In Review

Today avTag went from ‘Waiting for Review’ to ‘In Review’. For non-Apple developers this means that Apple’s App Store review team are now reviewing avTag to see if it is suitable for inclusion in the App Store. This review process covers things such as usefulness, stability and adherence to Apple’s rules. It’s an ideal time for me to do some reviewing too.

Money

Coincidentally today also marked the occasion of me paying back the last of a loan I was given in January 2012. At that point in time I had various prototypes and test projects but nothing concrete and I borrowed £10,000 from a relative which I thought would be enough for me to take three or four months off from client work and get avTag finished and released. Most people are probably wondering why, if I was doing client work, I needed to borrow money since contracting is so lucrative. The simple answer is that at that time I was probably charging clients 50% less than I should have so client work allowed me to keep my head above water and that was about it.

Client work caused me more problems because long-term projects and support issues actually prevented me from ever taking a few months off and whilst I did take a few breaks here and there the plan largely fell apart.

Fast forward two years and I’m now a better paid contractor and I was able to pay off the loan and interest out of my earnings. This is a huge weight off my mind because and even if avTag doesn’t sell a single copy it really doesn’t matter. I don’t need income from avTag to repay the loan.

Was it worth borrowing £10,000? In this instance probably not. It did give me some freedom for the times I could take time off but the original plan didn’t work out and I could probably have reached this point without it.

Time

Over the last three years or so I’ve spent a lot of time on avTag. That hit home this weekend. Usually, on the weekends when my daughter isn’t with me, I’m either doing some work on avTag or feeling guilty for not doing so. This weekend, with avTag waiting for review, I could do neither. It made me realise what a dominant part of my life developing avTag has been.

Time, however, really shouldn’t be something I worry about. If I am ever in a position to make working on avTag my day job than things will be somewhat different but whilst it is a side-project it must be considered a labour of love. I’ve a lot of work still to do and for now that work is going to have to be done in my spare time.

Me As A Developer

Developing avTag has taught me a lot about myself as a developer. The biggest lesson has been that if I don’t have very specific, very small tasks then I lose focus quickly. I need to spend time planning my work out and breaking it down into small chunks.

I’ve known for many years that I tend to work best under pressure and that is usually pressure of a deadline. This has also been true with avTag and the beta shipped last summer when someone challenged me to have it out by a specific date. I submitted avTag 1.0 to Apple for review with hours to spare on another deadline someone had given me. I am hoping that once avTag has been released, pressure from customers will keep driving me forward as much as my own desire to make the app better and desire to implement the features I already have planned.

I am also easily swayed as evidenced by releasing a beta last summer and taking a year to turn that into a releasable version. A large chunk of that time was spent re-doing the user interface for iOS 7, something I rashly decided as soon as it was announced but really wasn’t necessary. Again, forward planning helps with this as long as I don’t decide to change the plans as I go along.

Finally I am pleased that I’m 99.9% of the way to having version 1.0 of avTag out in the wild. I don’t always take criticism brilliantly well and knowing that something I’ve created and feel passionate about is going to be judged by both strangers but also by my peers in the developer community is hugely intimidating. I’m sure that there will be people who love avTag and equally I’m sure that there will be people who hate it. The haters terrify me but facing that fear is very empowering.

Conclusion

Developing avTag has been stressful, expensive and time consuming. I worry that it will never sell a copy and will get one-star reviews across the board. But I’d not change a thing.