Categories
Development Indie iOS RSS Stream

Stream 1.0

Hayseed: “Stream is a different take on feed readers. It displays your feeds in a timeline, similar to Twitter.”

Yes, I finally shipped Stream 1.0!

The response has been so overwhelming, not in a OMG 100,000 people downloaded it, more of OMG the Mac and iOS community are so supportive. When I started on Stream I was really excited to share it with everyone. Over time that enthusiasm waned because it was taking so long to finish. I worked on it an hour here an hour there over the course of two years. Yes, two years.

I’ve received some really excellent feedback via Twitter and email. I hope that continues and I hope to incorporate some, if not all, of that feedback into Stream, but it could take quite a long time before I’m able to do it. I just want to get that out there. Stream is a labor of love. If I could make a living from it I would definitely pump out features at a much quicker pace. Please bear with me.

Thanks again for your support and encouragement. It means loads to me.

Categories
Apple Indie iOS

I didn’t withdraw from the program. They withdrew me. 😂

Categories
Development Indie iOS RSS Stream

Stream Update

I feel like I’ve been working on this app forever. 😀

But, I haven’t. It’s been a couple years of fits-and-starts. The last TestFlight build I sent out was, I believe, back in late February.

I only have a few new items to add then it’s all about bug fixes.

## What’s left?

### Import and Export OPML

I have the core of importing and exporting working fine. It’s what I worked on today.

The one stumbling block I have is where it fits in the UI, like it’s a little thing. I have some ideas, of course, but I’m not thrilled about any of them. I’ll probably pick the least icky idea and do that.

Once that’s done I’d imagine the Export feature will live next to it.

### Sharing

This goes two ways. I’d like to add an extension that will allow someone to _Add to Stream_ from a web browser and I’d like to allow folks to share out of the article view. This should allow folks to start a blog post of their own or post to their favorite social media site.

## Nice to haves

### Extra Icons

I have some beautiful icons to share with everyone and I really hope you all enjoy them as much as I do.

### Tip Jar

I’ve struggled with this one a bit. Stream is going to be free. It’s not going to be something folks just gotta have. I did this for me. I wanted an app that was simple and felt more like a Twitter feed. I think it hits both marks.

The reason I’ve struggled with the idea of having a tip jar is I don’t want folks to feel like they have to pay anything for it. I would appreciate it but it’s not necessary.

### Wrapping up

I have a few bugs I’m aware of, mostly around stripping of HTML tags.

Thanks for following along.

Categories
Indie iOS

Brutally Honest

A wonderful bouquet of flowers.Becky Hansmeyer: “My code sucks. It just does. I’m inexperienced, I’ve had no mentors or code reviews (by choice—I’ve had offers from many great people!), and there are fundamental concepts of programming that I only have a tenuous grasp of, at best. Despite my best efforts, I’ve utterly failed at using the MVC model. My views are all up in my model’s business, I probably have delegates where I don’t need them, or, on the flip side, other weird hacky ways of communicating between view controllers (like via viewWillDisappear and unwind segues, and all sorts of odd places) where I should have just used a delegate.”

You know what, Becky. My code sucks too. I’ve been doing this professionally for 30-years and my code is still crap. I work really hard at honing my craft. Continually learning is the key to longevity in this business so just keep plugin away.

Becky here’s something to keep in mind. You’ve shipped a successful product. Nobody cares what your code looks like. You shipped! In the end that’s all that matters.

Remember this: the only bad code is code that never ships.

Categories
App Store Apple Indie iOS

App Stores

A snowflakeEvery once in a while developers drop interesting nuggets of information on Twitter or their weblogs on the state of Apple App Stores and how they relate to their businesses.

In late November longtime Mac and iOS developer, Panic, announced they would discontinue Status Board.

“First, we had hoped to find a sweet spot between consumer and pro users, but the market for Status Board turned out to be almost entirely pro, which limits potential sales on iOS — as we’ve learned the hard way over the past couple of years, there’s not a lot of overlap right now between “pro” and “iOS”.”

Panic is a shop I look to for direction and inspiration. They build solid, beautiful, easy to use applications. Their ratio of Mac to iOS Apps is pretty interesting. Their main Mac applications; Coda and Transmit, are aimed squarely at professionals. If you look at their remaining iOS applications two are complimentary to their Mac counterparts; Coda and Transmit, and the third, Prompt, is most likely built using code and knowledge gained from their other apps. That is not meant as a criticism. It makes total sense. Coda and Transmit are their big dogs, why not make iOS versions of them? I’m looking forward to Panic’s year end report. The last two have been amazing reads.

This morning as I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline, trying to avoid political talk, I noticed an exchange between Michael Love and David Barnard. As suspected, iPhone is the money maker and iPad is not pulling its weight.

Not long after that exchange I saw a nice tweet from James Thomson, of PCalc fame. It looks like the iOS App Store is his primary source of income.

Depending on the podcast I’m listening to, Core Intuition vs. Accidental Tech Podcast, I’m either excited about the state of the Mac or completely bummed about it. Regardless, it feels like Apple is pushing the iPad toward the Prosumer market and keeping the Mac alive for Professionals, mainly those creating iOS Apps (Hey, we need a platform for creating apps, right?)

Having said all that, I’d still like to take a shot at the Mac software market. I don’t need to make millions, but it would be nice to make hundreds. 😀

Categories
Apple Core Labs Design Development Indie iOS Mac Windows

Passion Project: Mixing C++, Objective-C++, and Swift

I know a lot of folks have had to go through the process of bridging to C++ so you can use it from Objective-C or Swift. In my case I’m using it from Swift, so I thought I’d share what the middle Objective-C++ layer looks like. If you’ve done any Objective-C it will look like straight Objective-C, until you look a little closer. That’s when you’ll notice a C++ namespace, new, and delete statement. This code is a straight passthrough to the underlying C++ code — it’s here so Swift code can communicate with the C++ code.

Here’s the code that bridges to our Creatinine Clearance calculation.

You’ll notice a class called PKMConvert that has a class method called genderFromPKMGender. I created a set of mirror enums. One on the iOS side the enums use NS_ENUM syntax, on the C++ side they’re straight C style enums, so this code converts between the two. It’s just a simple mapping.

Another thing you’ll notice is I’m still using “old” C++ syntax to create and destroy objects. I’ve been thinking about updating the syntax to C++11 so I’d use unique_ptr instead. We’ll see if that happens. It’s not a big deal.

Something I’ve been mulling over is releasing the entire PKMath C++ Library as an open source project once I have it working for iOS/Mac, Android, and Windows. I don’t know that it would be overly useful for anyone, but there you go.

Since I haven’t actually written any Swift code in the new RxCalc to use the Objective-C++ code I thought I’d share one of my unit tests for the Creatinine Clearance example above.

Here’s how the different layers look from 30,000 feet. I like pictures, don’t you?rxcalc2layers

Categories
Apple Core Labs Business Indie iOS

Passion Project: Update One

I’ve made a couple runs at the freelance iOS developer life. The first time things went really well, but I was offered a gig by one of my clients and it too good to pass up. A couple years into that position — leading a team developing a Windows video decoding SDK — I got the itch to go back to iOS and the Mac. Around the same time our oldest daughter decided she wanted to move back to California. I took a week off to help move here, and think on this idea of going back out on my own. I decided to give it a go. This time around I failed, miserably.

My attempts to go indie have always been predicated by a desire to develop a product. I thought I could bootstrap my indie life doing freelance work. This was definitely a mistake. Once you start doing client work you’re on that hamster wheel of how do I get my next client? Drumming up work is difficult. I failed at that and I’m also a slow developer. I don’t crank out code quickly, which you need to be an effective freelancer. Get it done so you can move on to the next deal.

When I finally found a full time job I decided I’d work on passion projects and see how that worked out. I’ve had many starts and stops on various projects, but I keep coming back to RxCalc. It was my first iOS app. My brother, Jerry, and I worked on it together. Jerry is a clinical Pharmacist and wanted an iOS app to help him do Pharmacokinetics Calculations. He did all the math and designed the workflow and I turned both into Objective-C. We shipped in June 2009 and RxCalc went live in the store July 4, 2009 (nice bonus.)

I’ve been slowly working on a rewrite of RxCalc. My first iOS app was messy, but it has proven stable — I haven’t had a crash report since the 1.0 release in 2009 — but the code is cringeworthy. I’ve cleaned it a bit over the years as well as shipping a 1.2 release that included some new functionality. That release included much cleaner code, but I’ve wanted to add IAP to it for additional calculation models and port it to Android, and maybe even a Universal Windows App.

When Jerry and I originally started developing what was to become RxCalc it began life as a Palm app in C++ and the Pharmacokinetics math library was portable C++. It built on Palm, Windows, and iOS — it built first time on iOS with zero change. When I was learning Objective-C I decided it would be best to port PKMath from C++ to Objective-C. That was really easy. It didn’t take long at all.

Here we are in 2016 and I decided I’d better get started with my grand plan to make PKMath portable, again, and build for iOS, Android, and Windows. Why? Just because. Remember, this is a passion project. I don’t make any money on RxCalc, but I do have a plan to change that with this new version.

Will write C/C++ for foodThe new C++ PKMath library is written. I’ve built a small layer of Objective-C++ over the top of it so I can write the new UI in Swift. The old RxCalc was 100% Objective-C, the new one will be a mix of C++, Objective-C++, and Swift. That sounds kind of weird, but there is a means to an end.

Android is my next target. I’ve started working on JNI wrappers around the PKMath library. This has proven to be extremely difficult. It’s going to take some time to wrap my brain around how this all works. I’ve managed to write a simple sample that uses PKMath to calculate an Ideal Body Weight and display it in an Android view, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten.

As for Windows it’s the thing I’m most familiar with. I’ve spent most of my 25+ years as a developer building Windows applications. The downside is I’ve never built a Universal Windows App and I’m not sure how to properly build PKMath for it. I’ll figure that one out and I imagine it will be as easy as wrapping C++ in Objective-C++.

Progress is slow and I’m easily distracted. We’ll see how it goes. More updates to come.

P.S. — I find Swift to be the most enjoyable language I’ve ever used. Doing the new RxCalc UI has been a lot of fun.

Categories
Indie Life Uncategorized

Indie Itch

AHHHHHH!I’m getting that itch again. I have so many ideas and never enough time to execute on them. I have a feeling this is a fairly common trait in people. We have big dreams but don’t possess the skill, patience, or business acumen to pull it off. It can be quite frustrating and lead to unnecessary stress in your life.

Distracted. That’s me. I have too many ideas and seem to like bouncing around a bit too much. Besides thinking about too many projects I also value an occasional side job that pays a little bit. When I find those jobs they’re prioritized over my own work, but never over the day job.

Lately I’ve been focused on the day job, one side gig I’m advising on (a startup), and my weird obsession to make RxCalc‘s Pharmakokinetics math library cross platform. Ultimately I’d call the last two a distraction from what I’d really like to do, which brings us back to the Indie itch.

I still dream of having a small company, say one to five folks, all dedicated to creating a business graphics like Visio or OmniGraffle

Why? Because I love those apps. I loved my time contributing to Visio and there is plenty of room on the platform for more great productivity tools.

There is, of course, another great option. Go to work for Microsoft or The Omni Group and contribute to these awesome apps. 

This ties neatly back into a post from earlier today. Yeah, I’d love to to to work at Microsoft working on the Mac and iOS versions of Visio, but I kind of doubt Microsoft cares much about porting Visio to either (I’ve heard rumor of an iOS viewer for Visio, which would be great.) 

Sorry for the stream of consciousness dump. Had to get these thoughts off my chest today. I’m felling really restless, this helped calm my mind.

Categories
Apple Indie

Dash

A wonderful bouquet of flowers.iMore: “At this point, though, it’s time to forget working it out. Mistakes were clearly made on both sides, and there may be no way for the real truth to ever be known, or for everyone to win. But there’s a way to stop anyone else from losing further: Fix it, unilaterally, because you’re Apple, and you can.”

I was going to write about this, but Rene Ritchie capture my feelings perfectly. Mistakes were made on both side.

It would be nice for Apple to forgive and forget.

Categories
Cloud Indie iOS

Vesper: A Post Mortem

A wonderful bouquet of flowers.John Gruber: “What went wrong was very simple. We never made enough money. Why we didn’t make enough money, what we should have done differently to make more money — those are complex questions (which I’ll tackle below). But what actually sunk Vesper was not complicated. Even as a relatively popular app at a relatively high price (for iOS), revenue was never high enough. Brent took a job at the excellent Omni Group in September 2014, and from that point onward the writing was on the wall. We could have, and probably should have, shut Vesper down a year ago. But we loved it too much. Or at least I did.”

Brent Simmons: “This is the last app on the App Store where I wrote all (or almost all) of the code. Odds are excellent that there will never be another app written largely by me on any app store.”

It’s hard to make decisions like this. Vesper was the result of a lot of hard work by a small group of dedicated people. Vesper will be missed, by them the most.

The most fascinating part of this entire post mortem from John and Brent is the belief that creating a Mac App first may have lead to success. Obviously these guys know their Mac brethren better than I, but I always thought a subscription model was a better option for them, and I wrote about it in 2015.

I think the idea of a sustainable business is the right way to look at this, but pricing an app at $9.99 isn’t the proper solution. The proper solution is to charge for their “fast, reliable, unlimited sync.” That’s the value, the app is just a way to get to your data.

Obviously there are a few really great companies out there making a go of it but the market has changed so dramatically from the time Brent started Ranchero. At the time the Mac wasn’t nearly as popular as it is today and the App Store model didn’t exist. Sure, you still needed a great product and had to work hard to get the word out, but people still understood the value of software. Today iOS and Mac Apps have been reduced to commodities and commodity pricing. Most people expect free and get it from companies that make their money other ways, including services, which is why I think the service is the most valuable component. Does it mean you should only do services and not native clients, no. The client side provides the great experience and the service opens the door to the magic of data flowing from one point to another. Without both sides you can still have a great experience but it may not be as great as it could be.

Thanks John, Brent, and Dave for giving us Vesper.