MicroISV Business Tips

This morning I came across two interesting articles about running a small software business that I thought were worth sharing. Both are from authors that made appearances in my “Marketing on the Cheap” list.

The first is another fine article from Daniel Jalkut, owner of Red Sweater Software and developer of MarsEdit, Black Ink, FastScripts and others. He discusses some of the challenges a small software developer has to tackle while running their business.

Respect For All Trades:

Working for yourself means a never ending list of outstanding questions. How do I improve my marketing? Can I streamline my quality assurance? Do I need a customer relationship management system? Maybe I should rent office space. When do I hire somebody? Is the printer ink deductible, even though I printed a couple concert tickets? How many free copies of my application should I be giving away? Should I be granting interviews? And if so, what’s my title, anyway?

There must have been some sort of mystic or planetary alignment at work here. Bob Walsh, owner of 47hats (formerly “My MicroISV”) suggests a logical method for tackling all of Daniel’s “outstanding questions”.

Sort By Money:

So what is a good strategy for prioritizing all those things you need to do – all the 47 hats you need to wear – to make your microISV successful? Here’s a piece of advice a successful microISV passed on to me when I first started: prioritize by revenue.

OpenGL Bullfrog

Finally had some time today to toy around with some OpenGL programming. One of the first architectural changes we’re going to tackle in Bullfrog 2 is to move all the graphics engine code to use OpenGL instead of Cocoa.

I created a new Xcode project to house our experimental code while we find our way around OpenGL. After hacking away for a couple of hours I was able to get a basic though flawed proof of concept to render our old friend from the first Bullfrog game into a custom NSOpenGLView.

I haven’t figured out how to get transparency to work with the alpha channel and the sprite is sized too small, but not too bad for a first go.

After some more reading I should be able to figure out how to fix the frog’s size and transparency issues.

I did encounter an interesting “bug” while putting together the UI in InterfaceBuilder. Using an NSOpenGLView directly with a custom class will never call your -initWithFrame: method. The only way I could find to get the method invoked was to use a Custom View (NSView) instead of the NSOpenGLView and then use my same custom class. Perhaps I’m just missing something, but this seemed strange.

LicenseKeeper 1.2 Beta Testers Needed

LicenseKeeper 1.2 is ready for beta testing. As mentioned in my previous post there are a bunch of new things that need to be tested.

If you want a sneak peek at what’s coming or would like to get your hands dirty and participate in the software development process then sign up on the new LicenseKeeper Beta Mailing List

I will be making an announcement soon on how to download the LicenseKeeper 1.2 beta.

This is a low volume mailing list that will be used for announcing new LicenseKeeper beta releases and related information. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Your help is much appreciated.

Subscribe to the LicenseKeeper Beta Mailing List

LicenseKeeper 1.2 Development Update

I just finished work on the last big item on my list of changes for LicenseKeeper 1.2. There are about a dozen small items to complete but they are mostly just loose ends.

Hopefully, next week will consist of testing and handling the inevitable last minute items.

For those of you waiting on some specific changes and bug fixes, I’m sorry for the long wait. This update has some pretty significant architectural changes under the hood that will be invisible to most of you. These changes put me in a good position to add the most popular feature requests in future versions.

But, what’s in LicenseKeeper 1.2 you ask? Here’s a quick breakdown of what’s coming:

  • User Interface Makeover
    The user interface gets a facelift giving LicenseKeeper a fresh clean modern look.
  • Refresh App Information
    You can now update an application’s information with a click of a button. No more looking for an application’s new version and Icon.
  • International Currency Support
    Track software purchases in U.S. Dollars, Euros, Yen, Pounds, or your own local currency.
  • Search your Notes
    In addition to searching your data by Product Title and Publisher, you can now find your valuable information by searching through the notes field.
  • Huge Attachments
    LicenseKeeper no longer limits the size of your attachments. Go ahead and organize installation packages, disk images (DMGs), and zip files with the rest of your information.
  • Attach Web Archives and More
    You can now attach and view Safari web archives to your records along with all kinds of other files.
  • New Serial Number Scanning Engine
    The scanning engine has been completely rewritten to provide significant performance and accuracy improvements.
  • And More
    Version 1.2 improves LicenseKeeper in dozens of other ways including bug fixes and other minor improvements.

Keep an eye out for the LicenseKeeper 1.2 release announcement — coming soon to a web site near you.

My Apple History

The Core77 Design Blog has created a sweet chart of Apple’s history of product design. [link via Guy Kawasaki]

It was fun to scan the chart and find how many Apple products I have owned or actually used: (I took the liberty to add NeXT to the list)

  • Apple IIe (1983) – School & Friend
  • Apple IIc (1984) – Friend
  • Apple IIgs (1986) – Friend
  • Macintosh SE (1987) – School
  • Macintosh Classic (1990) – School
  • NeXT Station (1990) – School
  • PowerBook Titanium (2001) – Own
  • Power Macintosh Mirror (2002) – Work
  • PowerBook G4 Aluminum (2003) – Mother
  • Power Macintosh G5 (2003) – Own
  • iPod 3rd Gen (2003) – Own
  • iBook G4 (2003) – Sister
  • iPod Click Wheel (2004) – Own
  • Mac Mini (2005) – Own
  • Mac Book Pro (2006) – Own
  • Mac Pro (2006) – Own
  • iPhone (2007) – Own

Can you guess by the listed dates when I graduated from college and entered the “Windows Enterprise World” and when I became a “switcher”?

What does your Apple history look like? Add your list to the comments or to your own blog.