Developing smart tools for Windows -- the man behind CCleaner and Tweakeze [Q&A]
Heitor Tome is the man behind a new tool called Tweakeze which is designed to prevent unwanted changes to your computer.
But he also has a long history as the chief architect and software engineer behind popular cleanup program CCleaner -- indeed for several years he was its sole developer.
We spoke to Heitor to find out more about his new project and get an insight into the development process.
BN: What was it like to be a one-man-band developing a hugely popular tool?
HT: Everything started in 2006 when Piriform's founder, who had worked with me as a co-worker in another UK company, called me and said that he was working on a project and needed someone who had the expert skills to execute what he was trying to accomplish, and that it needed to be someone he could trust, and that I was that 'someone'. I appreciated his respect and recognition of my work, however, I was a bit reluctant in accepting and recall performing some due diligence in asking about the company's financials and business plan. I was soon satisfied it was all in good state, so I decided that it was time for a change and the challenge was very appealing to me. Little did I know this was going to be one of the best jobs I have ever signed up for in my life.
The first task was to completely rewrite CCleaner's code base. Originally written in Visual Basic 6, I had to re-architect and develop it from scratch. It was a huge task with a short deadline but I managed to get it done and exceed minimum requirements. Completion of this was extremely necessary in order to move forward with CCleaner and deliver a top-notch application to our users. After a couple of months, CCleaner v2 was proudly released and each every month thereafter, a new version was delivered with even more features and updates.
While it was a very complex task, it was right up my alley of expertise, specialty and allowed me to tackle the things I love to do. Making life easier for millions of users is extremely rewarding. At times, it could be intense and kept me busy, finding an array of potential problems and preparing solutions for what may or may not happen, required constant dedication and investment to research and monitor the environment, in addition to developing updated versions on a monthly basis. There was a lot of pressure to perform, it was a thrill and for every release, a joy ride! I do miss those days and I really keep all those wonderful memories in my heart.
BN: Why did you decide to move on from CCleaner?
HT: As my contract was coming to an end, I was eager to explore new opportunities. This role had been challenging in the beginning, the building, iterating, the achievement in new releases, and then after a few years, I no longer felt the challenge. About this same time, CCleaner underwent an expansion, and the high standards and expectations I had developed and maintained for the product were compromised to accommodate changes. What I had hoped would be temporary growing pains, turned into the new normal. As this was occurring, and I began to see some new opportunities through these changes to modernize and improve the product, however CCleaner did not share the same vision. After so many years of dedication to CCleaner, I knew it was time to move on and seek other projects to continue delivering high quality software development.
BN: What inspired you to create Tweakeze?
HT: I was really excited about this modernize vision I had. If in my previous role I had helped millions of users and they were happy, then with all the changes in technology, imagine how many more I could help with Tweakeze.
A modern tool that would employ a real-time approach giving users a much faster and reliable status of their computer. A tool that would make sure the computer would stay consistent with the users' preferences. I knew for thousands like me how frustrating it could be when browsers automatically update tasks when they are upgraded, and that was something that constantly interfered with my work as I need old versions to be available to work on or the amount of time spent tweaking new computers to have your personal preferences set up so you can have your own way of working with a new computer. There were so many things like this I knew I could deliver on and make it easy to use as is, and just as easy to tailor for the user's unique preferences. People are different and so their computer needs to fit their ways of working and Tweakeze is flexible enough to keep things in check. We all know the saying 'the devil is in the details' and all of these updates and changes to your system are about paying attention to those devilish details and for me Tweakeze keeps the devil in check and I hope it will for all of you too.
BN: Tell us something about the process of building a new tool from scratch?
HT: As much as the A-Z of an entire startup is exhilarating and challenging, there is a lot to learn in areas new to me.
There are so many great people out there creating tools, the competition nowadays is much tougher and the landscape seems so different, getting yourself established in this ever-evolving market is quite a challenging endeavor.
While at my previous projects I was focused entirely in executing and creating the application, now with Tweakeze I need to be the marketer, develop the business plan, handle the administration, overall, I am executing several roles, and it is a whole new challenge for me to concentrate on multiple new priorities at the same time.
I really like developing robust applications and my goal is still to continue creating one that will make a difference, so at every minute possible, I switch back to what I like most to do which is developing.
BN: What makes Tweakeze unique?
HT: No code. It is so easy for users to create their own set of instructions called Watchers, without having to write any line of code, using the Watcher Creator design interface.
Bespoke. Tweakeze gives the user out of the box functionality and at the same time allows them to create their own customized experience where they are in control of the state of their own computer.
Customizable Interface. You can specify the categories where Watchers will be displayed on the screen to group items requiring similar monitoring functionality.
It is pro-active. Tweakeze does not wait for the user to react or needs to be prompted to act. It is 'always on', the software is constantly monitoring, aware of the state of the computer and ready to execute actions that are pre-defined or totally customized by the users.