ChessT is a relatively new multi-purpose chess app for the iOS platform. If you are interested in the app you can follow the developer’s progress via his twitter account
Firstly, please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background
I’m Liam Ferris, I’m a 19 year old Software Engineer in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I play chess for Queen’s Univesity Belfast Chess Club. My hobbies include cycling and film and obviously, both chess and programming.
Readers may not be familiar with ChessT, so briefly what is it all about?
ChessT is an app that is designed to augment the experience of playing chess with others. Features include the ability to turn your chess games into GIFs that you can tweet or share on Facebook. It also gives you the ability to create a board position on the fly and get engine analysis.
What was your motivation in developing ChessT?
My motivation for developing ChessT was to gain experience and to learn. It started out as a spare-time project. I built a few chess utilities to make both Chess Club and communication with my club easier. For example, my club QUB Chess’ Facebook page used an early version of ChessT to create GIFs for the page. I created the app to group together a few different features I had built. The name is some terrible word play around that idea – A treasure “chesst” of different utilities.
How long have you been working on ChessT and how much time have you spent?
The app was built over the first half of 2016. I work full time and also go to university so I worked on it when I had the time. It’s hard to give an estimate on how much time I’ve spent, but I was surprised at the amount of time spent on decision making and going back on forth on different ideas.
In your view, what are the characterstics of a good app developer?
That’s a hard one. I’d say obsessiveness is a pretty good characteristic, spending hours deciding how ‘curvy’ you want your boxes to be, and knowing that no one really cares about that detail as much as you do takes a certain mindset.
What has been the best thing about developing ChessT?
The best thing has been the response. I genuinely didn’t expect to hear any feedback, or see anyone using my app. I’ve made new connections, found out about other interesting apps and app developers and I think that I have inspired some people. That’s been really great. I’ve also learned a lot about the process of developing and releasing an app – which has been super useful.
What is the most frustrating or difficult part of developing ?
The most difficult part of developing ChessT, I think, has been testing and dealing with limitations of platforms, especially when developing for multiple OS’s. Device simulation isn’t great, which makes the process longer. For example, not being able to view a GIF in your photo library makes testing more difficult than it ought to be.
Will ChessT remain in development and if so, what are your future plans for the app?
At the moment I’m not sure, my main focus is developing my skills and learning new things. Currently I have no plans for further updates, although things could change and inspiration could strike at any time!
Are you working on any other apps chess or otherwise?
I’ve got multiple half-built apps. I have no formal plan to release any of them. I just want to spend time working with new technologies and learning new stuff. I’ve been looking at some IoT projects and I’m interested in iOS 10’s new Siri API.
Note: This interview was conducted by email on 2 October 2016