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Review on Apple Matters

Published at 9:55pm on 28 Feb 2007

Apple Matters has posted a review of our freeware utilities MagiCal and Shades, along with a mini-bio of Charcoal Design's founder and chief software engineer Nick Lockwood.

Applematters has posted a review of our freeware Macintosh utilities MagiCal and Shades, along with a mini-bio of Charcoal Design's founder and chief software engineer Nick Lockwood.

The reviews were very positive, and they awarded both applications scores of 9/10!

Obviously, in the interests of space, they had to cut down the original commentary we gave them, so for those who are interested it is re-posted here in its entirety:

My name is Nick Lockwood, I'm 25, I've been a Mac user for around 10 years, and have been writing Macintosh software for the last 5 or so of those.

I currently work in London in the UK as a web developer. Charcoal Design is mostly a hobby for me at the moment although I have been building it up over the last few months, and expanding the web site to include a variety of features and services.

I've been programming in various languages for over a decade, and have always aspired to create software - primarily games, but also utilities and applications. Originally I intended to release software via the commercial/shareware model, but I've recently started to experiment with releasing applications for free, and funding their development via voluntary donations and advertising.

I've also started a repository for open source software on my site. I'm not an open-source Nazi - I support commercial software and do not feel that developers are morally obligated to give their software away - but I think that the Mac development community deserves all the support it can get, and that we all stand to benefit by sharing code and ideas.

As you can tell from the comments on the site, I have very strong feelings about software piracy and open standards. Closed document formats and draconian anti-piracy measures or DRM do nothing but hurt the industry in my opinion. It is impossible to protect software from piracy, and the harder you try, the more you annoy your consumers. I want people to pay for my software because they feel good about it, not because I've made it too much trouble not to. I want them to use my programs because they provide the best user experience, not because it's too hard to port their documents and settings over to another application.

For our commercial applications we have adopted a very liberal take on the shareware licence. If you pay for one of our programs you are free to run copies on multiple machines, and to share your license with friends and family if you so choose. We only ask that you don't post your serial numbers on the internet - basically that you don't give them away to people you don't know.

I've got some flack from other developers for doing this, but I don't believe that this increases piracy at all - I'm simply legitimising something that people are going to do anyway, and helping them to feel good about it. Developers should be thrilled that their customers are going out and evangelising their products to friends and family members. If more people use and like my software, that's more potential customers for the next program I release, or the one after that.

In future releases of MagiCal and Shades, I will be focussing on improving support for common standards, and increasing interoperability with other popular Macintosh applications. I've had a fantastic response from users who've told me exactly what features they want to see in future releases, and it is my aim to try to match or exceed all those requirements. It's development by democracy, and I think that's really what the Mac is all about.