As I was working on an ambitious rewrite of MYStuff, I got an email from Insider Software asking if I was interested in co-developing a next-generation asset manager. I knew Insider and FontAgent Pro well, since I had been using their excellent font manager since 2000. Insider shared my passion for creating superior software and providing great customer service, and we forged a strategic partnership that played to our strengths.
For the last 18 months, I’ve been working with passionate people committed to creating a world-class asset manager. We’ve been through grueling debate and refinement about features and UI followed by months and months of testing in a variety of Mac environments to make sure the product is ready for commercial deployment.
Many times over the past 20 months I was reminded of that line from The Money Pit. For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, Tom Hanks and Shelley Long bought this big mansion and after they moved in, realized it had all sorts of problems. The running joke throughout the movie was that every time they ran into more problems with the repairs, the contractors would tell them it would take “two weeks”. In the end, the renovation of the house took far longer and was far more expensive than they ever thought, but it was a magnificent house when it was all done.
MYStuff Pro 2 turned out to be that house: a huge, overly-ambitious undertaking that went way over deadline, but in the end it’s something to be proud of.
It was more than just redesigning the interface. Almost everything from the original was re-written from scratch. Then I started adding the new features. Some were easy, others… not so much. Like, for example, the barcode scanner. That alone took about 4 months to get working satisfactorily, and the final bug with it wasn’t ironed out until literally 24 hours before shipping. (Thanks to: Johann Rocholl for the initial source; my wife for help help getting it running to begin with using her C & vision systems knowledge from “that other platform”; Conor Dearden for help Cocoa-i-fying it; and gwynne for help tracking down the last bug.)
Then came implementing our mantra “make it seamless”. It sounds minor, but it’s actually a very major undertaking. By “make it seamless” I mean implementing the little things that save users time and effort. For example: When you’re shopping using the built-in browser and you buy something, you’ll want to save a copy of the online receipt, right? So You click the “Save” button, and what should happen next? The easy thing, as a programmer, would be for it to have MYStuff just save the web archive to MYInbox, and then the user would manually create a new Record (or add it to an existing one.) But shouldn’t MYStuff ask you, “Hey, do you want to make a new Record or save this to MYInbox?” Then if you say you want to make a new Record, shouldn’t it ask you a few bits of information about it while it’s fresh in your mind so you won’t have to do it later? These little things are important to making a seamless user experience, and it’s something that we refuse to compromise on, even if it means that it takes longer to ship.
Looking back, I admit this release was overly-ambitious. (Even so, you should see the list of things we decided to bump to 3.0 and 4.0 that we wanted to put into 2.0!) Part of me wishes that I would have just stopped after updating the user interface and adding the smart folders, tags, and other database improvements. But this is what we thought was worthy of a “Pro 2.0” version, and this is what we wanted to ship.
Overall, we’re very excited about the MYStuff Pro 2.0 release. Aside from all the great features, it gives you a glimpse of the direction of the application in the versions to come: more than just another inventory program, MYStuff is dedicated to helping you manage everything about your stuff.