Teen Developers – Patrick Balestra

Teen Developers   Patrick Balestra

Patrick’s Workspace

Amazing that we’ve come to 15 interviews now! That means we’ve been doing this segment for about 30 weeks! As such, the list of new people to interview is slimming down. If you’re interested in an interview for you or someone you know, email me! Thanks!

Could you start by telling me a little about yourself?

My name is Patrick Balestra, I’m 18 years old and I live in Switzerland. I’m a unihockey player and referee and I’m graduating this year from the high school. I started to learn programming about 4 years ago and I never stopped learning something new every day. I mainly focus on iOS development but sometimes I have fun doing web development too.
You’ve made 7 apps, with an eighth on the way! Which is your favourite? Which was the hardest to develop?
It’s difficult to choose my favourite since I’m proud of all of them. I think Notes for Pebble was the app which I spent more time developing. I had to build both the iOS app and the Pebble app to work together and I encountered some difficulties especially on storing the notes on the watch. That was for sure the most difficult part as the debugging tools on the Pebble aren’t really powerful.
Quite a few of your apps are made for the Pebble Smartwatch. What about the Pebble made you want to develop for it?
I’ve been really interested in wearables devices lately. I think creating small apps on these devices can be extremely useful to many people during their daily life. That’s when I discovered the Pebble and its developer SDK and I decided to buy a watch and try out the new platform since many people seemed to like it.
As a developer of watch apps, what are your thoughts on the Apple Watch? Do you plan on porting your Pebble apps over to Watch OS?
The Apple Watch is a really cool device and it integrates perfectly in the Apple ecosystem in my opinion. However, apps for the Apple Watch are still limited to some functionalities and features and it will take some more time to Apple to give the real power of this device in the hands of the developers.
I already started porting my Notes for Pebble app to the Apple Watch which I called Notes for Watch. I was surprised to discover that there is no built-in solution for keeping notes on such a useful device. I’m trying to create the best possible solution to this absence and I hope to release my app on day one.
I notice you’re already working on an Apple Watch app. What has that experience been like compared to Pebble or iOS apps?
Developing apps for the Apple Watch is much easier to get started if you have experience with the iOS world compared to the Pebble. The Pebble SDK requires some C and Javascript knowledge and there is no way to design the interface visually. All is done by code. WatchKit instead is really easy to understand and the interface must be designed in storyboard which is easier to debug. The communication with the iPhone is completely abstract in WatchKit where in the Pebble SDK you need to take care of some more stuff manually.
You also attended WWDC 2014. Could you tell us a little about your experience?
WWDC was the best week of my life. After 2 years spent dreaming about this experience, last year I was finally awarded with a student scholarship and I attended the conference. I met so many people with my same passion from all over the world. I learn a lot in just 5 days from all the Apple engineers who were giving sessions. I spent a few days the week before the conference to visit the Silicon Valley as it was my first time in the USA. I saw the real mentality and spirit of this impressive area. It was a truly awesome and inspiring experience.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Keep following your dreams and never change for anyone else.

As always, feel free to contact Kaleb if you’d like to be featured. Posts come out Thursdays every two weeks.