2011 was a crazy one for Binary Formations in the best possible way. Over the course of the past year, we released quite a few significant feature updates to Home Inventory and introduced three new apps for iOS (Home Inventory Photo Remote, Home Inventory Mobile Backup, and Adam Learns Shapes and Colors). 2011 also marked my first full year of working for Binary Formations full-time and, most importantly, saw us transition from a hobby that Diane and I worked on in our spare time into a real company, capable of supporting our family. And for this, I would like to extend a heartfelt and humble thank you to each and every one of our customers. By purchasing our software, leaving positive reviews (especially on the Mac App Store where they help us tremendously), recommending our software to your friends and colleagues, and providing us with the feedback we need to improve our software, you have helped us realize our dream of making a go of it on our own and I cannot even begin to thank you enough.

We have a lot in the works for 2012 and I would like to share some of it with you as well as address a few items I think you should know about.

Home Inventory

Work is underway on Home Inventory 2.6. It will be a smaller release than originally planned due to the need to support Apple’s sandboxing requirement for the Mac App Store and having to temporarily shelve iCloud support due to problems with iCloud itself (more on both of these items later in this post). Much of the work being done on Home Inventory 2.6 is in preparation for running in a protected “sandbox” under OS X Lion and putting in the underpinnings to support some other features we have planned (hooray for architectural changes with vague promises of future goodness!). That being said, we’re also going to try to get in a few of the items from the poll I posted on this blog back in November. If all goes according to plan, expect to see version 2.6 sometime in February.

Of course we have some pretty big plans for Home Inventory and its iOS companion apps beyond the version 2.6 update, but we need to keep these a secret for the time being.

Sandboxing Home Inventory

Depending on how closely you follow the minutia of the Mac App Store and the Mac development world, you may or may not be aware of Apple’s controversial requirement that all apps submitted to the Mac App Store beginning March 1, 2012 must conform to OS X Lion’s scheme for running apps in a secure “sandbox”. Getting Home Inventory ready for this is a high priority. Some developers are happy about this new requirement. Others are not. We have both feet firmly planted in the “not” camp, but it is something we need to do in order to continue to make Home Inventory available through the Mac App Store.

iCloud Support

A lot of people ask us when we’re going to add iCloud support to Home Inventory. Unfortunately I can’t give you an answer because, to be perfectly blunt, iCloud just isn’t ready for primetime yet. There are too many bugs, particularly on the Mac side. Paul Mayne, the man behind the brilliant and elegant Day One app, sums up some of the reasons in this blog post. There are other problems as well that are more specific to Home Inventory and other applications that make use of large, monolithic databases.

We still intend on adding support for iCloud once Apple has resolved these problems. As things stand now, I have no idea when this will be.

Mac App Store Migration

Another popular question that often appears in our inbox is whether there is a way for customers that purchased Home Inventory outside of the Mac App Store to migrate to the Mac App Store version without having to buy it again. Apple currently doesn’t offer a mechanism for migrating outside purchases, so this just isn’t possible at this time. In fact the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’m convinced that Apple will never make a migration path available (though I’m sure now that I’ve said this they will go and do just that). Instead we’ve come up with a possible alternative that I hope we will be able to announce in this blog and in our email newsletter in the coming weeks.

A Brand New App

Diane and I have been kicking around ideas for another Mac application for a few years now. We’ve finally settled on an idea that we both like and hope to bring it to you sometime later this year. We won’t be saying too much about it publicly until we’re ready to launch, but I can tell you this: it is not related to Home Inventory in any way, shape, or form.

And Finally…

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, last year saw Binary Formations transition from a part-time hobby to a full-fledged company, albeit still a tiny one. Because of this, my wife marked the end of 2011 by quitting her day job to spend more time on Binary Formations. Diane brings a unique perspective to software development and has been invaluable in helping refine our products into something much better than I could ever create on my own. I’m thrilled our future endeavors will now have her full attention.

Once again, many, many thanks to those who have supported us in making this happen. I am excited about the year ahead and hope 2012 brings you and yours the very best.

Kevin Hamilton
Binary Formations, LLC