It’s time for another “Meet the Developers” interview today, and I’m excited to let you know that we’ll be talking to Ruotger Skupin of iwascoding. If you’ve ever thought about using a Mac or iOS application for eBay, you’ll have undoubtedly come across their flagship piece of software – GarageSale.
Today we’ll be talking about the iwascoding team, a typical day working as a developer, why the company decided to focus on building software around eBay and PayPal, and offering plenty of tips for any readers thinking about developing an application.
I hope you enjoy the interview!
Tell us a little bit about the iwascoding team – where are you based, how many of you are there, and what motivates you as a company?
We are based in Berlin, Germany. Our office is in the eastern part of town which used to be part of the communist German Democratic Republic more than twenty years ago. But since then differences between eastern and western Berlin are mostly gone.
We are three full-time developers one part-time developer. Our support team works from their homes or wherever they find an internet connection.
Developing for the Mac platform has been our main motivator over the years. This cool feeling of being part of the Mac platform’s rise out of its niche to one of the main innovators of personal computing takes us a long way.
It’s the same thing for the iOS platform which we developed for from day one. I pity all those poor guys stuck on Windows or Symbian!
What does a typical day look like for you? Walk us through your usual schedule and activities!
When I come in in the morning I usually make a cup of tea first, well a whole teapot actually. Then I answer all the support cases for GarageBuy and GaragePay that our support staff could not answer. This is a good way to get a feeling for the most pressing problems or feature requests our customers have.
At noon, we go to have lunch together. Our part of town is visited a lot by tourists in the evening so there are quite a few good restaurants with special lunch deals.
In the afternoon we meet in the conference room to exchange news and discuss progress.
As someone who uses your Mac all day, every day, do you feel the need to always be running the latest hardware?
I don’t feel the need, but of course I always feel a longing for the latest hardware! To be honest, I find that a fairly recent MacBook with enough RAM (4GB) and enough disk space is absolutely fine. A good display and a good keyboard is a must though, and a fast SSD is a big bonus!
Of course, when Apple releases a totally new hardware feature (like the retina display), we need to buy the new device for testing.
What inspired you to focus on eBay and PayPal as the main platforms on which to build your software?
We grew into it. When we started out, Paul and Ilja were selling a lot of old stuff on eBay and since there were no good tools available (especially not on the Mac) they started writing their own.
The time was right for a tool like GarageSale and so the company focused on that. When I joined, we added GarageBuy and GaragePay to our portfolio.
What’s the most interesting item you’ve ever bought or sold on eBay?
It’s not so much what I have sold or bought – which are mostly ordinary items – but what other people sell never ceases to amaze me.
When testing GarageBuy, I often create new searches and I try to be creative. Sometimes customers send me their searches when they have problems, and these offer a glimpse into a world of collectors that I didn’t know existed!
How has the iPad and iPhone impacted the success of iwascoding and your software?
Not all that much, actually. Since eBay has their own eBay-branded tools, it is difficult for us to compete in the iOS App Store.
Most people try the free official tools and stop there. I’m convinced our tools are better, but for many people eBay’s are good enough.
What type of sales and customer response have you seen after launching your apps on the Mac App Store?
There was definitely a spike in the support system. We had quite an influx of new customers who have a fresh view on the applications, and this resulted in a long list of features and enhancements people would like to see.
Which websites, Twitter users, and magazines do you follow in an effort to stay up-to-date with the activities of other developers, and the Apple eco-system in general?
I listen to the mobileMacs podcast (in German) regularly, and the company is subscribed to two German print magazines – one called maclife (mac and iOS only) and the other one called c’t. c’t is more focused on PCs, Windows and Linux and gives us an interesting perspective into the Apple ecosystem from the outside.
Apart from that my Twitter network and colleagues pass on any hot news bits they come across. Sometimes news doesn’t get picked up immediately, like the CDMA iPhone. But that was a rather minor tidbit for us considering it’s CDMA-only and there are no CDMA networks in most of the European states.
I take a look through the App Store from time to time – I find that the good stuff tends to bubble to the top, so it’s hard to miss software that’s doing really well.
For someone interested in developing their very first Mac app, where would you recommend they start?
I would recommend getting connected with other developers, as it helps keeping up the motivation. This is important, because as they say: “Version 1.0 wont kill you, but it is going to try!”. Other developers can also give you little tips and tricks you can’t Google.
Don’t underestimate the business side of things! Get someone to do your taxes – it’s not your area of expertise, so don’t do it.
The same thing is true with graphics, if you are a graphics-muggle like me, get a graphics wizard. Apart from that, download and install Xcode and you are good to go. Do it now, get involved, it’s fun. Promise!
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, and offer a little insight into the vision and day-to-day life of iwascoding. We wish you all the best with the success of your apps.
If you’re looking for a fantastic companion to eBay or PayPal, I’d strongly recommend checking out the various software developed by iwascoding. It can be a huge time-saver if you’re an auction junkie!