Since the launch of the iOS version of Story Tracker in 2009, I’ve had requests for bringing the app to other platforms. Last year I released Story Tracker for Mac after a prolonged development cycle. The release on a desktop platform naturally led to questions about when a PC version might be coming along.
Wonder, no more! Today I’m announcing my plans for a Windows PC version of Story Tracker.
I’ve considered and discarded the idea in the past. I moved away from PC development over the last decade as I focused on my fiction writing and iOS app development efforts. As a result, my knowledge in this area is quite out of date. However, I consider my iOS and Mac development skills to be quite good, having launched and maintained several apps for sale since 2009. The existence of viable platforms for sale (the App Store, and later, the Mac App Store) meant all the messy details had been taken care of: license management, payment processing, handling updates, and most important of all, an audience.
Microsoft has recently launched their own online store for Windows 8 apps, but at this stage my impression is that it’s a bit of a mess, and Windows 8 itself isn’t doing as well as expected. For now, that means all the aforementioned messy details still exist on the PC platform. There’s also the matter of costly development tools and multiple operating systems to support. Until recently I believed development of a PC version of Story Tracker would be a costly and frustrating exercise. I no longer believe that to be the case.
The free Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop product should meet most of my development needs, and as far as I can determine, it seems to have no limitations on commercial distribution of applications developed with it. This set of tools also covers targets from Windows XP through to Windows 8 desktop. If it turns out this edition of Visual Studio is a little too limited, there’s always the Pro version which isn’t prohibitively expensive.
Is there a market for a PC version of Story Tracker? That remains to be seen. However, I believe there is, if you consider the size of the PC market in comparison to that for Macs. While Mac sales seem to be on the rise in recent years, the Mac user base is still dwarfed by the huge numbers of PCs out there. While Macs are popular amongst writers and other creative folk, they still make up a comparatively small slice of the overall market.
How about the other thorny issues mentioned above? In my investigations in recent months, I’ve identified several services and packages that should address those concerns. The biggest one, payment processing, is well covered these days. I’m already using FastSpring to handle payment processing and license generation for direct sales of Story Tracker for Mac via my website. I’ve been very impressed with their service, and I think they’d make a great fit for direct sales of the PC version, too.
When can you expect to see Story Tracker for PC available for sale? I’m currently working on Bonsai Album for Mac, which I’m targeting for a spring 2013 release. Once that’s done, I’ll be diving into development on the PC version of Story Tracker in a big way. I’m hopeful it’ll be available for sale sometime later this year. I can’t pin down a more exact release date, since I expect there to be a steep learning curve, and I still have updates to work on for my other apps.