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 Sean Clancy, owner and operator of Published Pixels.
Why do we know you? What have you created? Just before I started the business, I was working on a research project called Alive at USQ in which we created numerous prototype games to explore ways to enhance tertiary learning through video games. Three of them are available to download for free at web3dexchange.org.
More recently, I built a system called Kids Choice that allows students to vote on what they would like in a playground when their school is looking to purchase a new one. We also created an online crossword game what dynamically loads files from a crossword creation tool and allows people to play them online for prizes.
What platforms do you develop for? We predominantly develop for the PHP/MySQL environment on the Mac, however we have done applications in DXStudio and are hoping to enter the iOS market soon.
What are you working on right now? Some very exciting projects, which I unfortunately cannot talk about just yet. We do have an informal agreement with a new business, Muddled Puzzles, to develop iPad and iPhone applications of an exciting range of new logic puzzles that they have been developing over the past year. The puzzles are the logical successor to Sudoku. At the moment one type of puzzle they have developed is being test-run by more than 20 Sudoku players of varying ranges of ability. Early feedback has been very enthusiastic about both the concept and the individual puzzles. How did you get into development? I've always been interested in programming and graphics, starting with QBasic back in primary school. By high school I had developed a blackjack game using Visual Basic and then studied I.T at university. In my final week of uni, my lecturer asked me to come to work on Alive as a Games Programmer. Since then I've been working mostly on web-based technologies.
What do you think about the rise and rise of App Stores? How has it influenced your titles? I like the idea of App Stores, I believe they've encouraged many more people to buy apps who never would have even thought to. Anything that gets people buying more software is perfectly fine by me. The only thing going against them in my view is when the only way to get an app is by getting it from the App Store (for example, the iPhone). I prefer the way the Mac App Store currently works; there's a store, but you're not forced to use it.
What's your favourite app that you didn't create? It's hard to narrow it down, especially these days when there are so many brilliant apps out there. As a web developer, my most useful app would have to be Adobe Fireworks. I find it very easy to use.
What phone do you use? Why? I use an iPhone 4. I went to an iPhone Development course in Sydney just before the iPhone 3G came out and tried an iPod Touch. After having so many phones that were difficult to use over the years it is refreshing to have a phone that is so easy to use.
What advice do you have for budding Aussie developers out there? Try and learn some skills from related fields - graphic design, UX design, business, writing, etc. It will help you out in a lot of ways. Also, if you haven't tried games programming, try and create a game sometime. I have found that the skills I learnt from games programming have helped me out immensely.