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February 6, 2015

Meet the developer behind the award-winning What’s On My Plate app

We told you earlier how you could get the nutritional information of your meals via What’s On My Plate. Now, let’s meet Vineet Jain, the man behind the award-winning Windows Phone app.

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What’s On My Plate makes nutrition- and calorie-tracking easy. Just click the picture of a dish, enter its details, and the app will provide a nutrient breakdown.

A winning app from the first season of the India-based Your Wish Is My App (YWIMA) contest, What’s On My Plate also won the General – Best Health App” category in the appStar 2014 contest.

The developer of the app is hobby blogger, active DVLUP member, full-time coder and technophile Vineet Jain. When not reading about technology and outer space, the 29-year old engineer likes to cook vegetarian dishes and watch television.

We recently caught up with Vineet to learn about his app-development experience.

How did you decide to make an app to let people know what they are eating? 

One of the winners of “Your Wish is my App” contest suggested the idea. It is quite interesting to know that many people are conscious about what they are eating and how much calories are they consuming and this app helps keep them informed about this.

What did you learn from creating the app?

It was a wonderful experience. I learnt a lot on the technical front, like using external UI tools inside an app. What I also experienced is that if one manages time efficiently, then there’s a lot of time left for [other] factors crucial to app development such as unit/beta testing.

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What did you learn from the contest while your app was being reviewed?

The judges appreciated my app and they liked the idea of showing people the nutritional information of food. Apart from this, they suggested that I implement some other APIs, which will make my app eligible for international contests.

What future improvements do you hope to bring to What’s On My Plate and what are you working on next? 

I plan to introduce barcode-scanner functionality to the app. That will allow users to scan a barcode on food items to fetch nutritional information. Plus, I want to port the app as a Universal app so it can be installed on Windows desktops as well.

I would like to create an app for visually impaired people to assist them in day-to-day activities, e.g. dialing a phone number from their contacts just by saying a name or by saying the phone numbers.

Why did you become a developer?  

During my college days, I used to take a special interest in lectures related to computer science even though it wasn’t related directly to my field of engineering. I liked to code and began working for Symbian development after college. Since then, this has been profession.

Why develop apps for Windows Phone? 

Windows Phone is a fresh and young platform. There are huge possibilities for developing apps, plus the latest SDKs (SensorCore, imaging) have really opened a gateway to more innovative and exciting apps. Developing apps for Windows Phone is quite easy; even in a shorter time span, one can create beautiful apps.

 What do you think of Windows as a platform for developing apps?  

It is a flexible platform for developing apps and is better than others. Both its tools and third party tools and libraries like Telerik, ComponentOne, BugSense, etc., make the application more rich and intuitive.

Furthermore, the platform convergence offered by Windows is great and one can create apps for smartphones as well as desktops with a single code base. Just imagine the audience base that can be reached with this one time effort! Another good thing is the way apps are featured in the Windows Store. It helps in increasing the download numbers.

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What’s the most difficult part of app development?

The most important aspect of developing is designing the architecture or the flow of the app. A developer should invest a good amount of time in that area, outlining the features and flow so that there is no confusion.

What’s the most fun part of app development?

The sense of satisfaction you achieve when you actually see what you have developed right there on the device. It is so motivating that sometimes you get so involved in the process that you forget other things.

Do you have any advice for fellow developers?  

There will be times when you need to shift from your comfort zone. No matter what technology platform you are working on, go out and learn something different.

Thanks a lot for speaking to us, Vineet!

Check What’s on my plate to learn if you’re eating right.