Let Them Eat Xcake: Mobile App Development in Dublin

It’s 6:30pm on a Tuesday evening in Dublin’s Science Gallery and the place is buzzing with people exploring the exhibitions. What they may not know, however, is that hidden behind one of the inconspicuous white doors on the gallery’s top floor is a community of an informal and collaborative techies talking mobile app development.

The Xcake Mobile App Development meetup has been going strong for the last seven years. Oisin Hurley, one of the longest standing members and organisers, explains: “We started this soon after the first iPhone came out and people were interested in it. There was a small group put together by Dermot Daly and Damien O’Sullivan – the sort of old guard of developers in Dublin! They’ve been doing app development on iPhone since it was first possible.”

The group have been meeting up ever since. Although they’ve grown significantly from their humble beginnings in the local pub, the welcoming atmosphere has remained key. Oisin says: “The group was very small and then it grew to a much bigger thing. We try to make people feel as welcome as possible. We have a load of regulars and we get loads of new people as well.”

We’ve had a few of those ‘Learn From My Fail’ type presentations which are extremely valuable – like when someone says, ‘Whatever you do don’t do this!’ That can be really helpful.

What to Expect

The event usually opens up the floor to allow developers to share their experiences and most talks take a practical approach. Oisin explains: “We’ve had a few of those ‘Learn From My Fail’ type presentations which are extremely valuable – like when someone says, ‘Whatever you do don’t do this!’ That can be really helpful.” It’s not just developers in attendance either. Oisin notes: “We also have people from the creative arts doing presentations because they use these things as tools and the apps are important to them, so we try to get a little bit of that in as well.”
Occasionally, the events veer from their usual structure when a new product or piece of hardware is launched. Oisin says: “If there’s an announcement in Apple or if they’re unveiling a new piece of hardware, we’ll invite everybody in and we can all watch the announcement together.” These events are usually lots of fun. Oisin explains: “It’s better fun than just watching it on your own. Karl does a buzzword Bingo, like the phrasing, what they’ll wear, whether the shirts will be tucked or untucked. It is kind of nerdy – but it’s nerdy in a good way!”

On The Night

On the night we attended the theme was ‘Looking to the Future’. Nevan King gave a talk called ‘Starting SiriKit,’ in which he shared his experience using a new technology that lets Siri control third party apps. He delved into everything you’ll encounter in the INTENTS framework, noting: “Siri seems like magic but it’s actually really ordinary and prosaic when you get down to it.”
Next up was Raul Riera, whose presentation was titled ‘The Messages Extension Gold Rush’ and focused on the importance of creating iMessage applications. This was another practical presentation and Raul discussed the pitfalls and opportunities, while demonstrating that they represent a unique viral approach.

Interested in Attending?

If you’d like to see what it’s all about, the group welcome new members. Karl, one of the organisers, explains: “The group meet on the second Tuesday of every month. It’s usually in the Science Gallery except for when they change exhibits, which is about once a quarter. Then we go to a different location.” You can find out more about the meetup here. And why not come early and have a wander around Dublin’s Science Gallery while you’re waiting?

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