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Meet Vesper, a notes app with an all-star development team

Jason Snell | June 7, 2013
Vesper is a new iPhone notes app with an impressive pedigree—it's developed by John Gruber, Brent Simmons, and Dave Wiskus.

What was the division of labor on this project? What did John do, what did Brent do, and what did Dave do?

Simmons: I write code while Dave and John design. While I have input on design, it takes all my time keeping up with these madmen. Which I thoroughly enjoy. In the past I've designed my own software, though I didn't necessarily do all the graphics. This is a very pleasant change for me—it's great working with designers I trust, so I can concentrate on making those designs real. (Being a design-savvy engineer helps a ton.) I'm so proud of their work. Maybe they can't say it, but I can: I think the design is hot. I love the way it looks and especially how it feels.

Wiskus: Our org chart is a Venn diagram, but simply: John and I would talk, then I would go draw pictures and give them to Brent. Then we'd all look at them, talk things through, try things out in implementation, and start the process over again.

John, what made you want to build an app?

Gruber: I didn't seek it out. It's Brent's idea that we three would make a good team. But once he offered, I jumped at the chance. I've never worked with Brent before, but I've been using his software for over a decade now, and I've long been a beta tester on his stuff. I know his taste in software, and I know it matches mine. It sounded like fun, an opportunity I could not resist. 

Secondarily, I've always tried to do new things. The last few years, where I've done nothing but write Daring Fireball, have been the longest stretch in my life where I've done nothing new. I had the itch.

The surprising part is how much designing for iPhone harkens back to my days doing print design. My earliest design work was print, and that was my first love. Of course as the years went on, I did more and more Web design and less and less print. And like everyone who made the switch from print to Web design, I bemoaned the lack of control. No control over the size of the canvas, severely limited selection of fonts, crude rendering resolution, etc.

The control and fidelity afforded by the iPhone—world-class fonts, high resolution output, control over the size and placement of everything on screen—made me feel right at home.


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