Empower Apps

Aaron Vegh, indie macOS developer comes on to talk about building Quantum Author, a long-form writing app. We talk about how he decides what UI SDK to use, how to make money, and what the Vision Pro means for AppKit and the iPad.


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We talked about 

  • (00:00) - Why Mac?
  • (05:27) - Where to Start?
  • (10:26) - On Vision OS
  • (13:40) - On the iPad
  • (24:47) - The "other" stuff
  • (30:34) - Making Money
  • (34:44) - What is Quantum Author?

Social Media

Twitter Leo - @leogdion
Twitter BrightDigit - @brightdigit
LinkedIn - @leogdion
GitHub - @brightdigit
GitHub - @leogdion
TikTok - @brightdigit
Mastodon - @leogdion@c.im
Youtube - @brightdigit


Music from https://filmmusic.io
"Blippy Trance" by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)
License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
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  • Steven Lipton
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Creators & Guests

Leo Dion
Swift developer for Apple devices and more; Founder of BrightDigit; husband and father of 6 adorable kids
Aaron Vegh
Freelance vocateur codewriter for Mac, iOS and web. Makes https://t.co/IPcE9t2kAk. Astra mortemque superare gradatim. Also on https://t.co/W4xHvn2egh

What is Empower Apps?

An exploration of Apple business news and technology. We talk about how businesses can use new technology to empower their business and employees, from Leo Dion, founder of BrightDigit.

Leo Dion (guest): Welcome to
another episode of empower apps.

I'm your host Leo Dion today.

I'm joined by Aaron Vegh.

Aaron, thank you so much
for coming on the show.

Aaron Vegh (guest): Thanks
so much for having me, Leo.

It's a pleasure to be here.

Leo Dion (guest): Before we begin, I'll
let you go ahead and introduce yourself.

Aaron Vegh (guest): Okay,
yeah my name is Aaron Vegh.

I am a freelance iOS and Mac developer.

I'm based in Whitby, Ontario,
which is somewhere east of Toronto.

I've been doing development
for some 15 years now.

Started with the web,
moved on to iOS and Mac.

Really, I love the Mac the best.

It's where I've sort of came up, if
you will learning how to program.

While I'm working on developing my
own apps, for the most part, and have

been doing that for a long time, I
actually make my money by freelancing,

so I'm a contractor that does iOS work.

Leo Dion (guest): Yeah.

So I think we're in the same boat, a lot
of similarities there with what I do.

And today specifically, you
wanted to talk about indie

development in the Mac space.

You want to explain what, why
you wanted to talk about that,

but also what is kind of the
state of Mac indie development?

Aaron Vegh (guest): Yeah.

So I've always felt that the
Mac was the sort of premier

platform for getting things done.

Productivity apps, I think, are sort
of the biggest story about the Mac.

Ever since the advent of iOS through
the iPad I've really felt that

applications there just aren't as
robust as they can be on the Mac.

And I spend all day on things,
so I want the best apps to

be there to get things done.

And I want to make them because
I love the Mac so much, always

have, that I've always felt that...

The best place to make the best apps is
on the best platform, which is the Mac.

And that's why I like to do that.

So, as for the state, you ask.

Well, yeah, it's tough.

It's tough because iOS has sucked
all the air out of the room.

In terms of Apple's focus, and in
terms of sort of cultural mindshare.

While more people are using the
Mac than have ever used it before.

Some 200 million Mac users
are out there right now.

And you don't have to go far.

to see everybody using
Macs, right, in public.

I spent a lot of time at
Starbucks doing my own thing.

A lot of people use Macs.

It's crazy how many there are out there.

So more people have this thing than
ever before, but are they actually

getting more software than ever before
represents an ongoing challenge.

So, it's kind of a tough time, honestly.

Leo Dion (guest): So, I, I
mean, I'm in the same boat.

I, I probably am on my Mac
more than on my iPhone.

Why do you think, do you think,
like, there's a market for

productivity apps on the iPhone?

Or, is it that you think, like, you
personally, you and I personally,

honestly prefer productivity on the Mac?

Or, what, what, what do you
think is going on there?

Aaron Vegh (guest):
Probably a couple things.

First off is that like iOS has made a
lot of harder things simpler in terms

of providing apps that give you very
focused and tight capabilities, right?

Small apps that do single things, right?

Whereas on the Mac it's
a more complex platform.

You know, not a lot of people are
technically proficient enough to feel

comfortable installing apps even.

And then there's the whole web thing,
so that you have, you know, people

can go to, like, say, Figma, and
not only have an app that's already

working and fully featured, but that
has collaboration capabilities that I

think have long been sort of a weakness
of AppKit and the Mac in general, is

that broad capability of collaboration.

Leo Dion (guest): Yeah, yeah, yeah.

So, I'm glad you brought up the
browser part, because that's a,

that's the other thing is like,
yeah, people want to do a lot of

development on, Or a lot of people
use their iPhone a lot, a lot more.

I'm just not super comfortable with
like using an iPhone for a really long

period of time and doing productivity
on the iPhone and things like that.

And it's so limited,
like just the screen.

And then I'm glad you brought up
browser because like, That's the thing.

That's where you get electron, right?

Is where it's like, Oh, you
build it once and then you

could use it everywhere.

And that's kind of the same
idea with the browser app.

Aaron Vegh (guest): Yeah,
I have feelings on that.

Leo Dion (guest): Yeah, yeah, I bet.

But it's, I mean, it's the same
ideas, like the idea of build

once and deploy everywhere.

Aaron Vegh (guest): Mm hmm.

Leo Dion (guest): which just,
yeah, I mean, I'll let you go

ahead on your rant if you want to,
as far as Electron is concerned,

Aaron Vegh (guest): I don't know that
I have much to add to the to the well

known and well documented rants that are
available already regarding Electron.

But, I mean, it's obviously, like, the
case that the subjective experience

of a user with an Electron app is
inferior to the one that you would get

from a, an AppKit app, a native app.

Like, I, I just, when I look at it as
someone who cares about these things.

That's the problem, right, is
that I care about these things.

You know, I don't see an app that I
would like to work on myself, right?

As, as a developer, I want to
make the thing that is awesome!

And the awesome thing is not
built with Electron, it can't be.

So, that's just not where
I want to put my focus.

Like, I mean, if I only cared about
making some functionality available

on a computer, I would probably
stay with web technologies, right?

Because if that's all I care about,
then that's the easiest way to do it.

But I care about way more than that.

Leo Dion (guest): Yeah, yeah, yeah.

So, let's get into the
framework landscape a bit.

So, we talked a lot, we
mentioned Electron, of course,

but then there's some native
tech AppKit, SwiftUI, Catalyst.

Have you, I guess, you must have
enough experience to have been building

apps in AppKit, I would assume.

Is that still your default
choice, or where do things stand?

Aaron Vegh (guest): Man why don't
I tell you a couple of things

about what I've been working on
lately and maybe that would help.

So, I've, I've been all over the place.

I started, you know, very
beginning using Macs building

for the Mac with AppKit.

But really of late Because I do a lot
of my daily work professionally in iOS

I'm often finding myself, like, very
familiar with UIKit, obviously, and

therefore very familiar with Catalyst.

But as my focus of late in my indie
apps has really been on the Mac I've

really wanted to get the best quality
experience that I can for that platform.

And I've started the last couple times,
I've got two apps on the go right now.

One is in beta right
now, Quantum Author.

And the other is an unnamed
blog app, which, you know,

I won't get too much into.

But Quantum Author, I wanted
it to be like a catalyst app.

I tried building it as a catalyst app.

But I just couldn't get it
to work right, you know?

There are so many little edge
cases, things that I would like

to have work correctly in my mind
that only AppKit can provide.

So, I found it really
frustrating and I, I backed out.

And then I backed back
in again using SwiftUI.

Let's try SwiftUI to build a Mac
app using the SwiftUI abstract.


And that didn't work either.

That was even worse.

Because the state of
things being as they are.

This was like last fall.

So, back in again.

This time, AppKit.

I had to throw in the towel and say,
If I want to do it right, I've got

to use the best tool for the job.

And I feel bad about that.

Like, cause I know...

That's not the future, right?

Like, ten years from now will
someone be able to run an AppKit app?

I think probably yes.

I think they will.

But I certainly wouldn't hit
command N in Xcode and start a

new AppKit app ten years from now.

I don't

Leo Dion (guest): well it helps you
because you have experience with app

kit my experience with app kit is it's
not bad It's it's just like very surface

level like very simple stuff and For me.

Yeah, like all the stuff that I've been
doing like I'm building bushel right

now and in Swift UI there's it's not
perfect by any means there's workarounds

and obviously sometimes a little A
little bit of app kit here and there

sprinkled in but for the most part I
I don't feel like i'm losing anything

that I would gain With app kit because
i'm quite frankly ignorant of what

app kit provides and I think that's
a big Big part of it is if you're a

new developer, yeah, go with SwiftUI.

You're not going to, there's
nothing you're going to miss.

What are, I guess, some of
the big things that you,

let's start with Catalyst.

What are some big things that
you're just like, wow, like they

don't even have that in Catalyst
that I really want in AppKit.

Aaron Vegh (guest): Okay, so one
of the biggest problems I had right

from the top was dealing with, like,
a source list that provides, like,

access to a hierarchical list of
files with drag and drop support

moving multiple items, and you know,
creating new folders and files.

In AppKit, that's an NSOutlineView.

And the SwiftUI and UIKit versions
of those things are just not to the

standard that I need to see them.

So that's, that's primarily
what caused me to back away.

And now, it's all to say,
like, even making the NapKit

was extremely challenging.

Like, it

Leo Dion (guest): Okay.

Aaron Vegh (guest): a monumental task.

Like, it took many weeks to get.

to the level that I wanted.

You know, for something that
you might see in Xcode, right?

If you're early in Xcode, you know
that outline view on the left with

your files and folders in it is
basically what I'm talking about.

And it's, yeah, there's
all kinds of stuff.

One thing I can say, though,
is that the beauty of SwiftUI

is that you can sprinkle it
throughout your AppKit application.

So like, you know, I know
you know this, but, you know,

for your listeners, readers,
watchers, what are we doing here?

Anyway fantastic.

Leo Dion (guest): depending
on, yeah, go ahead.

Aaron Vegh (guest): Is that
you can, you can use this

SwiftUI anywhere that you want.

So, I'll have views where I'm like,
well that's a pretty straightforward

view, I can SwiftUI that.

And, and I do.

You know?

And so, I feel like it's, if, as time
goes on and as SwiftUI improves, which

it will, as, I mean, there's no doubt
in my mind that Apple is focused on this

technology, they are improving it every
year is that I can do more and more

and ultimately, like, like, What is it?

The ship of Theseus.

I can ship a Theseus, my app,
into a SwiftUI app eventually.

Leo Dion (guest): Yes.

Yeah, exactly.


And it's cool that you, so I assume
you're using like whatever it

is on us, hosting controller or
whatever the thing is to put, okay.

Rather than the other way
around where you have NS view

representable or whatever it

Aaron Vegh (guest): Yep.

Leo Dion (guest): Yeah, you're
going the other way where you're.

app is in AppKit and then the
pieces are in SwiftUI where you can.

Okay, very cool.

So let's talk a little bit about well,
we have to, we're obligated by law

since this is July to talk about WWDC
and one thing that you had mentioned

that was the big thing with WWDC was
Vision OS and how there's ramifications

for AppKit regarding Vision OS.

You want to explain
what that means exactly?

Aaron Vegh (guest): Well, when
I think about it at least,

I don't know what it means.

We're, we're going to have to wait.

But it's certainly the thing that
I've taken from Apple's announcement.

And, like, off the top, I really want
to say that is there anything more Apple

like than Vision OS and the Vision Pro?

I mean, like, honestly, like,
I look at that and I'm like,

well, oh my gosh, Apple has...

You know, looked at the market for,
you know, sort of 3D, you know,

operating systems, if you will.

And said, no, you're all doing it wrong.

Here's how you do it.

And they invested untold resources,
unbelievable amounts of resources,

time money, and people, to, to make
these most fundamental technologies

invisible to the user, right?

Where you can put something on
your face, And you're seeing the

world exactly as it is if you
hadn't had that thing on your face.


Very table stakes thing that no
other vendor cares about is, is

probably beyond most people's reach
in terms of other companies being

able to produce this technology.

And that's just the stage for this
operating system that they present

in that virtual environment that
looks super real, super real.

So this ability to provide a canvas.

that gives you access to the
world of apps as Apple has been

building it over the last 30 years.


Anyway, it's a long time.

You know, all these technologies coming
together from macOS to iOS and then

having like SwiftUI as sort of the
next stage of that, that style of app,

the iPad style of app, if you will,
being directly portable to Vision OS.

Is their path going forward,
and it seems obvious, right?

It's like, that's, you know,
how else could they have

done it, except for this way?

And I, I find that, like, just
classic Apple, is what I would say.

Now, the thing I'll add about it,
of course, is that I think Vision

OS represents the first answer
Apple has ever given about what's

the future of the Mac, because
iOS was no successor to the Mac.

There's no iPhone or iPad that
could take the place of a Mac, in

terms of form factor and ergonomics.

But Vision OS possibly could when paired
with a keyboard and maybe a mouse, maybe

not a mouse, but a keyboard at least.

I feel like you could be sitting
on a couch with a keyboard in

your lap, with the goggles on,
and do everything you need to do.

Just as comfortably, but with a
much larger canvas for applications.

Whereas on an iPad, even a 13 inch iPad,
it's not as productive an environment.

There's just no way.

Leo Dion (guest): That's, that's
the thing I wanted to ask.

I want to ask about the iPad first.

Have you ever, have you ever gone
the route of like doing Mac stuff on

the iPad and using an iPad and like,
what do you think are some of the

shortcomings with iPad and iPadOS
as far as productivity is concerned?

Aaron Vegh (guest): Well, it's
ergonomics first and foremost.

The iPad is like a plate that you're
holding in front of yourself, and

your only real interaction model
with it is This thing right here.

And so, It's a much lower
resolution environment.

In that sense.

Everything is bigger.

Like, if you put a 13 inch iPad
next to a 13 inch MacBook you

see the difference quite readily.


Leo Dion (guest): What's that called
where it's like, touch is less precise

than mouse pointer and like, I forgot
what that rule was, but I remember

that early on when the iPhone came
out, it was like, Yeah, you can't

make buttons the same size as you
would on a computer because, you

know, we're all fat fingering these
devices and it's hard to do that.

Aaron Vegh (guest): Your
fingers are way too fat.

And so, you know, that's why like
a touch target on iOS is 44 points.

And has always been, and even
on Vision OS it's 44 points.

But when on Mac OS, it's
like, you can do it 22.

Because the cursor is, you know,
twice as precise then, let's say.

And that's just, you know, sort
of a fundamental difference

between those platforms.

But, like, I cannot get over
the primacy of this thing.

This thing right here, you know?

It's so important.

And you don't have it on iPad.

I remember back in 2010, we
knew the iPad was coming.

This was just prior to the announcement.

And I, I went on extended internal
fantasies, thought, thought

experiments, if you will, about what
they've got to have some kind of

text input story for iPad, right?

Because it, it would be
crazy just to have a sheet of

glass that's like an iPhone.

That would be nuts.

They would never do that, right?

But I always, I imagined like
surely on the back of it, it would

have some kind of cording system.

I really went off to the weeds.

That would allow you to type text
in, you know, while you're holding

it, you know, of course they didn't
do that, you know, but I always felt

that it was so lacking that there
was just like an onscreen keyboard.

It's like.

Okay, but like, it's just, you're
never going to be good with that.

Connecting a Bluetooth keyboard, okay,
but now you've got this janky setup.

So, I don't know, it's
never been good like that.

The Mac, on the other hand, you know,
especially since, you know, 2020 when

the new M1s came out and have become
thinner and lighter rivaling an iPad in

terms of portability but dramatically
trouncing it in terms of capability.

Why would anyone use an iPad?

I use it to read.

Leo Dion (guest): Right, right.

So a couple of things.

Like I, I tried to use an iPad.

It was fine, but it was just like, I
kept missing out the, the, the Mac,

MacOS just has, I don't know if it's
the security or what, but the ability

to like interconnect between app
experiences with multiple windows.

It's just so much easier on the Mac.

Like I can drag like, go.

All of that stuff, whereas on the
iPad, you're really limited by the

sandbox and how you can, how you
can like send one thing from one

app to another thing, an image.

And yeah, there's NS user activity
and all that stuff, but it's still

not fully complete and you're
dependent on developers to do that.


And then the other thing you mentioned
was Oh, the thing I was going to

mention was like, I've been really
looking forward to like a big iPad.

Cause that's one of the things I feel
is like, if I have a keyboard and

iPad, like I want a bigger screen,
like I'm spoiled here with my, my,

Aaron Vegh (guest): studio

Leo Dion (guest): XDR?

Aaron Vegh (guest): Oh, even better.


Leo Dion (guest): have a XDR.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, and like, I just
love having all that screen real estate.

And then of course at DubDub
they announced the MacBook Air

15 inch and I'm like, that's it.

That's what I want.

Like, why am I going to wait for
an iPad that's going to be large

and limited when I could just
have a Mac with a larger display?

And I love this new thing.

It's amazing.

It's just, it's gorgeous.

It works great.

It's it's exactly what
I need as my backup.

My portable device and like,
I, it's like, why would I

ever get a 15 inch iPad?

It's like, this is probably
cheaper, honestly, than whatever

Aaron Vegh (guest): Oh, it would be.

Oh yeah.

Leo Dion (guest): Right.

And it's like, yeah, it's
like everything I need.

So yeah.

So, the thing I was going to say
is, going back to the Vision Pro,

like, you and I, or many people,
use our iPad for reading books for

watching movies, like, it's pretty
much become a consumer device more

than anything else, despite the fact
that we have now Logic Pro and Final

cut and all that stuff on the iPad.

I think it's still that's
by far what it's used for

Aaron Vegh (guest): Yeah.

Leo Dion (guest): Could the
Vision Pro be an iPad killer?

Aaron Vegh (guest): Yeah.


Leo Dion (guest): Where I see it.

It's like with the Vision Pro Yeah,
you can be productive on it But it just

seems to me like it's so much easier
to watch a movie with glasses on than

it is to hold an iPad Especially as the
price starts going down on these things,

Aaron Vegh (guest): It'll have to.

You know, and that's actually another
point I think is worth making is

that like the Vision Pro that Apple
launched, you know, last month is

really just the very first step of
what I'm sure is going to be a long

evolution for this product, right?

Those capabilities of, you know,
showing you a 3D environment and

putting an operating system in
there are gonna be on something

like this eventually, right?

Like, Apple wants that.

Apple wants that.

And it'll cost a lot less than 3, 500.

So, I think that's coming
to a lot of people, right?

To answer your question though
about like, does it kill iPad?

I think, you know, something
that you said earlier was

really interesting, which was
like, you wanted a bigger iPad.

And my first thought was, Vision
OS is your bigger iPad, right?

It's gonna, you know, any, any
iPad app that you have, you can

like spray it out in front of you
in your room, and that's gonna be

exactly what you're looking for.

The only thing and I'm sure this is
a problem Apple will solve eventually

too, is sort of the group experience.

Like, you can't sit with your kid
and, and watch YouTube together on

a, on a Vision OS device, right?

So, that's sort of one thing I
think about with Vision OS versus

iPad is iPad can be sort of
like a group experience device.

You know, you've seen people
pull out their phones and look

at things together on a phone.

Leo Dion (guest): Yeah, that's true.

That's true.

I think, like,

Aaron Vegh (guest): hesitation?

I guess I'm noticing your hesitation.

Tell me what you're

Leo Dion (guest): if I was gonna
watch something with my kid, I

would do it on the TV downstairs
or on a Mac or on a laptop like,

Aaron Vegh (guest): I mean,
I think there are a lot of

people that do share an iPad.


Leo Dion (guest): Okay.


Fair enough.


Like, just for me, from what I've
seen is iPad, iPhone, like, they're

both have, like, They're to me.

It's rarely a community experience It's
usually just one person watching an iPad

by themselves And then if they're gonna
watch in a group they sit in front of

a TV and do it But I agree I see where
you're coming from with like that's the

that is a limitation with the vision
Pro Is that everything is personal?

So yeah that's that's
a really good point,

Aaron Vegh (guest): One thing
also about this Vision Pro is

how difficult it's going to be
to show someone how good it is.

And I think we are contending with
that tension right now because you're

not, you're gonna see videos of it and
they're gonna be like okay, that's fine.

But the people who have actually tried
it and have reported on it have come

away really like, this is the most
amazing thing I've ever seen, you know?

It's, and, and as readers, we kind of
have to take them at their word that,

like, something transformative has
occurred, and that you're not going to

get to experience yourself unless, I
guess, once they're available, you can

book an appointment at an Apple store
and then have a few minutes with it?

Leo Dion (guest): Right, right,

Aaron Vegh (guest): a tough one.

Leo Dion (guest): the problem too is
most of people's experiences are very

limited, both like, from a marketing,
corporate perspective, they're all

being babysat by Apple, right, while
they're doing it, and they're also, it's

whatever, limited to like 30 minutes,
so like, you're gonna get like you know,

the old Coke and Pepsi thing, right?

Where people were, the Coke
folks were like, oh, people love

Pepsi with these taste tests.

Until they realized, yeah,
it's because they like drink

it for the first two seconds.

And then they're like, this is garbage.

And you know, that's, that's kind
of the story with new Coke, right?

It was that they thought
people loved Pepsi more.

And then they realized now
people don't like the new Coke.

Aaron Vegh (guest):
That's a deep cut, man.

You're going way back for that one.

Leo Dion (guest): You know that

Aaron Vegh (guest): I do, yes!

That's a long time ago.

That was like the 90s.

Leo Dion (guest): right, but that's,
that's the thing is I feel like

people are like, Oh yeah, we love it.

It's like, yeah, you use
it for like 30 minutes.

Like what's it going to be like
sitting down and watching a movie,

dealing with the battery length,
dealing with bandwidth issues, can't

have that battery in your pocket.

Like, is there going to be.

Like what do you call it,
repeated what do you call it?

R RSI issues.


So, like, you know, that's kind of
the thing I'm, I'm interested in.

Aaron Vegh (guest): Yeah, me too.

We all are.

Leo Dion (guest):
yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Are you building, are you building
anything for the Vision Pro?

Have you tried it?

Have you I, I just.

I'm, I'm hesitant.

So I'm kind of like hesitant with any
of the new APIs, like jumping into it

just because it's going to be so much.

So for instance, with like SwiftData,
like it's, I'm finally getting

into it this week, but I feel like
there's so many other things I need

to do before I get to that point.

So VisionOS is like the same thing
where it's like, oh my gosh, like

it's a big, it's a big plate of, of
stuff to have to, you know, deal with.

Aaron Vegh (guest): Any WWDC is
threatening to be very overwhelming

to any developer's life and I, this
is one of the lessons I've learned

and if there's one thing I can share
with your viewership, readership,

listenership, it would be to give
yourself a break, you know, like if

you're finding you're overwhelmed
by all the technology, Take a break.

Nobody's, you know, pushing you
specifically to know everything

and learn everything at once.

And that's a lesson
that I've taken myself.

It's like I can't stay on top of it.

I have my own goals, honestly.

And they don't involve staying
abreast of every single

technology that comes WWDC.

Leo Dion (guest): Yeah,
and there's two things.

A, they're not always fully baked.

So, FYI.

So, you might run up against a wall
and think, drive yourself crazy because

you're like, what am I doing wrong?

Only to find out you're
doing nothing wrong.

It's a bug.

And then the other thing is like, In
the real world, not everybody's going to

have the new OS's installed in clients.

You know, they have to report, they
have to actually support older OS's.

So yeah, that's something
to keep in mind.

Was there anything else you wanted
to mention about the Vision Pro or

WWDC before I jump back into Mac?

Aaron Vegh (guest): No, it's more
like stay tuned for Vision OS.

Like, Apple has given
us a very early preview.

So, a lot of people are going to
get a chance to play with the SDK.

They have already.

We've seen a lot.

But now it's really time to
see how the hardware integrates

with this whole thing.

And that story won't be
told until early 2024.

Leo Dion (guest): So, jumping back to
talking about Mac indie development.

What we talked about the code, right?

What else do people need to know if
that's what they want to get started?

You know, get into, I guess,

Aaron Vegh (guest): So, I think
we all love to build the thing.

And what I'm gonna say, I'm super
guilty of, have been for like 15 years.

Is that we build the thing, but then
we're no good at selling the thing.

And I am so bad at selling the thing
that this is actually the one big

difference that I've promised myself
to be better at going forward.

I mentioned earlier that I've got
a couple of apps in development.

Well, I'm not just gonna build them
and throw them out there and tell Twi

Mastodon now and hope for the best.

I'm actually going to have,
like, a promotional plan, okay?

When I build these things...

My goal is to find the communities
that'll use it and put it in front

of them and find influencers and
the people who would actually use

it that are well regarded in their
communities and get them to talk about

it and advertise and come up with it.

Thank you.

PR plans and, you know, and not so much
focus on the media either, especially

the technology media which is always
routinely let me down over the years.

So I think real grassroots style
promotion is the key to any kind

of hope for indie success because
There's so many apps out there that

getting the attention that you need to
build a customer base is super hard.

It's not going to just happen, right?

So you need to really get on
the ground and make it happen.

So that's kind of my big advice
to myself and to anyone who might

be considering the same thing.

Leo Dion (guest): what would you say
is like the first step for getting,

getting your name, getting the name
of your app out there and get letting

Aaron Vegh (guest): Yeah, it's
finding those communities.

So, I'll give you an example.

Like, my app that I'm working
on, Quantum Author, is, is a long

form writing app for novelists.

And it could be for others as well,
anybody who needs to make big documents.

And so, my wife is a writer.

And you know, as a novelist.

And belongs to several
communities of writers.

And is going to put
me in touch with them.

So that, you know, I as like a
app developer can go to them and

say, Hi, I'm, I have this app now.

You know, you've been using
Scrivener all these years.

Or, IA writers say, have a look at this.

Tell me what you think.

And if you have any
feedback, I'm right here.

I'm the actual developer.

I built it.

So, if you have anything to say Say
it to my face and I'll make it better.

And, you

Leo Dion (guest): Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Aaron Vegh (guest): that's handy.

You know, that's cool.

Not a lot of people
get that opportunity.

So, that's kind of where
I'm going with this.

Leo Dion (guest): That makes a lot.

That is by far.

The thing is like finding
the community out there.

Did you, because just sorry,
I want to keep talking.

I would just want to really emphasize
that is like, find the community of

users and where they are and like, reach
out to them, get to know them, get, you

know, have them test the app, et cetera.

I think that's, that's really,
really important with any app.

So a couple other questions
I want to ask you.

Did you start an email

Aaron Vegh (guest): I will.

That will be one of the things I do.



Email is super important.

Leo Dion (guest): Yeah.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

I think that starting an email is
I've heard that so many times like

you don't have to like babysit it.

You don't have to like go in and like
send them an email every week doing

nothing but like just have some way
to get ahold of people directly.

I think is super important.

And then.

And then the other thing is, I was going
to ask is how, how did you know that

this app was like a thing as opposed
to just some fun idea that you're like,

Oh, there might not be anybody who buys
this, but man, I sure want to make it.

And like, how do you know that
there's an actual community

out there with a need, I

Aaron Vegh (guest): Whew.

For this app in particular, for Quantum
Author, Okay, so, I guess this has

happened a lot where I've, I've actually
shipped a lot of apps over the years

that haven't had any success whatsoever
and so I always come to them with the

idea that, oh, that's a cool idea,
what if this existed, and that's been

sort of my Impetus for moving forward.

And I haven't really considered
strongly what market they might have.

How many people, other than
myself, might find it useful.

So that's kind of a problem.

For Quantum Author though I, I kind
of got the sense, you know, from

listening to my wife, and from,
you know, looking at the community.

First off, knowing through my
wife that there is a very active

and huge community of writers.


You know how many writers there are?

Well, there are so many more.

There's orders of magnitude more
people who want to be a writer and

aren't effectively writers, right?

Kind of like, what's the picks
and shovels in the gold rush?

You know, those, those are the
people that made money in the gold

rush in the 19th century, right?

The people that sold the
tool to the prospectors.

Well, I want to be a...

Leo Dion (guest): That's it.

That's an even deeper

Aaron Vegh (guest): You're quite right.

Leo Dion (guest): out.

Aaron Vegh (guest): So, I wanna,
I wanna, you know, sell those

tools to a group of people who,
who could use another tool, or at

least consider another tool and
see if it fits the way they write.

And I feel there are so many writers
out there that surely I can peel

off a portion of them from the likes
of, like, again, Scrivener or IA

Writer or Storyist is another one.

There's a bunch of, of novel writing
apps out there and, you know,

they've found their own niches.

And I think the market's big enough that
it can withstand another competitor.

And I think I have a unique
approach to the problem as well.

That would bring people in.

Leo Dion (guest): Yeah.




Great point.

So one of the questions I want to ask,
we've done, we've had folks like Troz

and Daniel Jellica and Matt on Making
money like literally making money.

What do you go with for selling your
app and making your money like paddle

story kit revenue cat mac app store
what like what's kind of your venue

like what's how do you make that
decision and why did you go with

it and what are some drawbacks or

Aaron Vegh (guest): Well, I can

Leo Dion (guest): in any

Aaron Vegh (guest): at least
talk about my thinking process

because it's not complete yet.

You know, Quantum Author is
in late development right now,

like I'm, I'm tidying up some
features the beta's ongoing.

I haven't even fully settled
on my business plan, like

how it's going to make money.

My current thinking is that it will be a
free app with sort of pro features that

are unlocked by a monthly subscription.

I had considered and I've, you
know, I have an app in the Mac App

Store and I'm not really I'm not
really persuaded that it is a viable

or desirable outlet for my app.

I definitely feel like the Mac App
Store provides like a really convenient

place for users to find software.

I don't know the extent to which they
do, and you certainly cannot count on it

as like a promotional tool for your app.

I don't, in other words, I'm not
sure that I would get 30% or 15%.

Per transaction value out of it.

As I would going with something like
a paddle, which is what I'm actually

thinking about using To offer a
subscription say like a five dollar

a month thing That you know paddle
takes what seven percent So it just

makes a lot more sense Economically
speaking to go with them still they

provide great SDKs easy to integrate
So, you know, why not do that and

then just count on myself to promote
my app, you know, sell it for my

website, don't have to worry about
app review post free updates whenever

I want, you know, that sort of thing.

And of course my customers will
be my customers and not Apple's.

That to me is everything.

Leo Dion (guest): yeah, have you, one
thing I've thought of, so, first of all,

let's, let me ask the big question with
not going with the App Store can do you,

was part of that decision sandboxing at

Aaron Vegh (guest): No, not really, no.

That didn't really affect me at all.

Like, my app isn't actually
sandboxed, but it wouldn't

be hard to make it sandboxed.

Leo Dion (guest): that's a, that's
a good point about sandboxing.

But Well, this is a question I haven't
asked very often, but why not both?

Why not go with the Mac
App Store and Paddle?

I've thought about that too.

So I have an app I'm
working on, it's sandboxed.

I'm probably going to go with the
Mac App Store because I'm lazy,

but maybe at some point I might do
it on Paddle too, just to like...

You know have another easier
way for people to find it

and stuff Like I don't know.

What's your thought on that?

Is that like just
overkill and not worth it?

Aaron Vegh (guest): That's,
that's kind of my feeling.

It's that it's a lot of work.

You know, both, both are
a lot of work, right?

Like, integrating
Paddle is a lot of work.

Integrating with the Mac App Store
is actually a lot of work too.

You know, like you've got to do
the only now purchase thing, you've

got to set up a subscription.

It's not easy even with
Revenue Cat, not a sponsor.

They're, they're really good, but...

It's still a lot and so my, my feeling
is I'm going to choose one and,

you know, support it like as fully
as I can because I've got too many

other things to worry about, right?

Like supporting a single
app is hard enough.

I'm going to have a second
one, hopefully soon.

And I don't want to like, you know,
have to like align releases between

the web version, if you will, and
the Mac App Store version of the app.

Leo Dion (guest): Right

Aaron Vegh (guest): Because that has
brought challenges as well for other

developers that we've seen historically.

So it's just, that just adds a
level of complexity that I don't

want to continue with at all.

Leo Dion (guest): and you're just
one person let's not forget that

Aaron Vegh (guest): I'm just one guy.

Leo Dion (guest): Yeah, exactly exactly

Before we close out, I wanted to give
you an opportunity and talk a bit more

about this app that you're working on.

Quantum author.

You want to explain what it is and
how it's helpful to novel writers.

Aaron Vegh (guest): Oh Great.

Well, thank you so much
for asking Quantum author.

It's like you've said it's a novel
writing app for and for long form

writing So anyone who has long stuff
to write like that crosses say many

Files will find quantum author useful.

It's based on git actually so when
you're writing it's automatically

taking snapshots of your changes and
Keeping a history, so if you're used

to git or have used git as a software
developer The premise basically

quantum author is that I'm bringing
the capabilities of git And you can

look back on your snapshots, your
commits view your changes over time,

and you can also create branches
and experiment with your manuscript.

And so, like, sort of the example that
I give in the terrible, terrible video

that I created for this thing was
that if you were Jane Austen writing

Pride and Prejudice, That you could
experiment with an alien invasion

and make changes on a new branch.

And if you find that doesn't work
out, then you can just switch

back to main and all your changes
are consigned to this branch.

But, if it works out, then you can
merge back into the main branch

with the experiment results intact.

And I provide, like, a merge conflict
resolution editor which is a lot of fun.

And the other course, the other
feature that, that Git provides

is the ability to back up to
a remote host automatically.

And so that's one of the big features
that I provide the writers is so

snapshots, branching, and online backup.

Seamless in the background
while you're writing.

And so your stuff is safe,
which is kind of a big deal.

So, that's Quantum Author.

Currently in beta.

I'm hoping to launch in the next couple
months but there's still a lot of

work to do, so we'll see how it goes.

Fingers crossed.

Leo Dion (guest): awesome.

I'm, I'm curious, like, do novelists
are there in a lot of novelists

that are also software developers
that are like, Oh, I get this.

This is really cool that you can do
get and branching and stuff like that.

Aaron Vegh (guest): Yeah, I want to
be, I want to really hasten to add

first off that yes, there are a lot of
software developers that are writers.

When I announced my beta
I got 30 of them, which I

think is a pretty big number.

Who jumped in and said, oh yeah,
I'm a writer, and you know, I

also develop software because
they follow me on Mastodon.

Or, or, you know, somewhere
in the social network.

But like, I mean, they do not
represent my target audience,

let's put it that way.

And I wanna...

I also hasten to add, hasten,
that I do not talk about Git in

my promotional materials at all.

Leo Dion (guest): Obviously, yeah.

You want to hide that
behind the curtain.

Yeah, I get

Aaron Vegh (guest): exactly.

And, like, I've I've really struggled
during development to make the features

of Git available to the user without...

Making it look like the features of Git
are available to the user, you know.

So, because Git is notoriously
complex, you know, that I've,

I'm really only taking a subset
of its features, you know, and,

Leo Dion (guest): you're not going
to allow people to do interactive

rebases on their novel, hopefully.

Aaron Vegh (guest): mm.

No, sir.

Leo Dion (guest): yeah.

Aaron Vegh (guest): Nuh not happening.

Leo Dion (guest): Aaron, thank you
so much for coming on the show.

I really appreciate it.

This has been fantastic.

I always love talking
about Mac development, so,

yeah, glad to have you on.

Where can people find you online?

Aaron Vegh (guest): Well,
I'm on Mastodon mastodon.

social slash at Aaron Vegh I'm also
a contractor and I have a website

for myself, it's called innovative.

com I have fancy business cards
have just arrived so, I will be

at SwiftTO next month in August
to hang out with all of you and

I'm also giving a talk at SwiftTO

Leo Dion (guest): you talking about?

Aaron Vegh (guest): It's
actually a non technical talk.

It's called Persistence is My
Superpower, and it can be yours as well.

And it talks about sort of my journey to
become a successful indie app developer.

Leo Dion (guest): So definitely
check that out, I know.

Aaron Vegh (guest): Yeah, I don't

Leo Dion (guest): are still on sale
for SwiftTO, so definitely check that

out too, I enjoyed it a few years ago.

So, yeah, folks should definitely go.

Thank you again!

People can find me on
Twitter at LeoGDion, my I'm

on Mastodon at leogdion.


C dot I am LinkedIn and other places.

My website is bright digit.

Please take some time.

If you're watching this on
YouTube, like, and subscribe.

And if you're listening to this on a
podcast, I'd love a review as well.

Thank you so much.

And I look forward to
talking to you all again.

Bye everyone.

Aaron Vegh, indie macOS developer
comes on to talk about building Quantum

Author, a long-form writing app.

We talk about how he decides what UI
SDK to use, how to make money, and what

the Vision Pro means for AppKit and the
iPad.Write long-form on your Mac with

powerful change tracking, effortless
experiments and transparent backup.macOS

Indie Deep Cuts with Aaron Vegh