Let me preface this all by saying that I love my X-Carve, I love that it comes with free access to Easel, I love that I’m able to write apps for it, and I’ve loved all my interactions with Inventables… except when it comes to app development. There’s a major lack of communication and messaging that has made the process frustrating, especially because I was so excited about the concept of Easel app development.
I’ve noticed three main communication shortcomings, starting from when I first tried to write an app for Easel:
- The access request process is opaque. I filled out the Google Docs form in February to request access, and then I waited. Six months passed with no reply, until I happened to realize that I had been granted access at some point between February and October.
Potential solution: notify users when they’re given access. Or, don’t require special permission to receive app development access.
- The bug reporting process is opaque. I posted three bug reports to the App Development forum (for lack of an obvious place to report them) 5 weeks ago on September 30, and the only reply to any of them was one from me, after I found another similar bug. In an ideal world, those bugs would have gotten fixed in 5 weeks (or at least the one that assists users in DDOSing an app’s remote server). But the base level of interaction I’d expect would be to at least get a reply from a developer that they’ve read the report.
Potential solution: acknowledge when a bug report is posted. Post a link to a GitHub repo where bugs can be reported if the forum’s not a good place for it. Even better: open-source the app development code and the code that runs Easel apps so that we can submit patches instead of just bug reports
- The app publication process is opaque. I finished an app that I was pleased with, but there’s no clear way to request that the app be made public for other people to use. It turns out that the current process for requesting an app be published is to figure out who’s an Inventables developer on the forum and message them privately. I did that and didn’t hear anything back after a week (and never did hear anything back at all – maybe that person is no longer an Inventables developer?). I e-mailed customer support at that point, and they passed it along internally. The response was eventually “We’ll have to review it, but we don’t have a lot of manpower to do that right now.”
Potential solution: allow one-click publication request. Or have a sticky thread on the app development forum for publication requests. Or, in an ideal world, allow unpublished apps to be shared so that you don’t need to review each one. All I really want to do is share my app with other people and blog about how fun it is to be able to program my X-Carve.
I 100% understand what it’s like to be a developer on a team that doesn’t have the bandwidth to do everything you’d like to be doing. If that’s the case here, and 3rd party app development is no longer a priority, then please communicate that. Put a banner on the App Development forum and the app editor saying so. It’s much better to keep expectations low going into the process than it is to have your excitement about app development slowly die off as you realize it’s a dead end.