Keep pushing towards that goal! Perseverance revisited

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The value of perseverance is a topic I’ve covered before, and one that is a favorite of mine. They say that the times that truly challenge you are also the ones from which you grow the most. From both my work experience and my personal life, I’m a firm believer in that! The last time we addressed this topic, I shared a story of a key point in my college journey and by extension, my career and my personal life. This time, I’m happy to provide a follow up to my last post, one that concerned my first iPhone app wholly developed by me, EZ RetireCalc.

REJECTED! Well, twice, actually…

If you read that post from last week, you’ll recall that I developed a very simple app to provide an answer to that all-important question, “how much savings do I need to retire”? Apparently that first version was too simple as Apple rejected it (twice!), essentially for that reason. Needless to say, I was pretty deflated by the whole experience. I knew it was a simple app but that was the point, right? Apple, like other vendors, has specific guidelines about the content that is distributed on their App Store. Despite my hard work, my app didn’t cut the mustard.

After the second rejection, I decided to post the article (which I had already written) on the blog with a link to a beta version of the app. I did this knowing full well that fewer people would download the app given the extra steps required to use an app still in testing. In actuality, only three people downloaded it over the course of a week, despite the fact that there were quite a few (110 as of today) page views for that article. What to do next? My gut reaction was just to move on. I enjoyed making the app and it was an important part of my app development educational journey. There was no need to beat a dead horse, right?

More learning needed – and an idea

I decided I was just too novice a developer and needed to put more work into skills building, and set out on a new learning path. I’d been happy with the several Udemy courses on iOS app development I’d taken to date, but thought I needed a kick in the rear. I found Hacking With Swift, another popular option that was more challenging and that I though had a steeper learning curve (note: it is available for free, though I elected the paid version to get the additional exercises, PDFs. etc). This one really seemed to fit my personality. You didn’t need to watch videos if you didn’t want to given the well-written articles and sample code provided. The course also focused even more on problem solving and included far more independent development opportunities – perfect!

Over the past week I completed about a third of the curriculum, which took a lot of hours – but I have really enjoyed it! Again, this is one of my favorite things about no longer being constrained by my work schedule: I set my own hours and that means I have the freedom to spend my time how I wish! As my wife, Lorri will confirm, I’ve been spending a large amount of my waking hours at my desk coding – and I’ve really enjoyed it. It wasn’t all rosy though – I’ve really had to push through some challenging work at times. To that point, at least once I’ve had to set things down and come back the next day with a fresh head due to being frustrated.

Like most things that have kept me busy in life, they have a way of creeping into my dreams or at least into my waking thoughts…

Eureka!

Just this morning I woke up with a pretty clear idea on how I could add some functionality to the app – and importantly, without diverging from my vision of simplicity. Based on some work that I’d done for a few different projects in my latest course, I had two related ideas for EZ RetireCalc: 1) I could enable the user to save their results (unless you code it as such, apps don’t retain the work you do while using them), and 2) add a screen that lets the user view a summary of their saved results, share them with others, and delete them when finished.

Ideas are one thing, but did I really know how to implement those two things? Even if I could, would Apple view them as sufficient to approve the app? It took me a good five hours to address the former question. In addition to the new capabilities, I also elected to apply some of the other lessons I’d learned in my coursework to clean up the app. There were a few times were I was surprised to find myself feeling remarkably confident in my work – balanced by several other points where I felt I had no idea what I was doing. Learning is like that, right? You’ve gotta keep pushing ahead though! And with amazing online resources like StackOverflow (boy, could I have used that during my college CS courses), there’s always a way to get to the answer! I got the app submitted for review by midday and then the waiting started…

A sigh of relief and an occasion to celebrate

It often takes up to 24 hours for Apple’s app review cycle to complete. So I was both surprised and excited when just about an hour later I received notice they were reviewing my app. Before long I received an email that included the text you see in the picture above. My app was approved! VICTORY!!! Now don’t be mistaken: this is a very simple app and one that an experienced developer could put together very quickly. But it’s only the second app I’ve ever had approved and the first that I wrote all by myself. So needless to say I was excited by this wee success!

I’ve now revised my last post with a link to the approved app, and also made a few updates to the article reflecting the new functionality. If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you’ll consider checking it out. And if you did read it but skipped downloading EZ RetireCalc due to the beta testing hurdles, and you own an iPhone – I’d be honored if you gave it a look. I welcome any and all feedback! As a fellow marketing colleague used to remind me often, “feedback is a gift”. I’d be glad to implement ideas that are aligned with my idea of a simple starting point and that improve the user experience.

Have you had any wins lately from pushing through a difficult obstacle? I’d love to hear from you!

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