Developers Cubed: Coding For Good

Gizmodo’s Developers Cubed series offers a behind the scenes look into Australia’s up and coming dev scene. This week: we talk to the in-house developer at Thankyou Water about doing some good with your skills while also looking out for your own commercial interests.

Who are you and where do you work? My name is Simon Robb and I'm a developer/designer based in (occasionally) sunny Melbourne. I work as an in-house developer with social enterprise Thankyou Water as well as taking on freelance web design/development jobs.

Why do we know you? What have you created? Thankyou Water is a bottled water social enterprise which gives all its profits to fund safe water projects in developing countries. I developed Thankyou Water's new web app named Track Your Impact. Next time you buy a bottle of Thankyou Water, enter the unique code on the bottle and you'll be able to track where the profits of that bottle are going — right down to the exact well/bio-sand filter/rainwater tank in the project in question, including GPS co-ordinates.

What platforms do you develop for? Primarily web but occasionally OS X/Windows/iOS.

What are you working on right now? I'm currently working on Track Your Impact 2.0 as well as a new site for Thankyou Water in line with some big things happening next year. Stay tuned for more info to come on that. Non-Thankyou Water-related, I'm building a startup named Posterpole which features poster artwork as a means to find out what events are going on around you. We're intending to launch in Melbourne in late January, and will provide mobile apps, a web-based app and a public API.

What do you think about the rise and rise of App Stores? How has it influenced your titles? I think the ability to have instant distribution has been incredible for independent developers — suddenly the little guy is on a level playing field with the big software houses. They've certainly lowered the bar to entry into the industry and popularised the idea of indie development, and I'm sure many young people will be considering software development as a career or even just as a hobby as a result.

What’s your favourite app that you didn’t create? I'm a music lover so every time I use Spotify I have to pinch myself ("Any music I want, for free? How does that work?"). From the moment I signed up I've been using it about six hours a day. If they pulled their service tomorrow I'm not sure I could cope with going back to my limited iTunes library!

What phone do you use? Why? I've been on iPhone since it first arrived in Australia because I love the UX of iOS. I just picked up an iPhone 5 but also had a good look at Windows Phone — Microsoft have done a great job at building a fresh new take on what a phone should be and once the app store reaches maturity I'll seriously consider making the switch.

What advice do you have for budding Aussie developers out there? First, get around the tech community. StackOverflow and GitHub are great, and working in a small dev team is invaluable to accelerating your growth as a developer. Second, dream big and believe you've got what it takes. There's a whole world out there that's filled with possibilities for an app to fill, and you can be the one to create it.

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