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The MacTech Spotlight: Martin Pilkington, M Cubed Software

Volume Number: 27
Issue Number: 03
Column Tag: MacTech Spotlight

The MacTech Spotlight: Martin Pilkington, M Cubed Software

What do you do?

I'm the Writer of Weird Symbols at M Cubed. Put another way I'm the owner, programmer, designer, support guy and cleaner. Most of my time is spent in Xcode trying to hack things together or in a notebook scribbling out designs. I'm currently the only person at M Cubed but occasionally I do work with others for things like icon design.

How long have you been doing what you do?

Well, I started out making very simple point and click games around 10 years ago but I've been doing proper Mac development for over 6 years now and as a full time gig for the past 18 months

What was your first computer?

I'm told my first computer was an LC but I don't really remember it as I was that young. The first computer I remember was the family's Performa 5200. Despite the bad reputation they had, it is still to this day the most reliable Mac I've ever dealt with.

Are you Mac-only, or a multi-platform person?

I'm a born and bred Mac user but I do use Windows on occasion, mostly for the occasional game. Soon I might be looking into Windows Phone development so I might end up using it a bit more.

What is the advice you'd give to someone trying to get into this line of work today?

Firstly is to make sure you work on something you love. If you're going to be working on something you don't enjoy, you won't do a good job of it. If you're writing your own app, scratch your own itch as you'll be your best customer.

I'd also say not to worry if you ever feel like you are in over your head. Every developer has been there, the important thing is to make sure you keep learning new things. A good measure of whether you're progressing as a developer is to look at code you wrote 12 months ago. If you don't find something you cringe at because it is so bad, you're not improving enough.

And lastly, don't be afraid to ask for help. If you can't figure out how to do something do a Google search. If Google shows nothing up then send an email to another developer or to a mailing list or get on IRC or twitter. Most developers are more than happy to answer questions when you are genuinely stuck. And always try to help other developers in return if they come to you for help when they're stuck.

What's the coolest tech thing you've done using OS X?

I can't really think of a single thing but they all revolve around the topic of accessibility. Things like improving the accessibility of table views or using the accessibility APIs in interesting ways such as manipulating the UI of other applications.


This is probably isn't exactly cool but it's the thing I'm most proud of. Making a point and click adventure game using Claris Works and Apple Media Tool when I was 8. It wasn't even impressive by any means but it's the point when I started heading towards making software

Where can we see a sample of your work?

All of my software is available at . I also post some technical articles on my personal blog at

The next way I'm going to impact the Mac universe is:

I've long been one of those people who knows they should test more but never does. I'm not the biggest fan of unit tests and would rather do UI testing, so I'm currently looking into building a UI testing system for Mac apps. I have no idea whether anything usable will come of it but I have my fingers crossed.

Anything else we should know?

I highly recommend watching the video of a short talk I gave at NSConference in 2009 about accessibility on the Mac, it's something people ideally need to be more aware of:

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