Happy New Year!

2005 has been the most amazing year for me. After writing the last post on this blog I remembered what I was doing on Christmas Eve the year before. I was utterly broke, I had been applying for jobs I didn’t want and thought my dream of making a living – no matter how modest – from creating my own Mac software was doomed.

However, for some weeks before I’d been sketching out my ideas for an RSS editing application called Feeder. I saw a gap in the Mac market for a good RSS editor so people could put news feeds and stuff on sites where they didn’t have a blog or content management system to do all that for them. Safari in Tiger was gaining its own RSS reader and I felt this was certain to make people want to host feeds of their own come Tiger’s release in the summer.

I was also vaguely aware of podcasting at this time thanks to early releases of iPodder (now Juice) and iPodderX. I designed Feeder for web designers and had no idea if podcasters would want to the app, but made sure it had some features for them anyway. Besides, podcasting was simple back then; you entered a title, a description and an enclosure with your audio file and that was it.

And so I found myself on December 24, 2004, with just enough money for another 6 or 7 weeks, starting the app that would be make or break for me. I worked on it day and night in quite a disciplined fashion. During the day I coded away on my iMac, working through an OmniOutliner document of features. At night I would do a deployment build, copy that onto my PowerBook – away from the source code – and focus on testing it all, making lists of bugs and necessary tweaks. The next day I’d deal with the bugs and tweaks and start again on the features.

I think this meant that I ended up getting two days’ worth of work out of every one and allowed me to switch personalities between developer and user. I hardly spoke to my friends during that time and barely left the house; I showed my friend Hans Kim some early builds to get his feedback and stuff and he was really excited about it. All my planning and design had paid off – by February 9th I released Feeder 1.0 and it was well received, both by people who wrote to me and in magazines such as MacUser UK, where it got a full 5 mice.

I was delighted. Initially, it only made me just enough money to survive, but that was exactly what I needed. As the year wore on, podcasting started to become more popular and ridiculously so once iTunes was released. Feeder started to get mentions everywhere, including some very popular podcasts such as TWiT, the MacCast, Inside Mac Radio and host of others, Macworld magazine in the US and the UK, PC Magazine (where it beat two of its Windows rivals), the Podcast Solutions book and many other places.

My inbox was swamped and sales grew to such a degree that in a few months I could pay off my credit card bill (I had resigned myself to being permanently around £1200/$2200 in debt), book flights and a ticket for Podcast Expo, continue to eat, buy some decent clothes and most importantly be sure I could continue doing what I love the most: creating Mac software. I also managed to move home in the meantime – twice!

I’ve barely caught my breath since that summer of madness but I’ve got some great ideas for 2006. I hope to kick off the year with Feeder 1.3, which packs in all those other features I’ve been longing to add since the summer and some more that were on my version 1.0 list but never made the cut. For the first time in over a year I’m working on a release that doesn’t need to be done in a screaming hurry to ensure my survival and so I hope it will be the best one yet.

I want to thank everyone who has stood by me in 2005 and helped make it one of the best years I can remember.

Happy New Year!

3 Responses to “Happy New Year!”

  1. Claire Says:

    Happy New Year too. Let’s hope the new year is better for all of us. I’m sure you’ll continue to build on your success and with a bit of luck you’ll be able to afford another holiday or two…. 😉

  2. ade Says:

    Happy New Year, Steve!

    Well done, good luck, and can I borrow a tenner please? 😛 😉

  3. Steve Harris Says:

    Thanks! I can stretch to a tenner 😉