngine, who says that the key to being a successful app developer is just to stop thinking and build.

Who are you and where do you work?

Hi, my name is Dan Sowter, and I do system-level design and development for a Brisbane-based company called NetEngine.

Why do we know you? What have you created?

Recently, I’ve helped to create TriggerApp, a cloud project management, collaboration, and time tracking app.

What platforms do you develop for?

We develop for the web, mostly with Ruby on Rails. With everything that’s going on in mobile with responsive design and client-side Javascript, I think it’s a really exciting place to be right now.

What are you working on right now?

We’ve got an interesting new client project in the sporting/reservations space which I think will reach a lot of people, but whenever I can, I’m working to improve TriggerApp. We’re in that exciting phase where you start to see people enjoying your hard work and recommending it to their friends.

What do you think about the rise and rise of App Stores? How has it influenced your titles?

App Stores are brilliant for developers, and for the quality of independent software coming out. I think they’ve done good things to steer people away from legacy bloatware with slow release cycles, towards agile teams that can solve a small problem well. Mostly, I think they influence what we decide to make, and what we don’t — because the end-user’s expectations of software have changed.

What’s your favourite app that you didn’t create?

SublimeText 2. Working in it all day is a pleasure, and as I learn more and more of the little conveniences, it only gets nicer. I still can’t believe how fast it feels.

What phone do you use? Why?

I’m on my second iPhone, the iPhone 4. I like the consistency between all my devices, and I think the coherence you get between hardware and software is something Android devices can’t match.

What advice do you have for budding Aussie developers out there?

Just start making things. The quality of the tutorials and community out there will blow your mind – if you get stuck, and you’re polite, you’ll get help coming at you from all over the place. Build yourself a small app to play with, and then swap in and out the new tools which excite you, or the new skills you’d like to practice. Then share it. Throw it up on GitHub and write a blog post about something you learned. It’ll help someone, and our community will get a little better for it. Then come see us for a job. We’ll need people like you at TriggerApp.


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