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Spotlight On: xDev Magazine

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xDev is a bimonthly digital publication and a staple of the Xojo community since 2002. Every issue is packed with fresh and vital information: step-by-step tutorials by Xojo experts, columns for the beginner and expert, “behind-the-scenes” postmortems of popular programs made with Xojo, fascinating interviews, handy tips, product reviews and Xojo news. Subscribe today and start expanding your Xojo world.

10 Questions with Marc Zeedar of xDev Magazine

Mac, Windows or Linux?


What do you wish more people would ask you about when it comes to xDev?

I love learning about people’s projects. I find many (most) people are overly modest about their own work and over-idealize the coding of others. Every programmer creates bugs. The truth is that *every* project is interesting, regardless of skill level. That’s one of the things I love about programming: it’s so vast and covers such a broad array of uses. They’re all fascinating.

It’s especially gratifying to hear about xDev articles or tips that readers put into practice. There’s nothing better than learning how the magazine helped someone!

How would you explain your most recent project to a 5 year old?

I got AI to help find writing errors in articles (see xDev 22.4’s “Beginner’s Corner” column).

What’s next on your Learn Next list?

Oh boy. That list is so long! And it doesn’t just include programming. Like I’m working on building a microcamper and I’m wanting to learn more woodworking skills so I can build some custom cabinets. I know just enough to be dangerous now and to realize how much more I need to learn!

In terms of programming, I always feel I’m weak on the algorithms side. There are many project ideas where I have no idea how to even begin. So I’m always open for more learning in problem solving.

In tech, I’d like to learn more about AI from a behind-the-scenes perspective, such as training models. For instance, could I create an AI model trained on xDev content that would make it easier to find coding help from past articles?

When do you think of solutions for big bugs?

Usually several hours after I wished I had! Typically that’s at 3 a.m. when I should have quit and gone to bed at midnight. Then I’m kicking myself for making such an “obvious” error.

What programming moments made you think “Wow, I love my job so much.”

Every time my code actually works! There’s nothing more satisfying than having an idea and then seeing it come to life. Probably 90% of the time when I start a project it’s on a whim and I’m just “playing around” to see if the idea is even feasible. Then when it works I’m totally jazzed and inspired.

I did that recently with my “Sandstorm” simulation (xDev 22.1) [Download this article for free], my “Find the Differences” game (xDev 21.6), and my “Xojo Jigsaw” app (xDev 20.4). They all started out with me just fiddling around and then ended up as surprisingly good apps I could write articles about.

What’s something that has surprised you about coding in the last 10 years?

Probably AI (horribly named since it isn’t intelligent at all), which is problematic, but capable of impressive feats. The idea that it can actually generate useful code is wild to me. It’s still early days and there are serious issues to figure out, but it has incredible potential.

Focusing more on coding itself, I don’t think it’s any one thing, but just the way programming has improved and grown more powerful over the last decade. Each year there are small improvements and after ten years you look back and you’re amazed. The high standards of software these days — what users expect — keeps rising and yet coding is getting more powerful and making achieving those levels possible.

What’s a cool piece of software more people should know about?

Not really software, but a technology: RSS (Really Simple Syndication). It’s old, but so simple (it’s even in the name) and effective. I hear so many people grumbling about bad stuff on the news, social media, screen addiction, etc. and I wonder why they put themselves through that. The beauty of RSS is you can use it to set up your own custom feed of information and ignore all the cruft. I get to ignore politics and nonsense and focus on interesting people and technology.

What’s the coolest thing you worked on recently?

Besides my microcamper? My current project is always the coolest, at least until the next one comes along.

Music or no music while coding?

No music. I wouldn’t hear it anyway. When I go into coding mode (or writing mode or reading mode), I’m not aware of much that’s around me. It’s like I’m underwater.

Thank you to Marc Zeedar for answering our questions. If you want to learn more about xDev visit, you can get your subscription via PDF, or print for those of you who still like to hold your media in your hands. xDev also offers a 500-page printed book of each year’s issues.

Since its launch in 2002, Marc Zeedar is the publisher and editor of *xDev Magazine*, an independent bimonthly publication focused on instructing users of the Xojo development environment. He’s been using Xojo (then called REALbasic) since 1998 when he released his acclaimed Z-Write word processor, a unique tool for creative writers. In his spare time he hikes and camps, reads, writes novels, watches soccer and films, and lets his dog and cat tell him what to do. He lives in beautiful Oregon wine country.