Tag Archive for app

Thank You!

Code Journal LogoCode Journal has done extremely well on the Mac App Store recently. It reached as high as number 31 for free apps overall and number 2 in its category. Needless to say I was shocked by the sheer number of users downloading the app. For the most part users are happy and the app is working as expected. However, there have been a few issues that have cropped up over the last week.

Like many API providers Github limits third party developers to a certain number of API tokens and requests per time period. What this means in real-world terms is that if you are a third party developer, like I am, and you see rapid adoption of an app that hits their API, you may start to see some issues for some users. This issue has been further exacerbated by the fact that iPhone version of Code Journal currently uses the same tokens as the Mac version available from the Mac App Store and my site. Steps have been taken to resolve this issue on two fronts: one Code Journal for Mac now has more tokens and two once the next editions of the Mac app and iPhone app are approved, they will be using different tokens — essentially doubling the pool for both apps!

I’d like to personally thank all of you for giving my little app a shot and I would especially like to thank those of you who have emailed me your constructive feedback and were patient during the token drought. Your continued support has meant more to me than any chart ranking and I am happy to report that I will be releasing another free app on an Apple platform in the coming month or so. Stay tuned! And thanks again!

I welcome comments or replies to this thread on Twitter or Google+. If you haven’t already, download Code Journal from the Mac App Store.

The Magazine Review

Much has been made in the last few years about the death of paid content and how the traditional publishing industry is in a bit of a bind in today’s web connected and increasingly mobile world. I’ve long felt that the rumors of the death of paid content have been greatly exaggerated and that seems to be the case as we have (just in the last few weeks) seen some heartening numbers from the NYTimes who are seeing some success its new ‘paywall’, which might accurately be described as a freemium model for content. I think that’s great. We need publications like the NYTimes and other established journals as much today as ever. Still, it’s hard not to notice all the magazines that are no longer on store shelves; anyone else remember Nintendo Power? To be sure, magazines have been hit the hardest in the web and mobile revolutions but there does seem to be a glimmer of hope: Marco Arment’s The Magazine.

Arment’s magazine is a bit unusual when compared to most iOS Newsstand magazines in that it attempts to make all of its revenue directly from readers and takes open submissions from the wider community for content.  Content is not exclusively licensed to the publication. Think about that for a second; that means that authors are likely to republish content they’ve submitted to The Magazine on their own blogs or other publications.

Now, this might sound crazy. Sure the subscription is only four dollars a month but, assuming all or most of the content will ultimately be free, why would anyone purchase the subscription? Curation. Curation is key here. This is something that I feel most publications have forgotten how to do when the scrambled to move to mobile devices in an attempt to salvage their business model. Think about curation is what separates such high brow publications as The New Yorker from ‘popular’ publications. Arment seems to be one of the only really innovative players in the space to embrace a more traditional role as Editor-in-Chief in this digital age and hope he keeps his exacting standards.

This wouldn’t be a fair look at the publication (app?) if I didn’t mention some concerns I have. Arment is brilliant guy, but he’s also a bit snobby. This less than flattering trait can occasionally be seen on his (usually excellent) podcast “Build and Analyze”. Still, when he’s not criticising consumer household products for lacking something akin to Sir Ive’s design sense, he shares his often insightful views on the mobile development space. Hopefully, Arment will stay on the tech and coffee (I share his love of odd blends) side of things and leave the poor folks at Home Depot alone.

The Magazine has a free trial and is a must read in my book.

If you want to catch up with me listen to Coder Radio every Monday EST or find me on App.net, Twitter, or Google+.

Lessons Learned: Code Journal Early Release

As you may know Code Journal had its early release last week and it has been a pretty good experience so far. I got lots of great feedback from users and have already been able to update the application based on that feedback.  The purpose of this post is to share some of the lessons I have learned and create a discussion around independant software development and distribution. I could enumerate all the nice things that have been e-mailed or otherwise communicated to me re Code Journal, but I believe that there is more to be learned from criticism than praise, therefore, I am going to discuss some of  the application’s critiques.

Critique #1: Mountain Lion Only!?!?
Yup, I heard this one a lot. I decided to develop the application for Mountain Lion, because I thought a few 10.8 specific features were essential and that most of the application’s users would quickly upgrade to the new OS. Turns out that even though Apple reported record adoption of Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8), a large set of Code Journal’s potential users are running older systems: mostly Lion (OS X 10.7). The good news is that despite my miscalculation, I was able to rectify the situation quickly; I have already updated the app to support 10.7+ and I am happy to say that the updated version has been live for several days now.

Critique #2: No Pasting Passwords?
This one caught me a little off guard but really it shouldn’t have looking back. You see I have this odd habit of memorising long passwords, so typing them out is a pretty routine task. Most sane people, however, are using something like LastPass or a similar tool. I am happy to report that I have an update to Code Journal in testing that does allow the pasting in passwords and, unless any issues are found, that version will be pushed live early this coming week.

Critique #3: No App Store Version?
If you are a Coder Radio listener (and you should be), you will know that I am doing something of an experiment with Code Journal. Basically, I have not released it on the Mac App Store intentionally to see how that would affect sales and what (if any) feedback I would get regarding its distrobution. Before I mention what feedback I got I should say that this was the single most common critique of the app. In short, a lot of people have a strong preference to get all of their apps from the Mac App Store and do not want to purchase apps from a website. This is good news for Apple, but bad news for devs; I still hold that there is significant value in having a direct relationship to the users of your apps and the delays caused by Apple review process (22 days for Code Journal’s first binary) can be incredibly damaging if your strategy is to build and iterate rapidly. Assuming that the feedback I received is representative of the greater Mac user ecosystem, it seems that the Mac App Store will soon be the only feasible portal via which to sell apps; barring games that might do well in Steam.

Critique #4: What is Gumroad and Why Isn’t It PayPal?
This is another one that really surprised me, but it seems that there a lot of users who are not really comfortable entering their credit card data into Gumroad. Taking a high level look at my data I have x sales but x * 30 sales have ended right at the checkout screen. Think about that for a minute. The vast majority of people who like the info page enough to click “buy now” got all the way through the checkout process and turned back at the final checkout screen. The data aside, I have heard from several people that they or others close to them were not comfortable with entering the credit cards into Gumroad and would strongly prefer that I switch to PayPal. So why Gumroad at all? Well, they do a lot for me for the same cost as PayPal including verifying receipts, sending app updates to users, and a number of other small things that I would have to implement myself with PayPal. I am still considering how to handle this issue.

Bottom Line
In many ways I feel direct distribution has been incredibly successful, mainly because it allowed me to react quickly to user feature requests (back porting to Lion etc), however, the Mac App Store issue is a troubling one; if the percentage of Mac users who strongly prefer to purchase apps via the Mac App Store continues to grow, developers will have little choice but to conform to the somewhat draconian sand-boxing policies of the Mac App Store. Having said that, I am not against distributing Code Journal via the Mac App Store. In fact, if the numbers continue as they have (numerous users declining to purchase until an a version is on the store), then I probably am not going to have much of choice.

Comments? Questions? Find me on Twitter or Google+.