The Shape of Everything
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May 3, 2013

This has been a pretty awesome week for Acorn 4. Tons of great press, 4.5 mice, App Store Editor's Pick, amazing sales, and just great excitement around the newest pixel nut.

Here's how the past week unfolded.

Getting the Server Ready

Before the launch I had to get the server ready for the massive number of hits I was hoping it would get. When we released Acorn 3 I was caught completely off guard by the amount of people visiting the site. I've been linked to by major publications before including Daring Fireball on a number of occasions, and my server always held up admirably. But with the release of Acorn 3 so many folks were hitting my server that there were a couple of minutes where it was unresponsive. I had to quickly reconfigure things to make it load faster.

But this time I was ready. When folks visited Acorn 4's site on launch day, the only piece of data loaded from my server was the HTML for the page. Everything else was hosted on Amazon S3. Images, CSS, JavaScript files - everything. And it worked beautifully. The page loaded super fast at all times and the server didn't even break a sweat.

Timing the Release

Acorn was set to be released on Thursday, May 2nd. Releasing an app on my own site is a very simple process. I move some files around and it's launched. But when you want to release an application in Apple's App Store, you set an availability date and then it starts rolling out at 12:01 AM on that date. Easy enough, right? There's one little problem. It releases at 12:01 AM… but in what time zone? Well, it turns out all of them. People in New Zealand would be getting Acorn 4 about 19 hours before folks on the west coast.

There are a number of reasons why this isn't great. The first is that if Acorn shows up for folks in NZ, they would then be tempted to start singing its praises on Twitter. People in different time zones would then look for Acorn 4 and not find it. We would start getting hit with questions like "where the hell is it, why can't I buy it, why are you excluding us, you suck!”, etc. A rolling release like that would make for a whole lot of work when we're already too busy trying to tie up loose ends.

Another big problem was that a number of news sites had embargoed press releases that were set to expire on Wednesday night. I really didn't want news sites that didn't already know about Acorn 4 to get a jump on the publications that couldn't publish because of our agreement.

I was chatting about this problem with a friend when all of a sudden a solution hit me. I could set the release to May 3rd, and then when I was ready I could just push the release date back to May 1st! Since May 1st was already here (and gone in some time zones) Acorn 4 would roll out everywhere at the same time, which was exactly what I wanted.

So that's what I did. At 7:30 PM on Wednesday I set the release date for Acorn 4 to May 1st and Apple's servers started doing their thing. I actually gave the App Store a 30 minute head start on the release because I wanted to make sure it was there and ready immediately when the Acorn 4 site went live. Then at 8:00 PM on Wednesday I pushed the Acorn 4 site, updated the Flying Meat store, and the embargoes were lifted.

Holy Crap Everyone Loves Acorn 4!

Macworld had a great review of Acorn and gave it 4.5 stars! Acorn 4 adds impressive features and a smart new look

Jeff Blagdon from The Verge interviewed me a few days before and had a great review of Acorn 4 as well: Acorn 4 flies through image editing with new filter UI, improved speed, and curves. I even have my own tag on The Verge now!

MacStories wins the trigger finger award for publishing 4.7 seconds after the announcement: Acorn 4.0 Brings Non-Destructive Filters, Updated Interface, And More

Daring Fireball had great things to say about Acorn 4 as well: "An almost unbelievably great update to Flying Meat’s already-great image editor for the Mac". And holy crap, when John Gruber links to your site, you better be ready for a ton of hits.

Ars Technica had a great announcement as well: OS X image editor Acorn hits version 4 with 150 new features.

Mac Rumors had a write-up too! I believe this is the first time Flying Meat has been mentioned there, which was nice to see since I visit that site quite often. Acorn 4 Image Editor Adds Improved Speed, Enhanced User Interface and More

Even non-tech sites were picking up on it, such as the Houston Chronicle! Acorn image editor worth scooping up.

I could keep on listing the reviews and posts about it- but you get the idea. I was pretty floored at the attention Acorn was receiving.

App Store Editor's Choice

And then at about 1:00 PM PST time on Thursday May 2nd, Acorn 4 was front and center on the Mac App Store with the coveted "Editor's Choice" award for the week. Sweeeeeeeeeet. Needless to say, Acorn's App Store ranking shot through the roof.

Adobe Creative Cloud

A couple of days later on Monday May 6th, Adobe announced that Photoshop and their other CS products were to become subscription only. With Acorn in the news and Adobe announcing this giant change, people who hadn't looked at Acorn before certainly were now. We received a ton of questions, the requests for Photoshop specific features shot up, and the focus of attention on Acorn grew a bit more.

It's flattering that people consider Acorn a worthy competitor to Photoshop now. And certainly for some things Acorn is up to the task. But as I've written in the past, it isn't Acorn's goal to be a Photoshop clone. There are obviously a number of features that both products are going to share since both are image editors, but I really don't want to ape what PS does. What's the point of that other than being a cheaper imitation?

Acorn is fundamentally different and I want it to find its own way forward. I believe this will make Acorn better suited than Photoshop for some things, but not everything.

As an aside- John Nack was in Seattle last night and came out to the local Cocoa programmer's meet up and I got to chat with him for a bit. John works for Adobe and was at one time the senior product manager for Photoshop, so it's always fun to talk to him about what's going on in the industry. But it's weird. I just can't manage to put it in my head that I'm competing with Photoshop or Adobe or this guy who was sitting across the table from me in any way. People just seem to want this story to happen, which I guess I understand. Industry drama can be fun sometimes.

So What's Next?

Updates of course! There are a bunch of features that I wanted to get into Acorn 4 that just didn't happen in time, and there are bug fixes that need to be done as well.

Be sure to stay tuned because Acorn is just going to get better. If you haven't purchased Acorn 4 yet, you better jump on it soon. The temporary discount is only going to last till the end of May.