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Meet the Devs - Catalina Group Ltd

In this week's developer interviews, we have a nice chat with the Catalina Group Ltd crew who are responsible for the B1 Archiver and B1 File Manager apps. Check it out!
June 10, 2014
Developer Interviews
Welcome back to our Meet the Devs segment! In this piece we take a little time to get to know the people who really make Android what it is today and that is the app developers. In this week’s developer interviews, we are talking to Laura Martinez from Catalina Group Ltd.

Name: Laura Martinez

Developer Name: Catalina Group Ltd

Country: United States


Google + Profile/Page: Google+ Page

How many people on your team? 10

B1 File Manager icon for developer interviews

Tell us about your company

We have a great team of experienced developers, who have an extensive knowledge on programming and Android development skills.

What languages do you know? How and where did you learn them?

Actually every developer in our team has his unique set of skills and experiences and the question of where he got them has a different answer in every particular case. What everyone has in common, though, is the knowledge and experience in Java.
What’s more interesting here is the technology that we use while developing B1 Project. We employed some ready open source technologies like 7z libraries for B1 Free Archiver across all platforms and OI File Manager libraries for B1 File Manager. As we are add new features to B1 File Manager we have also used Dropbox SDK, Google Drive SDK, Android FTP library.

What level of experience do you have with design

We have a great team of experienced designers who are responsible for every detail in our software – from logo to UI in general. But our designers’ creative ideas do not often find their implementation in software due to technical limitations imposed by Android devices. Given the code and architecture within which we work, we cannot implement all design we want in the app.

What apps have you made?

Our work now is mainly focused on the development of B1 Free Archiver environment which consists of B1 Free Archiver for Android, Windows, Linux, Mac and B1 Online Archiver. We have recently launched another app for Android – it’s B1 File Manager.

B1 Archiver for developer interviews

How do you monetize your apps

The times when developers began building their apps with a thought “How to monetize it” are far back in the past. The main difficulty now is to develop a high quality app that will useful and loved by the users. If you have that – you’ll have all the rest. What we can tell for sure now is that we’ll never use any ugly monetization schemes like push notifications or anything like that. Offending and losing users in such a way is the last thing you can do. However, we might introduce some light monetization in future – like premium, ads or smth.

Do you consider yourself successful?

Our feeling of success depends on the level of satisfaction of our users. Judging from the comments, reviews and feedback in general we can call ourselves successful.

How difficult is it to make money as a developer?

Well, money is the thing which is difficult to make in general. So it doesn’t really matter who you are – if you are lazy and not passionate about what you do – the money will always be a problem.

What can Android do to improve?

We love developing for Android, really. But if we have a chance to have our say now – we won’t miss it. For the time being we would be really happy if Android could fix/change/review its recently introduced SD card write restriction. For such utilities as our B1 Free Archiver and B1 File Manager it is critical. The second thing we’d like to change is the new rating system in Google Play which is absolutely not as transparent and clear as it used to be. If before the update we could know whether we are doing right or wrong just by reading and analyzing our users’ reviews, now we are mostly guessing.

We’d also like to see tablet-specific interface and environment as the thing we are seeing now is just an adaption of Android for smartphones. This will improve controls and navigation.

B1 File Manager for developer interviews

Why did you choose Android? Do you develop for other platforms? What are the differences between them?

Why not? There are over 1 billion Android devices in the world. Due to multi-platform nature of our main product B1 Free Archiver, we develop for several platforms. The difference between Android on one hand and Windows, Linux, Mac and Web on the other hand is too obvious to go deep into it.

What are your thoughts on iOS and Windows 8?

iOS is a cool platform developed and supported on a high professional level. We think it’s gonna thrive and continue to make users happier. We also plan to develop for iOS in a distant future. Unlike iOS, the future of Windows Phone 8 looks vague and unclear. Yes, Microsoft bought Nokia as a mobile manufacturer, but the share of Windows Phones on the market is really small. So basically the future of Windows 8 depends on Microsoft and on its vision. We think that Metro style is really cool – it’s user friendly, works great with apps, it’s gonna become better. We love the idea to unite Desktop and Mobile, it is becoming more actual. Its realization is not as cool as the idea itself, but we are sure it has a nice future. What Microsoft really needs to do is to reduce bureaucracy across the system. For example, guys from Android took pains to minimize the actions you need to perform to get to Google Play. If you want to submit your app to Windows Store be ready for quite a long and cumbersome process. Here you are the one who is to take pains.

What do you think of the Android design guidelines?

We love them! They are detailed, comprehensive and focus on important things. When a new designer joins our team, the first thing we ask him to do is to read Android design guidelines. After that designers become aware of both the overall visual sense and style of Android platform (like icons, color palette, etc) and of behavioral aspects of Android user experience. The guidelines are updated regularly and serve a great example of how such things should be done.

What are your favorite apps?

To answer this question we have asked all the members of our team, and we got these results:

What has been your experience been like working with Google?

We think the guys have done and continue to do an incredible job! Let’s put it like that: Google is an enormous organization with a lot of employees. So the products they are developing are really large scale which brings all the scalability troubles along. Despite all that Google products work great. You can feel that Google cares a lot about the way users receive their products, they pay a lot of attention to user experience and to users being absolutely satisfied with Google. We also feel they think about developers too. That’s why it is so nice to work with Google and Google Play in particular.

What does the future of development look like?

First, we are now seeing development becoming more niche-like with plenty specializations and differentiations that continue to appear. We see that demand for niche specialists continues to increase and will not seize in the nearest future. At the same time development itself is becoming even more agile. Unlike the waterfall development from the past, the development of today has no other choice than to be dynamic and flexible, otherwise you will always lag behind. So first you do, than you watch, than you do once again, than you watch once again and so on. Iterations are becoming smaller and they are becoming more. The more flexible you are the more chances you have to find your niche and become a leader there. The world is changing so fast that it gives us grounds to expect some qualitative jump towards super agile in the future.

B1 File Manager screenshot 2
Second, the cloud. Stand alone is dying away, if you are not connected you are doomed. Now all the users find themselves in one big information space. When you are trying to offer them something beyond that space they are surprised in a better case. In a worse case they just refuse to use your app as it stands out of the system they are used to. That’s why the cloud as a place that unites – is the reality of both today and tomorrow.

Third, big data. We believe the most interesting stuff is to appear in the realm of big data. The reason is obvious – up to now there is so many of it and it can potentially tell so many things, that it would be a sin not to try to analyze it. Data analysis is really trendy, there is so much yet to be discovered and the pool of professionals working in the sphere of big data analysis impresses with a high level of expertise and the concentration of intellect per square inch.

What tips do you have for aspiring developers?

Developers do not receive tips, waiters do! OK, if we go serious – stop thinking about monetization or anything. It’s like love or happiness – the more you think about it the less you have it. Just do something good, get the idea, feel passionate about it and have the guts to realize it no matter what! That’s the only way you can succeed, seriously.

We want to thank the Catalina Group Ltd for chatting with us! If you’re a developer and this looks like something you’d like to do, check out our Meet the Devs form! We look forward to hearing from you.