I feel so dirty

I decided to purchase an EPSON scanner to maybe workaround issues with their drivers and ReceiptWallet. I have an old Perfection 1250, but the drivers aren’t universal binaries and I wanted to give EPSON a fighting chance to make it back on my list of acceptable scanners. So I saw that Fry’s had a few on sale and purchased the EPSON CX9400. I feel so dirty purchasing the scanner as I’ve said so many bad things about EPSON. I unpacked the scanner and said “oh, this is a pretty scanner”. My wife laughed at me as I described a printer as “pretty”. It looks well made and it might replace my old HP OfficeJet 6110xi for faxing and copying.

I installed the drivers from EPSON’s site (I chose this model as it is current and has Intel native drivers) and away I went (the download was only about 20 MB vs HP’s 100+ MB). I started up Image Capture and was pleased to see that Apple’s TWAIN Bridge let me use the ICA scanning dialog instead of the EPSON dialog. Next I tried ReceiptWallet. It scanned on the first try, but crashed on the second try. Wow, that’s what people have been telling me. The crash clearly looks like it is in the driver, but I’ll take a stab at working around it as it will help many ReceiptWallet users. In addition, if ICA works acceptably, I might turn that back on as an option in ReceiptWallet. The TWAIN UI for the EPSON scanner still looks like crap, but if it works, then ReceiptWallet users may be happy.

Collecting scanners

Yesterday I placed an order for my competitor’s scanner. Why did I do this? I have no interest in looking at their software; I want to try out their scanner driver and make ReceiptWallet work with the scanner so that users can switch to ReceiptWallet. That got me thinking about my collection of scanners and what I need to add to it.

  • Fujitsu ScanSnap 5110 EOXM
  • DocketPORT 465
  • Pentax DSMobile 600 (currently at Apple)
  • IRISScan Express (sitting in the original box)
  • EPSON Perfection 1250
  • HP OfficeJet 6110xi

So when I add my competitor’s scanner, that will total 7 scanners. I need to get a newer EPSON (one that has Intel native drivers) as well as a newer HP. While I still don’t recommend EPSON or HP scanners, I can at least try to make them work better.

Do I really want all these scanners? No, but in order to make ReceiptWallet more compatible with a wide variety of scanners (many with broken drivers), I have to add to my collection.

Where is ReceiptWallet going?

The other day I was chatting with someone that I work with and he mentioned that he and his brother would like to develop a software product. As part of the conversation, he asked if I’d sell ReceiptWallet? That’s a good question. I started ReceiptWallet out of my own frustration really with no idea how well it would do. Now, it is a decent portion of my business and I still feel very passionately about it. That still doesn’t answer the question, would I sell? If there are enough zeros on the check and the terms are right (I’d want ReceiptWallet to continue on and be developed), I’d say yes! Some “indie” developers would never sell out and just like going at it alone. For me, unless I grow my company to have other people handle support and sales, ReceiptWallet will continue to consume me. Someday I’d like to not have to worry about ReceiptWallet. Is that day coming any time soon? No. Am I giving up on ReceiptWallet? Absolutely not. I work on ReceiptWallet almost everyday.

Having my own software product is nice in some ways, but it also eats up a lot of time due to my desire to create a product that I love.

Don’t worry about ReceiptWallet going away; I have some cool ideas for the future. Of course, I can’t guarantee what or when will be in there (until a product ships, no one can know what a product will contain despite reassurance from developers).

Congratulations to my competitor!

I’d like to congratulate my competitor, NeatReceipts, for finally shipping a Mac version! I know that this has been a long time coming. Way back before I started ReceiptWallet, I contacted them about a Mac version. They said it was coming next year. That was more than 1.5 years ago. ReceiptWallet was first released in November 2006 and that has given me lots of time to make a product that I use everyday and have thousands of customers that also use the product.

One of the things I find interesting about their Mac product is they keep stating what it doesn’t do more than what it does do. They also promise features for the version that will be out early 2009. Well, what about the people that want a product now? I’ve decided to offer those users that want ReceiptWallet a competitive upgrade. Information about this offer can be found over at the ReceiptWallet site.

While the NeatReceipts Mac scanner won’t work directly with ReceiptWallet (they chose to use Apple’s Image Capture Architecture), users can scan into Image Capture and then import the scans into ReceiptWallet. I’m looking at supporting ICA, but there are far too many issues with it to make it usable. I am working with an engineer at a major scanner vendor in an effort to help Apple fix the issues with ICA and make it usable. I have ICA support in ReceiptWallet, but it is disabled. I’m not a huge fan of the TWAIN drivers most vendors ship with their scanners, but those drivers work better than ICA at this point in time.

Anyway, I’m hoping that competition in the receipt management space brings me more publicity. I know that I’m the small fry in this space, but my heart is completely into ReceiptWallet. I listen to every piece of feedback that comes in and try very hard to get new features added as quickly as possible and to address any issues that arise. I’m currently releasing new versions at least once a month (sometimes more often) so that I can quickly address issues and provide the most stable product as possible. As a small developer, I have that luxury and users don’t have to sit around waiting 6 months to a year for a bug to get fixed.

Knowledgebase Overload

In my effort to have my ReceiptWallet users get faster answers to questions, I have developed an extensive knowledge base of articles. While I’ve done my best to write easy to understand articles, the hardest part is getting people to find the articles. I know my knowledge base, so I know what keywords to enter to get results. Yesterday my mom had a problem with printing a receipt from Amazon to ReceiptWallet, so I pointed my dad to “droplet” and then directly to the article about droplets. My dad read the article and easily fixed the problem. Would my parents (or other users) been able to find the article? That depends on what keywords they entered in the search. I’ve been searching for answers for years on the Internet (I still haven’t found what I’m looking for probably because I’m not sure what I’m looking for :-)), so I have a good idea on what words to use in searching.

Is there a better way to help people search in knowledge bases? I’m not sure the knowledge base software makes a difference. I have about 60 articles in my database covering a wide range of topics. They are categorized, but finding an answer could take time and many people don’t want to spend the time to search for an answer; I can’t blame them.

Any ideas on how to improve self help resources for ReceiptWallet?

Oh the irony

Today I was digging through some files in my file cabinet looking for my business tax certificate. I mentioned this to a friend and he said “You do realize the irony here, right?”. Yeah, I realize that I’ve written this awesome program for dealing with documents and here I am digging through paper. I do have a good reason for this. I like to keep my business and personal documents separate, so I never scanned in my business documents into DocumentWallet and didn’t scan my receipts into ReceiptWallet. Now that ReceiptWallet handles multiple libraries, separating business and personal is quite simple, so I’ve begun to put business documents into a separate ReceiptWallet document library.

Before ReceiptWallet 2.0, doing this was not very practical. While there have been some user rumblings about some of the ReceiptWallet 2.0 changes including multiple libraries, this experience shows me that the multiple library decision was definitely a correct one. It may take some time for users to get used to multiple libraries, but in the end, I think that users will find many uses for them.

Can’t buy reviews like this!

A few friends of mine pointed me to a ReceiptWallet review today over at The Apple Blog. I had no idea that a review was being written and that it would be so glowing! While the user base of ReceiptWallet is increasing, I usually don’t hear from users unless they are having problems. Reading reviews like this makes me smile and know that all my hard work is appreciated.

Any other reviews out there? Let me know.

When my code bites me on the you know what

I released ReceiptWallet 2.0 on Tuesday and the reception has been pretty good. Unfortunately, as with any major upgrade, there are bound to be issues. I’ve been handling the support issues on a case by case basis, and I’ve been scratching my head trying to figure out what could have caused the issues. This afternoon I received a phone call from my uncle who just upgraded and now his data was empty. The good thing about the upgrade is the chances of destroying the data are slim; ReceiptWallet, in most cases, can’t find it. Having visited my uncle back in November and knowing how his system was setup, it made getting him up and running much easier. Then, this evening, it dawned on me the problem, so I tested my theory. In ReceiptWallet and DocumentWallet, I had a preference that let users move the ReceiptWallet or DocumentWallet data folder as people wanted to put it in Documents or on another hard drive. So I moved my data in ReceiptWallet 1.5.2, upgraded to ReceiptWallet 2.0 and saw that ReceiptWallet didn’t find my data. Hmmm…at least I could reproduce it.

I started poking at my code and within a few minutes, saw this:

		[[NSUserDefaults standardUserDefaults] objectForKey:kOldDataLocation];

That’s the whole line. Anyone who knows Cocoa programming knows that this does nothing. The line was supposed to be:

		dataLocation = [[NSUserDefaults standardUserDefaults] objectForKey:kOldDataLocation];

I somehow left off the assignment to the variable.

OK, simple fix. However, this doesn’t really help the people that have already upgraded and our stuck. In addition, I’m not quite ready to put out a 2.0.1 version. So, I added a menu option that says “Open Prior Version Data” which does the magic to open the data file and actually executes the problem line of code from above.

So, I’ve posted the new version as a beta, put a Knowledge Base article about it and put a ReceiptWallet News item about it. I’m hoping that I can simply point people to the beta version and their problems will disappear.

I’ll probably sleep well tonight having found the answer to one of this week’s greatest mysteries.

ReceiptWallet 2.0 Released!

I am pleased to announce that ReceiptWallet 2.0 has been released along with a completely redesigned website! Thanks goto Julie Bender for the new website design, my beta testers for finding all the bugs that I couldn’t have found on my own, Eric Ullman for my press release, and of course, my wife, for putting up with me while I got this release out the door!

I’m very excited not just about the software release, but about the website as it now looks professional and all 5 components of my site are themed the same (the main site, the knowledge base, the store, the news area, a WordPress install, and the contact area). A lot of work went into getting this site to work smoothly and I think it looks great! I’m biased, but I’ve seen few “indie” developer sites that have the same look on all pieces of their sites; some get close, but leave out a piece here or there. I figured that while I was getting my site redone, I might as well go all out and make it all be consistent (as much as possible). My site looked like crap before and I should have made the leap earlier to get a professional to do it, but that’s now 20/20 hindsight.

Oh, and this ReceiptWallet upgrade is FREE to all ReceiptWallet and DocumentWallet users!

On the verge of releasing ReceiptWallet

As I’ve promised on my website, ReceiptWallet 2.0 is going to be released by mid March. I’ve been busy putting together all the pieces and am quite pleased how things are shaping up. I had a web designer completely redo my website and managed to “skin” all the pieces of my site (store, support and main site) so that the same theme is carried throughout.

I’m quite excited about this release as I think that the software is very sound and appeals more to a wider audience with ReceiptWallet and DocumentWallet combined. In addition, the new website will give the software a more professional look. While I’m not going to reveal exactly when I’m going to push everything out the door before I do, time is running out to hit mid March, so it will be soon 🙂