Socialite 1.3.9 is now available both on the Mac App Store (which skipped version 1.3.8) and for our direct customers. The release notes for 1.3.9 are short but important:
- Fix Facebook image uploading.
- Fix Growl 1.3 support for some customers who were unable to activate the notifications.
- Fix double Growl notification which appeared in some cases.
So, as usual, either check for updates from within Socialite or fire up App Store, if your copy is from there.
MOST IMPORTANT: This release is required for all Facebook users as it supports the newer OAuth2 authentication, while the older one is being deprecated from Oct 1.
NOTE: You’ll be prompted to login into your Facebook accounts again. This will be required to do only once, for the new Socialite authentication information to be stored. Socialite doesn’t store your Facebook email or password anywhere.
Full release notes:
- Facebook authentication converted to OAuth2. Older version of Socialite probably won’t work with Facebook from Oct 1.
- Facebook authentication now improved, in that it now correctly handles authorization of multiple Facebook accounts from within Socialite, without the need to log out of Facebook in Safari, when adding a second account.
- REPLY ALL: In Twitter, the “Reply” function now serves as combined “Reply All”. If other users’ accounts are mentioned in the tweet you reply to, they’ll be added to the reply and selected. You can then press right arrow to deselect the text and reply to all of them or start typing your text if you only wanted to answer to the author of the tweet.
- Fixed some bugs with detection of URLs in tweets and status updates. Including quotes of various types and other common characters.
- Improved the behaviour of the splitter used for quick-input and preview pane.
- Possible workaround of a common crash case
Version 1.3.7 was also submitted today to the Mac App Store but it’s still not available there.
Check App Store daily to get the update when Apple approves it.
It’s a big day today in Apparent Software land! We would like you all to welcome Mike Glass into our little company. Mike is an experienced Mac and iOS developer with several years behind his belt at Pocket Sevens, developing his own applications and helping numerous clients with their projects.
Mike will join us full time and his first mission will be to help us bring Socialite 2 to fruition, ripe and tasty, to everyone’s delight. This second version of Socialite is challenging us on many levels and I’m sure with Mike’s expertise we’ll be able to deliver it much faster and with fabulous quality, as our customers expect it.
Following Socialite for Mac, Mike’s experience with iOS development will play a pivotal role in bringing Socialite to the iPad. We are really excited about the possibilities that an iPad version, synchronized with its Mac counterpart will present.
You can read more about Mike on our company’s About page.
As you might know, following our major problems with PayPal during our MacGraPhoto bundle, we switched our payment processor to FastSpring. We considered several options based on the excellent article featuring e-commerce providers’ survey results by Andy Brice. We then went to try FastSpring based on the high scores that they got in the survey and based on the features that they provided at that time.
If you’re not familiar with FastSpring, they are a California-based company, relatively young and their website tagline is “The industry’s best customer service”. So let’s start with this aspect.
I can’t compare all the companies but FastSpring’s customer service is indeed top notch. Starting from their help to build the web storefront (in fact, they can build it for you based on the design of your site) and continuing with answering any questions, technical or business related, in a timely and personal manner.
FastSpring assign an “account manager” to each customer, so you know by name who’ll answer most of your questions. They answer to support emails or inquiries through the website fast and in a personal, transparent manner. They’ll sometimes go much over the required minimum. For example, at one time I asked about A/B testing possibilities and Ken answered deeply not on the technical but also on the business side of A/B testing, advised us to modify store flow and even spotted that we haven’t updated our copyright footer to include year 2010. This kind of attention to customer service is rare these days. Now, let’s see what’s in the service.
Backend software (Springboard)
Springboard’s interface is powerful yet easy to use. I can only compare it to Kagi and eSellerate which we’ve used and FastSpring’s one is much clearer and easier to understand than any of them. See the screenshot below for the main page:
Unlike PayPal but similarly to other companies FastSpring provides an integrated solution by combining shopping cart functionality with accepting payment from customers and distributing it to the sellers. You define products that you want to sell, their pricing (including prices in multiple currencies) and offers, like cross-sales, coupon or quantity discounts. You can choose several “flows” for the shop’s behaviour (separate payment information to another page or not, for example).
The store can be edited and tested at any time in a convenient test mode, leaving your live store functional until you’re ready to make the changes active.
FastSpring fits well small software companies that want to sell their software, like us. They provide a highly customizable notification engine to add customers to your own database. Similar to PayPal’s IPN but more customizable. FastSpring can also call your server to retrieve licenses for the purchased products and then display and email these to customer with the template that you choose yourself. This part of their backend really shines for control freaks like some of us are.
There’s a reporting section in the backend. You can see there the sales history and also tables and charts to show sales by country, by promotion, by product, by days and some more options. I would prefer some more deep analysis options, like seeing specific product sales by country. Yet, it might just appear in the next release. UPDATE: This is possible to do as well, I just didn’t find how to do it. Got an email from them that explains how to do it.
All the sales data can be conveniently downloaded in CSV format. This can be handy if you want to do some deeper analysis on the data in a spreadsheet or for accounting purposes.
During our first couple of weeks I’ve found several minor bugs in Springboard and they were all fixed in the next release. In fact, they seem to be working like an agile development shop, releasing a version of it at least once a month. The releases add new features to the store management, UI improvements or bug fixes. All promptly displayed in release notes.
There are some more advanced capabilities in the store’s backend, like the ability to split the income between several accounts which is good for bundles or for major affiliates. We’re currently preparing the infrastructure for MacGraPhoto 2 bundle and we’ve verified all the important issues with their customer support first, to find a solution that would work well for us. In fact, the recent MacBuzzer software bundle used FastSpring for the sales.
Payment options and fees
FastSpring accepts the regular payment options such as credit cards and PayPal but they also allow to receive Purchase Orders and you have some control about how to work with them. This might be important if some of your customers are governmental institutions or other companies that use POs.
FastSpring’s fees are higher than PayPal’s but on par or lower than most other companies in the same category propose. Of course, you get much more from them than from PayPal, since it’s a more integrated solution. A quote from their website: “…5.9% plus $.95 per transaction or a flat rate of 8.9% (minimum fee of $0.75 per transaction).”
FastSpring itself pays you twice a month (or monthly if you prefer). They can transfer the money either to your PayPal account, by wire or by check. Like in other companies, you can also set a minimum amount to be transferred, if your sales are low and transfer fees are high.
Wrapping it up
In the past 6 months I’ve seen several fellow Mac and non-Mac developers who moved to FastSpring or added them as an additional option to their current payment provider and I’ve only heard good feedback.
Personally, we’re extremely content with the combination of extraordinary customers service, the desire to please the seller and the constant improvements to the already powerful but comfortable store backend.
It was exactly 180 days ago that PayPal froze all money in our account during our MacGraPhoto bundle sale. It was a very negative experience and would’ve been much worse if my elaborate blog post about this didn’t make it first page of reddit with more than 200 comments, first post on Hacker News and a mention on Daring Fireball. All the negative publicity that PayPal had received pushed them to promptly unfreeze my account, even without me asking again (for the 10th time).
What would have happened if they money wasn’t unfrozen?
First, it was a substantial amount. Moreover, most of it was money we had to transfer to our partners, so we would have needed to open our savings. Also, it would have put additional financial pressure on me, since I had left my day job only several months earlier and our family income was (and in fact, mostly still) lower than our expenses.
It wouldn’t have allowed us to participate in application acquisition opportunities and, most probably, we wouldn’t have acquired Blast. It could also limit our ability to pay to freelancers for graphics and other services.
In additional the limitation on my PayPal account also prohibited to use it as a personal account. I use it for personal and other business transactions from time to time. After all, PayPal is still the easiest way to transfer money between different people around the world.
As a business, we still use PayPal when it’s not possible to do otherwise. We no longer use PayPal as a payment processor on our site but FastSpring, which we now use, does offer PayPal as one of the payment methods. We still transfer money through PayPal to third parties and we sometimes get paid through PayPal when we participate in other sales channels, like other bundles.
For MacGraPhoto 2 which we plan later this year, we’ll probably go with FastSpring which allows to split the money between participants upon purchase, which will solve several problems at once – we won’t have to keep other people’s money and it will simplify accounting by reducing our gross income.
Last week Kosta and I attended an unconference related to business, startups and also some things unrelated to the above. We’ve been to several interesting lectures and activities and in general had a lot of fun. The last one was about starting business without much money.
The lecturer, who also teaches at the university where the event took place, told how not every business should be built in the “start up” way, i.e. venture money, immediate multinational presence etc. He proposed several alternatives on “starting down” and then growing up as needed:
- Start to work on the business while on the day job.
- Make the office in your home instead of in an expensive “start-up” location
- Use Skype instead of phone/cell
- Team with your friend or family instead of hiring an external CEO on a high salary
- Use (cheap, if possible) freelancer instead of hiring employees
While he was listing it we were folding our fingers for each “check”. I checked all five:
- I worked on Apparent Software (on ImageFramer) for three years while on my day job before I decided to switch to full-time. Kosta is still part-time in Apparent Software.
- My home is my office and no changes are planned. Well, about once a week Kosta’s home is our office.
- We use Skype In and Skype Out to connect to customers all over the world.
- Kosta is my friend of about 15 years and this adds a lot to the fun and to the trust.
- We’ve successfully used freelancers for graphics, web development, video production, and even programming.
Of course, these advices are not rocket science and the fact that I followed them is just because the financials of the business required finding affordable solutions. Still, it was both amusing and reassuring. I feel we’re on the right track.
Stay tuned to some exciting news in May.
All the best,