Dane Mackier should host a masterclass on humility. He talks about his incredible achievements in software development in a completely matter-of-fact way – game developer, co-founder, and CTO of a successful mobile app, influencer, Google Expert Developer – the list goes on. But there’s nary an ounce of pride in his voice. For Dane, it’s all in a day’s work.
Dane has been on our radar since his Xamarin days (before switching over to Flutter full-time), and finally hosting him on the Agile CTO podcast was one of the highlights of the year so far. Join us as we delve into the fascinating mind of one of the most influential people in South Africa’s software development space.
Early to bed…
As a successful business owner, Dane needs to be alert and productive. This means a strict but balanced daily routine that allows him to focus on his professional and personal lives. He wakes up at 4am for some self-care (and time with his dogs!) before his workday begins at 5. To help him function at this time of the morning, he ensures he is in bed by 9pm. It really is a case of early to bed, early to rise for Dane.
Dane structures his day into various 2-hour work blocks where he focuses on nothing else but his scheduled tasks. He doesn’t check his phone or emails during this time. If he has an idea during his work blocks, he writes it down in what he calls a ‘brain dump’ to tackle at a later stage. But, most importantly, he makes sure to take breaks in-between to move around, go to the gym, or spend time with his dogs. As he puts it, “These breaks are for anything outside of work.”
Mondays are reserved for meetings and replying to mails and social media messages. Tuesday to Thursday are his most productive work days, and Friday is set aside for another two or three work blocks. Sunday is all about content creation. “I’m very single-minded,” explains Dane, “which helps me get a lot done in a single day. Being late is not an option for me. I always try to be on time.”
A focus on Flutter
Dane discovered his love for software development at a young age. He studied Game Development and Computer Science at UCT before getting his honours degree in Software Engineering and Mobile App Development. “I always had the privilege of drawing pixels,” he jokes. “This is where my love for game and mobile app development started.”
He spent many years working across multiple open-source platforms, including Xamarin, before discovering Flutter, a platform he found made his job easier. “After testing the platform and realising how fast and user-friendly it was, I did a complete 180 and decided to focus solely on this exciting new technology,” Dane adds.
Soon, he was trying to convince his clients to move to Flutter, and while many of them turned down Dane’s recommendation, it did not deter his commitment to switching to Flutter. He got his first client using Flutter, an app called The Guardian, and the rest, as they say, was history. Dane started putting out Flutter content on his social media platforms, as well as videos on UI, games and animations. “Soon, I became the go-to consultant for teams wanting to scale their app developments using Flutter,” he adds.
Dane was not about to rest on his laurels. When he got the opportunity to create his own product with his business partner, he couldn’t resist. Enter Rapture, an app that allows users to book live entertainment quickly and easily. “The premise of the app was to develop a platform for anyone wanting to book entertainment without much hassle. I looked at the competition, like GigSalad, and found that there was nothing like it on the market. Rapture would be the first proper, two-sided marketplace for live entertainment, which was something I was really excited about,” Dane enthuses.
The app started receiving a lot of attention, and Dane knew that his only mission now was to build a truly amazing product with a great user experience. The app was launched to offer engagement between artists and customers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with plans (and a team) in place to launch the service in Austin, Texas soon.
On being an influencer
Dane admits that he prefers working on his own products and would rather spend time on an open-source project that yields no money. “I would certainly spend more time creating my own product than client work. My goal has always been to create a community of talent who I can rely on to build tools, packages, and new services. If someone in the community wants to help me with a specific project, they can get on board. Most of the people working for me were followers, and it’s easier to onboard someone who writes code exactly how you do,” he laughs.
Dane also considers himself a bit of an influencer in the Flutter and Dart space. His YouTube channel currently has over 50 000 subscribers and enjoys incredible traction on social media. “I’m not an influencer because of all the followers or subscribes I have,” he reiterates. “It’s because I see job postings where people recommended my FilledStacks YouTube channel to other developers. And these are job listings all over the world, which is such a compliment.”
When Dane became a Google Developer (GD), he started attracting more attention, and a certain league of clientele. Queries were coming in from big-league businesses who previously regarded him as a ‘freelancer’. However, he takes his commitment to Flutter seriously. If a client objects to using Flutter, Dane will not help them but simply refer them to someone who can.
That said, he encourages developers to open their minds and find resources that work for them. “The tool you choose to use won’t prevent you from building what you envision.”
You can check out more of Dane’s work at the links below: