Time to say goodbye 😥 or au revoir?
TLDR; existing customers can continue to use Social Scheduler for Twitter and Facebook.
Social Scheduler was setup over six years ago with a two-man developer team. The code-base sitting behind it is up to 6 years old.
Our first payment arrived in the business bank account on 14th April 2015, over the years it hasn’t made anywhere near as much as our keenly over optimistic minds thought it would.
Given that it’s a social marketing tool, it’s kind of ironic that most developers know very little about marketing, as developers we didn’t do any marketing, except occasionally we use Social Scheduler to market itself, but again rather ironically we didn’t keep up the momentum.
Over the years I’ve read some great material, one of my favourites was a book called Traction. I now know much more about how to use other channels to boost Social Scheduler, yet, it’s with sadness I’ve chosen not to breath any more life into the tool.
Over the six years a few things have gone wrong, the most painful is the fact that my business partner and I fell out and worse is that he’s family, my cousin. I often reflect on how that could have been avoided. His early input was critical in keeping us both focused and interested in releasing our first commercial product.
I wrote the original web interface which was functional, he then injected it with a steroid of UX and converted it from something embarrassing to something people would consider using.
Six years is a long time, it’s now looking dated, but it’s still kinda functional. People still use it, but not enough to sustain my motivation to keep breathing life into it.
Once Michael (my cousin) left the company Devology the product was frozen whilst I put my efforts into a separate product, with a new partner, with a new company. A few months afterwards the Vehicle Smart product was released, it completely blew my mind how successful it was when launched. We were speaking thousands of installs in the first week.
Wind the clocks forward four years with nearly a million monthly active users, it’s now paying our wages and we have taken on two employees, a full-time senior developer and a part-time marketing and business support person.
Trying to juggle Social Scheduler, Vehicle Smart and an app I’m helping a good friend on MyTeamSafe, plus more recently home-schooling our children during Covid19, I’ve reflected on where I am with Social Scheduler and the creaking that’s been happening.
Luckily the Social Networks don’t change anything in a breaking way 🤥
Pinterest – As recently as this week, a customer told me that they could add Pinterest accounts, after authenticating our server no longer is provided with a list of Pinterest accounts.
Instagram – Their API is being deprecated at the end of this month, plus in iOS 13 our app no longer wants to offer sending images to the Instagram app
LinkedIn – Their API broke a couple of months ago, it’s now owned by Microsoft and there’s a new API that I simply haven’t had the time to look at
This means that today only two platforms are actively working
Twitter – Twitter for all of its faults has been very stable, someone in their team values a real API that doesn’t break with subsequent new features being rolled out. Kudos Twitter 👏
Facebook – Boy oh boy, we’ve had some struggles with Facebook. Not that long ago there was a big issue with Cambridge Analytica and this meant Facebook forced us to change how we authenticate and what permissions we must request. We jumped through their hoops and got stuck in their review process for 3 months. This meant we were cut off for a few weeks. Thankfully, eventually we were approved and Facebook does continue to work, albeit more restrictions means some combinations of posting (like supplying an image when sharing an explicit URL causes the post to get rejected – because Facebook don’t want you overriding the shared URL image any more).
To fix each platform will likely take me a few weeks, but then there’s a whole backlog of things I wanted to get in, like video support, analytics, mobile and desktop app and so much more.
I started to feel overwhelmed and demotivated, depressed even.
After a few weeks of procrastination, I started to feel I had a better plan, surely it’s easier to throw away the baggage and start again?
When I say plan, I mean that in the loosest sense of the word.
I’m going to do the least amount possible with Social Scheduler version 1.
I will update the website to clearly show that we do not want new registrations, enabling existing and valued customers to continue using the service until they find a new home (although they’re very welcome to keep using it for as long as it solves their problem).
In the meantime, I’m going to start tech blogging about how I’m re-writing version 2, using a completely different technology stack. It will be server-less, using C# and likely Azure (the current system is a monolithic Java web app with Java on Amazon Web Services).
I was going to set up a new domain for the tech blog, but, why? I’m going to post here on the Social Scheduler site in a new ‘Tech Blog’ category, so please feel free to follow it if you want to be kept up-to-date on how things are going. I suspect the first post will be about deciding what the MVP will be (Minimum Viable Product), then perhaps the second post will be an outline of the technology that I envisage will be part of the solution.
“I’d like to close this chapter by saying thank you to everyone who has or still is using Social Scheduler.
Additionally I’d like to thank my Cousin Michael for his help in the first couple of years.”Rob Wilson June 2020