Kindling projects are meant to fill this gap: simple enough that a new learner can take them on, but with possibilities for extension and creativity. Large enough that there isn't one right answer, but designed to be hacked on by a learner simply to flex their muscles.
Ned is mostly talking about new programmers, but this is quite similar to what I had in mind when I started my current app project. The idea was to get some experience working with Swift as well as a few other technologies that I haven't worked with extensively in the past. Even though I'm not new to programming, we're all relatively new to Swift. So far, the project has been a great success in that regard. Having something substantial to work on has really given me a feel for Swift's strengths, weaknesses, and challenges. (More details on those in a future post.)
As the app gets closer to completion, I've also been thinking about goals in terms of downloads and revenue. I'm not going to share exactly what those goals are, at least not yet, but I do have some. (I'm keeping them modest, at least for the time being.) Charles Perry's recent post about App Store revenue gives me some hope that they could be achievable:
There’s a lot money circulating in the ecosystem, and a developer operating at indie scale only needs a little bit of it. It seems that even with the revenue curve tilted so heavily towards the big hits, the shape of the App Store still allows room for sustainable businesses to develop in the long tail.
This "kindling project" isn't just about learning a new language or new frameworks; it's also about learning more about the App Store. How might different pricing strategies affect revenue? What will the trend in sales be over time? This project is an opportunity to do some hands-on research.