On June 9, 2018, at about 2:30 AM I was woken up by a huge thunderstorm. I am a pretty good sleeper typically, but this time I couldn’t go back to sleep. For some weird reason the idea of an app came into my mind. It was a silly little thought, but I just couldn’t let go of it. It was the perfect app idea I was looking for: fun, had a very easily defined audience, it was fresh and topical, and the best: it was incredibly simple! I, with my limited coding experience, could probably finish it in a few hours. After an hour of sleeplessness, I decided that 3:30 AM is the best time to sneak out of bed, go into our dining room, open my laptop (RIP my eyes) and start a new Xcode project.

The idea was this: there was this really fun rating scale, called the Ticci Scale, invented by Federico Viticci on ep. 193 of the Connected podcast, which was made into an amazing art piece by the awesome Kate Matthews; so what if you could rate things on the Ticci Scale from an app and then send your rating with the iOS share sheet to any other app? The idea of an iMessage app quickly followed. This was the basic concept when I started working on it.

As I was looking for simplicity, I decided to use static picture as the stages of the scale. I downloaded the best quality version of Kate’s art that I could find, and started to create the images. The first problem I bumped into was that when Kate created the art, she didn’t have this kind of use in her mind, so the handle overlaps with the scale in any other orientation than “Best, I love you”. So I had to shrink the handle ever so slightly at every step before reaching “Decent”. But this introduced another problem: the handle’s base started to become oval instead of the original circle. The solution: the base and the rest of the handle are two different pieces, and only the handle gets shrunk, the base doesn’t. (The first few development versions had the distortion, but thanks to Kate, who pointed this out to me, it is fixed in the App Store version.)

"Ticci Scale without the handle shrunk"

Ticci Scale without the handle shrunk…

Distorted handle

…with the handle distorted…

Good version

…and finally, the good version!

The only thing that remained now was the actual coding. I started with the Single View App template in Xcode. The interface I imagined was simple: the scale is on the upper half of the screen, and a plus and a minus button beneath. The simple stepping with these buttons were ready in a few hours. The swipe gestures took another few. I got stuck for a little bit on the share button: it is surprisingly hard to get the share sheet working right on the iPad, if you are not using Apple’s built-in bar button solution. Then I threw together the Credits screen. All in all the app’s base was ready on the weekend I started it. All I had to do is polishing.

On Friday the next week I was finally ready to release my app. I submitted the app for review at noon, and it was ready for release around 4 AM on Saturday. As I was not able to sleep, I got up, released the app, and tweeted the following to Myke, Stephen, Federico, and Kate:

It got retweeted by all of them. My app got downloaded 257 times that day. I was in heaven. But no tweet-attention could compare to being mentioned on Connected. You can listen to it here.

My app's sale graph

The app’s downloads correlate pretty well with the mentions on Twitter and Connected

All in all this app finally made me realise that I can do it: I can become an iOS developer. Before this project, I’ve never finished anyth

I have a folder of dead Xcode projects. All of my previous ideas were too complex for the level I’m at. But now:

  1. I’ve finally finished a project,
  2. I’ve learned a lot from it, and written code I can reuse in other projects,
  3. I finally know that I am able to do this.

Now I am working on a project I’ve started earlier: a DnD Initiative tracker. I am planning to document the development process on this blog, so if you are interested in these kind of things, feel free to bookmark this site, subscribe to the RSS feed, or follow me on Twitter.

You can download Ticci Scale here: