I recently had an opportunity to chat (via Skype) with Marin Todorov about his latest book: iOS Animations by Tutorials.
JM: Greetings Marin! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me about your book.
MT: Thanks very much for inviting me John – I’ve been reading your newsletters for the longest time.
JM: I recall the ah-ha moment when I decided to write a book on J2ME (way back in 2000), it was in the early days of mobile phones and when Sun announced Java for mobile devices, I knew that would be a huge turning point for developers. I’m always curious to learn more about how one came up with the idea for their book, can you share some history?
MT: The very first book I wrote came to life very naturally Back in the year 2000 I was teaching Perl and there wasn’t any decent translated book my students could use so I was thinking that it’s gonna be cool to write one… Then one morning I read an article online that was destroying all existing Perl books saying they just weren’t good enough and that got me start writing by the end of the day, lol
MT: Since then I worked on a number of books with the raywenderlich.com team – and finally this year I had the courage to take on a whole book on my own again. I had the chance to write on a topic I really love and am very happy with the outcome.
JM: Do you have a published Perl book?
MT: Oh yes – I published with the biggest publisher back in Bulgaria in 2001 and used the book as a textbook in my courses at the university.
JM: Any chance you still program in Perl?
MT: No, not really In fact I followed the perl6 development for a while and at the time I felt it isn’t going anywhere I switched to PHP.
JM: When you started your iOS animations book, were you immersed in writing animation code or was this an opportunity to dive head-first into the topic?
MT: I always loved creating animations. They are such fun! Last year Ray Wenderlich hired me to research the animations topic and record a video series on animations for raywenderlich.com. After we produced the video series I convinced him to also make a book after the series, which will delve into much more details and boost lots of extra content.
MT: I think it worked out – some people prefer watching videos, some prefer reading at their own pace. The feedback has been just amazing.
JM: Ah, very good, congratulations! The first few chapters of your animations book cover view animations with UIKit, including topics such as animatable properties of views and transitions. What I found very intriguing were keyframe animations. For those unfamiliar with keyframe animations, can you give the 30,000 foot explanation?
MT: View keyframe animations let you plan and run an elaborated compound animation made out of a number of small independent animations. For when simple is just not enough!
JM: Chapters 8-14 are all about layer animations, there are some very interesting and rather involved animations. Given I’ve lived most of my life in the frozen tundra, I have a fondness for your snowing animation :) There is an impressive collection of animations throughout the book. Were there times that it was difficult to come up with ideas for demonstrating concepts?
MT: Spot on question… I think good animation material is very difficult to produce because animations on their own aren’t all that interesting. You would often see tutorials online boosting a red square moving back and forth, which is a good example only in the very basic of cases.
MT: For the video series and the book, me and Ray wanted to have complete real life-like apps that would already resemble actual situation developers might find themselves in and would focus only on enriching those apps with animations.
JM: I’ve found that regardless of the medium (article, book, etc) coming up with relevant/interesting examples is really important. You and Ray have done a great job creating excellent code examples and projects. I really appreciate all the examples you’ve written, what I think would be really nice is a collection of playground files to allow easy access to tinker with code examples. What do you think?
MT: Oh yes – Ray is invaluable as an editor, he would read trough and give spot on feedback. He contributes a lot to the idea process.
MT: Playgrounds were on my idea list but animations were one of the areas they performed very poorly after their initial release so I gave up on that idea. I’m currently hard at work on a swift 2.0 update and I think right after that update is off to the presses I’ll play with Playgrounds some more.
JM: That’s good to hear! Speaking of 2.0, what are your thoughts about the progression of Swift?
MT: I seriously cannot be more happy with the direction Swift has taken. For me 1.0 was an alpha-quality release, and 1.2 made huge progress in direction I personally didn’t like. 2.0 is a spot-on release and I hope it will set the long-term direction for the language. I really like what they are doing with protocols, the introduction of proper error handling, the return of object oriented programming. I just love it.
JM: It’s been enjoyable to watch a language with such high visibility evolve. I look forward to programming in Swift for the long run…
JM: I would imagine working with Ray, publishing your videos, book and articles has opened many doors?
MT: Well I chose to stay a small indie developer so I didn’t need to do much name dropping. But yes – it certainly helps out to gain visibility and he’s an amazing partner in everything we do together. It’s been 5 years now we work together and I’m lucky to have met him.
JM: Goes to show, there certainly can be a career path as an independent, and it can look many different ways.
JM: Before we go, I want to let you know I’ve really enjoyed your book as well as your iOS animations newsletter! For those unfamiliar with the newsletter, please share a little more.
MT: Just as I felt I had more to tell people after I wrapped up the video series, I felt there were more topics I didn’t have time/space to fit in the book. That’s why at the release of iOS Animations by Tutorials I also announced a monthly newletter called iOS Animations by Emails.
Once a month I experiment with something interesting and create a post in a tutorial form so people can read trough and if they like the result can learn how to do it too. I also accompany that with the best animation related links I’ve found that month.
JM: You’ve done a nice job, I always look forward to the next issue!
JM: Just thought of one more question, outside of iOS work, any hobbies or other endeavors you like to pursue?
MT: I like being outdoors – last summer I walked on foot about 300km from Portugal to Santiago De Compostella in Spain on “el camino de santiago” – maybe you’ve heard of it?
JM: Not sure I have…
JM: The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela looks amazing!
MT: There was one thing I wanted to mention, as with all Ray Wenderlich books the updates are free. I wanted to mention that existing customers will get the swift 2.0 update + 3 new chapters free once the book update is released it’s one of our biggest selling points – we keep updating the content to the latest SDK for years.
JM: Certainly makes the investment well worthwhile!
JM: Thanks again Marin!
MT: Thanks so much.
Enter Drawing: iOS Animations by Tutorials
Here is a list of the Swift books to be given away on August, 28th.