Building a Pet Project that Puts Your Skills on Display

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iOS development is a highly sought-after skill in today’s job market, and building a pet project is a great way to demonstrate your abilities and gain experience in the field. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced developer, creating a pet project can help you to improve your skills, learn new techniques, and showcase your talent to potential employers. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips for starting an iOS pet project that puts your skills on display.

Importance of a Pet Project

Described here Acing iOS Interview with Confidence

What is a pet project?

A pet project is a personal project that is undertaken by an individual outside of their regular work or study. It is usually a project that the person is passionate about and wants to develop for their own enjoyment or to gain experience in a specific area. Pet projects are often completed on a voluntary basis and in one’s own time, unlike work projects that are done as part of a person’s job or coursework.

One of the main benefits of a pet project is that it allows individuals to develop their skills and gain experience in a specific area. For example, if someone is interested in iOS MLKit, they can create an iOS app as a pet project and apply machine learning to improve their programming skills on that specific topic. Pet projects also offer an opportunity for creativity and experimentation, as individuals are free to pursue their own ideas and interests which is not possible in a regular job’s project.

Why it is hard to start a pet project?

Starting a pet project can be hard for some people, as it requires a significant time commitment and a lot of hard work. It can be difficult to find the motivation and discipline to work on a project outside of one’s regular work or study schedule. Additionally, many people struggle with coming up with ideas for a pet project, or they may not know where to start.

What are the main challenges?

Some of the challenges that individuals may face when starting a pet project include:

  • Lack of time: Pet projects require a significant time commitment and it can be difficult to find the time to work on them outside of regular work or study.
  • Lack of motivation: It can be hard to stay motivated when working on a pet project, especially if progress is slow or if there are setbacks.
  • Difficulty in coming up with ideas: Some people struggle with coming up with ideas for a pet project, or they may not know where to start.
  • Limited resources: Pet projects are often completed on a voluntary basis and with limited resources, making it difficult to achieve the desired outcome.
  • Difficulty in balancing pet project and other responsibilities: Pet projects require a significant time commitment and it can be difficult to balance working on a pet project with other responsibilities.

Despite these challenges, starting a pet project can be a rewarding experience that allows individuals to develop their skills and gain experience in a specific area. With a bit of effort and persistence, it is possible to overcome these challenges and complete a successful pet project.

Idea! – I have no idea!

For me, It was quite hard to find out an idea where I would like to invest my free time. I am running out of ideas and I did not start any project for a long time due to having no solid idea. Generating ideas for an iOS pet project can be challenging, but with a little creativity, you can come up with a unique and interesting concept. Here are a few tips to help you generate ideas for your iOS pet project:

  1. Look for inspiration in everyday problems: One of the best ways to generate ideas for an iOS pet project is to look for problems that you or people around you face on a daily basis. You can then think of ways to solve those problems through an app.
  2. Research popular apps: Take a look at the top apps in the App Store and see if there are any areas where you think you could improve upon or add additional features.
  3. Think about your interests and hobbies: Consider your personal interests and hobbies and see if there’s a way to incorporate them into an app. For example, if you’re a photography enthusiast, you could create an app that helps people take better photos.
  4. Look for gaps in the market: Check out the App Store and see if there are any areas where there’s a lack of apps. If you find a gap, you can develop an app to fill it.
  5. Ask for feedback: Talk to your friends and family, and ask them what kind of app they would like to see. You can also post your ideas on social media and ask for feedback from a larger audience.
  6. Use a brainstorming technique: Try brainstorming techniques like Mind Mapping or SCAMPER to generate new ideas for your project.
  7. Keep it simple: sometimes, the simplest ideas can be the most effective. Don’t feel like you have to create something overly complex to impress others.

Remember that the key to generating a great idea for an iOS pet project is to be open-minded, creative and to think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. With a bit of effort and persistence, you’ll be able to come up with an idea that is both unique and interesting.

Starting an iOS pet project

Starting an iOS pet project can be a great way to demonstrate your skills and gain experience in developing for the platform. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Start small: One of the biggest mistakes that beginners make when starting a pet project is trying to build something too complex. Instead, start with a simple idea that you can complete in a relatively short amount of time. This will help you to learn the basics of iOS development and build your confidence.
  2. Use existing resources: There are many resources available online that can help you learn iOS development, such as tutorials, documentation, and sample code. Use these resources to help you get started and to understand the different components of an iOS app.
  3. Learn Swift: Swift is the programming language used to develop iOS apps. It is a powerful and easy-to-learn language, and it is a great choice for beginners. Take the time to learn the basics of the language and practice writing code in Swift.
  4. Get familiar with Xcode: Xcode is the development environment used to build iOS apps. It is a powerful tool that provides many features that make it easier to develop, test, and deploy your app. Take the time to learn how to use Xcode and how to navigate the different components of the environment.
  5. Plan your app: Before you start coding, take the time to plan your app. Write down your ideas and think about the different features you want to include. This will help you to stay focused and avoid becoming overwhelmed.
  6. Practice, practice, practice: The more you practice, the better you will become. Keep working on your app, experimenting with new features, and refining your skills.
  7. Test on real device: Always test your app on a real device. Simulator is good for initial testing but can’t guarantee the same behavior as a real device. This will help you to identify any issues that may arise and ensure that your app runs smoothly on a real device.
  8. Showcase: Once you have completed your app, don’t be afraid to showcase it to others. Share it with friends and family, and post it on social media. This will help you to get feedback and promote your skills to potential employers.

Strategies to make iOS Pet project happen

Understand the idea and create a detailed project plan:

Break down your project into smaller, manageable tasks. This will help you track your progress and stay on schedule. Carefully thinking about the idea will help you to make it happen. Don’t rush to create a new project in Xcode without thinking and without writing down your app idea and top 10 features in a paper. This takes 2-6 hours. But this step is super important. Thank me later for this awesome tip that I receive from my former colleague.

Prioritise and start coding

Pick the top 3 most important tasks(I will call them killer features) from your project plan and start coding. Make sure to keep your code organized, readable, and maintainable. Continuously test your code to ensure that it is working as expected. If you encounter any issues, fix them right away so they don’t pile up later. Your plan should be to release version 1.0 with these 3 killer features only. This may take 2-4 weeks. If it takes more than 4 weeks/1 per month, consider choosing fewer killer features for version 1.0. I will describe in the next section why you should not work more than one month for initial features.

Take breaks

Make sure to take regular breaks to avoid burnout. This step is very important because burnout is the most common cause to stop a pet project. Stepping away from the screen will help you stay fresh and come back to the project with a fresh perspective.

Stay focused on business logic first

Stay focused on your business logic first and keep your work organized. Use a task manager, source control, and other tools to help you stay on track. Finish the logical implementation of the iOS app without polishing the app. Don’t invest 8 hours in animation or a super cool custom layout. Invest time in polishing after you finish implementing the killer features without any bugs. The MVP (Minimum Viable Product) approach is a good choice for an iOS pet project because it allows you to focus on creating a functional product with the minimum set of features necessary to validate your idea and test your market.

This approach helps to avoid spending too much time and resources on a project that may not be viable. When it comes to polishing the user interface, it is recommended to do so after the MVP has been completed and validated. This allows you to iteratively improve the product based on feedback from users and focus on the most important aspects of the user experience.

Polishing the UI too early in the development process can lead to spending too much time on aesthetics at the expense of delivering a functional product. However, it is important to keep in mind that the user interface is an important part of the user experience, and some attention should be given to it from the start.

A rough or unfinished UI can impact user engagement and detract from the overall user experience. So, it is a good idea to strike a balance between functionality and aesthetics throughout the development process.

Deploy, Celebrate, and get feedback

Seek out feedback from others to help you identify areas for improvement. This will help you catch issues early and make your project better overall. When your killer features are complete, deploy them and celebrate your hard work! Then, keep improving your project and expanding its capabilities. Deploying your iOS pet project, celebrating your hard work, and seeking feedback can bring numerous benefits:

  • Validation: Deploying your project and seeing it used by others is a great way to validate your idea and confirm that you are on the right track.
  • Feedback: Getting feedback from users can help you identify areas for improvement and give you a better understanding of what users want from your project.
  • Improvement: Based on the feedback you receive, you can make changes to your project to make it even better and more appealing to users.
  • Sense of accomplishment: Celebrating your hard work and the completion of your project can give you a sense of accomplishment and boost your confidence in your abilities as a developer.
  • Inspiration for future projects: The experience you gain from developing and deploying your iOS pet project can inspire you to take on new and even more challenging projects in the future.

The sky is the limit. Who would have thought that your tiny side project could blossom into a thriving start-up in just a couple of years?

Building a Pet Project that Puts Your Skills on Display
Building a Pet Project that Puts Your Skills on Display

Familiarize yourself with the technologies along the way. Get up-to-speed on the technologies and tools you need to use for your projects, such as Xcode, and any relevant APIs. You can use my Xcode Cheat Sheet for SwiftUI – Efficiency Hack, Xcode Cheat Sheet – Most used shortcuts and tips. However, don’t be shy and ask for help in the community. The iOS app development community is very very helpful on LinkedIn, Reddit, or twitter.

The problem of long-running pet project

There could be many reasons why a long-running iOS pet project might not be getting finished. Some common reasons include:

  1. Lack of clear goals and objectives: Without clear goals and objectives, it can be difficult to know when a project is finished, and it becomes easier to get sidetracked or lose motivation.
  2. Underestimating the scope of the project: It is important to have a realistic understanding of the resources and time required to complete a project. Underestimating the scope can lead to feeling overwhelmed and discouraged.
  3. Distractions and interruptions: Life can get in the way of a project. Work, family, and other obligations can distract and interrupt the development process, making it difficult to stay focused.
  4. Difficulty implementing certain features: Some features may be more challenging to implement than others, causing delays and frustration.
  5. Burnout: Working on a project for an extended period can lead to burnout and decreased motivation.

To overcome these challenges, it is important to have clear goals and a realistic understanding of the resources required. It is also helpful to set aside dedicated time for the project and to seek help when necessary. Taking breaks and prioritizing self-care can help prevent burnout. Finally, it is important to be flexible and adapt to changes as needed.

My top iOS pet project ideas

I have highlighted some of the ideas which have very high potential, to be honest, if you implement them properly.

  • Daily workout tracker – A simple app to track daily exercise and activity levels.
  • Gratitude journal – A digital journal to record daily gratitudes and positive thoughts.
  • Budget tracker – A simple app to keep track of expenses and manage a budget.
  • Recipe book – A virtual cookbook to store and organize favorite recipes.
  • Habit tracker – An app to keep track of daily habits and progress.
  • Mood journal – A simple journal to record daily moods and emotions.
  • To-do list – A task management app to keep track of daily tasks and responsibilities.
  • Travel journal – An app to document and store travel memories and experiences.
  • Language learning – A basic app to practice and learn a new language.
  • Mind mapping – A simple app to create and store visual mind maps.
  • Meditation timer – A timer app to help with daily meditation practices.
  • Dream journal – An app to record and reflect on dreams.
  • Card collection – A virtual card collection app for trading cards.
  • Virtual book club – A simple app to organize and manage a virtual book club.
  • Water intake tracker – An app to keep track of daily water intake.
  • Plant care tracker – An app to keep track of indoor plant care and maintenance.
  • Budget planner – An app to plan and manage personal budgets for future events.
  • Study aid – An app to store notes and study materials for exams.
  • Virtual pet – A virtual pet app to care for and play with a digital pet.
  • Art portfolio – An app to store and showcase digital art and designs.
  • Film collection – A virtual film collection app to track watched and unwatched films.
  • Music library – A virtual music library to store and organize personal music collections.
  • Virtual garden – An app to create and maintain a virtual garden.
  • Food diary – A simple app to keep track of food intake and nutrition.
  • Personal diary – A digital diary to store personal thoughts and experiences.
  • Mood music – An app to curate playlists based on mood and emotion.
  • Note-taking app – A simple app to take notes and store information.
  • Personality test – A fun app to take personality tests and learn about oneself.
  • Virtual interior design – An app to create and design virtual interior spaces.
  • Virtual wardrobe – An app to organize and keep track of personal clothing items.

Building a pet project is a great way to demonstrate your skills and gain experience in iOS development. By following these tips, you will be well on your way to creating a great app that showcases your abilities and helps you to stand out in the job market. Remember to always keep learning, experimenting and trying new things, that’s the best way to improve your skills.

✍️ Written by Ishtiak Ahmed

👉 Follow me on XLinkedIn

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