inessential by Brent Simmons

AppHistory app idea

I’ve often wished I had a little app that just tracks the history of apps I write. On what day was 2.0.3 released? On what day was MyiPhoneApp 3.0 sent to the App Store for review? On what day was it approved? Etc.

I don’t keep track of these things too well, but I always mean to. Seems like it might make a nice little app. There would be standard actions (initial beta, released, uploaded, appeared on App Store). Maybe add things like URLs to reviews on the web, so you could go back to them later. Maybe have a free text option too, or the ability to define events. (Don’t forget an awarded event: Macworld Eddy and ADA have to be pre-defined types.)

It would know the platform for each app (Mac or iPhone and so on) — and probably save minimum system requirements too, so I could find out, for instance, when the last Tiger-compatible version of was released. If a given release has a permanent download URL, it would store that.

Since it would be competing with any calendar — or any text editor, or something like Bento — it would probably have to be free. More of a get-your-name noticed thing.

The thing is, I do have to refer back to this information more often than I expect. So I usually end up just looking through to see when I announced whatever-it-is. But not every piece of info I might want is there, and it’s a pain anyway.

For bonus points: graphing, timelines, and export-to-web. And it would have to let me go back through history and add events from the past.

(For the record: I’d pay money for this app, if done well, of course. But I don’t think it’s a money-maker in general, which is why I recommend it as a free app, as a reputation-maker.)

Update 2:15 pm: When you do a release, it should congratulate you in some delightful but not too time-consuming way. A fun little animation or something. The amount of fireworks (or whatever) in the congratulation should depend on the version: 4.0 is a big deal, while 4.1 is less of a big deal, and 4.1.1 is a small deal (but still worthy of congratulations). (Similar for awards. Heck, it could even be smart about things like how many mice in a Macworld review. Any 4-mouse-or-higher review is worth a song-and-dance. Same with appearing in the top-selling apps in the App Store.)

The question every app has to ask itself these days: what’s the Twitter integration? Here’s an answer: how about none. It’s just for personal use. (I’m not knocking Twitter: I’m just saying that not every app has to be able to tweet.)

Update 2:30 pm: I’d also want to store change notes — quick highlights and long version — for each release too, so I could easily refer back. When did get that one cool feature? The whole mess of data would have to be searchable, naturally.

It would possibly display the app icon next to each entry for an app. But it would have to be smart about this — icons change. I’d want the icon for 1.0 to display with 1.0 entries and the icon for 2.0 to display with 2.0 entries, etc.

It might also let me add screenshots whenever, so I have a memory of how things looked at a given moment in time.