Monthly Archives: October 2015

Work Note – Swift Thoughts

wrongSwiftLogoI’ve been working in Swift more and more over the past couple months. To get started I wrote a simple parsing class for Agrian, the product I work on. More recently, as in this week, we started doing most work in Swift. The syntax is super sugary and will take some getting used to, but I can already see I’m going to love working in it.

It seems if you have a background in C, C++, or C#, you should feel right at home. I wonder how JavaScript developers feel about it? If you have an opinion feel free to leave a comment, or write about it on your weblog. I’m curious what you have to say.

This afternoon as I was working on the app I found myself wishing I could do something like this with Swift.

[swift light=”true”]let textView = UITextView() {
.userInteractionEnabled = false
.font = .defaultFont(14)
.backgroundColor = .yellowColor()
}[/swift]

It feels like a natural thing to do, I don’t know why, but it does. We’re working in Swift 2.0, so if there is a way to do this, please let me know, I don’t think we can, but I’m such a noob, I’m not sure about much.

Patronage

This week Marco Arment released a new version of his podcast player, Overcast. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Overcast and Mr. Arment is know for releasing high quality, very useful, applications. So it’s no surprise it’s a popular pod catcher.

Overcast 2 brought streaming to the application as one of its major features but that was overshadowed by Mr. Arment’s new revenue model; Patronage

If you’d like to help Mr. Arment make a living and keep bringing us great software you can pay him in three, six, or 12-month increments which come to $12US annually. Not a bad deal for the application and, more importantly, the service that backs it.

According to Mr. Arment

“If only 5% of customers become monthly patrons, Overcast will match its previous revenue.”

A new revenue model is born. I think its a great idea.

Adobe’s Comet

Adobe Creative Cloud Blog: “Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about what you need and have created tools so you can deliver your best design work. As technology has changed, so has the way that you approach your work. Instead of one screen, you now have to think about multiple screens and how the experiences you’re creating relate to each other.”

This looks like an awesome new entry in the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite. I’m sure many designers would like the ability to create a design, hook it up, and demonstrate it in the correct context of the device.

The video below focuses on a mobile application and how a designer may use Comet to quickly try new transitions between views. It looks like a real winner.

Adobe has a great track record of providing cross platform tools. I wonder if Comet will run on Windows and Mac, or have they made a clean break and focused on one platform?

Microsoft Surface Book

Surface BookPaul Thurott: “I’ve been asking for this product. You’ve been asking for this product. Hell, apparently everyonehas been asking for this product, based on the news I received last night that preorders for Surface Book are higher than for any previous Surface device.”

It’s nice to see Microsoft surprising people again. We had heard they would be introducing a couple new phones, which they did, and everyone expected them to introduce the Surface Pro 4, which they did, but the Surface Book was a complete surprise, it’s also a beautifully engineered piece of hardware.

Everyone at Microsoft should be extremely proud of their new entrant in the laptop market. Here’s hoping it sells like hot cakes. I have a feeling it’s going to be very popular.

Medium goes Large

Medium: “The API lets you write in a desktop or mobile editor and publish straight to Medium. It also works with major publishing tools like Blogger and WordPress for those who want to syndicate into Medium. Read more about the API.”

I am obsessed with API’s and I have a feeling this is going to be a big one. They’re not just opening up an API but opening up custom domains for all.

That Evan Williams fella knows how to build stuff.

IT MUST BE FREE FOREVER!

A wonderful bouquet of flowers.Developing software is time consuming and challenging no matter how big or small the application. When the iPhone SDK arrived developers rejoiced. Not only did we get a great SDK, we also got the App Store. Sure, the rules were a bit arcane, but as an Indie developer you didn’t have to create and manage your own store and Apple guaranteed a safe distribution mechanism. It’s still a great thing to this day, but it could use some improvement.

Upgrade Pricing

I’m going to focus this post on upgrade pricing because it may be the single biggest improvement we could get from Apple.

There are a lot of things to like about the Apple App Store as a user. Once you find an application it’s easy to install and keep updated. Most of the time applications updates are free. It just works. As a developer, however, there have been a couple horrible expectations set during the early years. In a race to the bottom apps became extremely cheap and updates were expected to be free for the lifetime of the application. Free forever. Think about that for a minute.

A lot of applications in the App Store are native clients to a service. It’s clear services are the best way to create a viable, long term, product, but there are a lot of applications that run native and don’t use a service, don’t understand the value of their own service, or are clients to a third-party service.

One such client is Tweetbot, from the fine folks at Tapbots. It’s a very popular iOS and Mac client for Twitter. If you visit the Tapbots homepage you’ll discover the company is not operated by robots, it’s operated by three human beings. I know, crazy, right?

The reason I bring up Tapbots is the recent release of Tweetbot 4.0. This is where that whole it has to be free for life expectation comes into play.

Tapbots has managed to create another beautiful and functional version of Tweetbot. This release introduces some new features as well as being a Universal Application. I’ll let MacWorld and MacStories give you the feature lowdown.

AHHHHHH!The flip side is a bit ugly. A lot of Tapbots own customers turned on them, over the price. That’s right, Tapbots is charging $10 for their venerable Twitter client, but for a limited time you can get it for %50 off that price.

I got a lot of laughs out of the outrage over the price. It’s completely ridiculous to believe a company that sells you a quality piece of software will continue to support it for absolutely nothing.

This one is particularly great. How dare the Tapbots crew charge for their software! It’s a plot to generate revenue! The nerve!

How about the awful behavior displayed by Tapbots?

How about a little disgust over paying for an upgrade?

The upside to all of this is Tapbots will weed out an entire set of folks that don’t really care about the survival of the Independent Developer and add customers that do care. That’s a good thing.

A couple things to keep in mind as you, the customers we so desperately need, purchase our products. While Apple has given us all a great App Store it doesn’t provide a great way to offer upgrade pricing to our valued customers. It’s something I hope they change in the future. The App Store is ever evolving so I hope we’ll see this at some point.

As for Tapbots. I think they will be fine, but they do have another noose around their collective necks; Twitter. Believe it or not, Twitter limits third-party developers to 100,000 application tokens (I am aware Iconfactory and Tapbots were given more than 100,000 based on a rule that grandfathered their apps.) That said, there will be an end point in the lifetime of Tweetbot and all other third-part clients driven by that limit. Once their token limits are hit, the app should no longer be sold, and it will stop being a source of revenue for these companies. They will have to adapt.

Some parting tweets for you. The first from John Gruber that shows how customers attempt to hold App Developers hostage with horrible ratings because of certain features they — the customer — believe they’re entitled to.

Don’t hold developers hostage. It’s dumb. Remember, this is a brand new release, developed over the past 8-months. The latest version of iOS has been out for a couple weeks. Give these guys some time. They’ll give you a bunch of 3D touch love, as a free upgrade. The point is, reach out to the developer and request your favorite feature, don’t hold them hostage with a crappy review.

A few Tweets from Mark Jardine, a Tapbots co-founder, and the man that gives Tweetbot Apps their unique look and feel.

How about the classic comparison to a cup of coffee. Yes, their app is only $5.

Oh, and one from Paul Haddad, the other co-founder and the guy that brings Mark’s designs to life. This is a classic. A “celebrity” asking for a free copy of a $5 product. Nice.

You can expect free forever from VC backed companies or companies that offer services for a fee, but don’t expect everything to be free for life. People have to make a living.

Christmas Dinner at Hogwarts

Warner Brothers Studio Tour London: “The Hogwarts dining room will be dressed for the occasion with the original props used in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, including flaming Christmas puddings and hams studded with cherries. A wand will be waiting for you at your table and you’ll enjoy the first two courses of a delicious Christmas dinner with all the trimmings on the authentic set (vegetarian option also available).”

Sign me up!