“I want to make apps” and other Apple ramblings, plus more WordPress love

So it’s been over a week since I’ve migrated my blog over from my iWeb hosting regular website www.therapyforachangingworld to this spot, www.therapyforachangingworld.wordpress.com.

And it’s great. I can check my site stats (never compulsively). I can shoot a blog straight out to Facebook and Twitter at the same time I publish here. (EDIT: the more I hang out on WordPress, the more apparent it is that they want my experience to be easy on this platform.)

I just can’t stop wishing that iWeb had wanted me to have that same experience. WordPress is doing a fabulous job, yet I remain disappointed that Apple didn’t want the job. I’m like that girl who has a sweet boyfriend who loves her, but I want the bad boy to notice.

iWeb is great. As a user who knows exactly (well, approximately) what she wants her website to convey and how much she wants to learn and work for it, Apple has delivered a product with a lot of character, pizzaz, and ease of use. As a user who knows enough HTML to occasionally insert a page break and make some text bold or perhaps link to another site (thanks, LiveJournal) it’s convenient to have little buttons at the top of the blog entry I’m creating that can instantly bolden, link, italicize, frisk and fondle the text pretty much any way I can think of.

The layout of the iWeb templates are pretty. I can use my own photographs. The templates are stylistic and fairly fresh, like the inside of an Apple Store.

But the blogging software left a lot to be desired. No stats except how many people are visiting the page. Clunky archiving. Unsexy widgets that don’t feel all that relevant. Kind of a rigid reader experience, too, as far as I can tell reading my own blog at the old iWeb site.

And the argument goes like this: iWeb isn’t for professionals. It’s for people making their own home pages. Even if the introduction to the tutorial for iWeb says it is for creating professional looking sites.

The thing is, how many people do you know that are making home pages that aren’t trying to either get a lot of traffic, either to spread an idea, or to sell or publicize something? Grandmas email photos, they usually don’t require a “professional looking” web presence to blog about it. And if they are savvy enough to blog, they are probably migrating to WordPress.

Which brings up an interesting issue, or perhaps an interesting niche that I fit into. I’m a fairly smart user. Not smart enough to be a developer. But smart enough to keep wanting a more sophisticated user experience, which included being able to produce things using software. The kind of user who got smarter using Apple products, and realized she could use them to make things that augment her professional presence. Like podcasts and hypnosis recordings using GarageBand, websites using iWeb (which, as I grew smarter, realized had to be tweaked in order for my site to register with search engines). I would be extremely stoked if the next DIY notch under my belt could be to make an app.

But I’m smart enough to know I’m not smart enough to know programming or how to develop an app for iOS, because I’m not a software developer.  I’m smart enough to know I want an app and how I’d want it to function. Perhaps, you’d say, smart enough to hire a damn developer or to learn enough computer sciencey shit to make my own damn app. Or smart enough to go to the Apple website and get a developer kit and then realize I don’t know how to make use of it because I don’t know programming. (At this point, the word “smart” seems to address the idea of motivation and energy as well).

But I didn’t want to have to learn more than I learned in order to make my website. Because, even with the blogging deficiencies and the issue of SEO non-optimization, which the nice people of RAGE software have helped me address, I like my iWeb site! It’s pretty. It’s fine. I can use my own advanced amateur digital photographs. I can express myself and promote my business. It’s not a site advertising my services as a web designer. It works to peddle my knowledge of the human psyche. I don’t want to have to learn sound engineering to make hypnosis recordings and podcasts: I want to use Garage Band (But please, iLife engineers, feel free to make Garage Band more user friendly). I want the means of production in my hands. And one of the reasons I love Apple products is that it puts it there. Until certain means of the means of production is just out of reach, like making my own iPhone app.

So here’s what I want. An app that lets me make an app. I’d be able to choose from a menu of options that represented components that make up an ios application. I could choose a chart, a graph, a slider, a list, and make them interact with various data in order to make the app I want, which could be a game, a log of some sort, a portal to other published information, or an organizational system for media I’m launching into the world.  Yeah, that would be great. I might find that this sort of thing would do just fine for the kind of app that I need-just like my iWeb site is fine for advertising my services as a therapist (rather than a web designer). Or I might find down the line it’s not and then I hire someone to make a better app out of the prototype I made for myself. Or, the whole experience might make me feel that learning software development is within my grasp.

And I’d like an iWeb update that addresses some of the criticisms. Or perhaps we need “iWeb pro” just like we have a pro iPhoto (Aperture) and a pro iMovie (Final Cut). Perhaps the software could make the user more intelligent at creating web pages and allow you to learn HTML and Javascript as you go.

All I know is, I wanna make more stuff.


About Lia Salciccia Prusha

therapist and blogger
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6 Responses to “I want to make apps” and other Apple ramblings, plus more WordPress love

  1. Aaron Wells says:

    My wife Angie asked me to take a look at your post and see if I had any ideas, since I’m a programmer. Unfortunately, I don’t have any really good ideas, but here are my mediocre ones. 😉

    I have seen a few “graphical programming” systems through the years. OS X, for instance, comes with a program called “Automator” that lets you create simple scripts via drag-and-drop. Unfortunately, though, it turns out to be difficult to create anything other than the most basic programs without writing some code or script.

    That said, there are also programs that let you drag and drop UI elements without actually creating a functional program. The OS X Dev Kit, for instance, comes with a “UI Builder” that lets you drag and drop OS X buttons and windows and such, and I’m pretty sure the iPhone Dev Kit does as well. (To make the buttons do anything when you click them, requires writing code.) You can also use a program like OmniGraffle to “mock up” application UIs. Just search for “OmniGraffle iPhone” to find some appropriate stencils.

    If you do want to learn how to program, I recommend the book Head First JavaScript, from the O’Reilly Head First series. Its intended audience is the technical user who knows some HTML and CSS but doesn’t necessarily know how to program. Then once you’ve got that down, you could use PhoneGap, an open-source project that lets you write an application in HTML and JavaScript, which it then compiles into an iPhone and/or Android application. This still requires you to program, but JavaScript is probably an easier beginner’s language than ObjectiveC (which the iPhone uses) or Java (which Android uses — and despite the similar names, JavaScript and Java are actually completely unrelated languages).

  2. Dan Martinez says:

    While this is orthogonal to your expressed desire for tools that let non-programmers build apps, your fondness for both WordPress and the Mac suggests that if you’re not already familiar with MarsEdit, you might enjoy taking it for a spin.

    It’s a Mac OS application that lets you create, edit, and post blog posts from your desktop. (To use an analogy, it is to browser-based post-management much as a dedicated client-side mail application is to a web-based mail interface: generally faster, and empowering you write drafts even when not connected to the network.) It works well with WordPress-based blogs — among many, many others.

    (I have no stake in MarsEdit — I’m just a fond user. My blog’s lameness should in no way be counted against the software.)

    • Your blogs lameness is a result of too infrequent posting, my friend. My lameness shall be demonstrated in taking a very long time to get around to checking out MarsEdit and then emailing you in a year and telling you how cool it is and you telling me there is something better now.

  3. Bryan Prusha says:

    FWIW, I’m in the process of creating an online Programming Basics curriculum. Three lessons are already available accessible to all audiences with zero programming experience required. The only tools used are a browser and plain text editor. Comments, critiques, collaboration, corrections and kudos welcome. =)


    Already posted lessons are viewable in the list archive.


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