I had the idea for creating a map-based way of accessing information in February 2012 after losing my teaching job. I've always loved maps, and have found that I remember things better when they're tied to a location. My initial idea was to create clickable maps that would teach you things you didn't know about the people, culture and history of an interesting place.
My wife encouraged me to learn iOS programming so I could create my idea as an iPhone app. I signed up for a one-week "boot camp" at Big Nerd Ranch in Georgia, and rushed to complete their prerequisite book on Objective-C, the language in which Apple devices are programmed.
With no prior programming experience, the boot camp was like drinking from a fire hose. It was all I could do to keep up, but the instructors were encouraging. One said the best way to progress was to try to create my own app. I wasn't actually sure it was possible to do what I was thinking, but when I told him he assured me it could be done and gave me same suggestions of how to begin.
I began coding TapAMap in September, building on map exercises from Big Nerd Ranch and combining that with web-based functions. I was delighted to discover GeoNames, a service that provides Wikipedia articles if you send them a location, though it was a challenge for me to learn how to make the information that came back useful. I received lots of generous support from iOS programmers I've met through the collaborative Meetup scene in Los Angeles, as well as from online programming forums and Apple's developer documentation.
I'd especially like to thank Mario Sepulveda, a gifted iOS mentor who spent hours with me, and Joe Kim, who solved one problem with two quick lines of code.
Coding was not easy, but TapAMap was functioning the way I wanted by the end of November. I've learned a lot, and hope that others will see that if I could do it, they can too.