The Business of iPhone and iPad App Development

Business coverFull disclosure: Apress asked me to review this book and sent me a free copy. I agreed with my usual condition of being able to really say what I thought about the book, good or bad. So here it is.


Great book for someone starting out on iOS development. You would be at a severe disadvantage if you don’t know about most practices described in the book. Single resource for lots of good practices you’d have to pick up from blogs or Twitter otherwise.

In More Detail…

Don’t be fooled by the title. The Business of iPhone and iPad App Development by Dave Wooldridge and Michael Schneider isn’t one of your boss’ stuffy business book. This is a practical, hands on, guide to making a successful iOS app. It assumes you already have an idea and know how to develop it, but it guides you through the steps of focusing the app, designing it so it can be profitable, and releasing it with the best possible chance of becoming a good seller.

You’ve probably heard a dozen stories of developers who create a great app, submit it to the App Store, and then wonder why they only sold a dozen copies. This is the book they need to go along with that great app.

The book roughly follows the development timeline of an app, from the initial concept, design, implementation, testing, and release. At each of the stages, it covers any aspects that can have a significant impact in the sales success of the app. Even though you can read the book cover to cover, the chapters are very well defined, so it’s easy to jump directly to the part that interests you the most.

With Casey’s Contraptions almost ready to submit to Apple, I read with particular interest the chapters on creating prerelease buzz and increasing awareness of the app. Lots of good advice there.

Don’t expect anything groundbreaking though. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, or you’ve been hanging out on Twitter with all the iOS developers, you will know most of what the book has to offer. It might still be worth it for a few pearls of wisdom here and there to fill some blind spot. However, the book should be required reading for any new iOS developer. Easily the best $20 you can spend as far as impact in the final app sales.

I usually have no patience for technical books with filler chapters and sections. This book is very good about getting to the point, although it has a few sections that feel a bit out of place in that they’re quite basic and technical (like details of generating provisioning profiles, did we really need that in this book?). All in all, that’s a pretty minor point and easy to get around them.

Delayed Release

Probably my main criticism is that the book doesn’t mention one release technique that I consider to be a requirement for any major launch these days: The delayed launch. As the authors mention several times in the last few chapters, once you submit your app, you have no control over when Apple approves it, so you have to play some guessing games.

Instead, you can delay the release of the app once it has been approved, and set it to a known, fixed date in the future (say, a week from approval). At that point, you can really kick in your PR in high gear, contact media outlets, and, most importantly, send them promo codes for your app, even though it’s not available for sale yet.

The goal is to have all the PR hit on launch day or shortly after. The more you can make that happen, the more successful any PR efforts will be, and the bigger the initial launch (and hopefully the following sales) will be.

All in all, The Business of iPhone and iPad App Development is an easy recommendation for the new iOS developer. Go read it right now before you even think of shipping another app.

Book Review: Pair Programming Illuminated

Pair programming really needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated. Just a few years ago, I loved my single office and I was completely against the idea of spending all my time programming with somebody else sitting at the same computer. Today I advocated using pair programming at work and I gladly gave up my office to work in a pair-programming lab alongside the whole team. Funny how things change.

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Book Review: Waltzing with Bears

Exactly a year ago today, I put up the first article on Games from Within. It was a review of Tom DeMarco’s book Slack. I thought it would make for a nice, symmetrical bookend to wrap the year up with a review for another book by DeMarco: Waltzing with Bears.

As the subtitle indicates, Waltzing with Bears deals with managing risk in software development projects. Managing risk, not reducing risk, or removing risk. Do you think that low risk or even no risk is a good thing? Think again. One of the central points of the book is that a project with no risk is not worth doing. Yes, you read that correctly. Intrigued? Go and read the book right now.

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