Apple fans and developers, rejoice! In this episode of Semaphore Uncut, we have Dave Verwer, who is best known for being the author of the legendary newsletter iOS Dev Weekly. Dave has been an iOS developer since iOS first launched.
In this episode, you’ll learn how Dave grew an iOS development newsletter into a thriving community, as well as which announcements he’s most excited about from this year’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). What do the announcements say about the next 10 years of Apple development? Will iOS developers have cross-platform compatibility with Mac anytime soon? And what’s the deal with iPadOS?
Watch my full interview with Dave to find out 👇
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Darko Fabijan: (00:16) Hello, and welcome to Semaphore Uncut, a show where we talk about cutting-edge developer tools, communities, and the people behind them. My name is Darko, and I am your host today. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our channel.
With me today, I have Dave Verwer. Dave, thank you so much for joining us. Please go ahead and introduce yourself.
Dave Verwer: Thanks very much for having me. I’m happy to be here on the podcast. As you said, I’m Dave. People probably know me best for iOS Dev Weekly, which is a weekly newsletter that goes out every Friday with a roundup of the week’s iOS development news and articles.
How iOS Dev Weekly began
Darko: (00:56)That’s true. What led you to start iOS Dev Weekly? What is your experience so far with it?
Dave: I’ve been an iOS developer since the platform started, really. I wrote a couple of Mac applications before iOS came out, so I was familiar with the technologies. But then, I kind of jumped onto that platform.
And then a couple of years later, I was subscribed to something called Ruby Weekly, which is still going now. It was a very similar style of newsletter as iOS Dev Weekly. Previous to being a Mac developer, I was a ruby developer, so I was happy to stay subscribed to the newsletter and am still reading it regularly. I really liked the format of distilling down the week’s information. I looked around for something similar on iOS, and there wasn’t anything. So, I said to myself, “Well, I wonder if I can do that.”
Dave: Before I knew it, I was doing it. I remember thinking at the end of putting the first issue together, “Well, that’s done.” Then I realized I was going to have to do it all again the next week, and I thought I was going to struggle to find stuff. But it turns out that was never a problem. In fact, there’s always too much stuff. Sure enough, almost eight years later, I’m still doing it every week.
Turning iOS Dev Weekly into a business
Darko: (02:42) True. Would you call iOS Dev Weekly a business?
Dave: Yeah, absolutely. I’m not sure it was ever my intention to turn it into a business, but it’s absolutely a business now. The primary reason I started it was because I thought I could do a good job, which is always–I think–a good to start something rather than purely to see it as something that could make money.
But there was an element of self-promotion in starting it as well. Actually, I resisted sponsorship and turning it into something commercial for quite a while. It was only about 18 months before I started getting approached by companies that were interested in whether they could place a sponsored link in the newsletter. I said no for a little while because I didn’t really want to do that. That wasn’t why I started it.
And then as time went on, I was nervous that if I took sponsorships, people would think that that was the only reason I was doing it and would unsubscribe.
Dave Verwer: Actually, when I did start taking sponsorship and turned it into something that made money, the opposite was true. Readers would tell me, “We’re so glad that you’re taking sponsorship now because that means that the newsletter is going to continue, and we want it to continue.” It was a very positive reaction to it. It’s not my entire business, but it’s part of my business.
It’s really important to make sure the ads are of good quality. I have had situations where I’ve had to turn advertisers away because it wasn’t a perfect fit for the newsletter. People are putting their trust in you to provide them with links that are of good quality, and that includes the sponsored link. So, it’s really important to me that the products and services are relevant to the audience are of good quality.
What’s new in iOS development for 2019
Darko: (08:05) You just got back from WWDC 2019 in San Jose. Can you share your thoughts on what was released and what you are most excited about?
Dave: It was a fantastic conference. It’s always a good show, but this year felt like a really big year in terms of things that changed and the significance of those things as well. A couple of fundamental new technologies were introduced at the conference this year to set what I see as the direction for the next five to 10 years of iOS Development.
Apple introduces SwiftUI to simplify the user interface development process
Dave: Currently, we use a tool called UIkit which isn’t going away any time soon, but a new technology was introduced called SwiftUI. In kind of sits on top of UIkit, although the technical details of that are not quite as simple as that.
It’s a declarative and reactive development framework rather than an imperative one—quite a different change in the way we build iOS apps. While it’s not released for production yet, it will be available to ship most likely in September this year, which is normally when the new version of iOS comes out. It’s quite a big change in terms of iOS development, and it’s very exciting to see how Apple sees the next years of this platform going forward.
Apple makes it easier to bring iOS experiences to MacOS
Darko: (09:36) I saw a lot of news around SwiftUI. It seems that it’s the next thing. A couple of weeks ago, I was speaking with Peter Steinberger from PSPDFKit, and he mentioned something called Catalyst, which was news to me. Is that the name?
Dave: Yes, it’s a technology that allows you to bring an iPad application written with UIkit, which doesn’t usually run on the Mac, to MacOS.
Until now, there was no UIkit on the Mac, but Catalyst allows you to create a Mac application out of that. To allow it to happen, they have basically brought all those UIkit frameworks across to the Mac, specifically for use by Catalyst applications. So, you have this ability now to take an iPad app that you’re shipping to the store and, fairly simply, get a version of your iPad app working on the Mac.
The step after that is to make it fit better with the Mac. So, it will look a little bit an iPad application running on a Mac to begin with, but they’ve introduced some additional APIs as well to help you make it fit better with the platform, take advantage of menus, right-click, and bars, and things like that.
This is cross-platform development in the most Apple way possible. Catalyst brings together macOS and iOS. But actually, you can write the same SwiftUI code while using the same framework for all of the Apple platforms–iOS, macOS, TV, and Watch.
iPadOS is the new one. It’s always been good with Apple’s default stock UI components, which tend to be fairly attractive to look at. But if you go down the route of using their standard components, you’re going to have a much easier time when your application needs to work on a different platform. They’re going to make those components look more Mac-like on the Mac without much work.
If you’ve gone down the completely custom UI route, then it puts you in a more difficult position. There are pros and cons to both of those ways of doing things, but you’re generally going to have an easier time if you stick with Apple’s standard UI components.
Darko: Sure. It’s less work for you, and it’s covered from their side.
This was a fantastic conversation, and I hope you also enjoyed it as well. Dave, thank you so much for your time, and I hope that in the future when you start some new projects we can hear how it’s going. Maybe we’ll have a chance again in the future to talk.
Dave: Thank you very much for having me on. It’s been an absolute pleasure.