Minimalism rocks

Today I want to write why my little prayer wheel app is so useful and important for me. More generally I want to point out, why every iOS developer should have one app with a small limited scope.


When I wrote the first version of the prayer wheel two years ago my goal was to make an app that would be easy to make but useful for a certain audience at the same time. I also wanted to make it the best one in its niche market. Since I really enjoyed my travels to Nepal and Tibet I decided on making a digital prayer wheel, since all existing prayer wheels were not up to my standards.

My intention was to launch my first own app on the App Store as a test balloon and learn the whole development and submission process while doing it. (I already knew iOS development from my previous job, but there we developed our games using a 3rd party JavaME framework and submission was handled by our publishers.)

Development took about 5 days wich about half of my time spend on programming, the rest on making assets and figuring out all the App Store processes.

Why a minimal app?

Since then every time something changed in the iOS SDK I used the prayer wheel as a testbed for new features or API changes. I added iOS4, then 5 and finally 6 support, ported over to iPhone 5, recently added retina OpenGL support and today switched my rendering “framework” to OpenGL ES 2.0. (I put framework in quotes since in reality it’s just a bunch of helper functions).

Having the prayer wheel was a great bonus. Because of its focused scope I could concentrate on a small feature set and wasn’t distracted by the noise of a bigger project. Also implementing each change usually took only a day or two, after which I had reached a goal and could publish an update to the App Store. This is important because short feedback loops result in small motivation boosts to keep going, which as an independent developer is one of the most crucial things.


If you want to get into get into iOS development (or mobile in general) then I would advise you to start with a small focused project. Don’t shoot for the stars. Do something you’ll have fun making and know you can finish. The software graveyard is full of half finished indie projects that where overly ambitious.

KISS (keep it simple, stupid) and baby steps will keep you going. Make sure to get regular motivation from your work.

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