Ten Years a Mac Developer

August 3rd, 2014 by Steve Harris

Today, my Together app, and thus Reinvented Software, turns 10. I’ve done a long post on the history of the app, but since there’s been a lot commentary lately amongst developers on what it takes to be indie in 2014 (some of which Gus Mueller linked to in his own post on the subject, saving me the trouble) it seems appropriate to talk about that now too.

All I have are my experiences and observations as a developer of ten years, with three Mac apps and one companion iOS app. I don’t have answers to things like upgrade pricing (although bye bye discount, I suspect) or what the hell to charge on iOS (probably more than you think, less than you’d like). Also, while I barely even consider myself an iOS developer, from what I’ve seen it’s just the same really, even if the scale is different.

To make a living, you need to create something useful that you can sell at a reasonable but sustainable price, and build up over time. Luck and good timing matter too, but a lot of that comes down to being smart about it. Sometimes it takes a while to come up with the app that sticks. In my case, my first app (KIT, now Together) launched and did nothing for two years, meanwhile my second app, Feeder, caught the podcasting wave. By the time that was over, Together was gaining traction and has been my main earner ever since.

Expect poverty starting out, moments in the spotlight far too brief, frequent setbacks and the ever-present threat of suddenly finding yourself in competition with some large corporation or VC-funded outfit possessing the kind of resources and reach you could only dream of. The iPhone app gold rush encapsulated this whole experience.

I wasn’t a part of that, but I can understand how it must feel. About four years ago, I remember being somewhat incredulous that I’d appeared on a list of 35+ Rockstar Mac Developers and their Apps (and here’s 20 more). Incredulous because it already seemed a little late from where I was standing. iPad had been released, which encroached on the Mac’s turf far more than iPhone ever had, and people were moving on. Would you get a post written like that about Mac developers today? I don’t think so. Hey, even that site has shut down. The wagons rattled off into the distance, leaving us coughing in their dusty wake.

Many Mac devs from that era have now experienced the full bell curve of interest in a platform, starting out as a niche concern, then hyped to the stratosphere, only to be swiftly brought back to earth. It’s hardly that the Mac or those apps are an irrelevance, but it can feel that way when you’re trying to promote your stuff. I don’t know how anyone else on those lists is doing now, but most look like they’re still going, thankfully.

The ones who aren’t? Well, I recognise the names and can suspect the reasons. There has always been, and probably always will be, people saying you should sell apps for pennies to get the most exposure, or do this or that to get gain thousands of customers overnight. This works for a short time, but it’s heralded the death of many a dev’s career, crushed under the weight of supporting people who paid next to nothing. What’s the point? There are no shortcuts to lasting success.

It took about 3.5 years until I could say I was making a proper living, but it’s not like you crest the hill and then it’s all freewheeling. I was buried under the avalanche of work that followed, and it took a few more years to dig my way out, by which time I had to start all over again creating a Mac and iOS app combo to survive in the new world that emerged in the meantime. There have been many hairy moments, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve thought it’s all over, only for things to roar back into life with the next release.

The peaks and troughs seem more extreme these days, and it’s much more difficult for apps to gain attention. You need to make sure you always have irons in the fire, while keeping up with the latest developments. You cannot rest.

It’s not easy and never was, but nothing worth doing ever is… at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Yes, that just happened.

OS X Yosemite Public Beta

July 25th, 2014 by Steve Harris

Yesterday, Apple made the Public Beta of OS X Yosemite available.

The current status of Reinvented Software apps is that they will run on Yosemite, but may not look very nice, there may be issues I don’t know about yet and it is unlikely much work will be finished on the apps before the Yosemite’s release later in the year, not least because iOS 8 is rumoured to launch a month beforehand, and so that takes priority (BTW, it’s great basing your work schedule entirely on guesswork).

One particular issue with Yosemite and iOS 8 that will affect Together users is iCloud. iCloud is undergoing significant changes on both Yosemite and iOS 8, and Together needs significant changes to keep working. There are even reports that just enabling iCloud Drive will stop syncing across all devices running prior versions of OS X and iOS, for example.

In short, if you run Yosemite, don’t expect anything to work, and don’t expect support or quick fixes for your problems. I simply do not have the time or resources to offer them. Thank you.

Together for iPad and iPhone 1.0

July 23rd, 2014 by Steve Harris

Together At Last

Together for iPad and iPhone is now available, bringing the features of Together for Mac to mobile devices so you can take your library with you wherever you go.

For anyone familiar with the Mac version, Together for iPad and iPhone will both look welcomingly familiar and work naturally on iPhone and iPad, with everything just a few taps away. See groups, folders and favorites in the Groups view, along with tags, labels and ratings in the Tags view. Tap any of these to see the item list, which shares its appearance with the Mac.

Together for iPad and iPhone can create notes, bookmarks, new documents from stationery for plain and rich text files, take photos and videos or import them from the camera roll. Together makes it easy to create new items from the clipboard, and can open files from other apps to add them to its library.

The app can also preview many other kinds of files, such as images and movies, PDF files, iWork documents, mail messages and more. When editing notes and rich text files, you can format text, attach photos and videos, insert links and highlight text. Together for iPhone and iPad can also encrypt and decrypt items, just as on the Mac.

Pricing & Availability

Together for iPad and iPhone 1.0 requires iOS 7.1 and later and can be purchased on the App Store at the introductory price of $9.99. It’s a universal app, so the same version will work on both iPhone and iPad.

Together for Mac

Together 3.2 from the Mac App Store is required to share libraries with Together for iPad and iPhone, as only Mac App Store apps can use iCloud. Existing Together users who’ve purchased Together 3.0 or later from the Mac App Store will automatically get Together 3.2 as a free upgrade.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to transfer licenses to the Mac App Store version, but if you have purchased Together 3 for Mac directly from Reinvented Software in the last 120 days and would like to transfer to the Mac App Store version, please get in touch.

For everyone else, Together 3.2 on the Mac App Store will be half-price at $19.99 for one month following its release.

More Info

Get more information about this release on the Together for iPad and iPhone product page, and answers to frequently asked questions on the Support page (will be updated with the latest info as needed).

Feeder 2.5

April 14th, 2014 by Steve Harris

Feeder IconFeeder 2.5 is now available. This version does not include any significant new features, rather its purpose is to modernise Feeder’s underpinnings to ensure compatibility with future versions of OS X, and more urgently to comply with Mac App Store rules. While no substantial functionality has changed, two notable changes are explained below.

Media File Tagging for iTunes Podcasts

How Feeder tags QuickTime movies, M4A, M4V and MP4 files with metadata such as artist name and artwork has been overhauled in this version. While there should be no noticeable difference for the first three of those file formats, MP4s lose the ability to set artwork. As Apple has moved from using artwork embedded in the files to artwork specified by links in the feed itself, this should make no noticeable difference.

Requires OS X 10.9 or Later

Because of its popularity in education establishments, etc, I have always done my best to keep Feeder working on older versions of OS X, but Apple’s pace of change in this area is making this a constant challenge. Feeder 2.4 became 10.7.3 and later to work with app sandboxing in the Mac App Store version, but 10.7.x had some bugs in this area that have made it unworkable for some people and having 10.8 as the lowest version is pretty pointless when 10.9 is a free upgrade. Therefore for Feeder to properly support sandboxing and the modernisation changes mentioned above, version 2.5 now requires OS X 10.9 or later. Versions of Feeder for older versions of OS X are always available at the bottom of the Feeder downloads page.

Pricing and Availability

Feeder 2.5 is a free upgrade for all existing 2.x users. A new license costs $39.99 direct from Reinvented Software or the Mac App Store. Upgrade and education discounts are available from the Reinvented Software store.

Together 3.1

October 28th, 2013 by Steve Harris

Together IconTogether 3.1 is out today. This version integrates with Finder tags on OS X Mavericks, improves iCloud libraries, adds Quick Open, improves the Mini Info view, supports editing info for multiple items far more elegantly and includes a load of other improvements.

OS X Mavericks

In Mavericks, it’s now possible to tag files in the Finder and all standard Save panels. Together can fully integrate with these Finder tags so you see the same tags in the Finder as in Together and vice versa.

This integration comes in the form of two options you can enable per-library in Together’s Tags preferences: one to import Finder tags and another to update them. The import option will enable one-way interaction, where Together imports the tags for all existing and subsequent items. Meanwhile, the update option will ensure that any changes made to tags in Together are reflected in the Finder and vice versa.

iCloud Libraries (Mac App Store only)

Apple made a lot of changes to iCloud in OS X Mavericks, and so Together 3.1 is essential if you want to use iCloud libraries with the latest OS. Additionally, these improvements mean Together can now safely move whole libraries to iCloud rather than import them, and creating iCloud libraries is much faster too.

Finally, whether on Mavericks or Mountain Lion, Together now asks for a new location when moving an iCloud library out of iCloud.

Quick Open

Quick Open is a new feature that can be used to quickly open (I know!) items, groups and tags by typing. Use the keystroke Command-Shift-O to show the Quick Open panel and start typing. Items are searched by name only, so the results are very quick. Use the Up and Down arrow keys to navigate between the results without leaving the search field and hit Enter to open the selection.

Multiple Info Editor

Editing Info for multiple items in Together has had its limitations in the past, but now that the Info view appears in a pop-over, it can be more flexible. When multiple items are selected, you will now see a different view that allows you to change specific values and add or replace tags.

Mini Info

The mini info view is shown above the preview and has been improved in a few ways. The Name, Comments and Tags fields now resize with their contents, links in the Comments field are now clickable and there’s a new optional Path line for showing where an original item’s file is located.

Also, the Preview menu now always has a submenu with options to show / hide the mini Info fields or the whole view. Previously, these were only available in the View Options panel.

And more…

Text editors can now use hyphenation and vertical layout, OpenMeta tags can now be synced the same way as Mavericks’ Finder tags, the Library Manager panel has made redundant by improvements to the File > Library menu and removed completely, labels now show their color in the tag browser and there are various other improvements too. See the release notes for a full list.

Together 3.1 costs $39.99 but is a free upgrade for all Together 3.0 users. Together 2.x users can upgrade for $19.99 from this site (upgrade discounts are not available for the Mac App Store). A 15-day trial version is also available from this site.