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 Jayant Varma, the mastermind behind Aussie development studio OzApps.
Who are you and where do you work? I am Jayant C Varma based in the sunny capital of North Queensland, Townsville. I had several roles in my short professional life of about 16 years, including being the IT Manager for BMW Dealerships for about 8 years overseas. A University Lecturer (Sessional) for about 4 years and an iOS developer for the past 2 years. Now running my own Boutique Consultancy and Training setup by the name of OZ Apps (www.oz-apps.com)
I also am the Vice Chairman of the ACS NQ Chapter and the President of the first YIT (Young IT) Chapter in Australia, YITTSV (@yittsv) I intend to facilitate technology to the ones interested in Townsville.
Why do we know you? What have you created? I have created several iOS apps, of which are Dark Horse (Chess based Puzzler - Free) OZ Universities (a listing of Australian Universities - Free) PotShots (a collection of Pot Shots on Love by Ashleigh Brilliant) Farmer Fred (a game for Kids) StationeryWerks (an online catalog for a local StationeryWerks franchise - Free) Connect-In (an app contracted for ARCS for the Research Community using their Data Fabric - Free) Escape The Factory (a new released game build using CoronaSDK) ZX Search (a search utility, queries www.worldofspectrum.org for ZX Spectrum game listings - Free) RoboRun (my first app, now redeveloped using CoronaSDK) HydroCarbon (a chemistry based puzzle - Free) Equity Reports (the only iPad app that lists some Australian Universities data available from DEEWR) SunFerries (made a ferry timetable for SunFerries, Townsville - but the company did not like free publicity, so taken off the marketplace)
I also run a review site http://reviewme.oz-apps.com where I review software, hardware, books, etc.
What platforms do you develop for? Generally the iOS, and now Android (due to the CoronaSDK framework) and contemplating Windows Phone 7 and Mac as a platform soon.
What are you working on right now? Currently I am working on Farmer Fred's Animals a game for kids (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfeopS0b2FY) A Code Generator for CoronaSDK (http://www.oz-apps.com/files/CoronaCodeGenerator.dmg) An API Viewer for Corona Developers, that encapsulates all documentation for offline use, screenshot (http://www.oz-apps.com/files/concept.png)
There were some title that have gotten shelved due to lack of commitment from the Artists, so am looking for Artists to collaborate to complete those titles.
How did you get into development? It was in the mid 80's when I got a ZX Spectrum 48K for christmas. I would spend hours typing games code off books only to find an ordinary game in comparison to the high quality graphics and games released commercially. So I stopped time typing the games, and started working backwards, disassembling the commercial games from Code to Assembly and then trying to see how some cool nifty stuff was done, all of this before I was in Grade 10. The love with computing was like a high that cannot be described. I was making some apps for a few local companies in dBase III, after university started development in VB3/4 and 6. Shifted sideways into Management of IT than development, saw the world, travelled overseas before settling into Australia. Here developed an Pavement Analysis Software for a local pavement consulting company (using Modulus and Circly for backend processing) and wrote the GUI to use them more efficiently in VB.
I was scared of Objective-C (did not understand that) and kept away from it, till I got a chance to attend an AUC course on iOS development, then just dived into it and haven't looked back. Have about 12 apps on the Store. Now this has become my main focus and source of all gainful activities.
What do you think about the rise and rise of App Stores? How has it influenced your titles? I had my apps listed in the What's Hot
Farmer Fred New Zealand Board and Puzzle Connect-In Australia Productivity ZX Search Greece Trivia HydroCarbon Slovakia Education
Listed in the Top Charts Farmer Fred #2 in Taiwan Educational Farmer Fred #9 in Taiwan Kids HydroCarbon #2 in Uganda Educational RoboRun #6 in Bulgaria Family ZX Search #9 in Czech Reference Dark Horse #12 in Paraguay Board DarkHorse #17 in Paraguay Puzzle
I would have never know or imagined this and I missed this while these were on the charts. This has definitely created a bit of reputation and downloads that continue till date.
What's your favourite app that you didn't create? There are a couple, Cut the Rope is one that would come to mind instantly (I love puzzles more than others) and Pocket God is on the first page of my phone and probably my first purchase off the iTunes store.
What phone do you use? Why? I have a couple of them, but my *phone* is the iPhone4 it is a complete phone for what I need and Facetime for overseas calls is impressive. THe other devices that I own and use are a small Huawei Android 2.2 phone, an old iPhone3 (now Apple made that redundant :( ), an iPad and soon to join the group a Windows Phone 7. I had a Blackberry Storm (full screen on a Vodafone plan, the worst decision ever)
What advice do you have for budding Aussie developers out there? Jump into the fray, there is plenty of support, If you find Objective-C or Java difficult, use frameworks that let you develop faster and easier. If you find that you excel in certain areas, collaborate, I always look out for Artists, Designers and Musicians for my projects. Designers are creating some amazing games using CoronaSDK(also used by Robert Nay, the 14 yo that created Bubble Ball). The community is very helpful and supportive and there shall be local representation soon and in July (mid-week) there is a possibility of the CoronaSDK Developers Conference taking place in Sydney.
We Aussies are quite talented and let the world know that via our work.