Time Flies When You’re Trying To Ship That App

Crunch Time

Wow. I can’t believe it’s already been four weeks since my last post. For one thing, that means I missed my iDevBlogADay slot last time around. For another thing, it means I’m less than 2 weeks away from my deadline for uploading my metronome app binary (part of why I missed the last post – super crunch mode!). But alas, it’s not going to happen. For anyone who may not know what I’m talking about, iTunes Connect allows you to begin the process of submitting an app – reserving the name, adding metadata, etc. – without actually uploading an app binary right away. However, to prevent name-squatters, once you start that process, you’ve got 120 days to submit. If you miss the deadline, your app is automatically deleted, and the name is back up for grabs for anybody but you! That’s right, you can never use that name for an app again. You may have noticed above when I mentioned “super crunch mode.” But wait, you might be thinking, isn’t that against what being indie as all about? Working for yourself, when you can, no forced week/month long crunches with no sleep and mandatory overtime to push out a product by some unrealistic deadline…

Not THAT Email!

…So, there I am innocently checking my inbox, when, bam! “You have not yet uploaded a binary for your app…If you do not upload a binary for your app by 14 October 2011 (Pacific Time), it will be deleted from iTunes Connect. The app name will then be available for another developer to use.” When I reserved my app name and began this whole process, I was well under way with what I thought would be the hardest part of the programming. Turns out I was right, it was the hardest part. So hard – or at least I’m still enough of a noob – that three months later I’m still messing with a few weird edge case bugs that, when they occur, render the controls basically unusable. Yeah, I get that email, and start to panic – OK, if I can get such and such a feature done in the next two days, then I’ll have enough to send out to testers, oh wait, still gotta find more testers. Then, all I’ll have to do is crank out an icon, finish the main screen design, decide which features to cut even though they were part of what would make my app unique, oh yeah, and there’s still that nasty bug lingering around…no problem, I can get it done in four weeks! And I tried. Well, I tried for about a week – putting off classwork, procrastinating on responsibilities for my actual (part-time) job, barely sleeping, having no time for my wife and friends…and then life caught up with me and I just HAD to step back and do some other stuff. And to be honest, I’m glad I did.

What To Do, What To Do…

That week, when I was trying to power through and crank out an app – a 1.0 version that would certainly be buggy and with subpar, rushed design – I hated it. There were a handful of thrilling moments, when major improvements came together quickly by sheer force and will-power and it looked like maybe I had a chance, but for the most part, it was awful. So, I’ve decided to let the deadline pass. Will I lose my app name? Maybe, although I had a few variations in mind already, so maybe it won’t be so bad to lose this particular one. There’s also a variety of supposedly valid ways to game the system and work around the deadline, but I won’t go into those. Google will help you out if you’re curious, but I’m just not sure how much stock to put into random, usually old forum postings of people saying they tried such and such, and it worked to save their desired name without actually releasing the app. I’m not going to get sucked into two more weeks of hell only to put out a crappy, unpolished product. That’s exactly what’s already out there (with some exceptions of course) and the reason I’m trying my hand at an already well-saturated market. I’m not going to completely throw away some of my desired and unique features because I jumped the gun on registering my app name. This is only my second major app project, so needless to say, I’ve still got a lot to learn about programming and time-management and estimation; I think it’s OK to cut myself some slack. I’m not going to get bogged down by the extreme stress a crazy two weeks like this would produce. What am I going to do? Get my app fully functional and thoroughly tested, and actually enjoy doing it, not to mention try to make the most of the potential 1.0 initial release sales bump with a quality product. I’m going to enjoy this beautiful fall weather and take my dog on walks like I did today. I’m going to go camping this weekend with great friends. I’m going to live life how I want to and allow space for some some hard work mixed with a little creativity and time to do its magic and hopefully lead me to a great app. And that’s how you do it indie style 🙂

Oh yeah, and I’m going to push that button over there and publish this post after midnight US central time. Oops, guessed I missed my iDevBlogADay deadline again. Oh well, at least Miguel won’t automatically delete my post and make me choose a new name!

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7 thoughts on “Time Flies When You’re Trying To Ship That App

  1. The only requirement to keep your app name is that you upload a binary, regardless whether it’ll pass review. So you could upload a dummy app and be safe. You can also manually reject your own binary afterwards to prevent the review process from starting, or arrange things to halt on an error state like “missing screenshot”.

    Of course it might be useful to have a hard deadline for yourself, but in case you miss it, there’s no need to lose your reserved name.

    1. Yeah, those are some of the options I’m considering. Have you had success doing one of those? Re: having a hard deadline for myself – that’s exactly what I was thinking when I registered that app name! Turns out, I didn’t push myself hard enough, or at least that I totally underestimated the time I would need to finish.

      1. I very recently put a dummy on the missing-a-screenshot status. I got there by accident, actually. I planned on rejecting it myself once it got to waiting for review.

        Personally, I’m not setting hard deadlines for myself. Instead, I prefer to define the minimum viable product and work towards that. It works for me because I’m very flexible with my work, mixing game development with freelancing and other stuff. I might end up suddenly shelving a project for a month or more, which is actually what happened to my latest game.

      1. Yep, thought about that too. Since it is a version 1.0, there’s nothing stopping me from doing that. I guess it’s possible then to upload another binary even if the current approved one hasn’t ever been released?

      2. I recommend you set the release date to the far future no matter what you do. Set it right only days before you release for real.

        You can upload as many binaries as you like. However, the idea of the review process is to only push binaries through there that are meant to be released. They’re busy enough as it is without having to look at dummies. It’s good play on our part to make sure they’re not bothered.

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