Sometimes, the people around us can be a source of inspiration towards our success. That’s what happened to Gennadii Dudarek, who ended up creating an iOS application because there was no suitable existing app for his wife.
TimeWheel is a fully functional interval timer for high-intensity trainings. It has a very simple user interface which allows you to set it up for any workouts: Tabata, weight training, HIIT, or any other interval training, with just a few easy steps. It is designed to look like two physical wheels corresponding to high and low intensity time intervals in HIIT and Tabata trainings. The app is super simple and quick in use, which is important for sports, and it also looks great.
Gennadii is a professional MacOS/iOS app developer from Ukraine. He worked at Apple Inc. for three years as a User Interface Engineer for professional video applications and iPad Address Book.
How did you come up with the idea?
My wife asked me once if there was a timer app with two adjustable time intervals up to one minute each. It was the first time she was interested in anything specific for iPad, so I wanted to find something that would be really worth her attention. To my surprise, there was really nothing to look at. I mean not the amount of timers, there are hundreds of them, but there was not a single one representing the culture of an iOS app, when users feel they keep an app (not a device) in their hands, and there is nothing standing between the app and the user.
What motivated you to work on this, despite being busy with other tasks?
I wanted to add this live app to the fitness genre overloaded by utility-kind apps. I believe fitness apps must be more engaging, so more users will do fitness.
Did you mainly use your existing experience, or learn something new with this project?
Well, I’ve been developing Cocoa apps since the time when Cocoa first appeared on Mac; same about iPad. I’ve been working at Apple with the iPad team almost from the very start of the project till the public announcement. My experience is a part of my life. At the same time we always learn. The main new skill was concentrating on this work in the short periods of my free time.
What was your time budget? How did you allocate it and plan the tasks? What schedule worked best for you?
My time budget was one hour per day (6am-7am). I didn’t manage time deadlines, just minimized the project scope to be as minimalist as possible and tried to write as little code as possible.
Did you do everything by yourself, or did you hire help, paid or volunteer? Any advice on this for others?
We did the project with a great designer Diego Monzon. All UI design is done by him. When I started to think about the project, I understood that I needed to find an artist. I started to search for free UI and found Diego’s website. His work amazed me, I understood if anybody is able to do the job, it was him. I offered him a partnership. He was inspired by the idea, and we started the project. The best advice – find the right people, individuals you can completely rely on and believe in, so you won’t spend time on management and miscommunication. Your team will just create and use the time most efficiently. And of course use standard technology, adjust it for your needs, search for the ready-to-use third party solutions, try to write only the things unique to your app; all the rest can be reused.
How did you manage the project? Any specific tools and techniques that others can use?
I strictly defined how much time I can use for coding. I limited myself only to one hour per day at 6am-7am, but used that one hour fully, not interrupted by anything else: no web surfing, no mailing, just coding, and just the things I knew I needed to do. At other time during the day, I could think in the background about possible solutions and use cases, taking notes, writing mails to Diego about UI. Today a lot of things can be done in background on the go, so you even don’t notice you’ve done something. When I had some free time in the evening, I could browse documentation, do some sketching, etc., but coding as a rule was just one hour a day.
Is the project in active use? Actively supported and extended? Any achievements to boast?
Yes, we are now also done with the iPhone version with many cool features. It’s not going to be free like the first version was, though anybody who got it for free will still be able to use it.
What were the biggest benefits for you from this project, what brings you the most joy?
Definitely positive reviews and feedback. Once, the day after the first release, a friend of mine (a great developer) congratulated me on the app. When I asked how did he know, he pointed to the TimeWheel review at BeautifulPixels.com. That was an amazing surprise, I didn’t know about that review.
What lessons did you learn while working on this?
The size of the team and more hours of work don’t affect the calendar time to release that much.
What would you do differently if you could get back in time?
I would pay more attention to marketing. If you get lucky to be on the first page in the genre, the most important thing is to be able to remain there as long as possible. You should set the expectations right; if you don’t have some feature, explain it very clearly that it is really not needed in your app.
What other projects or authors would you like to read about in our interviews?
I would like to read about the authors of Gliss, Minimalist Timer, Thermo.
What book would you recommend to someone starting a hobby project?
I would recommend reading classic books for inspiration, authors like Henry Miller, Remarque, Hemingway. Besides that, read the platform documentation, code samples and of course watch for nice apps that other people make.
Anything else you would like to add? Any tips for fellow hobby programmers?
Do as little as possible but in the shortest and the most proper way. The programming world is changing so quickly, there is no time for learning methodologies for methodologies. Always check if you are really spending your time on the important things.
Feel free to ask Gennadii about more details, or share your own experience in the comments below.
This post was written by Valentyn Danylchuk, the editor of Five-Hour Projects. You can also publish guest posts here, suggest projects to write about, or get interviewed – contact firstname.lastname@example.org