Turning a Hobby Into A Profession

How one Xojo Developer increased productivity at work and then built a stable of App Store Apps on the side!

As a child of the early 1970’s, Sascha Schneppmüller was part of the first generation that grew up with home computers. Commodore 64 games kindled his interest in programming. He taught himself Commodore BASIC and soon created a small suite of self-developed tools for schoolwork – and for various games too.

His BASIC programs were soon complemented by assembler routines and his C64 replaced by an Amiga. Later, Sascha got one of the first "modern" personal computers and Borland C ++ became his development platform of choice.

Fast forward to 2001, Sascha was employed in the technical development department of a call center. For the next 11 years he worked on solutions for the German technical support department of multiple hardware manufacturers.

"It didn't take long until I found myself bothered by the use of so many different tools such as websites and applications. I had the idea that a single program combining all those resources into one view could save a lot of time and work,” recalls Sascha.

The call center used Windows and Macintosh systems. Sascha wanted a development environment that would enable him to develop for both platforms at once. He was looking for something that was intuitive and enabled real rapid development and testing without a steep learning curve. He also needed low-level programming capabilities and a native user interface.

Finding such a development system turned out to be much harder that he thought! Many of the development environments he tested proved to be maintenance-extensive, others simply lacked desired features. When Sascha found Xojo in 2004, he was enthused right from the start. Xojo offered all the features he was looking for without lengthy training or complex configurations, and it was truly cross-platform.

Besides its rapid, cross-platform environment, other Xojo features supported the decision to go with Xojo. For example, security reasons restricted the access permissions of the call center agents’ computers and application installers usually cannot be run on their machines. Xojo-made applications actually come with a folder containing everything needed to run the app, so with proper permissions and a valid developer signature set, they can even be started from a network folder or a USB drive, making deployment in a security-conscious workplace very simple.

After only a few hours of development Sascha presented his first applications to the call center and they immediately increased productivity!

To further increase the call center’s productivity, Sascha used Xojo to develop a suite of applications that combined the 8 different systems the call center used for internal and project-related databases into one program. Using Xojo's database access, Web page scraping, XML and JSON, the different systems were synchronized automatically. Additionally, processes analyzation created automatic support recommendations, which improved the support staff's success ratio.

His employer's positive feedback – and that of the call center's customers – plus the ease of programming in Xojo, inspired Sascha to continue to improve his applications. Training himself in more sophisticated operating system's features, he felt well-equipped for every coding problem that may arise. "My interest in programming and improvement of my coding knowledge is untarnished thanks to Xojo".

Though he now works for a supplier of custom telephone and internet systems, Sascha’s development platform of choice is still Xojo.

"Currently I am working on an application suite unifying access to our partner's technical databases. Xojo's ability to access different database engines like MySQL and MSSQL with the same ease and the possibility to use the different systems' APIs directly, make it easy to develop for OS X and Windows simultaneously from one code base. The suite enables our agents to identify a customer immediately and have a complete overview about earlier conversations, solutions and service agreements, thus increasing our success rate and saving our agents – and our customers – a lot of time."

When not at work, Sascha’s personal company, Schneppi Software, develops apps for the Mac App Store. He offers various Xojo-created tools such as a Household Book and Barcode Designer. His free app mySalesAgent – an App Store price watcher – is very popular in the Mac user community. Since Mac App Store prices are not fixed and sales actions can reduce an app price or even make an app completely free for a limited period of time, mySalesAgent monitors the price development of user-desired apps in the App Store and informs the user when they reach a customized limit. His newest OS X app Watchfaces is a background designer for Apple Watches.

Sascha Schneppmüller continues to plan for the future and is looking forward to conquering iOS with Xojo. "Xojo makes iOS development as easy as programming for the other platforms", he explains.

An overview of its current app developments is available under http://www.schneppi-software.de/.