(This is Part 2 of our series on the development of the Slidecaster iPhone App and Desktop Slideshow System. To read earlier articles, check out Part 1).
As you read in Part 1 of this series, we help our clients to create a software development plan in a phased approach, which reduces risk, cost, and increases flexibility. It also helps align our interests with that of the client. In the case of our hero, Mike Simmons, he wanted to create a profitable app that helped photographers. By proposing a phased solution to him, we became invested in the same result. We wanted the app to be successful because with success comes more work. Likewise, it is our belief that both Unstoppable and the client should have “skin in the game.”
After Mike accepted our proposal from Part 1, we had to start developing the product. It all began with a kickoff meeting.
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The Kickoff Meeting
The initial meeting that started development included Mike, Sam, myself (Nathan Stuller), and a Lead Developer, Doug. Not all the business decisions about the product had yet been made. For example, the 4 of us brainstormed names for the product and how to describe it. Still, the features that it would include had been mostly determined by now:
The Mac App
Would point to a folder and show a slideshow that cycled through images on a second screen
The iPhone App
Would display the images from the folder on the phone
The Mac App and iPhone app would communicate with each other over a local network. The iPhone app would see all the photos that were on the Mac and allow the user to make certain changes, such as hiding images. Essentially, the iPhone app is a remote control for the Mac desktop app.
The Resulting Plan
Coming out of the Kickoff meeting, each of us knew what needed to be done. Drawing from his deep experience with iPhone development, having worked on such apps as Mythbusters, Underworlds Ultimate Edition, and Percussive, among others, Doug would work to prove the most risky technical feature first, the network communication between the two devices. I would eventually be writing the Swift code along with Doug, but I needed to start by taking the requirements we agreed on and creating a project plan in FogBugz. Before our next meeting with Mike, we wanted to get a simple User Interface (UI) up and running so he could provide feedback as early as possible. Lastly, Mike’s plan was to continue to move forward with marketing materials so they would be ready in time for launch.
Organizing the project’s requirements in FogBugz, the project planning tool we use at Unstoppable, is an important step. It allows us to assign individual tasks to developers, project a completion date, and track status against the budget. While this doesn’t replace open communication with our developers, this is an essential tool to our team, because it gives the customer insight without having to ask everyone “so, where are we?”
Coming out of the meeting, the team was excited to be involved in such an early-stage idea. From a developer’s perspective, it was nice to be collaborating on things that were not entirely technical. I think Mike was excited because he could see a timeline for when his instant photography app idea would become a reality.
In future posts, you can read more about Slidecaster. Get it here.