We’d like to introduce you to Ulti-Planner, our new flagship product at Birdsoft. It is the end result of over 5 years of work and over 1200 hours of new development. Which doesn’t include the thousands more hours that have gone into our legacy calendar and productivity apps that are at its foundation.
Not Extreme Agenda 10.0, yet.
What is the idea behind it? Well, it obviously has its roots in our expertise in productivity apps, and more specifically Extreme Agenda. Let’s call it an extension of that. But Extreme Agenda for iOS was started in 2009, so a lot of that App is based on ideas and code that are over 13 years old (which in turn was based on the Windows Mobile version that was even older). iOS has grown as a platform and I’ve grown as a developer since the early days. So I had to decide if I wanted to keep painfully band-aiding that legacy code forever, or do a clean break and rebuild almost completely from scratch to have more modern, clean, and flexible code that will make it enjoyable again to expand on and be much more future-proof.
But if I was going to do this, I wanted to have creative freedom to really make it in a new way, and just starting it as “Extreme Agenda 10.0” still handcuffed me in several ways to use or deal with some of the issues that I wanted to get away from. Too much of that code would have had to come along. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the good parts did, but I wanted them only if they made sense. And even most of those good parts got rewritten.
I admit, I started down the road to rewrite the existing EA code first, it just didn’t feel right…
And if I really want to get back to this being my main thing I had to make it something I really looked forward to jumping into all the time and more importantly to be viable in a business sense. Extreme Agenda has baggage in that Apple almost forces a new app listing to do a “paid upgrade”. Or switching an app that has only even been a paid app at a premium price to a free app with purchases/subscriptions just adds a whole can of worms. Compounding that issue is the secondary versions of the app that upgrade to the full version, like Extreme Week, as they only add to the confusion.
To make a productivity app viable as a business, I have to try to have my premium products go after a premium market. With my Grid calendar app, I put out a lightweight(for the time) calendar app with a lot of great features and a cool design. I have always been proud that so many thousands of people thought that was enough, they just wanted a cool lightweight calendar with calendar text. So Ulti-Planner will in a way replace that. The basic version feels like a souped up version of that app. But then that equation didn’t translate into sales even at a low upgrade price so the Grid’s development never really paid for itself. So I need to convert and/or reestablish a great base like that, and have a better value proposition and better ways to express that value. I have to find ways to have more of the people that use and love my products for years help support further development. I need to replace some of the simple of Grid, and at the same time all of the power of Extreme Agenda, in one package.
The Code, so good…
The codebase of this app is something I’m very proud of. It actually started as a suite of apps that are in one codebase, so a Contacts and List app are right there needing to be finished up and incorporated too. Uniformity in design and modularity in execution.
You’ll also notice that these apps are super lightweight and super fast. The goal was to build it to stay under 10mb as an app, and open instantly. Quick install and quick launch. And they are built to use a lot of the same UX/UI choices of the apps that you use from Apple all the time, but with a touch of something extra. So they should be super fast, super intuitive, super sexy, and ultimately super powerful once you continue to discover what’s under the hood in the advanced features.
This code has been in development for over 5 years, so has been thoroughly vetted in that time. I have used it as a daily driver for over 4 years now, and have had it in beta for much longer than would normally happen. So the app is very solid from release. And in that time I’ve allowed the scope to run away from me. The calendar and reminders basically have feature parity with Extrema Agenda and then it adds so many more new features that the new code affords. It is a mature product from the get go.
And yes, one of the reasons I ultimately decided on this route is so that eventually this Engine can be used to build that elusive Extreme Agenda 10. Having it all in one project meant that right away I built an internal target that is a tab based app, with each of the Apps in a tab. Obviously that alone won’t get me to what I want to do with EA10, but it’s a beautiful foundation to build on. I’ll have to figure out those other questions about how to handle EA10 when I get there. Right now grinding Ulti-Planner is the goal.
We watch the competition, and we wouldn’t claim that this is a “best-in-class” app without knowing what’s out there. IT IS BEST-In-CLASS! We have created a blend of the right features in the right package that you can stack up with any of the established leaders in each product category, and come out feeling ahead. And our price point for the planner still generally falls under the price these other premium products are trying to get for one app. Usually “way” under them.
We encourage you to see for yourself.
So Ulti-Planner was my original Windows Mobile planner way back starting in about 2004. So it pre-dates the widely successful Extreme Agenda, and happened to have a lot of the same DNA, as all my apps do as they evolve. It featured multiple calendar views and tasks along with tons of customizations, a recipe we haven’t given up on.
We have been doing mobile calendars/organizers for 20 years!! So hopefully we can demonstrate just how far we’ve come in the game…
So there is the idea behind this overly ambitious project. I wanted to get back to the roots of what our passion is at Birdsoft. And I feel like the market is finally to the point where it can recognize and support premium level apps. I’d like to thank all of the customers that have supported Birdsoft over the years, and welcome any new users that want to see just what we are about…
Any feedback is always welcome.
Your calendar evolved.