App: Our Story

App: Maria’s Story

When I met Jake and Jed at the ALT conference in San Francisco this summer, I was really touched by their passion and drive, and I am thrilled to be a part of this project. Building Apps is extremely difficult and challenging, especially for independent developers and hopefully this project will give developers the courage to stay the course.

I’ve always been an independent designer, and know how rough it can be to reinvent yourself. As a free flowing thinker, sometimes I find that I need the confines of the box. This is an excellent challenge for me, as an artist because it really paves the path that I would otherwise have difficulty creating myself. Apple provides a blueprint to follow, with the help of its strict guidelines and constant updates and this makes it less intimidating for an artist like me.

My son, Dimitri, introduced me to my first iPad. It was then when I discovered the program Procreate and the Maglus stylus pen. As you can imagine, I was so happy to finally be able to draw directly on it, just as if it were paper or canvas. These tools allow me to show my artwork on the fly and it has changed my way of creating drastically as an artist. To this day it happens to be my favorite App and I never leave home without my iPad.

During the 80’s, I had bought my first Mac and messed around with a tool called Hypercard, and my first program was MacPaint. It was really hard to draw with a mouse and adjust to pixels, but I was determined to explore the possibilities. So I would squint my eyes to get a sense of freestyle drawing and let my creativity take over. That didn’t work very well, so then I decided to get inventive, by taking a large paper clip apart and taping it to the mouse, then I was able to trace my original drawing with a bit more control. I thought that was very cool but for me it was still a bit too strenuous and technical and I felt limited. Still, I found the technology fascinating. And, it inspired me to create applications and automated tasks, but I really never found the time to learn how to program. Working long hours as a graphic designer, I always had my son by my side staring at the monitor. Because I was also a full-time mom I really couldn’t attend WWDC or any other conference at the time (children were not allowed), so basically I did my best and tried to learn everything on my own.

Today with all the amazing tools available for artists, I find that I have more creative choices and freedom to create beautiful artwork for apps.

When the iPhone came out, my son was still very young and like every concerned protective mother I tried to keep him off the internet as much as possible, basically I wouldn’t let him “surf” the web. But like all kids, he was very curious and showed a big interest, so to be fair I would let him read the developers forums and anything technical related to Apple. I thought he’ll eventually get bored and do something creative instead. Boy was I wrong. Imagine my surprise when one day he comes to me and shows me an app he had created all by himself. He asked me if I would help him submit it to Apple. Of course I did, we submitted his app and we waited. It met all of Apple credentials as an app and just like that Dimitri published his first App called EleMints, a periodic table that students could take to class and use as a reference (no more heavy books to carry).

It was an exciting beginning, but again as a mother I wanted to protect him, so I told him not to be surprised if there were 200 downloads at the most for his App! Again, he surprised me. He woke me up in the middle of the night to show me the stats: more than 2000 downloads total, and it was climbing like crazy!

A few months later Apple had chosen him to be featured on iTunes and soon after he was being interviewed by several people. Dimitri was an overnight success!

I am so proud of my son Dimitri and his work ethics. He is very detailed and he’s always keeping up to date with enhancing his Apps to perfection. As you know, this takes a lot of discipline and hard work and that is why I decided to jump on board and join him. He concentrates on the programming and I concentrate on the creative part such as graphics and artwork. It’s a great balance for a Mother/Son Team, we both challenge each other, learn from each other and we couldn’t be more happier, that is why we decided to go all the way to creating our own company: Mochi Development, Inc. With all our hard work and love of creating we are proud to have under our belt some cool Apps as well as iBooks for children.

Our goal at the moment is concentrating on making our Apps accessible to people with disabilities or who may have difficulty using these devices. It’s very challenging, but well worth every effort. My advice, keep your market open because I believe that everyone should have access to such wonderful technology.

Jed and Jake are creating such a beautiful extraordinary story! This project will be a collection of fascinating stories for future developers and I am proud to be a part of it. Share the love. — Maria Bouniol

Thank You

App: Dimitri’s Story

It all started when I spent my entire 12-year old summer playing Super Smash Bros Melee. Out of boredom, I obsessively performed every ritual necessary to unlock every character there was. In that typical summer I spent largely by myself, I got rid of every urge to play video games that I would ever have in the future. The next summer, I discovered Interface Builder while bored with my grandparents in France, and without any distraction, I dove right in.

It all started when I was watching over my mom’s shoulder as she worked at LA Weekly. I must have been very young since I don’t even remember what kind of Mac she was using, but I do remember trying to imitate her work in Illustrator without too much success. I still use Illustrator to this day though, and although I still can’t match what she was able to do back then, I probably I got a tiny bit better.

It all started when Jean-Luc, my dad, encouraged me by showing me complex math problems in the form of puzzles. Since he worked in construction, he would often take me during my summers to help out on the site, and challenged me to solve complex wiring methods for switches and light fixtures.

It all started when I found my mom’s HTML books. It was still the time when DHTML was a thing. I once again obsessively devoured this new distraction from boredom, reading through her countless books on the subject. I don’t really enjoy making websites anymore.

It all started when I expanded from HTML and bought my first Perl book (the Sams teach-yourself edition). I remember copying code listings page by page, not knowing what anything meant, nor knowing how to run each program, and asking my mom to double check each one for mistakes. I later copied one of the listings for a hangman game and greatly elaborated it to have all sorts of features.

It all started when I spent a summer bored in Greece when I followed along a Java book by Gail Casburn’s suggestion, who was my good friend’s mom, and worked through all the examples in the book. Although I never took to Java, every vacation that followed found my luggage always filled with thick tomes of teach-yourself computer books.

It all started when I spent another summer bored in France, when I brought everything together and made my first app. I had grown attached to learning Japanese by that point, listening to the wonderful JapanesePod101 podcast, and made an app to download and manage episodes for it. I was so delighted when I got a response from the host of the show, Peter Galante, when I told them about it over email.

It all started when I hung out on IRC trying to solve the second MacHeist when I met for the first time other like-minded people, and took inspiration from people like Phill Ryu. I remember needing to create a Twitter to participate, and through it made some good friends who I still speak to today.

It all started when the iPhone SDK came out, and I decided to make a periodic table app since I was into chemistry at the time. I naively named it Periods after the periodicity of the elements, later settling on the much better name EleMints.

It all started when thoughts of what to do with my future rose to the top of my head. Although I dabbed into programming, I considered myself nowhere near proficient enough to use it in a job. The future looking grim, and my stubbornness of never wanting to go into physical labor like my dad, pushed me to want to prove myself.

It all started when I decided I wanted to sell this crudely designed periodic table I made on the App Store. Although impressed with myself at the time, all I could do was imitate Apple’s aesthetic. My mom told me she’d be proud if it only sold 2 copies in a month though. My dad still never used a modern computer before.

It all started when I finally convinced my parents to buy me an iPhone 3G. I could tell my mom was eyeing one for herself for quite a while, but the switch to a different provider seemed daunting.

It all started when that first day of sales for EleMints came in. I had made up a company name that was anime related, and jumped though hoops to get into the system to begin with since I was still 16. I didn’t quite know if I did everything correctly, but when it said I sold 7 copies that first day, I knew I was doing something right.

It all started when I received an email from one of my beta testers, that read that Apple had just featured EleMints on the front page of the App Store. I couldn’t sleep all night. I remember it being 6 am when I ran downstairs to my parent’s room and woke my mom up to show her the 300-something sales from that previous day alone.

It all started when I made more than any 16 year old should ever make on their own. I thought I could do anything I wanted, and learned that hard way the meanings of living and budgeting the money that I never had before. I not only ruined my chance at proving myself to others, but I proved to myself that I was untrustworthy.

It all started when I fulfilled a dream of mine to live in Japan. I learned the difficulty of wanting to do what I loved to do despite having no time to do it, while also learning to live on my own worth.

It all started when I turned 18 and could finally go to WWDC with my mom. The information back then was overwhelming, but made any college class to come pale in comparison. I made some of my best friends there, and we both made it a point to always go back year after year as a form of inspiration and a reminder to never fall behind doing what we love to do.

It all started when I went to college with the intent of learning particle physics. At the same time Bill Feightner, another friend’s dad, got me a contracting job working with his company to make them in-house iPad apps. With newly founded inspiration, I ended up finishing college in two years with a degree in Linguistics.

It all started when I got a proper job at the same company, EFILM, and was given another chance to prove myself.

There is always a new start to a story, and regardless of when or how they take place, they always have a way of converging into a single story. Before I knew it, my whole life was already involved with the story around Apps, and heavily influenced by others who were in the same situation. For that reason, I am extremely thankful to all those people, especially Maria who has encouraged me from the very beginning. When we met Jake in San Francisco and he told us how he wanted to tell the App story and how they are changing everyone’s lives, I knew that he was onto something, but I didn’t realize just how much Apps had impacted my own life until now. You should all support Jed and Jake's documentary on Kickstarter and I’m sure that by hearing other developers’ stories, you’ll realize how Apps have impacted your own.

— Dimitri Bouniol