FoldingText removed from sale, trying to decide what's next


#1

I removed FoldingText from the Mac App Store last week.

The download at www.foldingtext.com is still there, and requires a license, but I’ve changed the license price to $0. I’m in the process of trying to decide what to do next with the project.

The history

  1. I created FoldingText 1 over 2009-2014 time period together with Mutahhir as main other developer. Goal was plain text productivity platform. Over time markdown became a core component and complexity grew and I started to think maybe this wasn’t turning out to be the project that I was originally trying to build.

  2. In 2014 Hog Bay Software sales weren’t enough to sustain all 4 developers and had to shrink back to just me. Soon afterward I wrapped up a bunch of work that we’d done into FoldingText 2. At this point I wanted project to work for existing users, but I wasn’t using it myself. My efforts were redirected to building TaskPaper 3. TaskPaper’s a less ambitious project, but I think simpler and more in line with my own goals.

  3. Mutahhir decide to come back to create FoldingText 2.1 and 2.2 as a side project (he had/has another full-time job because FoldingText’s not been making enough to support a full-time developer). He added a number of features including the outline view and did lots of smaller updates and code cleanup.

  4. Sales still weren’t sustainable. Since the incremental changes Mutahhir was making weren’t helping sales Mutahhir decided to take it in different and riskier direction that he was interested in exploring. I wasn’t terribly excited by the idea, but I was/am grateful that Mutahhir was still willing to put energy into the project, trying to move it forward.

    Mutahhir put a lot of time and effort into this route, but unfortunately this new take on FoldingText was too much of a departure from the original app. After posting the firsts preview release the reaction was that very few existing FoldingText users thought they could make use of FoldingText in this new form. It just wasn’t what they wanted or could use.

    Mutahhir continued to think about fixes and alternative packagings, but at this point I think the project switched from an interesting possibility into a burden for him. After a few tries at this and that he’s made the decision that it’s just not worth the time and effort to try to bring FoldingText to a new sustainable phase. I understand completely.

    I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but I really want to thank Mutahhir for all his work trying to make FoldingText work. It was a lot of time and effort without much reward the last few years. Thank you for the effort!

What’s next

Mutahhir’s transferred responsibility for FoldingText back to me.

Ideally, I’d like to see the project continue to move forward so that existing users can keep using it. But it’s not financially sustainable right now, and I need to put all of my time into WriteRoom and TaskPaper.

The two scenarios that I can imagine are I find someone else to take over the project, or I open source the code and hope for the best. I’m looking for feedback, what would you like to see me do with this project? Does anyone else have skill/interest in taking it over?


FoldingText - What's going on?
#2

#3

I’ve been using FoldingText for a while, and find it to be a valuable tool to have in my toolbox. I’ve also used TaskPaper and lots of other outliners, but find none of them are really a replacement for FoldingText. The ideas behind it, of modes and scriptability and extensibility, are still very promising.

I’d love to see the product continue to evolve, or at a minimum be maintained with its current features. I think releasing it as an open-source project would help ensure it doesn’t die away. So that’s where my vote goes. I don’t think I can commit to running that project, but I would be interesting in contributing.


#4

I too use FoldingText as a daily part of my workflow and would definitely find it a great shame if it were to disappear.

I’d love to see the code open sourced so that the community has a chance to maintain the core functionality across macOS updates, etc.

+1 vote (if I had one for the open source path).

And a big thank you to Jesse for the write up on where this all stands.

Stephen


#5

That was quite an informative post.

I use foldingtext a lot, for all my writing at the computer, and that’s a lot I would say. I need the tag filtering and the section focusing for my writing and I’m not aware of anyone offering the @tag filtering.
I’m quite happy with the feature set it offers, and I don’t see it as missing anything in particular.

The only thing I would really need is for it to keep working across the future (painful) yearly macOS releases.


#6

I use FoldingText much more than WriteRoom app. FT has more power and really need this app in future. My ideas:
Bring the app price from 29.99 USD to 9.99-14.99 USD. I do no think there is any powerful app available at this cost. So many other apps will fall behind FoldingText. Ask someone or even Mutahhir to continue the app from Mac App store version at this price (atleast maintain it for future release of macOS)

Make it open source but make the license tight and do not allow anyone to make clone on App Store. If you are going to make it open source then develop a community and do not allow anyone to release a clone app on App Store or somewhere else.


#7

FT is my favourite markdown compatible app and the power features make it essential for my workflows.

I’m not sure if the technology behind it can be rolled into any of your current projects but it would be great if possible.

Alternatively, if another developer like DEVON technologies took it onboard and integrated it into DEVONthink that would be a great improvement on the native handlind of markdown for example. Sorry if these suggestions are technically naive.

Otherwise I’d like to see it open sourced. In any case best of luck with the future of FT and WR.


#8

I use FoldingText as my default text editor, writing both short texts and long documents. To me, it is the best markdown editor available. I do not need any further features, the folding mechanism plus the outline view are perfect and I even like its simplicity (sometimes, I use todo mode, as well). I also love TaskPaper, but I see FT as a Swiss army knife for all writing tasks. I would highly appreciate its continuation. But as I’m not a developer, I cannot offer any help, sorry.


#9

Many thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Jesse, and to you and Mutahhir for the work on FT so far.
I use TP for my to-do/project list, and FT for structured overviews on specific topics. For the latter purpose, I am also trying the (free version of) the Agenda Notes app, but so far I am not quite getting what it adds, except perhaps for the additional iOs app.

That said, I expect to continue using FT for various writing-related things. Of course I hope that FT will remain alive and will evolve with the Mac updates whenever necessary, but I perfectly understand that it has to make sense from a business perspective.

In any case, whatever you decide, many thanks.
Paul


#10

I too use FT on a daily basis and am rather satisfied with it as it is right now. My baseline hope then is to see it maintained for compatibility with future macOS versions.

I’m no expert at this but the way I see it, going the open-source route would be the best way to assure sustainability with minimal effort ; you could transfer the “ownership” (I’m pretty sure this is not the right term, forgive me) of the open-source project to an enthusiast user who has the skill to maintain it.

I have the intuition that programmatically skilled users among all the FT user base could be enough of a community to keep it alive. Let’s see if other code-savvy users chime-in along with @tsmall.


#11

Thanks for keeping us updated, @jessegrosjean. And @mutahhir, thanks for keeping FT alive for so long. It’s become essential to the way I think and work — no joke.

  1. Will the next version of WriteRoom have Markdown support?

  2. I’d be willing to pay more than a single user license to keep FT alive. @jessegrosjean, I’d absolutely support a crowd-funding project, if you have a financial goal in mind. Maybe us die-hard FT users could help fund the maintenance?


#12

I would hate to see FT go. It’s my everyday thinking/planning app. I’ve been using outliners of various sorts for many, many years all the way back to Acta. Before FT, my goto was CircusPonies notebook, but that died. Guess I’ll take a look at DevonThink again. No fan of markdown, I just like the idea of pure text and the ability to collapse block. Always wished for drag and drop, though.