The MacTech Spotlight: Andre Pepperrell, http://alfredapp.com
Volume Number: 26
Issue Number: 10
Column Tag: MacTech Spotlight
The MacTech Spotlight: Andre Pepperrell
What is your company?
Running with Crayons Ltd
What do you do?
I'm the creator and developer of Alfred, a productivity app for your Mac.
How long have you been doing what you do?
I graduated in '99 from Southampton University with a Computer Science degree concentrating on UI/HCI. Since then, I've been working mostly as a Java UI programmer with Swing. I started looking into and reading about Mac development a few years ago. In January 2010, I started developing for Mac and launched Alfred in late February.
What was your first computer?
A ZX Spectrum 48k in the early 80's. I used to spend hours at a time typing in code that I didn't understand, copied from magazines I'd bought. It would either not work because of a single error I didn't know how to fix on line 1642 or do something rubbish like scroll my name across the screen in different colours!
Are you Mac-only, or a multi-platform person?
I'm still a multi-platform person - more by need than by choice.
What attracts you to working on the Mac?
The main reason I like developing for Mac is that people appreciate beautiful software. On Windows, anything goes and there's a lot of low quality software around. In addition, there seems to be a very strong and supportive community for small companies and indie developers. Since launching Alfred, we've had tons of emails, tweets and messages of support from total strangers.
What's the coolest thing about the Mac?
The lifespan of a Mac far exceeds that of a PC. My first OS X G4 Mac Mini is still being put to daily use as our PPC/Leopard testing machine and doesn't break a sweat.
What is the advice you'd give to someone trying to get into this line of work today?
Just get started today. Find an idea and a problem to solve, then start working on it. I spent a year reading about OS X development and didn't learn a whole lot. Once I started developing a real idea, I had a first product out within two months and had learned loads.
What's the coolest tech thing you've done using OS X?
Going from an idle conversation to a released product in under two months of evening work while working a day job. I released the first version of Alfred on Feb 28th while watching the hockey Olympics final of the US-Canada game. Before I knew it, the word had spread on Twitter and we had over 3000 users in about 3 days!
When I was knee high to a grasshopper, I won a Michael Jackson dance competition at a Christmas party. I turned around and said "Mummy, who's Michael Jackson?" Ah to be young again!
Where can we see a sample of your work?
You'll find Alfred at http://alfredapp.com
For some of our other work and WordPress development, have a look at http://pepsmedia.com
The next way I'm going to impact the Mac universe is:
My hope is that Alfred will become a household name on Mac. We still have a long way to go but I have some fantastic ideas to make it indispensable. It's also the first of a number of productivity-focused Mac apps that we hope to launch.
Anything else we should know?
Aside from developing Alfred, we also help other entrepreneurs and Mac developers get the word out for their own products. Usability, icon design, branding, product marketing and community building - you say the word and we're there!
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