Jim Roepcke's weblog have browser, will travel (est. 1999)

3Apr/120

BC Health Service Locator for iPhone

BC Health Service Locator screenshot

In spring 2011 I worked for the Ministry of Labour, Citizens' Services, and Open Government to mentor a new iOS developer. Mentoring is something I love to do so I was excited for the opportunity!

The Ministry was working on an iPhone app to help people find health services in BC. The prototype was developed by a Ministry employee, who I mentored. We got down to business right away. We developed the app using the prototype as a guide while I mentored their developer on Xcode, Objective-C, Cocoa Touch, UI design, source code management (GitHub FTW!) and dealing with the complexity of the Apple Developer program. We pair programmed for the first half of the project, and then each worked on features individually but side-by-side. We were pretty much finished by mid-August, with a few bug-fixes and other finishing touches added in September.

The developer I mentored was great... smart, capable, and loved the process. We quickly became friends and I really enjoyed working with him and everyone else involved. It was incredible to see him come up to speed so quickly. We used my open source HLDeferred library, and he had no problem adapting to thinking asynchronously.

While that was happening, the Government was working to get their Apple iOS Developer account registered. That was a challenge since the ultimate leader of the province is Queen Elizabeth II, and she wasn't available to sign paperwork on their behalf. :-) On the App Store, the seller of the app is listed as Her Majesty the Queen in right of the Province of British Columbia! That still makes me giggle.

Legal clearance to submit the app arrived in December and the app went live on January 1st.

The Government officially launched the app in February. Their press release mentions volunteers being used to develop the app. It's true, the developer I mentored wrote the initial version of the app in his own time, and donated a lot more time during the course of the project. The graphic designer (who did an awesome job) and a business analyst also volunteered a lot of personal time and they should be commended for that.

I was disappointed when the Government wouldn't list me in the credits section of the app, wanting to focus attention on the efforts of the Ministry employees who volunteered their time, but I'm mostly over that now. ;-) As a self-employed developer, referrals are so important!

I'm happy and proud that the app is out there, being used, and that my Government is so proud of the app and their employees for doing a great job.

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