DejalNews #70: Caboodle acquired, BlogAssist & Tweeps discontinued

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DejalNews 2017-05, issue #70


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Caboodle acquired

A very rare event occurred recently — one of my apps was acquired by another developer.

Caboodle, the app I first released over a decade ago to collect and manage snippets of text and attachments, now has a new owner.

As explained in the blog post announcing the acquisition, I haven't been able to devote enough time to this app for quite some time, so I finally decided that I had to find a better home for it; another developer that might have the ability to improve it further, and give it the attention it deserves.

By now all of the users of this app should have been contacted by the new owner, Before Dawn Solutions. Version 2 is a paid upgrade, but well worth it, including many great enhancements that I started and John completed.

Learn more about this acquisition.

BlogAssist and Tweeps discontinued

Another rare but big recent change was to discontinue a couple of my less popular apps.

This is something I don't like to do, and perhaps put off for years longer than I should... but sometimes apps just don't take off, or become redundant or less popular over time, and it becomes obvious that it isn't worth investing more time in them, when I could be working on apps that more people care about and use.

In this case, BlogAssist, my macOS app to help with HTML markup, and Tweeps, my iOS app to manage Twitter accounts, were the ones to fall to this fate.

BlogAssist is a handy app, that I still use myself (at least when writing blog posts), and although it has a small group of customers, it hasn't sold all that well, and has consequently been neglected. It is also pretty much feature-complete; there isn't really anything else I wanted to add to it. While I could have just made it free, I made the hard decision to stop work on it. I have kept the app available for download, though, so if you want to try it, you can do so. I'd be willing to provide a free license to anyone who requests one (so long as that doesn't become too burdensome).

Tweeps, on the other hand, was an idea to serve a brief need in Twitter's early days, but their site has improved over time, so it became less useful. I haven't really used the app for quite some time. And sales have been pretty much negligible. So it was a relatively easy decision to discontinue this app, even though I had put many hours into it in the past. Since the iOS App Store doesn't have a mechanism to hide away obsolete apps, I chose to remove it from sale, so it can't be downloaded anymore. The page on the Dejal site is still available, if you're curious about it.

It's always hard to stop work on apps, but it's better for the remaining apps, so I can spend my precious time working on them.

Time Out in Uneeqco bundle

Time Out, my popular break reminder tool (that is in no danger of discontinuation!) is included in a bundle at present.

For a short while, Time Out is available as part of a bundle from a relatively new organization, Uneeq Company. This is a "name your own price" bundle, so you can choose how much to pay for $643 worth of Mac apps.

Check out the bundle!

Yellow Cottage Homestead

I mentioned my hobby business in my last newsletter. I don't want to bring it up every time, but I thought I'd give a brief update. On the blog you can see many cute pictures of new baby chicks (just a week old now!), plus our new bee hives, and much progress on the new chicken coop, where those chicks will soon live.

Check out the Yellow Cottage Homestead blog.

- David

BlogAssist & Tweeps discontinued

I've been thinking about focus a lot lately... perhaps not surprising from the author of a break reminder tool.

One result of that is a reluctant and long-considered decision to discontinue a couple of my apps that aren't very popular, so I can spend more time on apps that people actually use.

So, I am here to announce that BlogAssist, my macOS menubar utility to do HTML markup, and Tweeps, my iOS app to manage Twitter accounts, have now been discontinued.

BlogAssist was first released back in 2003, and reached version 2.4 in 2012, and was last updated to version 2.4.1 over a year ago. (Release notes.)

Tweeps was introduced in 2010, and reached version 3.3 in 2014. (Release notes.)

BlogAssist is still available for download, for anyone still using it, but is no longer supported and will not receive any updates. New users are welcome to use it if desired, too. It has a license requirement (with a free trial), but I'd be willing to provide a free license to anyone who requests one.

Tweeps is no longer available for download, since the App Store doesn't really have an area for legacy apps. You can see what it looked like on the product page, if you're curious.

Tweeps 3.3 released

Tweeps, my iOS app to help manage Twitter accounts, has now been updated to version 3.3, and is available on the App Store.

It includes a modern iOS 7/8-style appearance, and a number of fixes.

Learn more about Tweeps.

Tweeps 3.3 on the way

Tweeps version 3.3 has been submitted to Apple for review, so hopefully will be available in a week or so. It includes a modern iOS 7/8-style appearance, and a number of fixes.

Tweeps 3.2 released

Twitter has changed its API, so here's an update to Tweeps, my iOS app to help manage Twitter accounts. It has been updated to version 3.2.

This update includes these changes:

  • Added support for Twitter's new version 1.1 API.
  • Improved loading the accounts list and profile view.
  • Replaced the buttons in the Profile view.
  • Now uses a tinted status bar on iPhone.

It is currently available for a special price of just $4.99, for a limited time.

Learn more about Tweeps.

Tweeps 3.1.1 released

A quick update to Tweeps, my iOS app to help manage Twitter accounts. It has been updated to version 3.1.1.

This update fixes a crash when going back before the list of profiles has completed loading. Sorry about that!

Version 3.1 added support for the new 4" display on the iPhone 5, and is built for iOS 6.0, compatible back to iOS 5.0.

It is currently available for a special price of just $4.99, for a limited time.

Learn more about Tweeps.

Tweeps 3.1 released

I'm pleased to report that Tweeps, my iOS app to help manage Twitter accounts, has been updated to version 3.1.

This update adds support for the new 4" display on the iPhone 5.

It is also built for iOS 6.0, compatible back to iOS 5.0.

Learn more about Tweeps.

Tweeps 3.0.1 released

I'm pleased to announce a major upgrade of my iOS app to help manage Twitter accounts, Tweeps. Version 3 has been rewritten to use iOS 5's built-in Twitter accounts, so you no longer need to authenticate them in Tweeps.

It also adds a feature that version 1 had, but I had to remove in version 2 — the ability to edit avatar images. You can take a photo with the camera, choose a picture from your photo library, or paste an image from a web page or other app, and set it as the avatar for your Twitter account.

I also replaced the brown color scheme with the standard iOS theme. I didn't really like the brown. The idea was to match the nest theme of the icon, but brown isn't the most attractive color.

Tweeps 3 also supports retina graphics on the new iPad, the sidebar is always visible for easier access, and other improvements.

Tweeps 3 requires iOS 5 or later, and is universal, so works natively on iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.

I'll leave Tweeps free for today, but tomorrow will increase the price. I'm thinking of an experiment: set the price at $9.99 tomorrow, then decrease it by a dollar each week, to a final price of $0.99. A bit of the reverse of a more traditional technique of starting cheap and increasing the price over time. We'll see how it goes.

Update: Thanks to everyone who downloaded it while free; please leave a review. And thanks to everyone who buys it now; your purchases help fund the development work!

Learn more about Tweeps:

Where things are at

I've have been rather quiet of late, haven't I? I thought I'd post a status update, as preview of my traditional end-of-year summary.

I spent the first half of 2010 working on Tweeps, a free app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch to easily manage Twitter accounts. It was an interesting experience; I had written two previous apps for iPhones (SmileDial and Valentines), but Tweeps was a much bigger project, and my first iPad app. It includes a lot of handy technology that I'll put to use in future iOS apps.

After releasing a few bug-fix updates of my various Mac apps, I got to work on version 2.6 of Simon, my flagship product to monitor websites and servers for changes and failures. This is a significant update, and I've blogged about it a number of times recently, showing sneak peeks of some of the new features. Work on it progresses nicely. Recently Daniel was able to update the Twitter plugin to work with the new OAuth authentication scheme required with Twitter. I'm hoping to have Simon 2.6 ready for beta testing around mid-October, with a general release around mid-November. (And in the meantime, contact me if you want to try a sneak peek release — available to licensed users only.)

An interesting thing that occurred a little while ago was the sale of my first Mac OS X app. Narrator, my app to read out stories in multiple voices, was acquired by Mariner Software. That was quite an interesting experience; I'd never sold off an app before. But I still feel it was the best thing for everybody: I wasn't giving Narrator the love it deserved, and it's a great fit with Mariner's other apps. Based on that experience, I'll definitely consider offers on other of my apps, when appropriate.

After Simon 2.6 is out, assuming I have time, I'm going to close out the year with version 1.4 of Caboodle, my lean clean snippet machine. This update will include some much-requested new features, like a default font preference, encryption of child entries with the parent, and more. If Simon takes longer than anticipated, this might get pushed to next year, but I'm hoping I can get it done this year.

Next year I want my top priority to be finishing off version 2.0 of Time Out, my very handy break reminder tool. I had wanted to finish it last year, but it got postponed by Tweeps and Simon updates. It remains an important and exciting update, though, so I'm really looking forward to it. I'm sure it'll be worth the wait. And as previously mentioned, everyone who makes a donation for Time Out now will be automatically eligible for the full-featured paid edition at no additional cost — so you can set your own price for it now! This offer expires when version 2 is released. Thank you to everyone who has already donated; the volume of donations is really encouraging.

So that's where things stand now, and for the next few months. I have big plans for several of my apps after that, but I don't want to talk about future plans too much, since everything is always subject to change. What's important to me is that everything I release is of the best quality, not that I meet arbitrary deadlines. That's just the way I roll.

Tweeps 2.1 released

Version 2.1 of my new iPad and iPhone app, Tweeps, has just been approved, and is now available on the App Store.

You can get it at no cost, too. I've decided to make it completely free. Tell your friends!

The two major additions in this release are support for iOS 4, and for the new iPhone 4 device.

The recent iOS 4 operating system release added multitasking and a number of other great enhancements to devices that support it. Tweeps 2.1 now fully supports fast app switching. There's nothing Tweeps can usefully do in the background, but the convenience of flipping from another app (e.g. your preferred Twitter posting client) to Tweeps and back is very useful.

This update also includes a number of minor bug fixes and tweaks to support other changes in iOS 4.

Apple's new iPhone 4 is a very nice little device. One of its key enhancements is a beautiful new "retina display" — twice the resolution of older iPhone devices, with pixels smaller than the human eye can see. Tweeps 2.1 adds higher resolution icons and other images so it looks even better on the iPhone 4.

Learn more about Tweeps, or get it for free now:

Tweeps 2.0 released

I previously mentioned that version 2.0 of my new iPad and iPhone app, Tweeps, was in the approval queue. Well, today it was approved, and now it's available on the App Store.

You can get it at no cost, too, if you're quick — in celebration of the 2.0 release, I've made it free for a limited time. Tell your friends!

The two major additions in this release are the iPad support, and OAuth support.

The iPad support was of course the biggest change, with a new sidebar and expanded content to take advantage of the increased screen space.

But the OAuth support was a more important change, especially for iPhone users. Without that, Tweeps would have stopped working after June, if Twitter sticks with its plan to turn off the old-style authentication. Tweeps uses xAuth, which is a more convenient variation of OAuth; you still enter your username and password in Tweeps, and it authenticates via a complex dance of exchanging tokens and such. Once you've authenticated once (via a secure connection), Tweeps doesn't need to send the username and password again.

Learn more about Tweeps, or get it for free now:

Tweeps 2.0 in the review queue!

Last night I submitted version 2.0 of Tweeps, my new iPhone OS app to easily manage Twitter accounts, to Apple for review prior to appearing in the App Store. I have no idea how long it'll take Apple to review and approve it, but I'd anticipate it being available sometime next week. Follow the Dejal RSS feed or @dejal on Twitter to be notified when it is available.

In celebration of the impending Tweeps 2.0 release, I've now made Tweeps completely free! This is just for a limited time, so go get Tweeps for free now!

It's been about two months since Tweeps 1.0 was released. The 2.0 update includes a number of changes, the main one being native support for iPad, which is why I think it deserves the 2.0 designation. There are some major changes to support the extra screen space, including a sidebar / popover like the Mail app and others use, and lots of other changes.

Another big change is invisible, but essential: it now uses xAuth to authorize the accounts with Twitter. This is a more convenient variation of OAuth, which will be required for Twitter access by the end of June. Tweeps has the same convenient username and password fields as before, but now uses xAuth to log in to the Twitter service. Any Twitter clients that don't support this by the time Twitter disables the old mechanism will stop working.

This new version also includes some fixes for iPhone usage, and should be more compatible with the forthcoming OS 4.0, though some further tweaks may be needed for the final OS release. Note that it now requires a minimum of iPhone OS 3.1.

One unfortunate casualty of the xAuth change is that I had to disable the feature where you can edit your avatar image from within Tweeps. I just couldn't get it working without crashing the library used to handle OAuth. I'll restore this feature in a future update if f I can solve this issue.

I've been working on Tweeps for almost a year, though mixed with other work, so actually about three man-months of work. Still, it's been quite a sizable project, and very gratifying to achieve the 2.0 release. I have a number of ideas for improvements in future versions, if there's sufficient customer interest, though first I've got several updates of my Mac apps to do.

Anyway, get Tweeps for free now, and you'll automatically get the 2.0 update when it is available.

More Tweeps for iPad screenshots

As promised last week, here are a few more screenshots of the iPad edition of Tweeps, my new iPhone OS app to easily manage Twitter accounts.

Firstly, the Find Others view in landscape. You can use it to quickly locate any Twitter user. You can search for a person's name, a company or brand name, or a username. If you know the exact username, you can prefix it with an "@" to skip the search results and go straight there. On the iPad, a "Recents" popover is displayed, that includes your recent searches, making it even easier to search for them again:

In portrait orientation, the sidebar is in a popover, like in Mail etc (here's the list of people who follow you... which may get some further improvements before release):

And lastly, another landscape view, this time the Mentions list — tweets that replied to you or mentioned your username:

Stay tuned for more screenshots next week!

Remember, you can still apply to become a Dejal beta tester to try Tweeps 2 now, or buy now to get it at the version 1 price.

Tweeps for iPad ready for beta testing

Here's an update on the iPad edition of Tweeps, my new iPhone OS app to easily manage Twitter accounts.

I mentioned in my post last week that I wanted to have Tweeps 2.0 released in time for the US 3G release, which is today. I wasn't sure I'd make it, and a few days ago I decided that there wasn't enough time to do proper testing and get it through the approval process, so my new goal is to beta test it during May, and have it in the App Store for the international iPad release, around the end of May.

I know that some people will be disappointed by the delay, but I don't feel comfortable rushing it out without adequate testing. I pride myself on releasing quality products, and that's more important than an arbitrary self-imposed deadline.

But all is not lost. If you want to try Tweeps 2.0 now (on your iPad or iPhone), you're welcome to apply to become a Dejal beta tester. Tweeps is a Universal application, so works natively on both iPhone and iPad. Only a few of my existing beta testers have notified me of iPad device IDs, so I'm keen to get some more iPad testers. I'll do the first beta release once I have a few more.

As a reminder, Tweeps 2.0 will be a free update for existing customers, but will have an increased price for new purchasers. So buy now to get it at the cheaper price!

Here are a few screenshots of Tweeps on iPad. Firstly, the Profile view. Notice the sidebar providing quick access to the other views, and more spacious avatar and other info (only bug here is the count badges are truncated on the left):

In portrait orientation, the sidebar is in a popover, like in Mail etc (here's the integrated map view):

And lastly, editing the location — you can edit it here, and see the location on the map (or find your current location), or edit it on the Profile view simply as text:

Stay turned for more screenshots next week!

Apply to become a Dejal beta tester to try Tweeps 2 now, or buy now to get it at the version 1 price.

Tweeps for iPad sneak peek

I am currently working on the iPad edition of Tweeps, my new iPhone OS app to easily manage Twitter accounts.

My current goal is to have Tweeps 2.0 released in time for the US 3G release, in just over a week's time. I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it, and of course that depends on a quick approval by Apple, but I'll try!

Tweeps 2.0 will be a free upgrade for existing customers. It is a Universal application, so available as one edition for both iPhone and iPad. I plan on increasing the price for new purchasers. I'm currently thinking of $4.99, with a limited-time special price of $2.99 to ease the transition. So buy now to get it at the cheaper price!

Here's a sneak peek of the current progress; the view I was working on last night: the Edit Avatar view in portrait. There are a couple of issues with this view currently, but otherwise it's fully functional:

Tweeps for iPad

I got my iPad on Saturday, and spent much of the weekend playing with it. The iPad really is a magical device — as Arthur C. Clarke said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

I don't really have much to add to the numerous commentaries, reviews, and discussions on the interwebs. So suffice to say that I think it's a great device, and will only get better as OS upgrades and software updates enhance it.

Kudos to developers who provided iPad-native updates for the initial release. It takes a lot of bravery to release an app without ever trying it on a real device. For the most part, the risk paid off for them, though many of the apps have some issues, varying from UI malfunctions to crashes, which the developers are scrambling to fix.

Personally, I decided to wait for my iPad before I released Tweeps for it. Though part of that was due to a lack of time, since Tweeps 1.0 was only released a few weeks ago, then I was away on a cruise. But I think I would have been rather hesitant to do a release without live testing, even if I had enough time.

Anyway, work on the iPad edition of Tweeps is underway. It will look much like in the previously-posted mockups. I'll give my existing beta testers a first chance to try it, then will open it up to others.

One point I wanted to emphasize: Tweeps will be a Universal app — so it will run natively on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, from one app. If you've already bought Tweeps, you'll get the iPad edition for free! If you haven't bought Tweeps yet, you can get it now at the special introductory price, and will get the iPad edition at no extra cost. I'll be increasing the price soon, so don't miss the low-low price.

Here is my latest design mockup again; see the previous post for more views (click to see full-sized):

More Tweeps for iPad mockups

I previously posted some mockups of an iPad edition of Tweeps, my new iPhone OS app to easily manage Twitter accounts.

But as I said, I've been struggling with coming up with a satisfactory design. My latest thought is that I shouldn't try to emulate a physical object like a notepad or book, but would be better following Apple's example with apps like Mail, and use a split view.

So here are my latest design mockups (again done in OmniGraffle).

In landscape orientation, a split view shows a list of pages on the left, and the details on the right; in this case, the main Profile page for your own account (click to see full-sized):

In portrait, the left view appears in a "popover" instead:

I'm not sure if the Edit button should be in the left or right views... but there's more room in the right, so that seems reasonable.

Here's a sample of the Following page in landscape:

What do you think? I think this is a better design, more clean and consistent — and allows me to use much the same color theme as on the iPhone, as a minor bonus.

Tweeps for iPad mockup

Now that Tweeps is available in the iPhone App Store, I'm starting work on the iPad edition.

Obviously, the iPad has a lot more screen space than the iPhone, so a different design is needed to take full advantage of this extras space. I've been thinking about iPad design concepts ever since the iPad was announced, but have yet to come up with something that entirely satisfies me.

A difficulty with coming up with a good design is that Tweeps can show any number of levels. You start with a list of your accounts, then show your profile overview, then can show a list of people you're following (for example), then delve deeper by showing the profile overview for one of them, and their followers, and so on to any number of levels. This works fine with the navigation display in the iPhone edition, where you can keep pushing views onto the screen, but is harder with a more traditional interface.

For quite a while, I've been thinking about something like the iPad Contacts app design, with a two-page book metaphor. The idea would be to display the profile details on the left page, and the avatar, web, map, following, followers etc views on the right (one at a time). It'd then flip the page when viewing a different person's information. That seems like a reasonable approach, though the very different content displays on the right seems to break the book metaphor.

The latest idea I've been exploring is more of a notepad metaphor. The idea is a single notepad page with the profile overview, and bookmark tabs (like Post-it® flags) sticking out from the right for related pages like those listed above. So you touch a tab to flip the notepad to that page. There would also be bookmark tabs on the left side to go back to the previous profile(s) or the accounts list.

Here's a rough mockup, done in the great OmniGraffle (click to see full-sized):

Don't worry about the fine details; as I said, it's very rough.

You'd tap the Following tab on the right to flip pages to the Following view, which would be similar to that in Tweeps now, except would have room to show more information about each person:

You could then go back to the profile overview via the new tab with the avatar icon on the left, or go straight to other pages via the other tabs on the right.

If you tap a row in the Following list, it'd flip the page to the profile overview for that person, and the tabs on the right would then show more information about them.

It might look better with a black background, to merge into the iPad bezel, as follows. In which case I'd eliminate the space around the edges (still shown in this mockup), providing more room for the content:

What do you think? Would this design work, or am I on the wrong track? Should I forget about trying for a real-world look? I'd love to hear other design ideas too.

iPad includes a rotation lock switch

Like many others on the West Coast of the US, I woke up at the unreasonably early hour of 05:30 this morning to place my pre-order for the iPad. I wasn't planning on waking up so early, but my internal alarm clock had other ideas. I ordered two iPads — the Wi-Fi-only model for myself, and the 3G model for my wife. Plus most of the accessories.

Anyway, I (and others) noticed that Apple has just added more information on the iPad product pages. One change of particular interest to me is that they've changed the mute switch on the side of the iPad (above the volume rocker) to a screen rotation lock switch:

I think this is a great change. The mute switch is very useful on an iPhone, to easily switch to vibrate mode while watching movies and such, but would be much less useful on an iPad. It would be nice if they made it a setting, so people could opt to use the switch for rotation lock or mute (like the home button can be configured), but rotation lock is a more sensible default setting.

This particularly interests me as my new iPhone app, Tweeps (an app to easily manage your Twitter accounts) includes a software-based rotation lock feature, as shown in the following looping movie. I'm about to start adapting it to native iPad support, and was thinking about how I'd adapt the rotation lock feature... and now I have an answer: I should just remove it in the iPad edition. It'll still remain very useful on the iPhone edition, though.

I'm fine with that — having a system-wide setting that is easily accessible is much better than individual apps having to implement their own solutions. Though I must admit, part of me is a little sad... I'm proud of my implementation.

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