When creating a new app, a developer always has two competing desires:
To add as many features as possible to make the app as powerful as it can be
To ship the app quickly
This makes the initial release of any app a balancing act, finding the earliest point at which the app has enough features to be considered useful and worth releasing. However, this means the first release is just a fraction of the vision the developer has for the app. Coppice is no exception to this.
So far we've looked at what Coppice will be at launch, but in this post we want to explore what we want Coppice to become.
Last time, we discussed how going for a subscription business model means we can release features when they are ready, rather than saving them for a big paid upgrade. The consequence of this is we want to put out small, but frequent updates to Coppice over time. These updates can be more focused, adding or improving a single part of the app at a time. This gets updates to you sooner, without overwhelming you with a mass of changes at once. It also means we can get feedback on changes sooner.
This approach of more frequent updates doesn't gel well with the traditional versioning system of 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, etc. as the change going from 1.8 to 1.9 may be the same (or bigger) than 1.9 to 2.0. So instead we will be going for a year-based versioning system. This means the first version of Coppice will be version 2020.1 (the first release of 2020).
The Far Future
With Coppice 2020.1, we have deliberately kept things simple, focusing on the core functionality of the app to provide the foundations on which to grow going forward. We have many ideas of how to improve Coppice, so want to share some of our long-term goals here for 3 of the core concepts in Coppice: Pages, Linking, and Canvases.
It's important to note that nothing mentioned here is set in stone. Features we think are a good idea now may not make sense down the road. We also expect to receive a lot of feedback from our users after release which will shape Coppice in ways we haven't even imagined.
Pages are at the core of Coppice. They hold your thoughts and ideas. Pages are relatively simple in Coppice 2020.1, with basic editing functionality and just two types: Text and Image.
Over time we want to expand both the types of pages and the editing functionality. Some examples of new page types we're considering are PDFs, Markdown, Audio, and Video. With our existing types, we want to expand the formatting options available for Text pages and provide basic editing tools for Image pages
Linking is a key feature of Coppice, letting you represent the relationships between your thoughts and ideas. Coppice 2020.1 only supports adding links to a Text Page, but our aim is to support linking in some form from every type of Page. The obvious priority here will be Image Pages, allowing you to turn parts of an image into a link.
We also want to investigate more ways of having Coppice help find these links for you, and highlight potential relationships you hadn't considered.
We want to further enhance Canvases over time to help you better organise your thoughts and ideas. Key to that is improving navigation. We have many enhancements planned to make it quicker and easier to move around your Canvas and find the pages you want.
Our vision for Canvases is for them to be more than just a place to put multiple pages. Showing links between pages is the first step, but we want to explore more ways of adding to a canvas, from less formal forms of linking pages, to drawing notes and diagrams directly on the Canvas.
Canvases are also great tools for helping others to learn about a topic, so we want to provide ways to export Canvases so you can share them far and wide.
The Near Future
While it is fun to think about the distant future, it's worth looking towards the near future for releases: specifically the rest of 2020.
First, we are hoping to announce the release for Coppice 2020.1 in the next few weeks. Be sure to subscribe to the Coppice Blog to be the first to hear about it.
Secondly, we would like to get a follow up release (2020.2) out before the end of the year. The focus here will be on some improvements to editing Text pages (in particular adding support for lists) and responding to any early feedback from the launch.
We're excited to finally be approaching the final leg of our journey in releasing Coppice, and to start work on the next journey of adding new features and functionality. We can't wait to get Coppice into your hands and start hearing what you want for the future of Coppice!
Over the past few months we've taken a look at a lot of the functionality of Coppice but one thing we haven't mentioned is the business model. So today we're going to take a look at how we're planning to fund Coppice's ongoing development.
What is Coppice Pro?
We want to get Coppice into the hands of as many people as possible. At the same time, we want to make money so we can invest in further improving Coppice over time. To that end, we've decided to split Coppice's functionality up into two tiers: Core features and Pro features.
Core features will be available for free in Coppice. You will be able to download Coppice and use it with these features without having to pay a penny. And most importantly, you won't have to worry about a time limited trial expiring.
Pro features will be available after purchasing Coppice Pro. These will remove certain limits and provide advanced features to help you get the most out of Coppice. Coppice Pro will further enhance the Core features, with functionality such as advanced organisation and linking tools.
Coppice Pro will be available as an annual subscription for just $19.99 a year, available through our website.
Unfortunately subscriptions can be somewhat polarising for some people, so we wanted to discuss a bit more about why we've taken this approach with Coppice.
Subscriptions can fundamentally change how you ship software. Using a traditional "paid upgrade" model, developers will release several free updates, but then collect a lot of features up into one large update to justify an upgrade price. This can often mean complete features stay unreleased for weeks or months, waiting for that big "2.0" update. With a subscription model we are freed from this restriction, as we have an ongoing income. This means we can release features when they are ready, getting the benefits of them to you sooner.
We are also able to lower the cost of entry. With the "paid upgrade" model, you are effectively asking users to pay up front for the several years of development between major releases. With a subscription model, you are only paying per-year, so we can offer a lower starting price.
Subscriptions also offer other benefits. While we have no concrete plans at the moment, our long term goal is to have Coppice available on other platforms beyond the Mac. Subscriptions will allow us to provide a unified payment model across platforms, so you won't have to keep paying separately for each platform.
Ultimately, we believe subscriptions provide the best model for sustainable, long-term development, while keeping the cost as low as possible to open up Coppice Pro to everyone.
Core vs Pro
So how do we decide what features will be in the Core tier vs the Pro tier? It helps to define what the core functionality of Coppice is:
To collect your thoughts and ideas,
To visually lay out those thoughts and ideas, and
To create links between those thoughts and ideas
The Core tier will provide the basic functionality to make each of these possible, whereas the Pro tier will provide additional functionality to truly get the most out of them. Let's take a closer look at what this means in the initial version of Coppice.
You will be able to add an unlimited number of Pages to your documents in both Core and Pro, using both the initial types of Pages: Text and Images.
Coppice Pro will add support for Folders. These will let you group your Pages in the sidebar, helping you to better organise your documents.
In the Core tier you will be able to add as many pages to a Canvas as you like, lay them out, and view the relationships between them. However, you will be limited to just one Canvas per document.
With Coppice Pro, you will have an unlimited number of Canvases per document. You will also be able to set the Canvas theme (Light or Dark) on a per-Canvas basis, rather than it always automatically changing with the system theme.
Linking is an important part of Coppice, so the Core tier will allow you to manually create links between pages without any restrictions.
We want Coppice to help you find those links though, so with Coppice Pro you will be able to enable Auto-Linking. This will look for references to other Pages as you type and create links for you, leaving you to focus on the content of the Page.
Over time we will be adding new features to both our Core and Pro tiers. While our focus will be on further improving Coppice Pro, we already have several new features planned for the Core tier. In a few weeks we will be taking a look at our plans for Coppice after its initial release, so be sure to subscribe to the Coppice Blog, the Coppice Mailing List, and follow @coppiceapp on Twitter to stay up-to-date.