Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Reviving a 16-year-old Mac App

Jonathan Deutsch (Hacker News):

Today we released Whisk 2.0: a lightweight web page editor with a live preview that updates as you type. The name may be new, but the mac app’s origins are in shareware called HyperEdit that I started while in college over 16 years ago. It is hard to believe I’ve worked on an app old enough to get its driver’s license!


From a developer perspective, distributing software is significantly harder. In 2003, you could switch the config to Release, hit build, zip the app, and then put on a web server. In 2020, distributing requires learning the intricacies of certificates, code signing, provisioning profiles, hardening, notarization, .dmg creation, gatekeeper, and paying a $99 per year fee. From a mac technology perspective, I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say the amount required to learn to distribute software exceeds the amount I needed to know to write the first beta of HyperEdit! I wonder if it would have gotten off the ground if I started today.

Update (2020-05-18): Benedikt Terhechte:

I spend the last 9 months working almost every spare minute on a new iPad / macOS app. It seems I’m almost done, but this affected me really hard. It was so so so much work. Looking back I should never have started this. I’m unbelievable proud, but also totally exhausted 😔


I think there were times when I was close to crying because it was all just too much. This also includes a plethora of UIKit bugs which more than once made things that seem trivial cost me weeks.

There’s just so much complexity going on, and my app doesn’t even use the network, but there’s so much tech you need to know, understand, incorporate, and then manoeuvre around all weird iOS behaviours

SwiftUI, Cursor, UIDocument, iCloud, Spotlight, Unicode (two different strings), Drag and Drop, Splitscreen, Multi-Window, Keyboard, Objc Interop, Sharing, Undo, Dark Mode, Assets, and so on. Building an indie app is a suicide squad

Oluseyi Sonaiya:

This whole thread, amen.

I’ve paused my indie iOS app multiple times, because it’s unclear that the return is worth the effort. I’m finding peace treating it purely as a hobby.

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