Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Android developer interview: Johannes Borchardt from Droid-Blog

Here's another interview from the series. I hope you're enjoying them as much as I do.

Bartek: Tell us something about yourself. Who are you? Where do you live? What do you do in life?

Johannes: My Name is Johannes, I live in Munich, Germany. I'm a professional Android developer and founded an Android-only company, ANDLABS.

Bartek: When did your Android adventure start and how? Why did you decide to do it?

Johannes: I had my first contact with Android in 2008, when the first of my fellow students started experimenting with the SDK. When the HTC Dream, the first Android phone came to the markets, I was impressed and started focusing more and more on Android. At the first Droidcon in 2009, I then had my first public Android-related talk. I decided to go for Android because it was no risk at all. At that time it was obvious to us that Android was going to change the mobile game.

Bartek: How did you learn how to create apps?

Johannes: By using the web. At that time, Nicolas Gramlich's from anddev.org was (maybe it still is) the biggest Android developer forum. Since the documentation wasn't that good at the beginning, it was great to have this resource. I also read some books to fill some gaps.

Bartek: What books did you read?

Johannes: I used Android 2: Grundlagen und Programmierung by Arno Becker and Marcus Pant and Professional Android 2 Application Development by Reto Meier [Bartek: BTW there's an updated edition titled Professional Android 4 Application Development]. I didn't read Android books in the last year because they all cover more or less the same content. I prefer Reto's books though.

Bartek: What libraries/frameworks do you use?

Johannes: Since I already mentioned Nicolas, who is a friend of mine and also the maker of AndEngine, it's obvious that I have some experience using AndEngine. At ANDLABS we also use LibGDX though. For non-game projects, we use the usual set of libraries, such as the support libraries, google-gson and some Apache Commons stuff.

Bartek: Why did you switch from Andengine to libGDX? Could you make a quick comparison?

Johannes: We didn't switch, we use both. Our employees are more familiar with libGDX and it's easier to support multiple platforms with it. A comparison is difficult because AndEngine is an engine and libGDX is a framework. That's why we are currently also building an engine on top of libGDX.
I would say if one is trying to build a 2D game for Android only, it is very likely that AndEngine is the way to go. If it gets to lower level optimization or 3D, libGDX may be better.

Bartek: Where do you take app/game ideas from?

Johannes: Usually ideas occur when discussing with my co-founders, our workers and designers. They almost never come up when I'm alone.

Bartek: Where do you get resources from (graphics, sounds, music)?

Johannes: The graphics in our games are usually hand made. Sounds are mostly taken from several free or paid resources on the web. If we don't find something suitable and have enough budget, we hire a sound designer.

Bartek: Where do you find a sound designer and how much do they cost?

Johannes: I never found a sound designer or a UI/UX designer using the web, in fact I also never tried. It's all about contacts.

Bartek: What other programming tools do you use?

Johannes: git, GitHub, Jira.

Bartek: How long does is take you to make a single app?

Johannes: About a year.

Bartek: How much are you making on your apps?

Johannes: We are a development and service company. Taking into account the revenue coming from this services, it's about 10k.

Bartek: Is 10k profit in dollars/euro? A month/a year? How many people share it?

Johannes: It's the EBIT in USD a month that arrives on my bank account.

Bartek: How do you monetize your apps? Do you have any advice on it for others?

Johannes: My currently published apps all are ad supported, some also offer in app purchases. My advice is that there is no silver bullet.

Bartek: Which ones of your apps have been the biggest success?

Johannes: I'd say it's been the AL Voice Recorder in terms of downloads, lessons learned and exceeding expectations.

Bartek: Do you use any marketing techniques or SEO?

Johannes: Yes. Again, it's crucial to know the right people. For example knowing your country's developer relationship manager may be of great help when you want to get your app featured.

Bartek: How exectly knowing the right people helps?

Johannes: Whatever it is. If the person in charge knows you, she or he will open your mail. If then you are showing a convincing product, it's likely to get reviewed or featured.

Bartek: What are your favourite Android games/apps?

Johannes: I think my most favorite game so far is Wind-up Knight. I think it shows how mobile games should be made in terms of monetization.

Bartek: What Android devices do you own?

Johannes: A Nexus one, Galaxy Y, Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 7, Huawei Ascend 330, some other mdpi Huawei whose name I forgot. And a Google TV box. We have some additional devices in our company like a Galaxy note 10.1 and a Nexus 4.

Bartek: What Android blogs/sites do you read regularly?

Johannes: I think, for time reasons, the only blog I read on a regular basis is the Android Developers Blog. I like to look through Stack Overflow every now and then. Everything else is problem related research.

Bartek: What are your plans for the future? What do you want to create/achieve?

Johannes: We are planning to release one new game this year and, if we are lucky, another one will follow.

Bartek: What advice would you give to other developers (something that you wish you had known before yourself)?

Johannes: Don't rush.

Bartek: Where can people find you on the Internet?

Johannes: Droid-Blog (blog), ANDLABS (services), Google+.

I want to thank Johannes for his time and patience. It was great to learn the details of his professional approach concerning everyday work. I hope it was helpful to you as well.

As a quick update, I'm working on two small projects right now and I'll show them to you soon. There might be a little break from interviews for some time or they'll become less frequent, because other things that I want to write about have accumulated and I can't wait to share them as soon as possible.

See you next time and wish me lots of fun on vacations, because I'm leaving tomorrow for a sunny place with a nice beach.

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