Developers Cubed: Celebrating Aussie Developers

Developers! Developers! Developers! Steve Ballmer's favourite sweat-laden catchcry is a reminder that all those great apps we spend so much time using on our phones and PCs are made by someone, somewhere. Developers Cubed looks to get a behind the scenes look at some of Australia's up and coming development scene. This week, we speak to Daniel Winter from Global Media Empire.

Who are you and where do you work? I am a web and mobile app developer based in Sydney. I run my own business, modestly called Global Media Empire Pty Ltd, and I manage to do most of my work from home. I know that doesn't work for everyone, but it does for me - despite having two children at home as well (fortunately I have good help in that department).

Why do we know you? What have you created? Well I built the platform used for online treatment by CRUfAD (Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney) which is proving to be very successful. I've been doing web dev for 15 years, so I have worked on many dozens of sites - some of which I don't even remember (or don't want to)!

More recently I released my first commercial Android app called "Business Time". It's a time tracker for people who have used other time trackers before and given up because they're actually more like time wasters.

What platforms do you develop for? Primarily I develop for the web - using PHP and, in particular, the Symfony framework. I've also spent a lot of my time in the last few years developing for the iPhone and Android platforms which I'm really enjoying.

What are you working on right now? Right now I'm working on a website for DM101, a local direct marketing company. I'm using CodeIgniter which is an enjoyable departure from my usual framework. I'm also constantly updating Business Time to keep up with user demands!

How did you get into development? Initially it was because I was into multimedia - my first programming language was Lingo (the scripting language for what was then Macromedia Director). Then came the web so I got into HTML - this was way before JavaScript and the browser wars of the previous millennium - and I just kept going from there. My first server side language was Cold Fusion because as an HTMLer I could get my head around a tag based system. Then it was ASP, then ASP.NET, then PHP, then PHP frameworks. I've dabbled with a few other languages and have had to learn Objective C and Java, but they came pretty easily given all the other stuff I've done.

What do you think about the rise and rise of App Stores? How has it influenced your titles? I have mixed feelings about app stores, although where would we be without them? I have a problem with the monopolisation of a platform so I'm more comfortable in the Android world. As for my apps, I guess it makes me hesitant to pour energy into niches that are already well serviced. In the case of Business Time there was an obvious need for a decent time tracker for Android, so I hit that space. I probably wouldn't port it to iPhone unless there was considerable pressure to do it.

What's your favourite app that you didn't create? I have to admit I'm a bit of a lightweight when it comes to app consumption. Strangely enough I don't play games on my phone much but my favourite app is UniWar. Basically it's a turn based strategy game that is reminiscent of Steve Jackson's Ogre board game which was my favourite as a kid (and I still play it occasionally).

What phone do you use? Why? I use the HTC Google Dev Phone 2. Why? Because it's unlocked and lets me debug apps on real hardware. Plus the iPhone emulator in my virtualbox OSX machine is as close as I want to get to being caught with one of those devices :)

What advice do you have for budding Aussie developers out there? Spend the time preparing your marketing campaign. Get to know some SEO tricks, learn AdWords techniques, build an informative product website, write good press releases and distribute them widely. Sometimes we developers think that a smart product will shine through the pack, but that's only if it's supported by an attractive GUI and a clever marketing campaign. That's what I'm learning from Business Time, anyway. If you're not releasing your own apps then I guess my advice would be to start - you can sell a lot more apps than hours, that's for sure!

[Business Time App] [Global Media Empire]

Are you an Australian Developer? Want to be a part of Developer Cubed? Send me an email: [email protected]