AppForce1: news and info for iOS app developers

Hidde van der ploeg, app creator and designer

April 24, 2022 Jeroen Leenarts
AppForce1: news and info for iOS app developers
Hidde van der ploeg, app creator and designer
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Hidde started out as a designer, but realized he wanted to build what he was designing too.  His sense of design stuck with him while learning how to make apps for the iPhone and Apple Watch. His latest creation is a niche Watch app for kite surfers called Volo.

More info on the apps Hidde creates: https://modumhq.com/


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Jeroen Leenarts:

Hello, and welcome to another special edition of my podcast. I'm sitting here with Heather from the blue. That's definite Dutch name. I think we got there. So, Hayden, welcome to my podcast. How are you doing today?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Thank you ferrites. Happy to be here. I'm doing really good actually.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, we have him on video here. And I can see that he is very much a Star Wars fan. So somewhere down the line. In this recording, we're going to talk about that a little bit as well, I hope. But first of all heater, can you tell a little bit about who you are? What you're doing right now?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yeah, sure. So my name is Ilya. I'm 30 years old, originally from North of the Netherlands from a town called lay water. And I started as a designer for about like, 1112 years. But I always wanted to learn how to program as well, because I like to create in part. So I started doing that a couple years ago. And now I'm not sure what to call myself anymore. Bit of a designer and a developer, I guess.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So would you say that your niche could actually be on designing stuff, but then also make a well, somewhat working prototype out of it. So prototyping and sense you have working screens, and that's about it, and then progress on that. And eventually, you implement it, or you have to handle.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

I'm actually working full time as an indie developer now. So I got a couple apps in the App Store. And I, I basically apply my knowledge of design to build a very niche product, I would say,

Jeroen Leenarts:

and what are some apps on the App Store that you're currently really proud of.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

So my latest app was launched last December, it's called now playing, which is uses just MCAT. To recognize what what's playing. And then instead of like, just showing what's on I connect it to a lot of different database and data sources, and find, try to find the story behind the song because I'm a big music nerd. And it started this, like, I play a lot of vinyl records. And I didn't always want to look on the back of the sleeve to see what song was playing. So it started as like a little display. But then I found ways to figure out who's playing what instrument and stuff. That's a big one. And tomorrow actually, I'm launching a new app called photo which is a kitesurfing. app. For Apple Watch. To measure your, your kitesurfing sessions, from right from your wrist to see how high you jump and stuff.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So that's that's about speed, height. So GPS based information, and altitude. Altimeter based. Yeah. And can you also like, combine like, those like, positional bits of information with like things like heart rate, for example, because it can imagine if you're, like 20 feet up in the air, that your heartbeat is at a different rate compared to when you're just like skipping the waves?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yeah, that's a good point. Actually. I've gotten to that yet. Probably, there's probably some correlation that although some, some servers are very chill about kiting, crazy storms as well, not sure.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, you have the occasional news item, like in this fall storms in the Netherlands. It's like, I don't know how much wind, but normal people would stay inside. And then the rescue service, they're out on the ocean finding a kitesurfer. And usually, for some reason, they are able to find these guys intact in one piece and alive for fortunately. So it's a dangerous sport. But of course, part of the danger is fully in your own control. So people don't do anything stupid with a guide. So are you a kite surfer yourself? Or?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

That's a good question. I actually am not. I have a lot of friends that are guide service. And they they told me about their problems diving and they told me about the wishes they would have. And then, like I do with most of my apps, I just started with little experiments. Just like a couple hours to see if I can get something working. And then if I feel confident enough, I spend a bit more time and flush it out to an actual product. So far, so good.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So just for context, you're launching this product tomorrow, which is April 14. Yeah, so I will try and get this recording out quickly, but not before April 14, because we don't want to spoil the fun for you there. But you mentioned you have like a testing group there. So like some friends who actually do kite surfing. So you just give them a test flight to access to your products and they go out and then feedback on you. what's working, what they liked what they didn't like, if there's anything else that they would like to see in the in the interest app really?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yeah, so I I, quite fast, obviously, notice that it's very hard to test you're not you're not like programming and guides during that same time. So I really quickly reached out to like a Facebook group of like really, very active skyservice, where I would like limit the amount of testers to form some sort of exclusivity, but I like within a couple. Within a couple hours, I had a full list of like, over 100 guides surface, which had the testflight link and which would give some feedback. And obviously, I still feel very uncomfortable launching the app tomorrow. But that's, that's a fee one. So it should be ready to handle feedback.

Jeroen Leenarts:

As long as like it's the it's the watch app crashing and not the kitesurfer itself. I think you're good. Yeah, exactly. So what's it like to have like, a pretty random group of people? Of course, they have a passion for a specific sport, you find them in the Facebook group. You get like 100 of them in your testflight, then. But what's the response rate of like these 100 people? Is it like one or two responding 10 that have half them? So what's the response rate that you're getting there?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yeah, there's a big difference. Because some I really noticed there's a big like, the everyone's very enthusiastic, like, Oh, this is something that should exist. I wish it was there before, like, a long time already. So there's a very enthusiastic part of them. But then the ones actually emailing with feedback is I would say, maybe 10%, like, like 10 people, 1015 people ish. Some people I, I reached out more after they gave me feedback once because there was some of them had like a guy during school that was very helpful, because they're on the water almost every week. So I mainly try to try to check with them as much as possible. I like one old colleague of mine has a kitesurfing school, and he would send me like screenshots of his sessions. Every time he did that one. So that was very helpful. And for me, really, it was trying to like filter the data to prevent like, spikes of like abnormal data coming in, because I can imagine the altimeter is not always as as precise as it needs to be, especially with water getting into your device. It's a bit broken sometimes. So yeah, I tried to do as much as possible regarding that. And I handled the feedback as much as I can.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Cool. So what's the name of the product? Just to make sure that people have heard it correctly?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Because follow? Pol Oh, yeah, like YOLO with a V.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So it's an acronym or

Hidde van der Ploeg:

I think it's Italian for flying or something like that. I always like pick some some some words that deals with with the app and then just rang it to Google Translate, no, find a word that that's pronounceable in every language.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Okay, so that's launching tomorrow. Let's see, see what it does. But as you mentioned already, it's not the only product that you have worked on. So what is something that is out now and how it has been performing for you.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

So it all started with a weight tracking app called fact, one of those words, it's Norwegian for weight. That's where that's the one I used to talk myself how to program and as a side project, really. But that's still my most popular app at the moment. It's also the oldest one about five years old. And then I have brush, which is also an Apple Watch app to time your tooth brushing, like if you have an analog toothbrush, and you want to rush like the proper amount of time. It gives like haptic feedback and every 30 seconds, and I started that project to learn Swift UI. Yeah. And that was doing really well actually. Now it's also in the front page of the app store in the state. So every day, there's still quite some downloads coming in. So and then the Now Playing on those are the three that are in the App Store today.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah. And then Is it is it enough to call like an income for you or do you still have to do things next to that to make sure that ends are connected and stay connected to your budget?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yeah, it's not enough just yet. Most funnily enough, one of my All buses, a believed in what I did quite a bit and he like invested the cave a little investment for me to just run and build apps for a year. Because I was always very experimental anyway, as a designer as well. And for him, for him was a nice opportunity to learn from what I'm experimenting with it for me an opportunity to just try to get this work in for a year. Every now and then I still do some design consulting. But only if I really think the project is something I would get energy from.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, so basically, you could say that your any apps have caught you already to the to the stage that you can pick and choose what projects you want to do is to make sure that you have a nice mix that is engaging, and keeps you firing on all cylinders. Spin Yeah,

Hidde van der Ploeg:

definitely. Definitely. Um, okay.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So you mentioned you had some investments, you mentioned that you got started by teaching yourself software development, because you have a design background? Well, that's what what should we pick first. So the the investment thing is that like, like, this person has a stake in any income that you generate? Or is it just like, have fun. And if two years over, let me know how it went.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

It's a bit, it's a bit of both, I would say. So, technically, he owns a percentage in my company. Now, not necessarily in the income, but in my company. But on the other hand, is like, I never really expecting any hard numbers from my side, like, oh, the download needs to be up by that amount of percentage. So he only wants to stay in the loop of what I'm working on just out of interest really. And then by the end of it, but in theory, the money gets slimmer, I'll just, we have an agreement, like either we reinvest, if we have one product, and we feel like we can go that bit more. Or I'll just take on a couple more projects to like balance it out a bit. But yeah, so it's a bit of both

Jeroen Leenarts:

you could say that for this person. It's it's a way for him or her to like stay engaged with like, the iOS ecosystem by just observing from a small distance what an indie developer is doing with with his products and then

Hidde van der Ploeg:

the way he works it himself is like I can spend this money on like some fancy offered a course or whatever, or I can give it to you and learn just as much well you have fun doing so yeah. And it's

Jeroen Leenarts:

basically learning and picking your brain over a cup of coffee because I recommend that you have like very frequent interactions with this person. Really cool. It's like I think it's like it must have been jaw dropping when this person approached you and said like hey, here's like a lump sum of money. Go have fun a year and we'll just see where it ends up. That must have been like a great day for you I guess.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yeah, there's a bit like winning the golden tickets.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So he's not called like Willy Wonka right okay well let's let's let's wrap up this topic because yeah, investment is always very peculiar and interesting world that is very yeah it's very strange how how certain things piqued the interest of investors and other things not and it's nobody really knows what is like the the magic ingredient that makes an investment meaningful to a party. But

Hidde van der Ploeg:

in most cases it's a lot of investors and faster times probe they really care most about the people doing it and not so much about

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, that's that's really cool to just be like, it's about the people and the person doing the work. So we also mentioned that you've been doing software development for five years after some experience as a designer what got you interested in software development you mentioned already because you want to also do the making part of the of the process but can you elaborate a little bit so what's interesting to you about making part yeah, um,

Hidde van der Ploeg:

so Well, obviously for with design I was already very like hands on in, in product and in app design and I was with 12 years experience I was very early on in the early iPhone days already. But then I was blew me away how developers would make my aesthetic markups be something actually tangible and something people actually use and, and that always interests me So I tried multiple times with Objective C, for example. And always, I think the very first app I actually published in the App Store myself was a classic to do list in Objective C, followed by some tutorial, but then with my own little design sauce on top of it. But then I gave up a couple of times, and then swift came around, and I was like, Ah, now I have just as much experience as everyone else, because it's, this is new. And that's why I really started to try to pick up the pace.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah. So you mentioned you're like doing professional work. So like, you get an income for 12 years now with something related to software development and design of that. But when you were like strictly doing design, were you one of these designers that was sitting next to the software developers and basically be available. So like that you have these discussions? Hey, man, does this look right to you? And that you respond back? Yeah, I think you should align on the baseline instead of the central line. Because that's always the thing that software developers get wrong. Right?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yeah. One of the classics. Yeah, yeah, no 100%. And then I would try to understand what they were doing. And they would try to suggest that at some point, more and more, I would understand what they were doing. So more and more, the feedback I would give was also more technical, in the sense, and we think along with how we could solve it together. And then, at some point, when I actually could program as well, I actually ended up coaching, I put some time, so it was very helpful.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, I can imagine that because also being able to inspect what they were doing with your design in code, and sometimes actually going in and tweaking things a little bit here and there. So that yeah, that you fix like the alignments or move things over like a few pixels. Because I remember back in the day, when I was working on the ing project, it was really about pixel perfect implementation. And we're let's, there were little sessions that was screenshots of the app, and then the same image as it was designed. And they were like, overlaid with a diff tool, and then any incorrect pixels were marked. And I was like, You should fix that. Yeah. But that's due to the anti aliasing. I cannot fix that. Yeah, no. So today's Yeah, a lot of fun. So but you taught yourself how to program a little bit with Objective C, that didn't work out for you. But then swift came along, and you got into it? How did you get into Swift development?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Lots of materials really late, not, they're not the one to do that. All kinds of tutorials. And then very fast, quickly, I was I need to have some goal, because otherwise, I just keep copy pasting. And I still have no idea what I'm doing. So then, I had, I had not so smart scale has I would say. And I did want to track my my weight a bit better. Yeah, healthcare just got released. And it was very cumbersome to add your weight into the health app. So that was like three layers deep. So I was like, Oh, this is a nice project to work with. How hard can get API be? Famous last words? Actually, this actually did get through it. And it did help me focus more on like googling things that are relatable to what I was trying to build instead of just some random tutorials.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah. Yeah, I can imagine that. Getting started with these random tutorials, and then trying to get something out of those. Could you say that without setting a meaningful goal to you that you would end up in this? This tutorial held just tutorial after tutorial? I'm not getting anywhere?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

I think so. Yeah, it would become like this endless loop.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So what what made the difference for you, between Objective C and Swift, that you were able to get into Swift? You think?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Oh, legibility for sure.

Jeroen Leenarts:

It's always the brackets.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yeah, I don't, at some point and an airlock in its stuff and things like that. I don't know. It felt like a nice, nice, refreshing went and like development. Like I immediately felt the power of native development. But it looked as simple as JavaScript, for example. Even though we have scripts now it looks very complex. It's different. But it felt compared to Objective C, it felt like that refreshing went and I could actually read and understand things a bit better.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, yeah, I'm like, I've been doing like software development, like 20 years. And I got into Objective C, like around iOS three. So when the first real SDK was released, and when swift came around, I had a hard time getting used to the to the Java like syntax. It was of course the typical C syntax that swift also adheres to like With these curly braces and parameters at the end of the after function and add, like the first version of Swift, you still had those, those that was very common to be very explicit with the the inline labels on your function arguments. And people are starting to do that less and less nowadays. But looking at Objective C, I just love that language. You know, okay, code completion was very helpful. But But, yeah, at some point, that's probably something that you noticed with Swift as well, at some point, you don't see the syntactic constructs anymore, you can just think about the mental concepts that you're working with in the code. Yeah. So how much time that you need to really get up to speed with Swift and to really, that you are confident enough in it and say, Okay, I can actually build a product with this. And with little apprehension, be comfortable publishing, it's on the app store.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

I think the building of my first app took me a couple of months. Yeah. So not that crazy. But if you would ask me, like, how does this work? I think half of the code that was in there did work, but I would not have no idea why. I came up the outcome and it looks good. It feels like it works. Yeah, exactly. Whereas now I would actually understand a whole lot better and how to build. Like, if I would look at the code, I always cried myself. But yeah, so I think they really put a timeline on our this is the moment where I really started to understand what I was doing. I have no idea. It just grew organically.

Jeroen Leenarts:

But what was what was one of the typical hurdles that you ran into, like grasping iOS development.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

to I think, the the amount of code you need to like every few is like a set, like working with fuse in general, I think is not something that you work with, often with, if you do web development necessarily. Well, nowadays, you do web apps, maybe. But I was used to building websites or WordPress things. So you have pages and you started all in the CSS. Yeah, and where with, with views, it's all based on the few. And of course, you can have modifiers, and other cool things like that now, but I had no idea those concepts existed. So like placing a few How does that work without the layout and stuff?

Jeroen Leenarts:

So do you have a preference for, like, declarative way of defining your UI? So that's swift UI, or a more procedural way to define your user interface? So that's with UI kitten code.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

I love swift UI. 100%. Yeah, it gets it gets a lot of negative comments, but also, it's a bit of a mix, mix mix now, isn't it? Yeah, but I personally, I love CSI especially because that first ad presents itself as it gives enough percent to actually feel if the product has any potential to build good product if it's good enough, then you can always spend that extra time to for that last 20%

Jeroen Leenarts:

So what was what what are the areas that your experience swift UI still has? Like? Should we say rough edges or makes it at least challenging to get that last 20%

Hidde van der Ploeg:

It's hard to load song some things some basic things sometimes missing because you like it has still been involved in as well. So for example, the sheets that got introduced last year were introduced in UI kit but not in Swift UI, which was a bit in my in my experience, but I'm not really missing anything but particular it's because I think once you get the hand in like how to port things from one tool to another it's all you can get a lot of things working correctly. It's mainly that sometimes you stumble in these weird weird random handling things that like some were at random animation popping up there are some random misalignment there are like these finicky things that if you are decided to go nuts with

Jeroen Leenarts:

your thinking, Yes, I want it on the screen there but then swift decides no it's not there. It's like a little bit to the right. Yeah, I

Hidde van der Ploeg:

try again. Yeah. Yeah. But

Jeroen Leenarts:

is it like mostly that you that you run into limits of Swift UI or is it that feature is not available yet in Swift UI then?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

I would say the gray area of the unknown of like, sometimes It feels a bit like like voodoo magic or something like what is happening? And when you might expect things to happen correctly. So I would say a bit bit of depends on what you're building.

Jeroen Leenarts:

And the typical products that you create. Do they involve some sort of a backhand? Or is that all mostly Device Centric? Or what's what's the typical? Like, back end?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

If Yeah, yeah, that's that's a good question. I, I don't cry a lot of backends. Actually, almost none. I think the only backend that I have in my own apps is now playing it's like this own custom, nothing, because it's just a JSON hosted somewhere. Where connected? Yeah, and then most of the things, well, funnily enough, three of the four apps are heavily relying on on health good. And on cord data as well. A bit now. Yeah. So that's as far as my back end goes. Yeah. So that's

Jeroen Leenarts:

like the local storage. And so if something just happens to sync between devices, because you put it in healthcare, then hey, that's, that's fine. Yeah. Yeah, it's Oh, you mean, core data with cloudkit? Backing?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yeah. Okay. You said, but only my new apps now, actually, before I only use healthcare,

Jeroen Leenarts:

and then house core data with cloudkit backing working for you?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yeah, it's fine. It's very good question. I think it works fine. I haven't heard any complaints yet. I did notice sometimes there's a bit of delay. And I tried to communicate a bit of like, connection errors and stuff. So yeah. But I will see what happens with this guy.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, that's yeah, because I'm hearing like really mixed experiences with with Core Data. Usually, it's, it's fine. But somewhere in the syncing, either people think it's not quick enough, or the conflict resolution is a bit. It's a bit odd sometimes. But it

Hidde van der Ploeg:

was a bit a bit of a fight with getting it to work for from watchers to iOS, the syncing because of some reason we watch, whereas you need to use those generated subclasses. And there were some little finicky things that that you had to do to make it work for watch us. And it took me a bit of time to figure out but once I added run in, it actually seems pretty fast. So I think it will be fine.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So you do all your you saw you you do your syncing between the watch and a bigger device, probably an iPhone, with through the clouds, not between the device directly or

Hidde van der Ploeg:

both. So with guide surfing, the catcher, the sessions are stored in like Core Data. Yeah. Also in healthcare, but in healthcare, you can't write like your jump heights and average jump, etc. So I had to make my custom session object there. But preferences are seen through what's connectivity? Yeah. So

Jeroen Leenarts:

So and the interesting question I actually have, so you use GPS for positioning of the of the device, right? You use the altimeter to also get some sort of an idea of if somebody is jumping in how high? Is there like something like a gyroscope as well within the watch? Or is that only on the iPhone?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yes, there is. I'm not using it just yet. But there's, that's one feature that didn't make the cut for FY one. Because it needs more training is I'm actually working on a on a core ML model. To recognize the pattern of someone pulling their guides were jumpstarts. So that will make the measurements of jumps a bit more precise. Because now, if you go up within a timeframe, you it will be counted as jump, where if I have this machine learning model in place, where the veteran get recognized have a pool, then I actually can No, this is a job.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So so but I know GPS can give you height information. It's not very accurate is especially if you have some issues with seeing satellites. With a gyroscope, you can get vertical information as well. But of course, what's the orientation of the device then? Yeah, and you have the altimeter, but if you Is it possible to correlate these three inputs and come to certain conclusions on? Well, which of the three has like a tracking error?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yay. Yeah, I hope so. This is like this is something that's very hard to test. Yeah. And this is one thing. I'm happy to find out and I have some thoughts and ideas and I have some I wrote this academic post about measuring jumps with rotations in with standard gyroscopes and stuff. Yeah. So there are some formulas there that I want to apply as well to see if it will improve or not. But first right now, I'm like, I will just ship it and people complain.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah. And by the time WWDC rolls along, you haven't fixed it completely yet. I'm guessing you're like going all in for lab space, right?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Well, yeah, that's funny. I started, I started this conversation with Apple during one of those tech sessions. And they they really helped me out with a lot of pointers, actually. Because I think they're really keen for more watch apps. Really?

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah. Yeah. So you mentioned that your apps are watch centric, so that probably most of the work is going into the into the watch implementation. But it sounds like at least, your kitesurfing app also has like an iOS and iPhone components to do syncing or visualization of what you've done, actually.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yeah, yeah, the iOS component is only for statistics. During the onboarding, I also mentioned like, you cannot measure your kitesurfing sessions with your phone, because I just don't want people to bring their phone on the water video. And also the the competition that is on the market today, regarding catering, they are very phone centric. And I think one of my USP will be that you don't need to bring your phone or you only have the watch on your wrist.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So and when you say that the phone is sort of like the sort of like the central server, service location where you store bulk data, that's like different sessions that you collect. Because you can imagine, if you have a number of sessions, that at some point that will fill up the storage limits of a watch, and you have to, like offload that to to somewhere something somewhere else really. Is it like that? Can you use the watch app? Completely without a phone? Or do you have to have a phone to be able to use your product?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

You can use it without the phone. Also, the sessions are fairly lightweight. I'm gonna say it's only it's it's, it's, it's, it's only a couple of numbers. So there's no images, no graphs, No, there's nothing very heavy. So the watch watches these days can handle quite a lot of sessions and you don't go kitesurfing 50 times a month.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So yeah, I guess like even the most well trained athletes will like tire themselves out if they go out that fast. And yeah,

Hidde van der Ploeg:

I'm not too much worried about storage running out on the watch is that by the time people do get money card sessions, with follow as well, like, they have all the right to complain.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So but yeah, we already mentioned you've been doing design and then sort of rolled yourself into software development. But why did you take this course, like get into design? And then at some point at a later stage, learning that maybe this this stuff with code, is also something that would suit my personality?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yeah, I didn't. It's it's been funny. Looking back, actually, because I remember when I was younger, I want to try to make a website because I want to share my cool skateboarding videos. But I did not know you needed the server. So I handed out like, the local parts on my school. Due to everyone in school, like check out my skateboard videos, and then everyone could come back like I tried to do but it doesn't work. Because obviously, it was the path to a local file. And then I never did anything. Yeah, I was always into gaming, but not so much into like building stuff on the computer, and then I did like, chef school for a bit, but then I had to make a decision. Am I continuing doing a chef school? Or am I going to do something more graphic design related because graphic design was always very, I was very interested by design in general, on how things looked like. So at that point, I picked graphic design, which was originally a bit more of a traditional graphic design, and art school and stuff and video as well a bit. And right around that time the iPhone came to be with apps and I thought, Hey, this looks cool. I want to figure out how you design these instead of another logo, where you draw a couple of things and you make up a story around it.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Draw a few circles, pick a few colors. Nice story I'm like customer happy to golden ratio.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

So, I very fastly, especially in the skeuomorphic days, I was like, it's like, oh, cool, how can you make things look real? And that's how I got into app design really. And then the technical part follow suit,

Jeroen Leenarts:

I suppose what kind of like education that you follow to, like support this path that you took?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Only like media graphic course. Well, college, I would say. But then I dropped out. Because I started freelancing quite early. And then I got a big project at one of the bigger agencies here in Amsterdam. And they asked after two days, like, don't you want to come work here as a designer? So then I was like, okay, am I gonna spend another four years at school or, and then hope for this job, or I'm gonna just drop out of school and take this job. So I'm happy I dropped out. Because it brought me a lot of different experiences.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, because I can imagine, especially in design related fields that Yeah, to get started, have any education is not nice. But once you have like, the portfolio, that's like, that's my that's much more valuable to get the next client I guess.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

But never never been asked about.

Jeroen Leenarts:

But as a kid, did you besides skateboarding and playing video games, did you did you do a lot of drawing or like graphic stuff already? Or?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

No, actually, the funny thing, the funny story, I always have to tell people as a designer is that I'm terrible at drawing, and I'm partially colorblind. So no, it's another great sell as a design, really.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So what kind of colorblindness Do you have? Had a

Hidde van der Ploeg:

lot of things that are purple during like dark blue or black face? So me, okay. So if one of my apps is purple, please tell me. What? No, yes, I did. I do. Did love to draw even though it was not great. I did. I loved I always really love to build things with Lego and stuff, which is also some form of creativity, I guess. But it was mainly just out and about, on the streets with my skateboard or whatever. So.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So as a kid, and as an adolescent, like the consumption of design was much more your thing than the production of design. Yeah,

Hidde van der Ploeg:

yeah. I never realized you could make turn that into a job until later.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, cuz I remember that. These skateboards, these decks, they had like really nice graphics on them, especially if you if you started looking in the skateboard store, and then started looking at the decks that were like higher on the shelf. Those were like really cool and elaborate. But you mentioned Lego, and there's like this contraption in the background that distinctly has this Lego vibe going on there. But there's also like, sort of a Star Wars vibe going on there. And I'm, I'm wondering, so you mentioned Lego. You didn't mention Star Wars yet. But just looking at your background, I can see your background in your room. There are some some interest there in like science fiction as well, I think.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yeah, definitely. I think Star Wars always fascinated fascinated me. Like this. What What if and I think that's that's still that's still relates to me very much, not not still war stuff, but sort of the whole the whole technology side of things. That's what I love about science fiction is in general, the let go of reality and just have crazy technologies in place because in reality, a lot of crazy technologies actually do start to exist. And it's always good to fantasize a bit and just go nuts and try things that are deemed impossible really.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So what is it is it like strictly Star Wars that picture interest or the also other like,

Hidde van der Ploeg:

is mainly Star Wars. It was it was a lot of like, if there were like three main categories during my childhood was Star Wars, Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones.

Jeroen Leenarts:

That was all like a lot of Harrison Ford going on there. So but with with Star Wars, what's your what's your favorite character darlin?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Oh, that's a that's a tough one. I would say Obi Wan Kenobi.

Jeroen Leenarts:

I really like Ahsoka. And actually, actually, Darth Sidious is also very interesting, I think. Yeah. Mainly because like He's like, he's like the puppet master of everything.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yes, that's unreal and true. And his character is very interesting for sure. Especially a completely different role in all the three trilogies, I guess,

Jeroen Leenarts:

yeah, totally. So this this, this struggle thing that's behind you that's like Clone Wars related. That's like, one of these carrier troop carriers, right?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yeah, yeah. It's massive. I didn't know it was this big one.

Jeroen Leenarts:

How long did it take to build it?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

I was it's still not finished. I need to build one more week. I'm not sure it's gonna fit.

Jeroen Leenarts:

You'll finish it someday. So we're waiting for lockdown. Yeah, we just had two years put out another year, right. So but yeah, just do while we're on that topic. So how was this last two years for you? Because I recommend that as a designer and as like starting out as sort of like an entrepreneur, of course, on the App Store. So you don't need like the direct interaction with your clients, with your customers. But what was it like for you, because I can imagine that there's a lot of work that you have to do on your own. But then you're locked down on your own. How to get through like, the rough patches of those.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Doofer when it just started, I just started freelancing I quit my day job to do freelancing. So could balance like freelancing with my own projects a bit more? Yeah. But it never really affected me. I always had projects coming in, or clients. Still, we're still hiring. And it was just remote. It was a bit odd sometimes to join a company as a freelancer from like a remote type of setting. But

Jeroen Leenarts:

yeah, because where do you where do you live? Actually, in what city right now? And Amsterdam? So and then you're like, Yes, I'm here. I'm working remote. And yeah, I'm also living in Amsterdam. How are you?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yeah, I'm sad at some point, I guess. Before this, I was living in smaller flat and the my desk was in the living room, basically. And my girlfriend would also be working from home. And at some point, it just drove me nuts. So I got to like a little WeWork office and worked from there, which was very helpful. And then from that point on, it was just like going to work out again, without having colleagues around you. Yeah,

Jeroen Leenarts:

because yeah, the we work that was like, that's a co working space. And they have like, open floor plans and private offices and during COVID stay pretty much shut down their upper floors, but still private offices were the thing.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

I took a private office that was also quite discounted because they wanted a lot more people coming in because they lost a lot of clients. I'm pretty sure Yeah. With everyone going remote. And I definitely didn't want to open floor plan because of the equipment I have.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah. Yeah, I can imagine that. Doing watch development with an iOS device here and there that you want to do some testing so you have some older devices as well. Yeah, it's almost

Hidde van der Ploeg:

actually are displayed.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Of course, yeah, of course because you're you do design work. So you want to have some sort of display that has like well, at least a stable Yeah.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

To be fair, the the amount of money the screen costs, it still doesn't make sense to me, but it was mainly a bit of tax beneficial.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So you have to you have to choose Gradle one right, the XDR what's it called? Yeah, next era. Is it like is it like really that good? Or what's your what's your experience with it?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

I still love it every day. Yeah, I must say it's it's a lot a lot of money. Yeah, a lot of money like crazy. You shouldn't spend this amount of money on the screen. But it really is a fantastic screen to be fair.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah. So and of course you never get complaints from your clients that that you're what's called again, your color tuning or what's called a design that that's colorblind aren't actually tools available that help you pick out any issues that you might introduce, because of your color blindness?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Well, I think in one way, it kind of helps actually because the there's so many people that are particle by mainly men, that if I design and because I know it would work, at least for for everyone or most people so obviously as a designer, you do a lot of contrast checks anyway. Which isn't flawless because sometimes you pass the check and it's still horrible or hard to read, but Most time, like, I also, I also learned how to design with the same color blindness. So I don't know any better. And either you work with an existing brand already, which has color predefined for you, then then it's easy to apply them as well, because you still handle contrast or you pick colors and you hope that they like it too.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Did you ever have like, a job that was like, Okay, these are the design assets. These are the brand colors, and then you look at it like a color on this looks a bit odd but okay, it's the brand colors, so go for it.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

No, I haven't so far. Okay, luckily,

Jeroen Leenarts:

I've had another colleague who was actually more severely impacted by colorblindness. And for him, it really was like, yeah, some sometimes things look really weird. And then people around would just go yeah, this is normal. It looks good.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yeah, it's funny. I always get the question. Oh, what color is this? Oh. Even if I do see it differently. I still got that. That's red.

Jeroen Leenarts:

That's true. So looking back, what was like your main game playing device? When you were a kid? OR XBOX X Xbox? Yeah. Totally in the Microsoft ecosystem.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yeah. And we had a GameCube and Nintendo started with Nintendo Entertainment System. But everyone started with Nintendo.

Jeroen Leenarts:

I think I started with an Atari 2600 Yeah, maybe Maybe that's my age. So so totally into the Microsoft ecosystem with the Xbox Live and Halo most likely, or was it like other types of games that you really played?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

A lot of Halo? Yeah. I think my my game attack on Xbox is still splat man, which is referring to I was always I was very young, and I couldn't really win if I would shoot everyone. So I would always run over everyone. And then it would say you're splattered by. So that's just

Jeroen Leenarts:

if it works to go calm again. And then in the Halo game, so why not? Right. Exactly.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Exactly. Yeah.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So and what's the like, any specific computer that you got started with as a kid or just like to random Windows machine that was available in the household that you needed to do some papers on?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yeah. We had a we had a Windows machine for a bit and then my dad got like an iMac. Yeah, that was the first color one. Yeah. From from his work. And from that moment on, I I only use the Apple computer actually, because the only game I was playing on the on the computer was Diablo. Yeah, I guess. And that was one of the few games that was actually running on the Macintosh. Yeah, so I was good.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, Blizzard really made made a point out of like, making sure that that games ran on the Mac indeed, for a while. So yeah, actually interesting what you mentioned there. So you're, you're not one of those individuals that took the other route into the Apple ecosystem through either an iPhone or an iPod. But you actually got a few parents that like, well, they basically spoon fed you the preference for the Apple brands at a young age.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

I wouldn't say that because they didn't understand anything about the computer, they always use the Windows.

Jeroen Leenarts:

More like okay, this is the one that's available and then at some point you got got addicted.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Also, I just liked the icons better on the on the Macintosh itself. So that's like, the depth of my interest in design started like as I did like the look and feel of a Macintosh better, and the little clicks it made when you would drag and stuff.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So what color iMac was it?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

It was like nipping me down on there. I'm pretty sure it was like blue turquoise.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, so yeah, that's the that's the most prevalent color. I think that really blue one, right?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Yeah. So blue greenish one, I think.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, it was kind of a weird color. And then the top half has this column. There's like this big hand holds the top and then and and then there's there's this this hockey puck type mouse that you look at and go like, seriously? Want me to use this? Yeah, and so yeah, a lot of fond memories with like old machines. But just to wrap things up a little bit because I promised we would be done before 10 And we have like two minutes remaining. Is there anything that we should still talk about or anything that we should mention that you think again, that's important that that these people here attached to me as a person?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Well, I think the main thing is, I just like to have fun and build things with fun. And I think my design backgrounds is something that a lot of, well, the way I handled things, because my design background is something I think a lot of indie devs could use is just try to focus on doing a couple things really well, instead of building all the features that that you can think of right before launching, I think, a good friend of mine, who was also a host, or a guest in the show earlier, Yadi. Brian, we talk a lot, then a while he's famously known for shipping in a rapid pace. But I think that's something everyone should just try because you will only learn so much from from building it. Because the fun really begins once you started shipping it. Yeah, that's when you start to see,

Jeroen Leenarts:

then you have customers complaining for features and support.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Which is great, because then you actually get this understand your product, your own product a lot better.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah. So just to wrap it up, I think I have three more questions. Or what is the typical thing that people should contact you when it's like your private life. So like, you're like you're being hidden and just having some fun?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

What they should contact me about or

Jeroen Leenarts:

what they should contact you for. So they should call you up and say like, Hey, let's go something.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Music definitely like going through gigs, or clubs or festivals, or just talk music really.

Jeroen Leenarts:

And, and professionally, what should people contact you for? If they need some work

Hidde van der Ploeg:

done? If they want some design advice, or just some things to think along on how to polish something, I think my my, my strength is is the polishing part and like really getting into the fine details. So I would, I would say that.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Cool. And then the final one, what's the what's the next iOS development or design related conference or meetup that you go into?

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Oh, good question. I haven't fully decided yet. Last year I went to Swift leads which was very fun. Yeah. Miko again, it's always a nice excuse as well, because my girlfriend's British, so it's very easy to combine like a family faces.

Jeroen Leenarts:

And I know I know, Adam has his call for paper open and

Hidde van der Ploeg:

yeah, he submitted a design related calls.

Jeroen Leenarts:

I will I will mention it to him because he's my colleague. So yeah, swiftlets I'm that's in October, I think. Yeah. So keep an eye out for AP DEF CON in Amsterdam. I think

Hidde van der Ploeg:

that's also happening. Yeah, yeah. Me you would think of maybe you always think something as well hear and understand. Because I think people are really eager to meet up again. To read dub dub DC is not really in person. yet. We don't know what's happening there yet. But it's also very expensive to go there. Of

Jeroen Leenarts:

course, yeah. crazy expensive. I went twice. I had the good fortune to be able to go twice. But yeah, so in relation to that. I'm actually hosting a Go Cats. And they'll meet up on the Wednesday after the WWDC. So that's like June 15. With the support of my current employer, so I'm going to put it out like soon ish, so that people can meet up and yeah, very much looking forward to getting the in person interaction going again, because I went to great went to a conference last week, and it was exhausting, but also a lot of fun.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

That's good. So

Jeroen Leenarts:

thank you for your time here and hope to bump into you in Amsterdam, hopefully sometime soon, because there's some good chance that it'll actually happen because I know Antoine and Antoine know shorty, and you already know us so who knows I met

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Antoine in Leeds last years.

Jeroen Leenarts:

And I know you're the Anton are good friends as well. And also Antoine has like this entrepreneurial streak going, here's a baby now it's difficult. Now you know what the trick is. You don't want to trick us you should contact God. And then tell him Hey, we should we should we should go and and meet the new guy with Antoine and bring gifts and stuff and beers. And that's probably that's probably going to be like an awesome afternoon because he has a great garden with chickens. And you'll definitely enjoy your time there because you've got Like to create guides already. We're human. Just just some advice.

Hidde van der Ploeg:

Cool. Try it out. All right, thanks so much.

(Cont.) Hidde van der ploeg, app creator and designer