Our grads constantly impress us. The news of Justine Herman and Carmen Cheng recently launching their iOS app to Apple's App store just weeks after completing Bootcamp is no different! What started out as their Demo Day project has turned into so much more - after many hours collaborating with each other and mentors, FaceForward is ready to roll out to the public.


We caught up with Justine and Carmen to learn more about the process of building FaceForward and how the Lighthouse Labs iOS Development Bootcamp prepared them for that.

Where did the idea of FaceForward come from?

Justine: We were interested in facial recognition technology and, specifically, reading a person’s emotions. We were curious as to what we could actually do with the software, and what people would experience from using it. Technology and wearables are so personalized and attuned to a user’s health, personality, relationships etc., so we decided to develop an assistant that would help them set out each day on their own terms.

FaceForward would be an app that would help them be more conscious of the face they are sharing with the world around them, when they interact with their boss, co-workers, partners, family, and friends. They could then step back and evaluate how they’re interacting with others, and it could perhaps even help them improve their mood, or at least allow them to keep track of how they felt on certain days, looking at their survey notes of when they slept well, when they exercised, and whom they were with on the days when they were happiest, saddest, angriest etc.

What were you doing before taking the iOS Development Bootcamp?

Justine: I had taken the Web Development Bootcamp at Lighthouse Labs in February of 2016, and then spent the summer doing an internship with BC’s Cymax Group. I then decided to do the iOS Development Bootcamp in the fall.

Carmen: I graduated from the Graphic Communications Technology program at BCIT at the beginning of summer of 2016 and worked in the print industry for a short time before signing up for the iOS Development Bootcamp.

Tell us about your Bootcamp experience!

Justine: Bootcamp was challenging, but I’m quite happy with the level of expertise, support and mentorship I received from the instructors and mentors. They really care about your progression through the course, and want you to be successful once you graduate and become a developer.

Carmen: Being new to any kind of coding, the Bootcamp was very challenging, especially at the beginning. Instructors and mentors are very patient, helpful and supportive, they are there whenever you have a question. The atmosphere and culture of Lighthouse Labs helped me to stay focused and productive.

What was your biggest breakthrough moment in Bootcamp?

Justine: I guess it would have to be downloading FaceForward onto my phone for the first time while we were still testing it. It immediately validated that my partner and I had designed, developed and were about to publish a ‘real’ app. We had only been working on it for a few weeks and had only been able to test it in simulator in Xcode. Carmen and I high-fived each other and became even more excited about the possibilities of our project!


Carmen: I would say around the second or third week of the Bootcamp where I finally started to understand how to apply concepts we learned in class to my code. A large part of it was thanks to Tom (a mentor) for sitting down and walking me through an assignment, and my classmate Tim for explaining why and how he coded when we were pair programming.

How amazing did it feel to have FaceForward accepted to the app store?

Justine: It felt great! We could finally share it with everyone. I highly recommend students put in the effort to fulfill the App Store requirements and put one of their projects up on the App Store after they’ve completed the course.

Carmen: After all the work we put into it, and all the talk about it, I was glad we could share it with everyone.

What was the process of posting FaceForward to the app store like?

Justine: Well, it’s not that easy. We had to make minor edits to our app in order to meet the App Review Team’s requirements so it could be viewed properly on iPads, but with the changes made, Apple only took a few days to review our app each time we re-submitted.

Carmen: I left this part to Justine since we are publishing it on her developer account. We did run into some bugs that we had to fix and the iPad compatibility issues.

What role did mentorship play in FaceForward?

Justine: It played an important role. The instructors and mentors were really helpful and supportive while we were working on the project during the Bootcamp, and were available to help out with any difficult issues after the Bootcamp. Mentors were always available to chat over Slack, and we were able to schedule one-on-one appointments with instructors.

Carmen: Same as what Justine said, they were really helpful and supportive during and after the Bootcamp. They always made sure we were aware that they were available and happy to help when needed.

Justine: Sam, the Head iOS Instructor, also encouraged us to present our app at the February Vancouver iDevelopers Industry Association (ViDIA) meet-up. It was our first meet-up, and we were really happy with the whole experience. The organizers were great, and the feedback we received from the group was very constructive. We are looking forward to the next one!

What’s next for you/FaceForward?

Justine: I’m currently interviewing for web and mobile opportunities here in Vancouver, and I’m enjoying getting connected to the tech community, and through the Meetup.com groups. There are some interesting ideas and teams organizing in Vancouver in tech, development and women-in-tech, and I’m happy to be part of it.

Carmen: I am also interviewing for mobile opportunities in Vancouver and getting connected to the tech community while working on side projects to keep on learning.

Justine: As for FaceForward, we will look at the preliminary feedback from active users and look to iterate our app to keep it growing, and participate in what’s going on in the community at large.