Developers Cubed: 99 Problems And Your App Should Solve One

Developers Cubed: 99 Problems And Your App Should Solve One

Gizmodo’s Developers Cubed series offers a behind the scenes look into Australia’s up and coming dev scene. This week: we chat to James Dumay who advocates building simple apps to solve simple problems for users.

Who are you and where do you work?
I’m James Dumay and by day I work building products for a large Australian software company. By night, its my passion to build simple, useful applications that help people save time and make their day-to-day activities easier.

Why do we know you? What have you created?
I work with a lot of text every day on my Mac and I really dislike that the default behaviour on the Mac whereby it preserves the formatting when you paste. I got chatting to other people about the problem and discovered it isn’t just me who dislikes that behaviour either.

Thats how Plain Jane was born. Its a small Mac application that removes all the formatting when you paste text in Mac OS X. I’ve been told by its users that they can’t go back to the old Mac behaviour.

What platforms do you develop for?
Recently, I’ve been developing a lot on the Mac. The great thing about Cocoa APIs and the Xcode development tools takes away a lot of the effort of making your applications look and feel great and allows you to concentrate on the details of your app instead of fluffing around. Its a developers dream platform.

What are you working on right now?
I’m a big reader of YCombinator and Hackernews, so I’m working on Hackernews for Mac that gives you a native Mac reading experience. Its a work in progress so I’ve been providing free copies on my website to get feedback and the response from the community has been nothing short of amazing.

How has the rise of App Stores affected your titles?
The App Store is a double edged sword. It gives you a great platform for releasing your own titles for hobby projects but its been proving difficult for a lot of developers to make a living from. I believe that’s mostly because consumers have gotten used to receiving free software for so long so they have a skewed sense about the true value of software. It takes a lot of effort to build something insanely great and developers should be rewarded for that. I worry that developers will build bad software if there isn’t the proper incentives. I’m inspired to build good software because I do it for the love.

What’s your favourite app that you didn’t create?
Sparrow, an alternative mail client for Mac and iOS which was bought by Google and development has stopped. They bought the company behind it for the talent and not the product, which I believe is a really sad exit for startups with great products.

What phone do you use? Why?
iPhone 4 but I’ll upgrade to the 5 soon. The Apple ecosystem of products has me hook line and sinker: automatically synced Calendars, Email, Music, Messages and the ability to stream content to my Apple TV with AirPlay.

What advice do you have for budding Aussie developers out there?
Got an idea? Go for it and get feedback early but don’t let people crush your ideas too early on. I always think of this quote by Jonathan Ive (Chief Designer at Apple): “While ideas ultimately can be so powerful, they begin as fragile, barely formed thoughts, so easily missed, so easily compromised, just so easily squished”.