DOer of the Month: Hung Truong – From Geocities to iOS Apps

Developer Hung Truong started putting together basic websites when Geocities was still in style (if it ever was). Now, Hung is an iOS developer at a creative marketing company in Ann Arbor Michigan. In his free time he likes making apps (like award winning Weathergram) that help automate daily tasks from turning your lights on and off, checking in on Foursquare, and checking the weather.

We talked to Hung about how he got started coding, what type of apps he’s interested in building with Twilio, his Callin’ Oates inspiration, and why code literacy is so important.

We profiled Hung Truong and featured his developer profile on the front page of the DOer Gallery. If  you’d like to share your story on the blog, create your DOer profile and email community@twilio.com

What’s your background in coding and when did you get started?

I got my start making really basic web pages on Tripod and Geocities back when I was in middle school. I was basically making documents and linking them together.

It wasn’t until college that I started coding formally, which is a bit atypical of the stories you’ll hear of hackers getting started by writing compilers at the age of 6. Around my Junior year in college I got really interested in blogging, which led me to learning PHP for WordPress and Ruby on Rails for writing other web based apps. I’ve also picked up some Python for general scripting and Objective C for writing native iOS apps. Lately I’ve been learning Chef to automate my server provisioning.

You’ve put together some really interesting projects from Weathergram, to Checkmate, to MapsKreig. What unites them?

Weathergram is a Twilio service that you can call to get your weather forecast in the form of song. It’s inspired by the other Twilio project, Callin’ Oates. I also have another project called Instascriber that automatically adds new items to Instapaper via RSS.

Most of my projects were built to automate some kind of task for myself, and by releasing them as apps or web apps, I’ve been able to share them with a lot of people.

How are you using Twilio?

I am mostly using Twilio for personal side projects. I’ve been playing around with an idea for an app that sends you a text message when it’s time to go catch your bus so you don’t have to spend a lot of time waiting for it.

What project are you working on currently and do you have anything in the works?

I have big plans for an app that ties in a variety of data sources for home automation and security. I’m using the Belkin Wemo for controlling light switches in my house and monitoring for motion. I want to tie that in with an iOS app that uses geofencing to let my apartment know when I’m home and when I’m away. I’d also like to integrate a Lockitron and other “internet of things” devices. I think there is a small wave of these sorts of devices on the horizon with a really huge wave coming after that, when the feasibility of such devices has been proven.

Anything you’d like to add?

One idea that’s gained popularity recently is code literacy: the idea that “normal” people should be have at least a fundamental level of ability to write code. I think that’s a really powerful idea that is more or less an inevitability. The ability to demonstrate your particular set of skills will be important in the future, especially when basically everyone will know how to code.

I think Twilio and a few other companies have the right idea in putting the developer front and center. I hope that other organizations follow the same approach, because the people who end up getting things done will be the ones with the keyboards and a vim (or emacs, I guess) window open.