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Shareware for a Living

Just as AppleInsider leaks some information about some of Panic's upcoming apps, Slava pens a missive on becoming a successful Indieware Developer. Panic and Unsanity are two of a select group of successful indieware developers. Their opinions carry some weight.

Slava's got good advice, but one thought can't be stressed enough:

First thing to ask yourself is how useful your software would be? Would you use it? Some people I know are making software they don't use personally and try to sell that.

Good Mac developers have at least five years of active Mac use under their belt.* (Folks coming from OpenStep can count their time as 50% or so, depending on how much they fight certain "Mac" things.) Think of the indieware developers you support and the apps you love. How many of them were written by developers new to the Mac? None.*

Successful indieware developers "get it." They're Mac users to the core. Mac users are picky. They have high standards. Mac users care about the whole experience - is your site great, icon cool, and application dock-aware? "Where's my damn AppleScript support!" they'll ask. Do your keyboard shortcuts meet their expectations? Is your toolbar pretty? Do you even have a toolbar?

If you've been using a Mac for five years or more, you "get" this already. You're a picky sonofabitch too, and you despise crap applications, especially if they're your own. Indieware developers spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the above issues and more during development - great UI doesn't just fall from the sky. Slava says that new developers should not "…be ashamed to spend a week or more in the planning stage." I say they should be ashamed (and will be shamed) if they only spend a week. Planning never ends. Mac users expect nothing less.

Slava knows this, and I'm not taking him to task. He's talking about another sort of planning. Us Mac indieware developers are some of the pickiest sonsofbitches around, and we have a tough audience. I'm certain I speak for all of us when I say we wouldn't have it any other way.

* There are exceptions to every rule, but in this case, I dare you to find some.

5 Responses to "Shareware for a Living"

  1. Lets see, The Omni Group started up in 1989 so that means that they have about 10 or 11 years of experience with NextStep, so I guess that fulfills your 50% rule, and about 3-4 years with OS X. OK, so I guess you got me 😉

  2. I can't wait to try out Unison, the Mac desparately needs this. I have long suspected that this is what "Pulp Fiction" will be, so hopefully there will be two good choices 🙂

    I was going to nominate Dave Hyatt as an exception to your rule, but I do not think he fits since he is ultimately not responsible for developing the aspects of the application you are talking about.

  3. As my user interface design teacher (who uses Macs only) said, it's the small details that make an app good. You might have the best concept possible, but as long as there are tiny UI bugs in it, it'll be a nightmare to use.

    Most Windows developers don't get that. I can't blame them, it's pretty convenient to ignore those details, since they could take up most of the time during development... But as a Mac developer, you won't get any customers when you do that.

  4. I think icons are a good example too. I don't like having ugly icons in my dock and when I program is not in my dock I don't use it much and if I don't use it during the free trail, why would I pay for it?

  5. Good points, Erik... I've linked to both Slava's post and yours (sorry, my trackbacks are momentarily broken).