Wednesday July 12, 2017
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Chan Jing Hong (centre) with MindValley's Kshitij Minglani (left) and mentor Jason Khong from Apptivity Lab. — Picture by Erna Mahyuni Chan Jing Hong (centre) with MindValley's Kshitij Minglani (left) and mentor Jason Khong from Apptivity Lab. — Picture by Erna Mahyuni KUALA LUMPUR, July 12 — Know a youngster with a love of programming and an interest in developing code that works on the Mac or iOS? Said youngster could, with a good enough idea, get free admission and lodging at Apple’s yearly Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC).

The WWDC is the biggest Apple development event, with its tickets sold by lottery as otherwise they would sell in minutes (which happened in the early years of the conference).

Getting a ticket to WWDC is obviously a big deal, but besides the random allocation of tickets the price is also a hindrance for some. This year’s tickets cost US$1,599 (RM6,871).

Malaysian Chan Jing Hong has managed that, twice, through Apple’s WWDC Scholarship program. He succeeded the first time in 2016 while studying for his diploma in IT at Sunway University and made the list again, this year.

A golden ticket

To apply for a WWDC Scholarship, applicants must be 13 and older, registered as an Apple developer for free or in a paid Apple Developer Program and a part-time or full-time student. Members or alumni of STEM organisations are also eligible for the program.

In previous years, applicants were asked to create apps. This year, however, they were instead asked to create visually interactive scenes in Apple’s Swift. Swift is one of Apple’s own proprietary programming languages.

One thing the program does not guarantee, however, is travel sponsorship, which is given on a case-by-case basis. Scholarship recipients would need to submit written applications along with a recommendation letter from a teacher, supervisor or other community professional.

Making a case

Chan on why he got into iOS programming: “Hey, I’ve been using the iPhone for six years so why not try and do something on it?”

His liking for the platform also stems from the ease of getting started with the platform, citing the easy-to-understand development guides provided. “Apple really supports their developers,” Chan said, though he did add that he had also begun learning to develop on the competing platform, Android, a few months back.

Expressing his surprise that he was the only Malaysian scholar at WWDC, Chan said, “It isn’t that they didn’t succeed, just they didn’t apply.”

His advice to aspiring WWDC scholars is to go online and take advantage of the many resources made available. “Start building apps right now,” Chan said. He also said that with Apple’s keenness to ensure a wide diversity in its scholar program, there would certainly be room for more Malaysians…if they would only try.

The place to be

Among the Malaysian developers who also made the trip to San Jose for WWDC was Jason Khong, founder of Apptivity Lab.

“The one thing that inspires me as a developer at WWDC is the sense (here) of wanting to develop something that is world-class,” Khong said. “Let’s have that world-class mindset in Malaysia as well.”

Khong is also incidentally Chan’s mentor, the latter currently interning at Apptivity Lab. The company frequently engages with the local developer community via its own training and learning initiatives. “There’s no limit to what we (local developers) can do,” he said.

“My hope is to introduce Swift programming here in Malaysia,” said Khong. To date, Apptivity has helped train over 60 local developers with Swift being the language mainly used in their training sessions.

What next?

While this year’s WWDC wrapped last month, there’s plenty of time for aspiring developers to brush up on their coding skills and prepare to apply for the 2018 WWDC Scholarship.

To get started, you can register an account for free and enjoy free learning resources at Apple’s developer page.

You will only need a paid account (US$99 annually for sole proprietors) if you want to create apps for distribution on the App Store, but that can be done anytime — perhaps after you’ve finished learning how to code in the first place?

Who knows, maybe your app might be 2018’s star download on the App Store.

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