Wow, that was longer between posts than I had intended.
Seriously, though, I'm sorry for the long silence, and for the lack of updates to my software. I'm going to tell you a bit about what's happening with my apps, my life and this blog.
So what’s been going on?
After many years of working mainly as a software engineer with a passion for design, I managed to fulfil my dream of becoming a full-time interaction designer in 2011 by joining Google. I moved from London to Switzerland to join their office in Zurich, where I live today.
Previously, my creative energy needed an outlet outside my job, which my free Mac and iOS apps provided. Since becoming a full-time designer, I feel that much less of my capacity has been available to put into extra-curricular projects.
Let me tell you my plan for each of my apps. There is a general theme of retirement, but I think these are the right decisions to make, and, as I explain at the end, I intend to direct my energy into efforts that I hope will be of more benefit.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I suspected that the writing was on the wall for Namely (my app launcher for Macs) after Apple introduced application search as part of Spotlight. At some point I thought I'd give Spotlight a fair shot, and started using it instead of Namely. The truth is I haven't gone back to Namely since. I think Spotlight's personalised ranking works very well; I feel just as efficient as I did with Namely. It also has the advantage that system preference panes are included, which is a feature I had planned to add.
The only advantage I can still see to Namely is that it is more focused: in Spotlight, the other results appearing below the list of applications can be distracting. However, this minor advantage does not seem worth the effort of updating Namely with some much-needed improvements (making it a faceless app and including preference panes). I think Spotlight is now good enough that my help is no longer needed in this particular area.
If you are a user of Cambio, my iOS unit converter, you may already have noticed that it is no longer available on the App Store. This is mainly due to the fact that, to avoid a conflict of interest with Google, I would have to create an Android version if I wanted to keep supporting the iOS version. I haven't been able to make that time investment. Also, I believe that the most efficient way to do conversions nowadays is using speech in Google Now or Siri. So I'm not sure I would use my own software much anymore, which is usually a bad sign to me.
Tofu is probably my most popular app. It arranges text in a horizontal array of columns, which is intended to make it easier to read long texts, by avoiding vertical scrolling.
However, more and more reading happens on tablets rather than on Macs, and here, plenty of solutions exist that offer some of the same strengths as Tofu.
I still sometimes receive emails from enthusiastic users. (I'm sorry to those I haven't replied to individually.) Many have suggested open-sourcing Tofu to allow the community to improve it further. However, in light of what I said, I'm not sure a need still exists for it. Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments if you disagree. (Note that even if there's strong support from you, I cannot guarantee that I'll maintain it further, since other constraints may limit my ability to do so.)
Although I myself still use Licensed to manage my software licenses, I think it's becoming less and less relevant as fewer and fewer apps require license codes, instead using mechanisms like the Mac App Store. I'm therefore not planning any significant improvements to it. However, before I completely stop supporting it, I would like to add an export function, so that users can get their data out and into other tools such as a spreadsheet.
Deep Notes is a tool for making hierarchical lists that I created about 10 years ago, when to-do lists were flat and outliners too heavy. Maybe this is still the case, but I think the different use cases for Deep Notes are now well served (and often better served) by other tools. Plenty of apps and web sites exist for creating to-do lists, and they offer features Deep Notes doesn't, such as reminders. For more complex needs, creating a text document with a multi-level list or with headings is a more powerful solution, and doesn't require you to learn special shortcuts like Deep Notes does. Also, many of these alternatives offer cloud-based syncing and multi-platform support, something I would not be able to offer. I therefore consider Deep Notes "archived".
One of the things that moved me to finally resurface is that I've been thinking a lot about design in the last couple of years, and there are a lot of things I'd like to write about. I therefore plan to start publishing articles again. (Update: here's the first one.)
For more frequent and shorter thoughts and updates, you can also follow me on Twitter.