A Wired Dreamer’s Introduction to App Development

There was no celebration, only cautious optimism.  It had been several months since I began development of the NYIP iPhone app.  Now, as I clicked to submit, it was in Apple’s hands for possible approval.  Throughout the entire process, I quickly learned that building an app was not without its fair share of complications.  On more than one occasion it appeared the entire project would be derailed.  With guidance from various developer forums and blogs, I was able to complete the job.

When I initially took on the build, the goal was to create a way for NYIP students and graduates to access our content on the go.  After much research I found a service called AppMakr where users can create apps without coding experience.  It works by creating different tabs that are driven by RSS feeds.  With this technology, the NYIP blog, podcast site, Youtube page, and Twitter profile are all updated in real time as new content is added.  I also wanted to include an interactive aspect where users can share their photos with the community.  The solution was to add an RSS feed from Flickr with all photos tagged with “NYIP”. 

While AppMakr was fairly user friendly, it was not without limitations.  For example, they currently only support development for the iPhone, iPad,and iPod Touch. Still, despite these shortcomings, we felt it was important to get version one live, and Apple’s iOS seemed like a great place to start.  Thankfully, support for Android and other popular platforms will eventually be made available.

Deciding on the App’s functionality was actually the fun part.  After it had been sufficiently tested in beta mode, the next step involved a convoluted process of creating and submitting electronic forms to Apple.  This required a developer’s license, and some trial and error.  To their credit, AppMakr provided a thirteen part video tutorial to walk me through the process.  Nevertheless, the procedure was like a game of Jenga.  One wrong move and the whole build collapses.  It took a few dozen tries before I was able to figure out the idiosyncrasies of the system.  

Finally, the news we had been waiting for arrived in an email.  The app had been approved, and was made available for free download in the iTunes store.  If you have yet to try it, download it here.


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