I just read this fantastic intro of Dave Verwers “iOS Dev Weekly” Newsletter about side projects. And yes – he’s right by asking: “Are you working on a side project as well as whatever you do for your main job? If not, why not?”!
In my opinion every developer should do one aside from his/her main job. Why you ask? Well dive in – I’ll explain you. I for myself had a number of ideas for apps I could do as a side project. But after some market research each idea was already implemented. Five times or more. So at some point in my career I decided to not focus on apps but do something for the community by implementing open source components (SHSearchBar, SHDateFormatter, Source) and publish them via CocoaPods or Carthage.
Due to the fact that side projects by nature are “unencumbered by the need to be good ideas from day one, or the need to have a clear path to making money” they are perfect for experimenting with your ideas and building up a good amount of real world experience. The special needs that come from designing a framework that is integrated in lots of apps with different requirements actually helped me in my real world job to make fast decisions about app architecture and design decisions. This is really valuable and makes life of a developer so much easier.
So next time you think about which app you could build next and you don’t find an answer – think around the corner and open source a framework instead! It’s not only a great way to improver your skills but also helps a ton of others that feel the same pain like you.