I started writing NPR Mobile during the first Penn State Football game. I remember this specifically because I’m a volunteer firefighter with the Alpha Fire Company, here in State College, PA. Every home football game, we assemble a crew for standby. For the few standbys I attended, I set up shop with my laptop in the back of the room, and plugged away at my project. (In a soft wistful voice) Good times, good times…
The application is written as an almost-direct-reflection of the NPR API. This is an application programming interface that allows people like me to send requests to the NPR website in such a way as to retrieve specific content as a response. The API is well documented, and sends content to NPR Mobile as a very well organized XML document.
My day job is as a software engineer for a small company that makes electromagnetics analysis software. I’ve been programming since ’84, when my family first bought a TI 99/4A.
NPR Mobile is the culmination of my desire to learn another programming language (Obj-C 2.0), and a new programming platform (iPhone OS 2.x). I found both of these technologies very easy to pick up and run with. I haven’t kept track of the hours I’ve spent working on the application, but it’s been off-and-on over my weekends since September. So really, it hasn’t taken too long to get a fairly useful application up and running.
I’ve been in touch with the fine folks at NPR. They gave me their blessing to use their name “NPR” in the application’s name. Understandably, they were reluctant to honor my request to use any of their logos. They were very helpful and forthcoming with information. They kept me posted on developments of the Station Finder extension to their API (available in NPR Mobile 1.3).
After carefully reading the EULA for the NPR API, you’ll find that use of the API is legal only for non-profit organizations, or individuals. The content must be presented in an unaltered way, and must not be further branded, etc. For these reasons, NPR Mobile is a FREE application, and will almost definitely continue its life as such. My intent while writing NPR Mobile was never to make money. It has always been 1) To learn how to program the iPhone, 2) To learn Obj-C, 3) To gain techie fulfillment and pleasure outside my workplace, 4) To bring NPR content to other NPR junkies like myself on the iPhone.
A friend of mine suggested that even though it’s free, “I’ll make it up in volume.” I’m excited to see that on its first day, NPR Mobile was installed by around 6,400 users. I’d say I accomplished object #3 above with this.
Thank you for your interest, encouragement, and positive feedback!