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Shane O'Sullivan's technical blog… really ties the room together

My webOS Apps: A great tool for webOS developers

Posted by Shane O'Sullivan on February 18, 2010

I’ve just released a beta trial version of my newest app called “My webOS Apps”. It is a tool for developers on the webOS platform to keep track of the apps they have submitted to Palm.  You can install it on your Palm Pre or Pixi by tapping the link below as soon as it becomes available in the Palm App Catalog – it’s been submitted and approved so it should show up quite soon.

http://developer.palm.com/appredirect/?packageid=com.chofter.palmdevutilstrial

My webOS Apps logs in to your account at developer.palm.com and retrieves a list of your apps, their download count and user ratings.  It runs in the background and notifies you when an app has been approved or rejected.  It tracks your downloads over time and shows you a graph of them.  Note that these are the real download counts, not including the updates like all other sites use, which are usually highly inaccurate.

The app is currently only available in the Beta feed of the app catalog, and the trial expires on March 7th.  I expect to finish the first version of the app over the coming week and will submit it for inclusion in the App Catalog.

Please give me feedback on the beta version.  What would you like to see in it?  What kind of data would you like tracked?  What would you like to be able to do with your data?

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24 Responses to “My webOS Apps: A great tool for webOS developers”

  1. David said

    Ooh, this app is tracking itself. Stop messing with my head, man!

    Looking forward to trying it!

  2. abegee said

    doesn’t find my apps, it finds my posts but not my apps.

  3. Joerg said

    Very nice idea – but didn’t work for me. I see only the spinning wheel, Internet is OK, checked the Login data also twice.
    Retrieving my posts work.
    Joerg

  4. @Abegee & @Joerg,

    Thanks for the feedback. I’m going to add better logging and the ability to send those logs to me via email if you have a problem. Hopefully that will help diagnose the issues.

    Keep an eye out for an update later today.

    Shane

    • Joerg said

      Shane,
      problem persists with 0.0.6
      I sent the log to you, hope that will help to analyze the prob.
      Joerg

      • @Joerg,

        Try out v0.0.8. I think I’ve fixed the issue

        Shane

      • Joerg said

        @Shane: yes, it worked for me very good. I stated it also as very useful app in the appcatalog review.
        But today with the last Update (0.2.6) the Beta expired. And an update will not be possible before end of March. Is there a way to keep the Beta alive until one can buy it?

        THX Joerg

      • Hi Joerg,

        I’ve extended the beta until the end of March (v0.2.7), by which time us Europeans should hopefully have paid apps. However I’ve reduced the functionality of the beta – charts, timelines and tweeting no longer work. This is to prod people to actually buy the full version, which very few have so far unfortunately. However it should still record your daily data, you can check your download counts etc, and when paid apps come around you shouldn’t lose any data.

      • Joerg said

        Hi Shane,
        Great! Thank you!
        The reduced functionality is no problem. Hope that Palm will bring the Paid Catalog still in March.

  5. Jabari said

    Great app!!! I just downloaded it and login in without any problems.

    It says that I don’t have “sufficient download data” and that “at least two days of data is needed”. Does that mean the app itself has to collect data over two days before it will display stats or does it mean there isn’t two days of data on Palm’s servers? My app has been up over a month and has had 1500 downloads…

  6. @Jabari,

    It means that the app has to collect data for to days. Unfortunately Palm doesn’t provide a download history that I can use, so I record the downloads each day and compare them against each other. Check it again tomorrow and you’ll see it working.

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  8. jurtrx said

    Hi there,

    first of all: Great app, love the idea and nicely done as well. But two things that come to my mind:

    1) How is the polling being done? With a background service? Or does the app have to stay open to do the polling and react on it (like auto tweet, etc.)? If it has to stay open, consider using a background service for future releases. That’d be nice pretty neat.

    2) $5.99, seriously?! I realize that this is not exactly the $0.99 type of app but you can’t be serious about that. $2 would be cheap, $2.50 to $3 adequate and $4 expensive, but for $6, I’d rather spend the same money on three other high quality apps at $2 each. I’d definitely consider spending money on your app, but that much, no way. So I don’t know, but maybe you could / should consider a Lite version of your app with reduced features, or something ad supported, etc. for the future? Sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, just stating my opinion here. Maybe others disagree.

    Good work anyway!

  9. Hi Jutrx,

    1) The polling is of course being done in the background. This is one of webOSs coolest features, and most of my apps make use of it.

    2) Yes, seriously. This is an incredibly niche app – the potential market is tiny, maybe 1000 to 2000 people. That’s just the potential number. If the app was sold for $2, that would be max $4000. Subtract Palm’s take, that’s down to $2800. Subtract the income tax I pay and that’s down to $1400. Convert to Euros and it’s about €1000. €1,000 for the life of this app, that’s very little, especially since that’s the amount I’d earn if EVERY webOS developer bought it. The real number would be closer to €200.

    The app is only expensive to you if what it offers is not worth that. $6 is less than a McDonalds meal. It’s not a lot of money, and if you’re a webOS developer you’ll use this app 20 times a day, and save minutes logging into Palm’s site and fumbling your way around it each time. Plus it tracks your downloads, a service offered nowhere else.

    This is value for money. If you don’t consider it to be, fair enough. But most serious developers will see the value, and realise that what it gives you is worth a lot more than the price of a two beers.

    • Jabari said

      Hi Jutrx,

      1) The polling is of course being done in the background. This is one of webOSs coolest features, and most of my apps make use of it.

      2) Yes, seriously. This is an incredibly niche app – the potential market is tiny, maybe 1000 to 2000 people. That’s just the potential number. If the app was sold for $2, that would be max $4000. Subtract Palm’s take, that’s down to $2800. Subtract the income tax I pay and that’s down to $1400. Convert to Euros and it’s about €1000. €1,000 for the life of this app, that’s very little, especially since that’s the amount I’d earn if EVERY webOS developer bought it. The real number would be closer to €200.

      The app is only expensive to you if what it offers is not worth that. $6 is less than a McDonalds meal. It’s not a lot of money, and if you’re a webOS developer you’ll use this app 20 times a day, and save minutes logging into Palm’s site and fumbling your way around it each time. Plus it tracks your downloads, a service offered nowhere else.

      This is value for money. If you don’t consider it to be, fair enough. But most serious developers will see the value, and realise that what it gives you is worth a lot more than the price of a two beers.

      +1

    • jurtrx said

      Thxx for your reply.

      Regarding 1) I can only say “great!”. That’s good and solid programming and I appreciate the effort.

      Talking about 2) it all comes down to your personal point of view. As I see it, the app is in my “nice to have” category. It nice to be able to get a quick look at my apps and posts from my Palm but it’s far from becoming a vital part of my development tool chain. Since development is done at the desktop computer anyway, as is app submission, etc. … I’m also gonna watch my apps from my desktop most of the time, since it’s much more comfortable. And as for the download tracking: It’s about 15 minutes work to hack together a script that extracts this information from Palm’s website at a daily basis… so for me, your app is surely nice to have but not vital, and thus I don’t really see why I’d spend twice the amount of money for your app than e.g. a good twitter app in the catalog costs, an app that from a programmers point of view is as much work as yours and an app that I use far more often.

      Anyway, as a programmer I can of course understand your wish to earn as much revenue as possible for the really nice work you’ve done and as I said it all depends on your point of view. One may see your app as less than a mc donalds meal, but then again it’s also double the price of other apps just as good as this one.

      For someone who heavily relies on this app, I can only recommend it. It’s solid and reliable (which for sure isn’t true for all the apps out there) and the UI is quite ok, too. As far as I am concerned… consider me to be on your customer list the moment you release a “Lite” version for about half the price.

      • Hi Jutryx,

        I agree that any competant programmer can knock together a script to parse a web page. Let’s be honest and say that it would take an hour or two. At normal contract rates of ~$75 per hour, that’s $150 of your time. Even then it’s just on your desktop.

        This app does much more, and for just $6. And on your phone.

        As for comparing it’s price to other apps, there is nothing else to compare it to – no other app does what this app does. While I understand normal customers balking at $6, I would expect a fellow developer to appreciate the large productivity gains offered by this app, and to weigh up the $6 against the time it would take you to reproduce it. It really is a pittance – I was thinking of asking $10 for it, just to help me come close to earning minimum wage for the time I put into it, but I figured people would see it as too expensive. Personally, I consider $6 to be a bargain, and if someone else wrote this app I’d pay that and more.

        However, if you don’t have the need to track your apps when not at your desk, I can see how this might not be a must have app. I’m sure plenty of other people will find it invaluable though, and that if you drop the $6 on it, you’ll have forgotten the money a day later, but use the app daily for years to come. Or not ;-)

      • jurtrx said

        Ok, let’s forget about the whole price discussion, because there’s just so many things wrong with your first statement about contract rates, etc. that I could write an essay about that alone. Then again you’re right with your second statement and it’s clearly a matter of usage. The one who uses the app every now and then but not really on a daily basis will consider the price point to be a bit steep, those that use it regularly and rely on it will be happy to pay $6 and I bet they’d even pay the $10 you had in mind originally. So while I’m not gonna be among them for the time being, I still wish you a lot of satisfied, happy, paying customers!

        As for me, I still have another technical question that’s bothering me. I got the feeling that sometimes the app is updating the data in the background as it should, specifically after I restarted my phone. Does the background service “autostart” after I restart my Palm (after changing batteries or for whatever reason), or do I have to launch your app once to “kick off” the background service?

      • jurtrx said

        sorry for the typo… “the app is updating” should read as “the app ISN’T updating”

      • Hi Jutryx,

        The app is scheduled to update itself once per day, at 11:53PM. If the phone is turned off, webOS is still supposed to run the background apps, and in my experience it still does so.

        If you have polling enabled, it is supposed to run that regularly, even after the phone has restarted.

        If you are seeing a different behaviour, please let me know.

        Thanks

        Shane

  10. whodunit said

    I make themes on prethemer.com and I was looking for an app that would help me keep track of downloads and that would make charts as well. I came across this app and wondered if you could make something similar for us themers. That would be fantastic. Thank you!

  11. Alex – a curious app developer :)…

    [...]My webOS Apps: A great tool for webOS developers « SOS[...]…

  12. Hi Laura,

    Apology accepted. I’m not sure what you mean about “plans to support the Pre after Q2″, but I would suggest you read a bit more on the subject. The Pre & Pixi are available on Sprint and Verizon in the states, with AT&T planning to start selling them Q2 this year. They’re available in many countried in Europe, with France being the latest added this month.

    webOS is expanding, and while nowhere near iPhone numbers, most people estimate that over 2 million phones have been sold so far, with many millions more to go. That’s a big enough market for me, especially given the lack of competition for apps.

    Also, Palm has created a great community, reached out to developers in a way that Apple don’t even know how. Apple treats developers with contempt, Palm listens to your issues and makes the changes necessary. I know where I’d rather play.

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