Whiteboard

by Drew Wilson

Published

I've been hard at work building an iOS and Mac app for my soon to launch photo editor Filtron. It's literally been the hardest thing I've ever decided to build. Not because it's super complex (there are some pretty complex parts), but because I'm learning how to build for Mac as I go. Building for Mac is nothing like iOS. UIKit on iOS does so much for you and the iOS developer ecosystem is similar to the web ecosystem in that there are so so so many resources to use, articles to read and videos to watch. It's pretty great.

Mac is a different story. There is no UIKit on Mac and Mac developers are the rarest of beasts. The development community is itty bitty and most "how to" articles you find for Mac are years old. So building for it is difficult if you haven't already been doing it for a long time. 

So why build Whiteboard? Simply to challenge myself :) I was at my desk and I wanted to draw out some ideas while architecting a system for Plasso. I went to the Mac App Store but didn't find any app that was just a window where you can draw things. Of course I could use Photoshop but I wanted something that would be faster and simpler. Yes, I could have used a pencil/pen and paper (my preferred method) but I didn't have any in the room. Oddly I couldn't find anything on the App Store to let me just draw in a window.

At that point I could have just pulled up Photoshop or gone downstairs and gotten some paper but I realized this would be a great opportunity to test how easy/hard Mac apps can be to build. So I decided to try and build an app that was a single view and used all Apple's stock UI to see how fast/easy it can be. 

I needed to see if I was insanely terrible at building for Mac or if Filtron is actually just hard. Turns out building Mac apps using Apple's stock UI and a single view makes things pretty easy (and Filtron IS just hard).

I ended up building everything and submitting it to the App Store in under 24 hours after having the idea. That includes writing all the code, making the custom button icons, the app icon and filling out all the app info on iTunes Connect. New personal record.

It took weeks to get it approved in the App Store, but they finally approved it and it's LIVE!

This turned out to be a great learning experience for me and an invaluable source of confidence in my journey in Mac development. I now know that making a Mac app "can" be easy - if it uses Apple stock UI, has only a single view, has a tiny feature set, etc. lol - and doesn't always have to be the source of all things evil ;)

As a bonus, building this has made Filtron even easier because I have some more practice working on Mac outside that app.

If you've ever thought about building for Mac... DO IT! The community needs more people to join the club :) And it can be super fun.

I'll be giving away promo codes throughout this week and next, so follow me on twitter to snag a copy of Whiteboard for free.

Hope you find Whiteboard useful!