A career in Mac/iOS programming?

Discussion in 'iOS Programming' started by lowonthe456, Nov 14, 2011.

  1. lowonthe456 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    #1
    So I have been a graphic artist and prepress guy since 1994, and I'm about done with it. I want to do something new but at my age that's tough to do. I love the Mac and iOS and have been considering something in that area as a new career. This led me to programming.

    I dont live in SF or other Meccas for programming, but it seems like in this day and age, and in this field it doesn't matter. Plus it's something that intrigues me and something that's complex but not unattainable.

    I am digging in to the FAQ but would like to know what kinds of opportunities there are for Mac/iOS coders and good books and things there for someone who has never coded before EVER.

    Humbly,
    M
     
  2. 95yjman macrumors member

    95yjman

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    Aug 25, 2011
    Location:
    Fort Wayne, IN
    #2
    I wouldn't mind finding this information out for myself heh
     
  3. jnoxx macrumors 65816

    jnoxx

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    Dec 29, 2010
    Location:
    Aartselaar // Antwerp // Belgium
    #3
    Well, it's not THAT easy to have a full time career out of iOS/Mac programming, at least in the country I am at, it's not that easy to find clients.
    Thing is, I'm a full time iOS programmer, which I love doing, well, not only iOS, i focus on mobile front-ends, but specially iOS.
    Thing is, projects are coming in slow, even though we are one of the biggest consultancy's in the 3 country's surrounding. So that means something, it's a weird market out there which can turn around every second, and the other day it's back to normal. About the books, read the stickies/FAQ/Topics that get created every day from people who want to learn Cocoa/Touch programming.
    ANd you should be on your way, depends on your determination.
     
  4. firewood macrumors 604

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    Jul 29, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #4
    The same kind of opportunities there are for someone who doesn't speak any French becoming a French language teacher. First learn the language and see if you are any good at it. For some, it's easy. For some, they never learn either to speak French or to program after a year of trying.
     
  5. Sydde macrumors 68020

    Sydde

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2009
    #5
    To expand on what firewood said, I think a good of thumb in C would be understanding pointers. When you fully understand the pointer syntax, when to use the "*" and when not to, and how to avoid uninitialized pointer error, you are well on the way to mastering the craft. Prepare to spend a year or more of obsessive immersion to reach the level of a competent apprentice, if you have the aptitude.
     
  6. ArtOfWarfare macrumors 604

    ArtOfWarfare

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2007
    #6
    More and more I'm feeling a career in this isn't feasible for most people... it seems like your odds are similar to those of becoming a rockstar or winning the lottery. Still, the potential is there.

    Ignoring your chances of being able to quit your day job for this for a moment, the process for learning how to develop iOS applications is pretty straightforward.

    Step 1: Learn the basics of C.
    Step 2: Learn Obj-C/Cocoa Touch.

    And that's it.

    For step 1, I suggest getting the book The C Programming language. It's over a decade old (maybe over two even, working on three? IDK, the date of publication is escaping me. Fact of the matter is, it's still the best resource out there for learning C.) The design is simple, it's a white cover with a big blue C in the middle. Read the first few chapters, and do the examples within. You just need the basics, so if you only get 1/3 or so of the way through before moving onto step 2, that's fine.

    For step 2, I suggest going to iTunes U and watching Stanford iOS programming tutorials. They're excellent for teaching you how everything works.

    And... good luck. My expenses thus far have been:
    $2000 - iMac
    $1600 - iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4S, plus plans
    $ 200 - Developer Program, which I've paid for twice now.

    And my income has been approximately:
    $50 for a game I made.
    $15 from using iAds in my other app.

    And I'm half way through my second year of being in the program. At this rate, I'm expecting to just about break even for the developer program this year, but it doesn't come close to covering the cost of the hardware I may not have bought if I hadn't wanted to program. I haven't yet decided whether I'll be trying a third year in the developer program or not... if my luck turns around soon and I start bringing in a lot more (say $1000+/year,) then I will, if it doesn't... well... I may just pull out of the freelance app market and find a different way of doing this. Possibly get hired by a company. Or have other people pay me $1000 to program their app for them or something. Neither $0.99 games nor free ad supported apps seem to be working for me...
     
  7. firewood macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #7
    A lot more people learn to speak French as adults than become rock stars. I put the odds of the iOS app game closer to that of playing roulette, but with the payoff ratio actually slightly in favor of the developer for the more skilled ones. Much much better odds than the lotto.
     
  8. 1458279 Suspended

    1458279

    Joined:
    May 1, 2010
    Location:
    California
    #8
    "I dont live in SF or other Meccas for programming, but it seems like in this day and age, and in this field it doesn't matter. "

    That is true in theory, but in reality it's different. You can program anywhere in the world, but I live in commute range of SF, and they still want you to show up in person.

    I've been in software development since before hard drives were common. One thing remains the same since the start.

    Recruiters / Human resource people don't have a clue! They want NUMBERS, just numbers. Example: Right now they want you to have 5 to 7 years provable programming in Java / C++ / C# / .Net to get a job programming in those languages.

    Very very few jobs say 1 to 2 years in those 'older' languages.

    Right now, it's 1 to 2 years of IOS dev... Next year it'll be 2 to 3 years... and so on.

    The point is that this completely closes the door for anyone that didn't START programming when the language STARTED!

    I interviewed for a Visual Objects job many years ago, I was part of the beta test team. During the interview, they stated they wanted 1 to 2 years experience. They wanted 1 to 2 years experience in a product that was NOT even on the market yet!

    You can get past this, but the look at your resume and crunch the numbers.

    I was senior programmer analysis for Visa, we hired someone with 'all the right numbers' His 1st program crashed the server because of rookie error, opened all the data tables, and didn't know if itself was running, so got recursively called till it downed the server. But he had 'all the right numbers'

    The sad truth is that it's not how good you are that gets you into the door, and location is still important even if you can program remotely.

    On the upside, if you have the talent, prove it with releasing apps, and if needed lie about the years.

    IOS is still new, you'll be competing against people that are somewhat close to your numbers (how many years you've programmed) so you can fudge the numbers a bit, but that just gets you in the door.

    Once in the door, it's really how cleaver, smart, etc... that you are. Some can program for years and still not have a clue (we call them Government Employees) :)
     
  9. MattInOz macrumors 68030

    MattInOz

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    Jan 19, 2006
    Location:
    Sydney
    #9
    Have you considered using the skills you have?
    There are more than apps out there that could use the help of a good Graphic Artist. Work with your press background and a programmer to help existing smaller publications get in to newsstand, for example.
     
  10. 1458279 Suspended

    1458279

    Joined:
    May 1, 2010
    Location:
    California
    #10
    I think one point he wanted to make was that he wanted a change, not just a job.

    You didn't mention your specific age, but I'm guessing 40 something ball park, based on the 1994. One thing to keep in mind is that learning never stops, but it might slow down a bit.

    Graphics is more of a creative area, whereas programming is a combo of logic and creative. You might be best to give it a 6 month run and see how it works for you. Give it the best try you can, get past the noob stuff and get into the complex part as quickly as you can. This is where it really counts, see if you like it and can adapt to it pretty well.

    This should be able to answer the question: "is this for me?"

    It is a growing field and will continue to grow. I can't see handhelds going south for a long long time, they will have a place in computer history.
     
  11. firewood macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #11
    Actually, that's a great point. At most iPhone and startup company gatherings in my area, experienced graphics designers are in vastly higher demand than a generic junior iOS coder.

    Team up with an experienced iOS programmer for some mutual project, and learn from each other.
     
  12. MattInOz macrumors 68030

    MattInOz

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2006
    Location:
    Sydney
    #12
    Exactly...
    Then as you get comfortable with programmers language, there might be opportunities to target your old co-workers with a product. Using your knowledge of both fields to translate the technical language of both into a really nice useful product that someone with a pure programming background would never know was needed.
     
  13. PhoneyDeveloper macrumors 68030

    PhoneyDeveloper

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    #13
    I won't exactly say that good programmers are born and not made but it's definitely the case that programmers have a strong interest in computers and coding. Most started on this by themselves before they were in college. If you've never written a line of code, never wanted to script something or automate a process and you're significantly older than that then I would be surprised if you have the interest to do it.

    Regarding opportunities there are more of them for iOS developers than for Mac developers. Location is important. There are essentially no jobs for Mac developers and few for iOS developers where I live. I'm sure it's the same in many places. I do contract work with people I've never met in person and I have a full-time job the last six months at a nearby large company that is developing mobile apps as a small part of its business.

    If you have an interest I wouldn't dissuade you but it won't be easy. Don't give up your day job just yet.
     
  14. larswik macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    #14
    I first started with books to learn at my own pace. I then took classes at the local city college which is great. They keep you learning at a good pace and I started developing better structure in code writing, breaking down problems and they keep you working at a brisk pace of learning.

    Look into the local city colleges.
     
  15. 1458279 Suspended

    1458279

    Joined:
    May 1, 2010
    Location:
    California
    #15
    Too bad the best place for IOS/High tech jobs is in one of the most expensive places in California!
     
  16. jnoxx macrumors 65816

    jnoxx

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2010
    Location:
    Aartselaar // Antwerp // Belgium
    #16
    What you mean by that? ;p
    I should move to California to earn more money as an iOS developer? ;p
     
  17. dejo Moderator

    dejo

    Staff Member

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    The Centennial State
    #17
    I've seen studies that shows SF/SiliconValley to have the highest cost of living in the entire U.S.
     
  18. CheesePuff macrumors 6502

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    Sep 3, 2008
    Location:
    Southwest Florida, USA
    #18
    Exactly, so while you're making $100k annually, it's the same as the $60k I make on the east coast (or pretty much anywhere but California).
     
  19. ArtOfWarfare macrumors 604

    ArtOfWarfare

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2007
    #19
    So commute. Work where the pay is high, live where the cost is low.

    Maybe you can find a job where you only need to physically go to an office once a week and can do most of your work from home.
     
  20. dejo Moderator

    dejo

    Staff Member

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    #20
    (Long) commutes have their own set of costs to consider; financial, mental, physical, etc.
     
  21. 1458279 Suspended

    1458279

    Joined:
    May 1, 2010
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    California
    #21
    There is a HUGE commute from surrounding cities, generally the distance is about 100 miles. At that point your looking at 4 to 6 hours of commute every work day!

    I used to do 1.5 hours / day for a few years.

    One thing that happened was house prices in the 1 hour commute range went up in price.

    Some will do a 4 day work week, and share a rental.

    As far as the 100K = 60K, housing is really the primary factor. Other costs like buying a car, food, shoes, etc are pretty much the same.

    Makes you wonder how 'the valley' support itself like this. Why pay 100K in CA when you could pay someone 60K in Reno?

    Most suggest that the talent is all in 'the valley', if you're not in 'the valley' you can't attract the talent.

    Go on CL and look at jobs in SF/bay area vs ... anywhere else... even some major cities. SF will have new pages every day, others will have a few postings every week!
     
  22. 1458279 Suspended

    1458279

    Joined:
    May 1, 2010
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    California
    #22
    They have some train solutions, where you can sleep on the way to work, but they don't cover all the areas.
     
  23. CheesePuff macrumors 6502

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    Sep 3, 2008
    Location:
    Southwest Florida, USA
    #23
    I was surprised when I checked Craigslist for Rochester, NY (mid sized city no where near NYC) and there were many software development/engineering positions available, and a few iOS developers, mostly for startups.
     
  24. IDMah macrumors 6502

    IDMah

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    May 13, 2011
    #24
    same boat different holes

    Hey M.

    I'm in the same boat, been working in (film) for many years and have had my wage slashed and slashed so much that I was being paid 1/8th the amount I was 20 years ago. So I know your pain..

    I too am thinking of / dreaming of the killer app. I do have some programming background but mostly assembly language in the chiclet keyboard days.

    So speaking to myself as much as you, I agree we should play up our strengths graphics. That said. If you have a great idea, and are willing to put in the sweat , pain and the banging your head against the wall. I'm sure that you can make some money. Think of it as a hobby for now, if it pays then great if it doesn't then shrug.. "Oh well that was fun.." as you know most business take 3-5 years to build, but at least then, "the idiot you work" for is yourself.. :D

    So rant over... some basic C books and the big nerd ranch books..

    There are a lot of engines out there, but you should have at least a basic understanding of C and xcode.

    I really like: http://designthencode.com/
    because it speaks to the designer in me..


    Good Journey.
    Ian

    ps Just do it, all you can do is crash burn and explode !!! :D
     
  25. CodeBreaker macrumors 6502

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    Nov 5, 2010
    Location:
    Sea of Tranquility
    #25
    Objective C/Cocoa is quite easy to understand and master, provided you have good problem-solving skills, and a basic hang of programming syntax. As compared to any other non-interpreted language, Objective C is the most human readable language I have ever come across.

    I think it's extremely risky to create and publish your own apps. I would suggest you to get a job as an iOS developer. This way you get a monthly salary and you get to do what you love.

    I recently graduated as an electronics engineer and I wanted to peruse a career in chip design or signal processing. But due to my mediocre grades and companies preferring post graduates, I was forced to enter the IT world. I was offered good jobs as Java/VB developer, but I just love the Mac and iOS.

    Initially I was planning to be an individual developer, but I soon realised it's not going to go well. I spent 6 months after graduation learning Objective C and iOS tech, built a few apps of my own. After that I applied for a job and got it.

    So far it has been great. We mostly develop for newspapers/magazines/concerts, etc., i.e. mostly content delivery apps. We also have a few in-house apps. We get a lot of projects as of now and our company has enough funds to keep it running for at least another 3-4 years.
     

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