March 21, 2020

Today is a sad day for me; today, I’ve decided to retire Flexile, the first iOS app I ever made. Flexile was a massive project, and in the end it consisted of over 150k lines of code, almost all of them in objective-c. In the end, it never did well, partly because I had no money to advertise (and I hate marketing), but mostly because the app had a high learning curve. I hadn’t realize yet that mobile users want simple and quick, and Flexile was anything but.

The decision to retire it (and pull it from the App Store) was a long time coming. I’d considered doing this several times over the past couple of years, but Flexile had garnered some devoted users and so I kept it maintained. But as each new version of iOS gets released, the maintenance required has escalated until it became unmaintainable. At this point, it would require at least a month of full-time work, a month I simply do not have.

By most metrics, Flexile was a failure. It never made much money, and I’m pretty sure what money it did earn has long ago been consumed by the fees I’ve paid to keep the website running. It never garnered a large number of user, or even downloads. Most days, I was lucky to get a single download; most days, I barely showed up in the app store search results.

Yet, for me, I consider Flexile a success.

Those users that stuck with it, gave glowing reviews; and some users still use it, even though I’m pretty sure it’s a little funky on iOS 13, and probably won’t even start on iOS 14, whenever that rolls around.

I learned tons of valuable lesson from developing Flexile, many of which I continue to serve me to this day. Flexile was my portfolio when I was a fledgling freelance developer, opening doors for me to work. Flexile gave me a door in to the programming world. It validated me as a developer, showed potential employers what I could do.

So no, Flexile was not a failure. But not all good things last, and it’s time for me to retire Flexile. I can’t maintain it and it’s not fair for me to keep it up on the App Store. Supposing I can keep my nerve, I will remove it by the end of the week.

Is this the end? I don’t know. I hope not. A part of me really want to rewrite Flexile into version 2.0, using all the latest technologies and employing all the lessons I’ve learned over the years. If I did it, I would do it for both Mac and iOS. I would make it great.

But life is unpredictable. I have three kids, a wife, a full-time job, and little time for developing a project on this scale. I simply don’t know.

But I want to. I still believe I can make it something, and I want to do it.

So, who knows, maybe someday I will.