As the New Year starts, I'm bringing my study break to a close and looking for a new job. For the last couple of months of 2011, I took some time out to broaden my skillset and look for a new direction to take my career. I've enjoyed the years I've spent doing PHP but, eventually, it becomes time for a change.
I kicked the study break off by working through Seven Languages in Seven Weeks - an excellent book that I recommend to all developers. However, I confess that I didn't spend 7 weeks on it; my objective in reading it was to get some idea of the nature of a number of new languages, but to get some in-depth experience of at least one new one in a reasonably short timescale. As I was on a study break, and not earning, I didn't have the luxury of covering all these languages in any sort of depth!
Partly, this is because I managed to get a really good introduction to it. I signed up to take the iPhone Boot Camp course (in London, not NYC!) which, while not cheap for an individual, is still quite reasonably priced for the amount of training you get in a very short time. After that, I was able to start writing my own apps with a fair amount of confidence.
Of course, some of those early apps were pretty trivial or experimental; I have one app that "finds" Nelson's Column, which I use as a deployment test whenever anyone joins my TestFlight team, and one which is just an iPad soundboard which consists entirely of ducks. Why ducks? Because my 18-month-old niece thinks they're the best thing in the world, and who am I to argue? :)
The main app I've been working on is known as "LittleGym" (with apologies to Goon Show fans), and ties into my gym habit which has recently been reinvigorated by Fitocracy. You can get a few ideas of how it works from the app screenshots on Flickr. Unfortunately, as Fitocracy doesn't provide an API yet, you still have to enter your info on that site manually, but the app's a quick way of recording workouts, and does allow CSV export. And, to be honest, I find I really enjoy iOS development.
The second, slightly bigger app I'm working on is slightly secret at the moment... watch this space :)
So... What do I want to do with these new skills? And can I?
Well... many people claim (and I think it's true to a large extent) that a good developer really can work in any language. Certainly, the speed with which I've found myself picking up Objective C has supported this claim. I started off in C and I've got nearly 10 years of object-oriented experience, and I've always taken it pretty seriously, in terms of studying techniques and patterns, and applying good practice and testing. Why? Because it saves so much effort in fixing things later!
So... I happen to think I've got a fair bit to offer anyone who's looking for an iPhone developer; sure, my experience in the toolset is admittedly bit limited, but it's growing fast, and I can back it up with a career's worth of development experience, as well as skills in useful related fields such as team management, unit testing, server admin, version control... well, it's all in my CV. Plus, I've got more language skills than most people can lay claim to, which has certain uses :)
So, if any employer wants to talk to an experienced, rigorous developer who's looking for a slight change of direction, please drop me a line - or, if you know anyone I should be speaking to, or have any questions, let me know. In the meantime, I'll be looking around, polishing up the gym app, and hopefully releasing the new one (and a few more) to the public.