Dan’s presentation at Appcelerator Meetup @ Mobile World Congress 2012

I’m the most annoying person on Appc’s QA forum, my name is Dan and this is how I can be found:

@dan_tamas
http://dan-tamas.me

Today I will try to talk about my experience as a freelancer that uses Titanium for all his mobile projects.

The community

screenshot of the Appcelerator community website

This is the Appcelerator Community. I’d like to tell you about what drives me to spend so much time on the QA. I love the open source movement and I think that helping other people will make us better and we’ll finally achieve world peace.

WRONG! This is wrong, but not as in lying but as in not telling the whole truth, just like marketing does 😀

Let’s take a client. Kevin (Whinnery) looks like he knows some stuff about Appcelerator and he wants a cross-platform application. Somehow he finds my website.

Dan Tamas portfolio screenshot from his website

A freelancer’s life is usually governed by NDAs. Everybody wants an NDA as if their project will be the next Angry Birds. When you reach a certain level and people start to know you, you begin to have better and more complex / interesting / nicer projects. But we all know how this usually happens.

The X (big) company hires a Marketing company to take care of their image, website and of course mobile apps. But they need programmers for this, so they hire a programming company. Well the story is that the programming company is nothing more than a few guys in-house and the rest of the team is made by us, the freelancers. And as you suspected they will want an NDA, because they also have one from the Marketing company or they don’t want the world to know that somebody else did their job.

I can tell you that I have worked for 2 companies so big that everybody in this room heard about. But of course I cannot tell you who they are. You might believe me or not but Kevin, the client, surely won’t – he needs something to see and not just simple words.

So coming back to my portfolio what does the client see?

Some certification – everybody has one – a boring FunyABC app for kids, MotorSport – an auto magazine for a German publication, some books and of course the biggest hit: the divorce calculator.

Nothing fancy, nothing outstanding. But because I’m pretty in the picture he gives me a chance and asks me for an interview.

What can I come up with?

I come up with this: I’m number 2 in the Top Experts
Appcelerator top experts: Dan Tamas is second

And this: I’m an Enterprise user of the framework with access to professional support, free modules and… free beer of course 😀
Dan Tamas profile on Appcelerator website

And I start to explain to the client that I’m a Titan, that I was chosen “Titan of the month” back in September, that I wrote some tutorials and, starting tomorrow, that I was invited to speak to an event organized by Appcelerator itself.

At this point there are very few clients that will discard me as a candidate for their project. If he’s not looking for cheap work or unless some other Titan manages to impress him better – like Aaron or Matt or any other guy spending his time on the QA forum – I’m all set.

How do you reach this level?

  1. Spend some quality time on QA, giving answers to questions, but good answers.
  2. Write articles and tutorials, people are searching for good Titanium tutorials.

Appcelerator as company is a little different because they are really helping the community, despite what some people complain on the forum. For example, most of the Titans have Pro accounts – for free – and the most active guys on QA are actually Appcelerator employees.

As you see, 1 hour ‘wasted’ on QA every day starts to bring something back.

Also reading other people’s answers makes you a better programmer, you learn for free just by reading their posts. And we have the whole stuff about clients impressed by this, as I just told you.

Bottom line

So bottom line – as a freelancer, build your business around the community. That one hour a day spent helping other people will have the best ROI you ever saw.

The Meetup in pictures

Meeting the Appcelerator guys

Kevin Javier and  Dan Tamas at Appcelerator Meetup Barcelona 2012

Kevin Javier and  Dan Tamas at Appcelerator Meetup Barcelona 2012

Nolan Jeff and  Dan Tamas at Appcelerator Meetup Barcelona 2012

Dan Tamas speaking at Appcelerator Meetup Barcelona 2012

Dan Tamas speaking at Appcelerator Meetup Barcelona 2012

Dan Tamas speaking at Appcelerator Meetup Barcelona 2012

Javier Rayon speaking at Appcelerator Meetup Barcelona 2012

Javier Rayon speaking at Appcelerator Meetup Barcelona 2012

Javier Rayon speaking at Appcelerator Meetup Barcelona 2012

10 thoughts on “Dan’s presentation at Appcelerator Meetup @ Mobile World Congress 2012”

  1. I’m the one who usually complains about Appc support to community members and because of that I need to say something about this.

    As it can be seen on one picture above, I am currently number 4 in Q/A (answering mostly on questions related to bugs in Android implementation), but basically I’m first real community member on that list because I don’t have payed support.
    JFTR – company in which I work was willing to pay Indie subscription to have some features on device which I requested a long time ago, but that features are still not implemented. The company does not produce applications for marketplaces and it will produce probably only one or two apps for in-house usage and does not need modules and other things that comes with some subscriptions.

    Anyway, I participated in many other ways except Q/A, like developing new programming techniques that many TiDevs today use, warned many times about bad parts in Titanium design (or parts of design that could be improved) and participated in JIRA. All this can be checked in Q/A and JIRA, just write my name in the search, you’ll find a lot of interesting things. If I knew Java or Objective-C I would probably do some coding.

    On the other hand, last time I checked, my 10 bugs made to TIMOB, from that 10 bugs, 2 were fixed – more than a half year later. Other bugs are not even scheduled and will be fixed who knows when. That bugs are related to basic functionality in Titanium and some don’t have a workaround.

    I don’t see that as “really helping” and you have to be blind to see that as “really helping”.

    Cheers, Ivan.

  2. Hi Ivan,
    The speech I had was only my own opinion and based on my experience solely.

    I understand your frustrations and I’m sure there are cases when a community member might feel like he is ignored, like you are.

    There are few things I want to clarify though:
    One would be the fact that an indie subscription would get you only access to the modules Appcelerator has in the MarketPlace, no professional support or bug fixes (for the last you need an enterprise account). I’m sure you know the pricing link: http://www.appcelerator.com/products/plans-pricing/

    Another thing that I don’t get is why didn’t you apply for the Titans program? Most of the Titans have the Pro subscription for free, and this gives you full access to modules and HelpDesk.
    Once on the HD you can tag your post with #Titan and you will get some sort of priority.

    I’m sure that being number 4 on QA will make you a Titan in no time :)

    Now the “really helping” part. Most of the answers are given by the Appcelerator employees and the QA forum is clearly stated as a community thing and not an obligation from the Appcelerator side. The Titan program gives you a free Pro subscription (200$/month), github code examples, free certification exam (yes free too), etc , they all look to me like a “real help” for us, the community members that participate somehow on the project.

    I agree that for the normal user there are many things to fix, that a normal (no subscription) user doesn’t get too much attention and for this I suggest you to apply for the Titan program.

    And I do agree with you that Appcelerator still has a problem of communication with the normal members, but things are improving I think. Kevin is delegated to work closely with the developers, they changed a lot the documentation, the wiki pages, etc.

    Meanwhile don’t forget they are giving this framework to us for free while being a company that HAS to make money too :)

  3. Ivan,

    I understand your frustration, but I think you assumption about being a community member and not a paying customer is not really valid in regards to your value to the forums.

    I was adding answers to the forum way before I started working at AppC as a contractor and was doing it without pay and without the expectation that I would receive something in return… I was basically a “normal user”

    Also I have not used paid support for a single issue. As Dan stated sometimes you just do things to support the community and it really doesn’t matter who is number one

  4. Ivan, I agree with Dan in most part of his argue and, mainly, in one thing: why are not you a titan user? You are a well known Q&A user and your criticism use to be wise. I think there are about 200 Titan users and I’m sure that in your case, it would be completely justified.

  5. Dan,

    I know that is your opinion, I’m just saying mine. :)

    And I know about subscriptions, at that time Indie subscription provided some TiStudio features that are now free. Anyway, that is out of the point here, I see that you actually agree with me (only, I have more pessimistic opinion than you).

    Javier,

    I was actually a Titan for some time (I didn’t apply for the program, I was invited recently), but left Titan program because nothing changed (it actually got worse and some things that happened pissed me off :) so I left). My bugs are still in unchanged status, also the issues (which are mostly Titanium API improvements – again, very basic stuff) I reported as a Titan were not scheduled.

    Also, I don’t see a reason why community status should have impact in cases when basic bugs are reported or if improvement is suggested. Smart thought is not dependent on status in community. :)

    Aaron,

    I don’t care about my rank in Q/A and I don’t help others so I could benefit in some particular way (at least not in the way you are implying). I believe that everyone in community needs to help in the way and amount they can and feel they should, so all members of the community could benefit in some way and in some amount (including myself). Despite my frustrations and not having anything from my position in Q/A, I still give answers in Q/A (although it would be smarter to learn Java :) ).
    I believe that, because of all my contributions, I should have some benefits, like fixes of some bugs that I care about in some reasonable time. I didn’t ask that all bugs that I report get fixed right away and I don’t ask that all time I have spent contributing compensates to me somehow. I am pointing myself here because I am good example and my rank says something about amount of my contribution.

  6. I think the fact you gave up being a Titan was a really big mistake, if I may say this. As a Titan you could even persuade some AppC members over twitter or email to fix the bugs. I understand you lost your patience but this (patience) is what is needed to get the platform on a higher level. I’ve been there too, I’m sure Aaron has his unfixed bugs as well, but we are not complaining (or not too much :) ). Again, Titanium is not perfect, but it allows us to make what we like (and money) for free. Even only this – allowing us to make money without paying a cent – should be more than enough to make us trying to help them as much as possible, with or without rewards, badges, experts top, bug fixes or free beer :)

  7. In my specific case, things are a bit different. I work for a company that is not primary a software company and Titanium related work is one small part (OK, I am not so small :) ) of all software we develop for ourselves. I will do one big project and maybe one small. This big project consists of two parts, one is primary related with Titanium and that one is almost done.
    Except that (and app maintenance), I won’t be doing Titanium related work (maybe some contract work or some app for myself). So, in a long term, if nothing changes, my future (and pay) is not bonded to Titanium.

    Regarding my patience … one year ago I started to develop that app (with no previous Titanium experience, limited basic JS knowledge and programming experience in general, developing for Android only that was very buggy at that time) and I am almost done. Recall that my 2 bugs were fixed more than a half year after I reported them (do I have to say that I made a workaround for them a long time before they were fixed?). Rest are still not scheduled and some of them do not have a workaround (and that has been highlighted). So, I am almost done and I had to send app to beta testing with awful UX (because of one bug that has no workaround). I am lucky because I don’t have clients, if I had them I really don’t know what I would say to them. So, no, I really don’t have patience anymore.

    Anyway, before this job, I was working for one (primary software :) ) company that was using several (well known) open-source products. Few were free, few had payed support. I did not participate in that projects as contributor, but I saw how community members that had no payed support but were contributing were treated and how support in general was managed. Things here are different and I think that, despite Titanium being open-source project, AppC is “closed” company (so to say) and Titanium is not so open-sourced as it seems.

    In the end … IMHO, being a Titan or not should not have affect on support to people that have basic problems (no matter were they contributing somehow or not). That software is their product … and their responsibility. 😉

  8. We can go like this forever :) It’s clear you have a strong opinion and nothing will change it, so I won’t argue anymore. Our opinions are different and the way we see the community is different.

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