Based out of Chicago, sushiGrass is a one-man operation led by Jacob Van Order, dedicated to creating small, detail-oriented, thoughtful apps for the iOS platform. clockVetica, sushiGrass’ first app, was chosen “New and Noteworthy” and “What’s Hot” by Apple in 2010. Since then, attention has been paid on client apps and a move from Philadelphia.
Hi Jacob, please tell me a little about yourself and how you got started in app development.
My name is Jacob Van Order, I have owned my own app development company called sushiGrass for a little over 3 years now. Before doing this, I was a print graphic designer. Before that I was a moped mechanic, vintage arcade tech, screen printer and college radio DJ.
Can you give me a summary of your process?
Because of my design experience, I tend to rely heavily upon the upfront design process as where I do my main development phase. Thumbnails, UI sketches and rough app mockups are where the meat of the work gets done. In most cases, the final product heavily resembles what comes out of that front-end process but that's not to say that I take a strictly waterfall-style approach. QuickTrain was redesigned after I got it up and running in code and didn't like the way the app felt.
You built a CTA app, can you please tell me a little bit about the development process of this app?
QuickTrain was largely born out of a blend of my fascination with the CTA along with a rapid interest in iOS development. That combined with the perfect timing of the release of the CTA Train API along with the 11" MacBook Air, I was able to code a majority of the app while riding the el from the Rockwell stop at the end of the brown line into the loop.
Ultimately, I saw a need for the app when I too often found myself at a point where if I had just hustled a little bit while walking to the train, I would have caught it. QuickTrain aims to solve that by getting you results as quickly as possible.
What sort of time management techniques can you share?
Within the last couple of months, I've started using Field Notes as my task manager. I tried Google Docs, SimpleNote and Wunderlist but ultimately, what helps most is allocating a page for a day, writing a list of what I need to accomplish and checking it off. At the end of each day, I see what's left over and move it to the next day along with dreaming up anything else I need to add. The Field Notes are great because they're physical which means you can't lose them on a screen of information and they have 30 pages which works well for one each month.
What are some of your favorite sites that you follow
Who are some of your biggest influences in app development
Within the Chicago iOS / Cocoa community, there are a great number of really special developers who have guided, mentored and assisted with my development as a developer. I can also credit Ray Wenderlich with really helping me understand more than just the basics.
Also, Jim Coudal, a designer here in Chicago, who's interviews really led me to stop working at a corporate job and to go out on my own.
What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring app developer just starting out?
Come out, meet some other developers and soak up as much information as you can.