Brian Gilham

Engineering leader, husband, and father

apple-tv

Start Paddling

I’ve launched a lot of side projects over the course of my career, but I still get nervous each and every time — especially when I’m trying something for the first time, like selling an icon set or an Apple TV app. A laundry list of doubts creeps into my brain. What if nobody likes it? What if there’s a bug I haven’t found? What if it turns out I’m not all that good at this programming thing?

I’ve launched a lot of side projects over the course of my career, but I still get nervous each and every time — especially when I’m trying something for the first time, like selling an icon set or an Apple TV app. A laundry list of doubts creeps into my brain.

What if nobody likes it?

What if there’s a bug I haven’t found?

What if it turns out I’m not all that good at this programming thing?

My hand hovers over the keyboard. I could walk away without risking anything, I tell myself.

And then I launch it anyway.

It isn’t because I’m brave, or free of fear. It’s because, over the years, I’ve learned pushing through my fears is the only way to learn and grow. 

You can plan all you want. You can fiddle with a landing page design until your eyes bleed. You can hem and haw, and worry how your side project will be received. But, in the end, you only make progress when you look over the edge of the cliff and jump. You’re never going to feel ready.

It’s easy to sit around forever, waiting for the moment you feel prepared to dive into something new. But that moment is never going to come. You always could have worked more, tested more, practiced more. There’s always something more you could have done. But, at some point, you have to launch the damn thing.

I often think about the first time I went whitewater rafting. One of the first things they teach you is you don’t sit in the raft; you sit on the edge of it, right next to the rushing water. I won’t lie; it scared the crap out of me. I constantly felt off-balance, and I was sure I’d end up in the drink at any moment.

But here’s the secret: the only way to keep your balance is to paddle. It’s only by putting your oar in the water and getting to work that you’ll stay in the boat. If you wait until you feel stable, you’ll be waiting a long time. Because it never feels stable. 

Unless you have a crystal ball — and let’s talk, if you do — you’ll never be able to look into the future. Accept that you’ll make mistakes and be criticized, no matter what you do. Pick a direction and get moving.

Perfection is something you can strive for, but you’ll never reach it. Launching something imperfect can feel risky, to be certain. But I think it’s a far bigger risk never to launch it at all.

Until next time,

-Brian


Draftly: Highlighted Description

One of the biggest omissions from v1.0.0 was the ability to read long Shot descriptions. I intentionally left it out – not many Shots had a truncated description, and there were higher priorities at the time.

I’m happy to say that v1.0.2 finally includes the ability to click on a description and read it in its entirety – in a modal view with a nice big font. It’s nice and simple, just the way I like it :-)


Draftly: Now Available!

Hi everyone! I’m happy to announce that Draftly, my new Dribbble client for Apple TV, is now available!

Head on over to the App Store app, search for \“Draftly\“, and tap that big, beautiful pink icon to get started.

I’m psyched to finally have it out in the wild, and I can’t wait to hear what you all think.


Draftly: Now Available!

Good morning, everyone! I’m happy to announce that Draftly, my new Dribbble client for Apple TV, is now available! To download it, head over to the App Store app on your Apple TV and search for “Draftly”. Once you find it, just click that big, beautiful pink icon 😀

Good morning, everyone! I’m happy to announce that Draftly, my new Dribbble client for Apple TV, is now available! To download it, head over to the App Store app on your Apple TV and search for “Draftly”. Once you find it, just click that big, beautiful pink icon 😀


Introducing Draftly

I love Dribbble. I don’t post regularly, but hardly a day goes by where I can’t be found browsing the latest and greatest from designers all over the world. I wouldn’t call myself a designer — more of a “design-minded engineer” — but Dribbble is a source of constant inspiration for me. I also love the latest Apple TV. It supports my extreme Netflix habit while offering a platform for tons of great apps and games.

I love Dribbble. I don’t post regularly, but hardly a day goes by where I can’t be found browsing the latest and greatest from designers all over the world. I wouldn’t call myself a designer — more of a “design-minded engineer” — but Dribbble is a source of constant inspiration for me.

I also love the latest Apple TV. It supports my extreme Netflix habit while offering a platform for tons of great apps and games. I’ll often fire it up when I have a spare 15–30 minutes and watch movie trailers, catch up with CBC News, or browse the latest cinemagraphs from the amazing Flixel community. To me, the Apple TV offers the perfect blend of entertainment, news, and utility.

Some of you might see where I’m going with this.

On February 28th, wanting to up my tvOS game, I started work on a Dribbble client for Apple TV. Today, I’m proud to announce that v1 is done. Say hello to Draftly.

A quick tour through some of the functionality offered in Draftly v1.

Draftly makes it easy to browse work from designers, illustrators, typographers, and artists around the world. Right from your couch. Optimized for the living room, Draftly omits unnecessary features and cluttered interfaces to keep the focus where it should be: browsing the best design work Dribbble has to offer.

My goal was to create a Dribbble client for Apple TV that was perfect for me. That meant stripping out a lot of stuff that, on a different platform, might be considered essential.

I spent _forever tweaking this screen. I think it was worth it._

Want to kick back and browse amazing work? Draftly has you covered. Want to read every comment on a Shot? Organize Shots into Buckets? Scroll through long lists of everyone who liked something? Sorry, Draftly ain’t for you. I know there are probably lots of people who want to replicate Dribbble’s web experience on their television screen. I’m just not one of them.

Instead, I tried to create a Dribbble client that felt at home on Apple TV.

Here’s some of what Draftly does offer:

Large Images + Animated GIF support

Perfect for browsing from the comfort of your couch.

Draftly has ’em all.

Top Shelf Support

Popular Shots, right on your Apple TV’s home screen.

This might be the feature I’m most proud of.

Full-Screen Mode

For when you really want to appreciate the little details.

Detail Views

Views, likes, comments, tags, description, and more.

Profile Views

Easily browse the profile for any user or team.

I’ve really enjoyed using Draftly on my Apple TV — and I hope lots of other people will, too. I’m happy to announce that Draftly will be available on the Apple TV App Store — completely free — on Monday, April 18th, 2016 at 9am EST.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank a few people:

  • My wife, Steph, for her support and understanding through some pretty late nights at my laptop.
  • The fine folks at TWG, for tons of encouragement, help, and advice.
  • Everyone who has helped beta test Draftly over the last three weeks. Their feedback helped improve the app immeasureably.

And this is just the beginning. I’m far from done. I already have a long list of improvements I’d like to make, and new features I’d like to add. I expect to be working on Draftly for a long time to come.

If you’d like to follow along, or learn more:

And, of course, you can get in touch with me at me@briangilham.com or on Twitter.

Thanks for reading!

P.S. Want to try Draftly before the public launch? Here’s five promo codes. Redeem one on your laptop or iOS device, then check out the “Purchased” tab on the Apple TV App store to grab a copy.

http://tokn.co/h5fv9d5y
http://tokn.co/ed5kmzag
http://tokn.co/zhe3zepr
http://tokn.co/ty4reafq
http://tokn.co/vu8mhsnm


Draftly: Instagram Promo

I pushed a little bit of Draftly promo to my Instagram feed with this image today. Loving the blurred shot of the bleachers/stands in the background. Having a bit of fun with the basketball metaphor :-)

I just posted a short video showing off Draftly last night as well: https://vimeo.com/162635938.


Draftly: Landing Page Redux

I took another crack at the landing page for Draftly. It’s launching soon – April 18th, to be specific. Check it out at http://getdraftly.com.


Draftly: Landing Page

I finally took some time and put together a very basic landing page for Draftly. I like that it shows the app in a \“real\” setting, rather than a bunch of screenshots. It’ll do, for now. You can check it out at http://getdraftly.com and follow along on Twitter at http://twitter.com/getdraftly.


Draftly: App Icon

A bit of a work-in-progress, but this is where I currently stand with the app icon for Draftly. There’s a sweet shadow effect on the text that is only visible when the icon is focused.


Draftly: User Profile

A quick shot of the user profile screen in Draftly, my new Dribbble client for the Apple TV/tvOS. This time I’m showing off some of the great work done by @matt-carlson.


Draftly: Shot Detail

I’ve been working on a new Dribbble client for the Apple TV/tvOS and I thought it was high time I start sharing. This is a small portion of the shot detail view, showing off a shot by the great @belinatti.


No USB-C to USB-A Cable? No Problem!

I knew ahead of time that the 2nd-round Dev Kits wouldn’t include a USB-C to USB-A cable, as the first batch had. I ordered one but have yet to receive it. Frustrated with not being able to deploy to my Apple TV — or even find the UDID so I could produce a TestFlight build — I decided to take matters into my own hands. One USB-C to Female USB-A adapter, some soldering, and a bunch of duct tape later, I had my solution.

I knew ahead of time that the 2nd-round Dev Kits wouldn’t include a USB-C to USB-A cable, as the first batch had. I ordered one but have yet to receive it. Frustrated with not being able to deploy to my Apple TV — or even find the UDID so I could produce a TestFlight build — I decided to take matters into my own hands.

One USB-C to Female USB-A adapter, some soldering, and a bunch of duct tape later, I had my solution.


Building DubDub: Part 1

tvOS offers two options for building Apple TV apps: UIKit and TVML. Both offer interesting opportunities. If your app requires custom UI or makes use of system frameworks like Metal, Core Data, or GameKit, a UIKit-based app is the obvious solution. If your app simply displays a collection of content from an API you control — video, news updates, music, etc. — TVML seems like a great choice. It’s faster and you get a lot of great UI for free.

tvOS offers two options for building Apple TV apps: UIKit and TVML.

Both offer interesting opportunities. If your app requires custom UI or makes use of system frameworks like Metal, Core Data, or GameKit, a UIKit-based app is the obvious solution. If your app simply displays a collection of content from an API you control — video, news updates, music, etc. — TVML seems like a great choice. It’s faster and you get a lot of great UI for free.

I’ll be playing around with both, in time. Being more comfortable with UIKit, I decided to tackle that first.

When tackling a new platform or technology, I like to like to build a “real” app. When I was learning WatchKit, I was lucky to have the opportunity to build a Watch app for the Globe and Mail. This time around, I’ll be building a project of my creation: DubDub. In a sentence, my goal is to put much of the functionality of the WWDC app on the Apple TV. It’s not an app I plan on selling–or even releasing–but I think it will provide an opportunity to touch a lot of the SDK.


My first “real” tvOS app

I’ll be sharing more thoughts later, but I quickly put together my first functional — though far from pretty or HIG-compliant — tvOS app last night and wanted to share. You can browse every WWDC session video and easily watch it from your couch. Your simulated couch, anyway. In case it wasn’t obvious, full-screen table views are ugly and a bad idea. As expected.

I’ll be sharing more thoughts later, but I quickly put together my first functional — though far from pretty or HIG-compliant — tvOS app last night and wanted to share. You can browse every WWDC session video and easily watch it from your couch. Your simulated couch, anyway.

In case it wasn’t obvious, full-screen table views are ugly and a bad idea. As expected.


tvOS: First Impressions

Finally. I’ve been excited by the prospect of creating apps for the Apple TV since 2012. After three years of rumours and hints from Apple execs, it’s finally here. After downloading all the things, I fired up Xcode 7.1 and started poking around tvOS. Hey, everyone has to start somewhere right? Some quick first impressions: There’s two ways to build a tvOS app. A full UIKit-backed app or an app built using JavaScript and TVML.

Finally. I’ve been excited by the prospect of creating apps for the Apple TV since 2012. After three years of rumours and hints from Apple execs, it’s finally here. After downloading all the things, I fired up Xcode 7.1 and started poking around tvOS.

Hey, everyone has to start somewhere right?

Some quick first impressions:

  • There’s two ways to build a tvOS app. A full UIKit-backed app or an app built using JavaScript and TVML. TVML sounds pretty similar to how current Apple TV apps work — XML templates provided by a server. Interesting that they’ve left that as an option.
  • The simulator is huge. It simulates a 1080p display and, near as I can see, there’s no way to test it at a smaller resolution. I can see the entire window on my Thunderbolt Display, but my 13-inch Retina Macbook Pro requires bumping it down to 50% scale to be useable.
  • You interact with the simulator using a simulated remote. You can’t just click around like you would in the iPhone simulator. After some reflection, I’m glad developers are forced to interact with tvOS apps the same way their users will.
  • Local storage is not an option. I tweeted about this pretty quick yesterday. Apps are limited to 200mb — anything beyond that will have to be fetched dynamically. Apple’s On-Demand Resources, introduced at WWDC, were created for this very reason, I suspect.
  • Lots of iOS frameworks didn’t make the cut. I was most surprised by the exclusion of HomeKit. You can see the full list here.

All told, I’m extremely excited. There’s lots to learn and lots to share. More to come as I dig in.