Review of 2011

One more year is nearing to its end and it’s time to review the ups and downs. I’ll take a look at how the year went by, what was going on as well as plans for next one.

This year was eventful for me in many ways. Let’s start by glimpsing back on the Gentle Bytes site first. This year I was more active on the blog and tried several different topics. First blog post of the year was about software I use everyday. Some of that has changed, but most of it is still relevant for my everyday life. I mentioned I might write about software I use for programming, but didn’t have time for it, perhaps next year…

Few days later, on 26th january, I released version 2.0 of appledoc. This was a major upgrade of my open source Objective-C API documentation generator. It took a lot of time and effort, and as I was simultaneously working on Startupizer, it’s even more amazing. Arround the same time I was already “battling” with Apple Mac App Store Review team to get it approved. It took another month until on it was finally ready for sale! It was my first shareware project ever, so I was very excited about it. Here’s my family sharing my victory with me (the cake was my 4 year old son idea and he also helped make it from start to end!):

And how was the response? Not bad, but didn’t buy me a tropical island either :) The sales had few pitches, but it picked a steady pace otherwise. Can’t make a living out of it, but enough to cover day to day expenses, at least partially. I must still rely on client work to pay the bills at the end of the day. But it was fun and I learned a lot from it. In this post I wrote about the process of making Startupizer, you may want to read it. After initial release, I got a lot of feedback, so next few months I was more or less dealing with that, implementing new stuff, fixing bugs etc.

As those of you following me on twitter already know, second half of the year was marked with research and then work on next major update for Startupizer. 1.0 was created using Leopard API and even though Mac App Store came to life near the end of the project (which was Snow Leopard only), I didn’t jump on the new stuff, it was simply too much work. With 2.0, I decided to do a complete rewrite and while at it also decided to make it Lion only. This gave me a bunch of exciting new possibilities out of the box. Work progresses nicely and I’m very happy with results so far - the look finally comes close to what I have perceived at the start but didn’t have tools or didn’t want to invest too much time creating my own. I’m targeting launch date on march 2012. I will probably be payed upgrade, but am also planning on making release sale, so stay tuned!

One of the side effects of using new APIs was lack of documentation and tutorials for it. Seems like there are many good iOS development blogs, but not so much Cocoa ones. So I had to do it the hard way by trial and error. As I was learning new stuff, I decided to write blog post for my reference and for helping fellow developers struggling with same issues. The result of this was series of blog posts - view based table views part 1 and 2, auto layout and update with view transitions (up to today). In fact, auto layout post is at the top of Google search for “lion auto layout” for a while now:

One of the things that required quite a bit of work was maintaining the site. I was running it on WordPress using custom theme which I coded from designer’s template. And it was very difficult to maintain or add new pages. In june I updated to Highlight theme which gave me somewhat modernized look and even more importantly brought simpler updating. But even though WordPress allows quick setup and customization, running it felt clunky and unnecessarily complicated. I was aware of static site generators for quite a while and even tried few, but it wasn’t until I came across PieCrust that I got simple to use and versatile tool, so I took a step and updated the site once again in november. PieCrust is really simple to install, use and deploy and I warmly recommend it! This finally gave me simple way of working with site completely offline and updating it using a single tool - text editor. One surprising bonus I overlooked during my prior testing is I can now have the whole site under version control, so I can do test branches, push to backup and all the rest of the goodies! I might do some visual update in the future, but am for sure sticking with baked site!

Gentle Bytes is still single person business. As I wrote above it’s not yet creating the revenue needed for devoting it 100% of my time. Therefore I have to make compromises and this year the biggest one was on account of appledoc. I just couldn’t support it as much as I did previous year; after doing client and consulting work, I had to split my remaining time to my family and my projects. And appledoc just didn’t make the cut. I still follow all requests but more or less only do maintenance work. I did couple bug fixes during the year and there were several contrubutions from other developers. One of the most requested features is still support for C functions, enumerations and similar. Martin Pilkington of M Cubed Software has stepped in and his work is available on his GitHub page. In the mean time he informed me that he can’t continue due to his other obligations. Although it’s not “nuclear science”, it is a large job. I’ve added brief note to the appledoc issue dealing with this feature. If you want to contribute, contact me and I’ll do my best to help you with advice and directions.

So what’s the plan for 2012? As I already wrote, I’m working on next major update to Startupizer. This takes most of my time at this point. After it’ll be released, probably sometime in March 2012, I’ll perhaps take some time to check appledoc until release dust settles and then I’ll start the work on my second shareware project - I’ve finally picked one out of my growing pool of ideas. That’s the plan, but let’s see what reality will bring…

Anyway - I’m grateful for everything that happened throughout this year, and in this spirit wish you all merry christmass and a happy new year. Hope it brings you fulfillment you’re looking for!



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