Interview with Declan Shanaghy of 350 Nice, Developers of CrowdPleazer
Jul 1, 2009 5:10 AM –
With the wealth of Android sound board apps out there, we’re interviewing Declan Shanaghy of 350 Nice who took a different approach by letting users download and share sounds; customizing your own sound board with CrowdPleazer. Learn more about their company and apps:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
350 Nice was founded in 2004. 2 of us founders are from Ireland and 1 from California. Here’s the rundown:
Declan Shanaghy – Software Architect.
Over 10 years experience in web, machine control and mobile application development.
Darran Morris – Graphic Design
Darran has worked in the interactive design field since the middle of the 1990’s, having served as a creative lead on projects with many leading international and Irish brands. He is also the design guru behind the stunning looking faxitnice.com
Will Hayes – CEO
An eccentric philanptroist whose good deeds and acts of kindness have been recgonized all across the world
Why did you create your app?
At a friends house one day someone said something stupid and I thought “It would be kool if i could play a boo sound on my phone to make a right show of him” The idea for CrowdPleazer was born, everyone in the room thought it would be good for a laugh.
After perusing the market I discovered there are lots of soundboard apps out there but they all come with packaged sounds and what you see is what u get.
I KNEW we had to provide something dynamic, where people could add their own sounds and publish them on a server for the world to hear, rate and download.
What technology did you use in creating your App and why?
The android app is bog standard except for the JSON web service integration. For that I used the apache HTTP Components.
The server side is based on an AppFuse web project and the JSON web service is exposed through Apache CXF. Due to some technical difficulties with CXF 2.1, I had to use a snapshot version of CXF 2.2.
The front end is served by apache and the backend is a MySQL 5 database. All this takes place on an Amazon EC2 cluster.
I chose AppFuse and CXF because it gave me a skeleton project out of the box. And I’m using maven2 to manage the dev and deployment environments. All these tools together enabled me to create the server side implementation is a little under a week.
The main reason behind the choices were to keep development time to a minimum, a stable and portable build environment (maven) and ease of use (CXF provides many tools for exposing app logic as a web service)
About how long did it take to create your App?
The Initial prototype took 1 month with no server side integration. After another month we had a decent functional app with all the features you see now. It took about another month to get it to the point where it was stable enough to release and Will was happy with the “flow” HAHA!!
What is a cool uncovered tip or trick you can do with the App?
All the sounds you download can be used as a ringtone. Especially if you have Rings Extended. The sounds are stored on the SDCard so you might need to pop it in and out for the Android Media Scanner to pick them up, but once it does you can use them in place of any system ringtone.
What other interesting uses can come from the App?
It can do the dishes
Can you tell us about future feature enhancements with your App?
We want to create sets, that can be downloaded in one fell swoop. This would give 1 click access to pre-configured soundboards created by the CrowdPleazer users themselves.
What did you really like about creating Apps on the Android platform?
I love the way the UI is done. Creating a layout in XML is not only simple its flexible and easy to support multiple screen dimensions.
What are some things you would like to see improved with Android?
I think the ContentObserver framework is severely lacking. I didnt use any ContentObservers in CrowdPleazer but I have used it in PicPush (our pic sharing app for picasa, facebook, gallery, smugmug etc…) The notification facility doesn’t inform the app of “what” changed, only that something “has” changed. Kinda lame.
What is your opinion of the Android App Market’s distribution method? In comparison Apple’s model (strict control over the iTunes store) or the Windows Mobile model (no store at all).
I totally agree with Google’s approach. I am all in for giving more control to the people who create the content. I despise Apple’s big brother approach.
What is your Opinion on the state of the Rating/Feedback system in the App Market?
I think the current Market app is SEVERELY lacking in polish. It really needs to be updated. The search facility is laughable. For example if you search for “crowd” you wont find CrowdPleazer?!?! Thats just ridiculous. Also us devs need direct links to market app descriptions, the stupid search queries by package name are stupid. All it does is add another click to the flow for the user, and as we all know. “It’s all about saving keystrokes”
Do you have plans on releasing Apps for other markets (i.e. iPhone, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, etc.)?
We have talked about doing an iPhone version, its still up in the air though. Blackberry is the worst platform I have ever encountered, we will never release a client for that.
Your app is a paid app, why did you choose this model over the free model, and how to you project its success?
I feel CrowdPleazer provides SO much more than the other comparable apps out there that it should be a paid app. You don’t just get the bits you download, you get access to a HUGE online library of sounds. I would actually have liked to price it higher but the end user expectation is to get EVERYTHING for free these days. I’m starting to wonder how us developers got into this situation. The whole model is backwards. What we mostly see today in the market is “closed source free apps”. What we should be seeing is “open source paid apps”.
Must-have Android Apps?
CrowdPleazer – Build your own soundboard – Of course!!
Useful Switchers – 1 click access to all important settings
PicPush – Upload your pics to your fave photo sharing site automatically
Caltroid – Never be late for the train!!
RoboDefense – BRILLIANT
PhoneFlix – Netflix on the go
TuneWiki – Choooons with Lyrics!
Shazam – Great when the radio DJ doesnt tell you what song he’s playing
ChompSMS – Throw away the bog standard message app.
Phonebook – Throw away the bog standard contacts app.
What advice would you give to another aspiring mobile application developer?
– Develop your idea to its greatest extent in your head.
– Then cut the number of features in half.
– Then cut the number of features in half again.
– Build a quick prototype and release it in the market for free to test the waters.
– If you get more than 1000 downloads and a 4 star rating in 3 days, keep going.
– Take the prototype off the market.
– Fix all bugs and get a pro to design the graphics – LOOKS ARE EVERYTHING.
– Pick a revenue model and release your app.
– Rinse and repeat.
Can you tell us what future Android Apps you have brewing?
I could but then this interview would self destruct.
Thanks guys and keep the apps coming to the Market! Don’t forget to check out our Android App Review of CrowdPleazer!