|The Stone Design Way|
©2001-2015 Andrew C. Stone All Rights Reserved
Stone Design is pleased to announce that once you buy Stone Works or any of our applications, you’ll never have to pay for another upgrade! That’s right! FREE UPGRADES for life*! When we release new versions, you can download them freely. Join the Stone community and help create the reality you want to live in! Sound interesting? We believe it’s the right thing to do - read on!
If you like the software - and we give you 30 days free to try it full strength - you can buy it once and never pay for an upgrade again. Buy from our online store as a bundle of "Stone Works" or any of the applications individually.
Crazy you say? We’ve been in business since 1984, and working with the precursor OS X technologies since 1989. Our customer base has been growing and will continue to grow because we take action on bugs and feature requests and release timely and free upgrades. We’ve been providing software online since 1987 and we believe that long term survival is possible if ethics are adhered to. Because Mac OS X is the biggest market we’ve ever had and it’s just beginning to mushroom, we’re happy to grow our user base with content users telling their friends about our alternate and low cost publishing and productivity suite. Each free upgrade you’ll be smiling! And here is how we came to this way of life:
The world we live in is constantly changing, and old adages like “You have to get bigger to survive” are beginning to ring hollow. If you want bloated, buggy, over-promised, under-delivered software, then Big is Beautiful. If the best the free market can do is produce yet another insecure Windoze MeMeMe, then it’s time to rediscover what free means. The tenets of capitalism and the free market - the promise that competition creates the most value for society - have been challenged with monopolies and mediocre software.
Macintosh developers are lucky to live in a rarefied environment - our users have well-integrated high-powered hardware which simplifies the developer’s job. More importantly, Mac users tend to be the creatives that shape our society. Mac users love their Macs, but yet it’s uncommon to see the same emotion coming from a WINTEL user. Our market may be small in relative terms, but 30 million times what ever you charge for your wares is not too shabby!
Our users are loyal and demanding - two key ingredients to keeping the psychic juices flowing so that software development continues and does not stagnate. We’re at a threshold where the Mach kernel and FreeBSD provide a rock-solid operating system to replace that tower of Babel that the original Mac OS has become. Therefore, it’s time to reevaluate the process of software development for this new OS and a world where our users are connected to the net at decent bandwidths.
Small Is Beautiful
I received my BA in Architecture and Urban Planning in the ‘70’s, when a new movement was arising to combat the soul dead boxy International style which was blighting our city skylines at the time. As E.F. Shumacher so aptly put, “Small is beautiful”. This applies to small teams of engineers who make killer applications as well as architectural planners. It was the book The Mythical Man Month by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. that first concluded that the more people you throw at a software project, the longer it will take to finish, including reaching a threshold whereby it will never be finished.
Any project should have exactly one principal architect - consensus is critical in many situations, but “too many cooks quickly spoil the broth” in software engineering. Of course, software can never have too many beta testers nor too large a diversity of users across age, culture and education.
The Stone Design Way
Even though I’m the CEO of Stone Design, I am passionate about perfection and coding. I wrote and continue writing the bulk of the seven applications we have ready for Mac OS X. Another important point from The Mythical Man Month is the much touted lie that “software is set in stone”. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Software is a living, practically breathing, entity that is trivial to change, bug fix or improve by adding features. The only thing that is set in stone are attitudes from the Industrial Revolution!
Yes, there have to be software freezes or there will never be releases, but I believe the day of hard goods (shrinkwrap boxes and CD’s) is almost gone. And good riddance! Stone Design has all of our software available via download, although we have CD’s if a user is willing to pay an extra $19. Because of the rapid dissemination of broad bandwidth services such as cable modems, DSL and ISDN among the digital cognoscenti Mac public, multi-megabyte files only take a few moments to download.
When you produce thousands of CD’s in environmentally abusive packaging, and a bad bug is discovered, you have two unpleasant choices - trash that inventory for a loss or worse, pawn off the software to your users as perfectly good. Why not avoid these miseries and provide your users with the latest, as good as possible, releases via the Internet? The cost savings can be passed on to your users and you are doing your part in protecting the planet’s precious resources.
Big Is Slow
As there become fewer and fewer gargantuan corporations controlling each industry through mergers and acquisitions, a new phenomenon is evolving: these large and inertia ridden goliaths are suffering from overdoses of chutzpah and the inability to quickly meet changing market needs. Like dinosaurs, the bigness was useful, but its usefulness may be over. Small software companies can run circles around large companies, and this deftness is our core advantage.
It’s usually hard not to think of Karl Marx or the unibomber when the word “Manifesto” is bandied about. And perhaps it’s fitting to use this term when talking about capitalism creating monopolies and killer applications! Here’s a condensation of my philosophy on the right way to create and provide software.
1. Software is a process not a product
Software is living - it’s never finished and, like humans, it’s never perfect.
2. Help save the environment by publishing electronically
By providing online help that can be printed by the end user, you minimize
the impact your company has on the environment.
3. Provide free upgrades for all minor versions
Don’t “feed” off of your early adopters, but instead, reward them with freebies.
4. Publish new minor versions when crashers or other anomalies are found...
It’s better if you acknowledge your mistakes than letting the press do it for you!
5. ... But, don’t publish new versions so often that users get annoyed
An often heard complaint is that users don’t want to have to upgrade too often.
6. Solicit and incorporate user suggestions
With OS X, it’s easy to build in a suggestion box to get online
bug reports and suggestions. See Help->Suggestion...
7. Provide the software as inexpensively as possible
By offering your wares cheaply, you reduce pirating and open access to
more users. Consider educational and non-profit discounts.
8. Rely on software quality, not expensive ad campaigns, to gain new users
Although entrenched companies can throw the big bucks at advertising,
it is not an option for the smaller independent software houses. Instead,
guerrilla marketing, word of mouth, and schmoozing are your tools.
9. Hire artists for your icons and ads, hire technical writers for your manuals
The classic mistake is to let the programmer write the manual. Iconic
artwork is what your users see, and even if your software is powerful
and correct, cheesy icons will hurt you. Follow the carefully described
Apple Human Interface Guidelines.
10.Love what you write: software reveals your attitude
Perhaps more than anything else, it is the care and craftmanship that
you invest into the design and architecture of your software that
will give the user the best experience.
Do As Ye Will - Harm Ye None
The ancients understood something very fundamental about human nature, which is that our will to sovereignty is tantamount to personal happiness. By following the second half of this dictate, you respect the will of others to also be sovereign. Is it possible to be ethical in a world which repeats the tired pseudo mantra “dog eat dog” ? For one thing, dogs don’t actually eat other dogs. If the only way you can survive is to destroy others, you should remember that if you live by the sword you die by the sword! Success should be measured less in economic terms, and more in terms of sustainability and the creation of a world you want to live in. Sound iconoclastic? The pendulum has swung, and the era of the small independent software house has returned.
Andrew Stone, is chief crystal gazer at Stone Design and has been coding in Cocoa as an independent software developer for over 25 years.
Who's life do you ask? Well, after 25 years of support, I realized it was Steve Job's life. After he died, Apple became the largest corporation on the planet and I could no longer in good faith pretend it was the underdog needing my help!