Hidgets, your health widgets for iOS

Today I’m proud to introduce to the world my newest iOS app, it’s called Hidgets, and it’s for displaying your health information on widgets.

It’s probably not new to you as an iPhone user that iOS14 brings, amongst other features, the widgets for your home screen.

From 9to5mac.com, Here’s how to use the new iPhone home screen widgets in iOS 14

Since iOS launched, many people that I know and also read on Reddit and Twitter that it would be cool to have some of the health related data collected by the Health app as widgets on our home screens. So I just went ahead and grabbed the bull by the horns (that’s SwiftUI), and fought myself into my newest and freshest release since the release of DuetCam last year.

Funny enough, DuetCam was also released at the launch of iOS 13 and explored a recently added feature into the operating system that enabled the use of multiple cameras at the same time, which is basically what Hidgets is doing now for iOS 14, adding health to the widget’s family.

Development started only 3 weeks ago, when I first read about the idea online, and after some friends asked me naturally: “remind me again how I can add the Health widget on my home screen”, which triggered me to reply: “you can’t, hold my beer”. Codename: HealthMe. My first SwiftUI project.

Project started September 25th, my first ever SwiftUI adventure.

For now, you can add widgets related to your mobility, steps counter, your heart, heart beat, your body measurement, body mass and your sleep chicly, time in bed.

4 different widgets available on version 1.0

You can also customise them to look the way you love them the most, with a lot of information or very minimal, with colours or monochromatic. More configurations and styles coming soon.

The plan is now to add more widgets as we go, expand their information, utility and also provide data in ways you couldn’t see before. The plan is to enjoy the ride, provide quality applications and learn from it as much as I can.

Hidgets, your health widgets

Hidgets is available on the App Store as of today. Let me know if you have any suggestions or questions in general about the app.

Happy “widgetting” everyone!

The Coronavirus and WordCamp Asia

I’m writing this blog post to share with you my personal take on the topic of the coronavirus and the upcoming long awaited WordCamp Asia.

I’m seeing many people on Twitter writing about whether to cancel their trip and I thought I could share some light on this, since I’ve done a small research to form my decision on not cancelling the trip. If you’re on the fence, this might help you decide. Note: this is my opinion, of course.

I see many videos and posts out there on the Internet that simply do not tell the truth about the facts, and people tend to believe what they see, specially in videos, without fact-checking or questioning the origin. Pretty much the definition of the Internet there.

Also, while talking to people about this, I’ve noticed that the majority even didn’t bother lookup up for accurate data or simply to look up for tips before travelling, mentioning that “I’m not going, to protect my family”. Ok, respect, but read along, please.

In sum, here are the points that helped me made my mind about not cancelling the trip:

  • It is not a pandemic disease (sure, I’ll add the yet here, but it’s not);
  • Since it first appeared in Thailand (not even sure if it was in Bangkok), 14+ days have passed and there as to Feb. 11 2020 33 known cases, Thailand population is around 69 million people;
  • Thailand has blocked people coming from the affected regions in China, and not only that, it flew 144 people back to Wuhan for quarantine;
  • I’m not travelling via China, and if you can avoid that, the risk of you being infected gets reduced dramatically;
  • The attack rate or transmissibility (how rapidly the disease spreads) is known to be between 1.5 and 3.5 (represents the average number of people to which a single infected person will transmit the virus), common flu is 1.5;
  • The number of new daily cases is shrinking (check out the growth factor here: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/coronavirus-cases/);
  • Only people with existing medical conditions and above 60ish years of age have very slim chances to survive, if not treated rapidly, right now of all the sick people (99% in China), 81% recovered, 19% died (mostly elderly people in the affected regions on hospitals without capacity of proper treatment);
  • There’s one reported death outside China;
  • On a daily basis, 500 people die from the “common” flu;
  • Healthy people around their 30s that would get the virus might have mild symptoms and even never notice or screened positive, children don’t get sick as far as we know;
  • German has 16 cases, would you not travel to Germany right now? What about California and its 7 cases?;
  • If you wash your hand regularly, and don’t touch your mouth or eyes, you’re reducing the risk of being infected even more, and that’s true for every other virus that could get into your system and give you a diarrhea, a cold, or whatever uncomfortable sickness you usually get if not careful with regular hygiene;
  • Bangkok is a modern well-equipped city with hospitals and treatment conditions of the highest level, also, everybody is super nice;
  • The org team for WordCamp Asia has worked very hard to get the event up and running, they deserve our presence.

If you’re still on the fence after ready this, I respect. But do not decide based on what you read from others telling what they heard, get yourself familiar with the facts and think twice before missing the very first edition of yet another WordCamp.

Sites that I follow daily to get myself up to date:

Also, please engage on Twitter for a healthy discussion on this issue. Help spread the news and save travels, as always!

DuetCam And My iOS Development Plan

It’s been a while (again) since my last blog post, and also since my last release on the App Store as an independent developer, but I’m determined to change those two situations in the coming months.

As you probably already know, I’ve released a new app on the App Store called DuetCam, that allows you to record a video with two cameras of your iPhone simultaneously. What you provably don’t know is that this is my fifth app so far, since I started iOS development back in 2011.

Well, it’s actually my sixth, there’s WP Camps, an app made for WordPress professionals and enthusiasts that attend local conferences, but that was done for a specific event that got later converted to a broader audience, not something that is on general interest. But yes, it is nevertheless an app I’ve made.

My previous apps

But my previous apps back in the days were called Heliog, the first Dropbox client app that allowed you to upload and download photos and manage them online in the cloud, pretty much like Google Photos do it nowadays, HelloLab allowed you to edit photos with multiple film emulation, FlickrBoard was the first Flickr client for iOS, and InstaRectangle allowed you to add a white border around your pictures to post them online without resizing them, before Instagram allowed to post other formats than a square.

These apps eventually died, after getting referred by the major online blogs at the time because I had then recently launched my WordPress agency called hellodev and gave up hope in continuing developing them, trading my attention towards the company. A decision that I now (deeply) regret.

The release of Heliog, a Dropbox media manager app for photographers, was done by shooting a video on how it works by myself ?

So, what’s the plan?

So my plan is to come back to an era of developing apps and turning ideas that I have that might help others and get some return out of it, but the main reason why I really want to come back is for the joy, that little force that lives inside you, that a mobile developer feels when it has an idea that he that brings to life and share it worldwide.

It’s pretty much like a photographer that publishes a series of photos that are a collection of his view on a matter, or a musician that has this message to get out and publishes a record and builds an audience, coding and releasing an app is very similar. From the concept, to design, to development, marketing and promoting it, all this process simply fascinates me.

The launch of DuetCam allowed me to rethink my strategy and focus even harder on developing apps and regaining the trust and joy that was once lost, to build an audience and improve my coding skills.

Follow me on Twitter for more info on my next releases ??.

The Struggles of Being An Idiot

I’ve been around technology professionally as a web developer since 1998. That was the year of my first job in Porto, Portugal, doing websites on Notepad in HTML4, an exciting new standard that had just come out. Since then, I never left the development world and got even more into technology.

I loved the idea behind remote services. Yahoo was very strong back in the early 2000s, had a bunch of APIs for businesses to implement, and the idea of have information coming from other sites and feeding your site with useful information was a super interesting concept to me.

With the expansion of mobile devices, this concept of remote information got even more interesting, and because of that my interest in college and books just evaporated and I traded the course for dedicating myself 100% to development – I’ve tried to finish my degree 3 times, unsuccessfylly.

Back in those early days of the web development, Microsoft had ASP 3.0 and ASP.NET as scripting languages for the web, a path I chose to follow and make my salary from, getting to know in depth about how VB.NET and C# were the future to me. Receiving an XML payload, transform it in HTML and present to the user in different devices was to me reaching the goal of success carrier wise.

My early “successes”

During that period, I launched portaldemp3.com, gargalhadas.com, co-launched gsmboys.com and megabenfica.com with Leo Xavier. The first site was the first music portal in Portugal, the second one of the few sites at that moment with jokes in Portuguese, the third a mobile devices related website where you could send free SMS’s online (!), get unlock codes for phones (!) and know about the latest models, and the forth a website about one of the biggest soccer team in Portugal. Back then I did most of the code, logo design, and managed the hosting for those sites, in a couple of machines that were hooked to a dedicated telephone line underneath our desks.

I remember very vividly skipping college to go to the office and code. Always with a new idea in mind and wanting my bosses at that time to buy into the ideias and allow me to work on them. I got hooked into turning ideas into a project and eventually into a product.

Those projects were later on sold to other companies, where I did near to nothing, but got all the knowledge and experience on how to launch ideias into website and websites into business. That no one can take away from me.

The year I switched to WordPress and mobile development

Fast forward a couple of years and a bunch of other ideas made reality and failing, others (a few) being acquired by telecom and media companies, I eventually abandoned the Microsoft ecosystem in 2007/2008 and directed myself to WordPress and PHP, which defined my course until now in terms of a career as a developer. During this period, I’ve dedicated most of my time doing client work.

Later in 2011 I’ve tried Apple and developing for the iPhone when iOS 5 came out and dedicated myself to learning how to build tools that could help business get information on the tip of their fingers, an awakening of that early desire and pleasure of consuming services and presenting information. I did a bunch of apps related to photography, a Flickr client app before Flickr had one, a Dropbox client app before Dropbox had one, during the flourished period of easy making-money apps.

But as I got older, it wasn’t anymore the development part that got me fired up, it was the business part of it, being able to create products and turn them into business, what we commonly call entrepreneurship. Basically, a one-man show, doing all to get everything off the ground and getting noticed by potential investors. I started a couple of companies which didn’t work that great, together with a bunch of products (apps for iOS), but again, the learning part was the most important part of the whole experience.

Which areas are you most interest in?

Fast-forward to today, my current struggle as an idiot – a person full of ideas, most of them stupid ones – is that most of them are just that, with little to no time to make something out them, and the enlarged spectrum of my personal interest in music, photography and videography makes things even more complicated. Here are some of the accomplishments I’ve come to achieve because of the interest in an area and investment of time:

  • music: had one of the most successful bands during high school where I played the drums, and later learned how to play guitar, keys and bass guitar, never really gave up and was able to play along accomplished musicians like Rui Veloso and what later became the band called Os Azeitonas;
  • photography: began doing commercial work for companies and later formed a company to shoot weddings and events, where I did 50+ events in 2 years and gave up due to the fact of it being very stressful, but opened the door for my wife to start into the photography business, whose career couldn’t be in better shape today;
  • software development: the struggle between having to do client work to pay the bills and to invest time in my own ideas and products gave me the opportunity to get to know Corry Miller and Matt Danner, where I later joined iThemes and was able to establish important relationships and meet awesome people

What about today?

So today as you probably know, I’m dedicated to being a full-time WordPress/WooCommerce freelance developer within Codeable. I love it! Nonetheless, there’s still this struggle inside of me, pushing to be creative in all the above-mentioned areas, making it hard to choose where to invest my free time or even take part of the time dedicated to work to redirect the energy to the next idea. This is what’s on my mind, a lot of buckets to grab stuff from when I’m about to do something different other than my main work:

  • oh, I could take my phone outside and explore this concept I have for shooting cool “mobile” pictures and publish them on Instagram (before Instagram existed, I had this idea of publishing my pictures, in the midst of the rising of the social networks;
  • wait, I could take my instruments and record another track and get those melodies and chord sequences I have in my head down into Logic and open a Soundcloud account;
  • no, let me get that idea of creating this WordPress related SaaS that is an amazing idea and continue coding on it;
  • wait, I know, open that folder you have with all those apps and ideas and finally decide to take one of them through actually, like really publish it and make something out of it;
  • what about that promise you made last year to write a blog post each month?
  • or how about that WordPress plugin you wanted to create and contribute to the community?
  • you said you were going to learn JavaScript, Kotlin and invest more time in Swift, didn’t you? Did you finish reading that PHP e-book you bought? Right…
  • what about that 1 hour per day reading all those articles you’ve bookmarked and never came back to?
  • didn’t you also talk about getting the 50k+ pictures you have organized into multiple online drives with an awesome backup system and accessible all the time?
  • oh, I see, you promised your wife to improve her website and keep her social media accounts active and implement this new concept for her IG stories;
  • you also wanted to custom paint your motorcycle, being more active on Twitter and Instagram, and dedicate more time to connecting to older friendships you thought of investing more time in…

The struggle is real. Every time I get all these ideas in my head I think of Gary Vee and Chase Jarvis saying: put your thoughts into actions. The question is always, which bucket should I invest in today, right now?

Remember my last post, where I said: I’m ready to just fucking do it? It’s not an easy thing to do.


What’s cooking for 2019?

I’ve been off blogging for a lot of months. I guess the questions really is, was I ever into blogging at all?

I’ve written a couple of articles before this one, promised myself to write more, over and over again. Here we are, almost 9 months after the last one. Will it be this year? I’ll try, I promisse. It will make more sense this year, I guess, you’ll see why in a bit.

Some couple of things happened. I left iThemes in December 2018, left hellodev in January 2019, and am now working full time as a freelance WordPress / WooCommerce expert at Codeable.

Codeable is awesome! Per and Tomaz are awesome, all the team behind Codeable is awesome, the platform is awesome, my colleagues and the clients are awesome, it’s a wonderful concept. Check it out if you haven’t yet (plugging this right in: you can hire me at Codeable now).

So you might ask, what happened with all the products you worked on in the past? Well, the plan, for now, is to hold them offline for a bit and dedicate myself to client work again for the next 12-24 months. In the meanwhile, a stream of ideas has been passing inside my head, more than 14+ different products related to WordPress that could be either plugins or SaaS products on their own.

I figured the best thing, for now, is to let them written in a paper that’s always visible to me and let the ideas mature. One of them, which got the most interest off of a close group of people I showed them to, is going to be number one on the list. What is it, you ask? I can tell you this much: #wooknows :-).

It has been an awesome time working with Cory and Matt and all the other awesome people at iThemes, it has been amazing to be the co-founder of one of the most successful WordPress agencies in Portugal, hellodev, but the time has come where I want to make my own path with my own ideas by myself, as an entrepreneur and business manager. Nuno Areias is joining the ride as my friend, co-worker, and all-around hustler, in a concept we’re calling as the pluginslab.com. We’re the scientits :-).

I have a lot of plans, ideas, I want to be disruptive, inventive, creative, free to explore, try, fail, and try again. I guess this year will be awesome, not because every new year we say so, but because this time I have the feeling inside me, not just around me. It’s time to take care of myself and let the failures and (hopefully) successes of my ideas tell the future.

I’m ready to just fucking do it!

Stick around, it’s going to be a hell of a ride (and hopefully a lot more blog posts).


WordCamp iOS app is now WP Camps – Multiple WordCamps Added

Two weeks ago I’ve released a new app called WordCamp, it’s mission, to help wordcampers to get info about their event on an iPhone or iPad.

After its first test in WordCamp Porto 2018, with more than 140 installs, it was time to move to the next step: add support for multiple WordCamps. Done! Version 1.1 supports multiple WordCamps, and more events will be added during the next days.

The result of the public test phase was amazing. A lot of positive feedback, feature suggestions, and a couple of bugs captured. But there were two comments that were important to me: WordCamp is a registered trademark, so we needed to change the name of the app, and also the icon, it didn’t receive positive appreciation!

So we changed the name to WP Camps and redesigned the icon. Hope you find it more good looking now. ?

WP Camps

Version 1.1 is now live and supports multiple WordCamps including WordCamp Europe 2018 and upcoming WordCamp US 2018, a few bug fixes, and will be the starting point for progressing into a full-featured app with search, chat, who’s-on-stage feature, and a lot more.

Follow me on Twitter to get more insights and news of how the app evolves and if you want to have your WordCamp featured in the app, just let me know via Twitter DM or through the app itself, under the More option in the tab bar, by tapping the About option.

WordCamp App – an iOS app for all wordcampers around the world

It is with a great pleasure that I’m able to announce a new app I’ve coded for the WordPress community and all the WordCamps around the world, under the umbrella of my agency called hellodev, with info about the speakers, sessions and a lot more. It’s called WordCamp for iOS.

What’s the main goal of the app?

The goal is to create a tool where people can grab their phones and do a quick consultation on a speaker or session. As the app grows, more features will be added such us more info about the city, the venue, calling an UBER, and other useful information.

Why did you create the app at first?

WordCamps are growing all over the world, and there are usually so many sessions that one would like to attend, it can get a bit confusing and overwhelming, especially if you take into consideration WordCamp EU and WordCamp US. So I’ve come up with a basic idea of using a) my knowledge about mobile development and usage of REST APIs and b) wanting to create a better tool to gather all the information about a certain event. The app allows one to mark sessions as favorite and displaying them in a timeline, and when the time comes for that session, you’ll get a notification remembering to attend.

What are the main features of the app?

So the app allows you to list all the speakers and sessions ordered by tracks if you’re attending a multi-tracking conference. You can also take a look at the blog posts containing the latest news, mark sessions as favorites and take notes for each session and export them later on. You can also insert a specific session in your calendar very easily. Many features will be introduced as the app gets updated, one of the upcoming features will be to support multiple WordCamps and doing that by not having to update the app from the App Store. The app also caches the information so that if you lose internet connection, the information is stored and available.

But wait, how were you able to get the info inside the app?

The official WordCamp.org website exposes the so-called REST API endpoints that one can use to access their information, so all data is obtained through those endpoints. Meaning you would get all the latest information about the conference directly from the official website, automatically. Pictures of the city and later the list of all available WordCamps are coming from specific endpoints provided by my company hellodev.

Is this the official app for WordCamps?

No, it isn’t. But it would be cool if someday it would be considered so. 🙂 There are so many things that could be done if the foundation responsible for the events would agree on exposing extra fields and information that would enrich user experience.

So that’s it! Go grab the app and tell me what you think. Hit me up at Twitter to suggest features, report bugs, or just chat about the app.

Hope you like it!

Update on What’s Going On

There has been almost 6 months since my last blog post, and one of my new year’s resolution (the same thing as to say “I’ll get this done from now now” and not follow through), was that I’d write more.

Well, three months in and not a single blog post. Creating habits and sticking to them is the hardest thing. I see writing blog posts as an opportunity for me to share things that I thing might interest other people, and also for me to be constantly training my English. I do that with my German, too, I write in German as often as I can.

So what’s up Marcel, how was last year?

Absolutely awesome! The best year professionally and also personally for sure. At hellodev we’re strong getting your knowledge down with WooCommerce and developing iThemes’ (now LiquidWeb’s) Sales Accelerator, and now working closer together with Chris Lema, we’ll have a lot of cool features to add in and make it the most awesome WooCommerce add-on to have.

And you’re trips, how where day?

Well, I hate to repeat myself but… absolutely awesome! Getting to visit Azores and Madeira in the same year was amazing, those island are Portugal’s most well hidden secrets for sure. You should for sure visit them. Seattle was amazing, too, I love visiting the USA. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you’re already seen some amazing photos. This year we’ll have some other cool trips to attend to, more on that soon.

And what’s up with your food photography, what’s going on there?

Oh you’ve noticed, hu? I get to see a lot of Creative Live’s lessons to help my wife’s business and also to get creatively inspired. Once I say Andrew Scrivani’s course on food photography and felt in love with it. I’ve tried other photography areas in the past before, such as wedding photography, but, although they were fun and profitable, being away in the weekend after having a kid is a big deal. Food photography you can do whenever you like, with whatever you like, being it your own food or someone else’s. I like the technical part of the setup, composing and editing, and also the creative part, so I have there all the ingredients for fun. It isn’t a business for now, but I wouldn’t say no to a renown chef that what ask me to do a shooting, that’s for sure. I wish… :-). More on this in a later post.

So that’s it?

Pretty much yeah, my wife’s business is going super well, she has a new studio (where I also shoot some of my food photography), and it’s 38 seconds away from our home, by foot! Could you ask for more?

So there you go, an update on what’s going on! Follow me on Twitter and Instagram (I’m this close to give up on Facebook, more on that later).

Be safe!

Finally, our plugin is out – iThemes Sales Accelerator

I want to share with you a bit more about an incredible journey I’ve been through this last months, since the first day I met Cory and Matt until yesterday, when we finally launched our plugin, iThemes Sales Accelerator.

Now for all of my friends that aren’t completely into software development, I’m going to write a special blog post about this very soon, explaining exactly what we’re doing in simple words :-).

If you’re a WordPress web developer, integrator, designer, enthusiast, you know what a plugin is, you know what WooCommerce is, and you probably know iThemes.

Joining forces

Earlier this year iThemes proposed hellodev to join forces and build their next product, a WooCommerce plugin that would enhance its experience, give store owners advanced features that would all come from a single developer, meaning it would be easier to maintain, to get support from, therefore making them earn more money with their online business and not worry about technical stuff.

The story behind the first steps into this amazing partnership is available here. I would recommend you to read it now and come back to this post.

The Launch

Now yesterday we finally launched iThemes Sales Accelerator, a plugin for WooCommerce that gives you a brand new dashboard with all the important numbers and reports about your store’s sales performance. But the project isn’t going to stop here. Next features include exporting all sales data, marketing automation, multiple warehouse inventory system, email templating, and more.

The reason because we said yes to this challenge was the will to finally get a WooCommerce related product out, something that we have tried before inside hellodev and somewhat didn’t manage to get as far as we wanted it to go. This would be the result of years in a row making custom solutions for clients that could perfectly fit others stores needs. A single developer solving multiple problems / serving multiple needs.

So we want ahead and implemented one of the first flaws WooCommerce has right now, one that we think is the most important of them all, and that is reporting.

Architectural Problem with WooCommerce

If you’re a developer you know that theirs an architectural problem underlying WooCommerce, a problem which their developers are very well aware of, that makes one’s job to bring analytical data together very difficult, making it nearly impossible to provide fast numbers at every request.

So we figured out a way to assemble all sales and products data inside custom tables, that would be populated when installing the plugin and maintained as orders and products came in. Allied with a SaaS service endpoint build specifically by iThemes to keep things in sync, where no data in shared between the two connection points, the report module is able to give fast, constantly updated, reliable information about sales. This custom tables solve the architectural deficiency and provide speed, without interfering with the store’s performance.

The Fake Order Creator Plugin

To test this all, we needed data. So we went ahead and created a fake order and customer’s creator plugin, that would run every minute to create information about sales. With this we were able to get 20k, 30k or even 100k orders in and test for performance. We were also able to create fake refunds and coupons, so no use case would be left out. We’ll soon open source this plugin for the WooCommerce community.

It’s Finally Available

This is all available today, in two versions, free and pro, for your WooCommerce online store and, the cherry on top of the cake, for your iOS device too, as a free download from the App Store.

We at hellodev are all very proud of this first achievement, of the work together with iThemes, and with the amazing feedback we’ve been receiving during WooConf 2017. We finally did bring a product out to the public in all its glory, as we had imagined it to happen a few years ago.

Thank you Tiago for the belief and incentive, and Nuno for the hard work! Thank you Cory and Matt for the incredible opportunity.

Starting a tech Podcast just for the fun of it

I always wanted to start a YouTube channel about tech. Review hardware, software, give my opinion and thoughts about different subjects, trying to take into the equation what other important people of the tech scene say and try to give some kind of inspiration to others.

Although I have all the equipment, I quickly realised that I didn’t have the necessary time to do it properly. A professional looking video with sound and image quality I could distinguish myself from the crowd, along with unique content. So it was by hearing constantly Gary Vee say: audio is back, audio is the next big think, I started thinking about the Podcast format of all the things I wanted to make in that YouTube channel that never took off.

Could I possibly get all the details that would be easier to explain inside a video into a Podcast, into the audio format? How would that work? Audio is great, because people can listen while driving, working, exercising, and that is not achievable with video. So audio would be in theory easier to reach to the masses.

Well, after some more thoughts (and thinking back again to what Gary said: just do it!) I decided to start my own show and adopt a model that is the most simple one: just speak out of my mind. No fancy formatting, no fancy scripting (although I write everything down first), just hit record and go!

So that’s it, the first episode is out, the show is called Schmitzoide’s Tech Show, and on that I give my opinion about the iPhone X price tag. It is recorded with Anchor, and it will than be syndicated to other platforms like iTunes. Link on those later as they become available.

So if you would like to participate on those shows, it’s actually very easy: download the mobile app and start following me there under the name schmitzoide. There, you can make the so called call in’s, and I’ll mix the call in’s on the show to give you guys an opportunity to give your opinion on the matter in hand, too.

Hope you like it, and if so, please help me share it!

Until the next episode! Take care!