Indie Support Weeks: Working Copy - Fully Featured iOS git Client

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Since COVID-19 doesn’t seem to go away any time soon, I figured I might as well continue with #IndieSupportWeeks to show you what I use and can recommend.

A dev tool I use on iOS is Working Copy. Usually, I don’t interact with my project code at all from iOS, but when I do, I check git stuff with this app.

Over the past 10 years or so I’ve tried a couple git clients for light work on mobile, but Working Copy sticked with me ever since I was participating in the TestFlight beta.

For a casual git fan-person, Working Copy’s settings might be a bit overwhelming, but for developers, I think this is a very fine app to browse, search, push and pull, and even commit changes.

Now the “commiting changes from mobile” part in someone’s daily workflow is utterly confusing to me, because I cannot imagine what that’d be like on an iPad, say.

I have edited posts on my website this way to fix typos. That went well. I also used it for light maintenance of Open Source projects. But I haven’t tried to commit to my Swift projects, because I don’t see how editing Swift files without a compiler would be a good idea. Then again it’s not my job to figure out user personas for a mobile git client – I’m here to tell you that if you’re in the market for such a tool, Working Copy is good at that.

The one thing I can testament to is that it works without a hassle, and it works well. That’s not much, but that may also be all you truly care about.

Working Copy is a free download + a $19.99 one-time in-app-purchase to unlock all the features. It also has a 4.9-star rating on the App Store, so, wow!

Indie Support Weeks: Use DropDMG to Create Your App Downloads

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I’m continuing the #IndieSupportWeeks today.

In the past months, I deployed a couple of app updates. Not as many as planned, but still. My app downloads are compressed DMG files, or disk images. With these, you don’t need a Zip. DMGs usually come with the app bundle and an alias to /Application so you can “install” an app quickly via drag & drop. This is probably the most successful and easiest way to ship downloads that work with macOS App Translocation. If users run an unzipped app bundle from their downloads folder, they’re screwed.

Screenshot of DropDMG

Over the years, I tried a couple of approaches, and I found that I had the most success with DropDMG. The visual preview is very accurate, and I never had any problem with the resulting DMG files. It beats fiddling with the command line every day.

DropDMG is an essential tool in my workflow to ship applications. It costs US$24 at the moment, and it’s worth the money if you do indie app development to make money.

Indie Support Weeks: beorg

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This is week two of the COVID-19 lockdown that led to #IndieSupportWeeks to help independent developers get a shoutout and maybe find a couple extra customers.

For today’s installment, I picked beorg.

beorg is a bit weird. It’s basically a task manager and calendar, but based upon plain text files that I sync via Dropbox. It’s not a particularly user-friendly application, and its UI didn’t win any prizes, unlike e.g. Things or OmniFocus (I’m often confused by the app icons and lack of labels, but also glad because my iPhone 5S screen is so smol). So why did I pick this app, then?

Urist likes beorg for its visual representation of plain text outlines

beorg is a mobile companion for my Emacs org mode files. It’s capable of handling org mode outlines, and parts of these outlines can be tasks or TODOs, and you can group them in projects, and then display an overview or “Agenda” – and things get out of hand quickly from there. Emacs is ridiculously customizable, and org mode is no different. beorg makes these information available on mobile.

So since over the years I moved from OmniFocus 1 to Things to OmniFocus 2 to Emacs, I got used to viewing tasks on my mobile phone and iPad; and I really much like the capability to capture information on the go. A piece of paper will do most of the time; but having a web clipping synced to my computer directly is nice.

You can even write Scheme scripts inside beorg! I haven’t touched that topic at all. The REPL (yes, it has a REPL!) provides a sandbox for experimentation, and by convention beorg will load and run file from your list of files right after bootstrapping. You can even customize the app’s UI with this. Writing org files that auto-execute during launch to customize the behavior of the editor is a long-running theme, see this random example (source).

Regarding the business model: most stuff is free, and the free version will get you really, really far. You currently can buy access to additional features:

  • “Properties” will let you add custom key/value pairs to any item; it’s mostly a UI affordance for the plain text underpinnings
  • “Encryption” to, well, encrypt your items or files
  • “Task Timers” to track how long you work on a task (ahem, I suggest an automated service like Timing for that; note: this is an affiliate link)
  • “Templates” are pretty self-explanatory, and org mode capture templates can get out of hand and cover JIRA ticketing, for example (did I mention you can configure org mode to sync with JIRA?)
  • “Export Themes” are CSS styles to generate HTML from your outlines because, well, org mode is supposed to be a structured markup language for HTML and LaTeX export and such thing
  • “UI Themes” for Solarized and additional dark modes in the app
  • “Saved Searches” to more quickly access the results of complex searches
  • “Box Sync” to … sync to (beats me why this of all things is an add-on)

The developer provides release notes for updates in the app, which I absolutely adore for this kind of “make it your own” pro user application, to make sure I keep up-to-date with the good stuff. The tip jar that goes along with it is probably the main source of his income – at least as much as I’m concerned. The updates are really good and much appreciated.

Indie Support Weeks: Soulver

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In this awkward time of COVIC-19 lockdowns, folks will begin to struggle to make ends meet. I know from some folks that their salary was reduced to 60%, which is better than 0%, but still troubling. Indie developers of most non-video conferencing software suffer from similar declines in income. That where #IndieSupportWeeks come into play: share some of your favorite indie apps to spread the word and help the developers stay afloat.

This time, I want to point you towards Soulver by Zac Cohen. Zac is a very friendly and helpful person, and Soulver is a great app, so I hadn’t had to think twice.

A couple of calculations in the text editor to the left, with the result column to the right

I use the iPad app whenever I try to make sense of a change in expenses, e.g. when I move, when I compare contracts for my phone or insurance, or want to roughly plan a vacation. It’s really great for back-of-the-envelope calculations.

Soulver is a line-based text editor that performs calculations for you, with some understanding of semantics as well: For example, the phrase 30% of $800 will evaluate to $240. And with support for variables, you can begin to make more complex calculations that are perfectly readable in the long term.

Here’s a crude UI mockup, where the right column is the computed result, and monthly rent is a variable:

monthly rent = $1,900 // 2018      | $1,900
monthly rent = $2,150 // 2019      | $2,150
monthly rent / 4 people            | $537.50

It’s available on iOS and macOS.

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