Some thoughts on Sunlight, Area, and BZG's Future


In 2011, I created my first app. It was a simple premise: two buttons, one titled Sunlight, and one Darkness. Clicking 'Darkness' would result in all your windows hiding, and hitting 'Sunlight' would make them reappear.

Sunlight was the major pivot moment for BZG, the event that made me realize what we needed to be. The creation of Sunlight led to the development of Browse, Coherence, and everything that has happened since, and was the moment 'BZG Websites' became BZG.

As you could imagine, Sunlight is very important to me, and to BZG as a whole.Since the original release in 2011, we released a couple of dozen updates, including six major ones. The problem was at a certain point I didn't have the skills to take it further, and the ideas for where I wanted it to land in the future were too ambitious for the time.

In 2013, we released Coherence, our first paid application. The app was created by me and was very successful in my eyes. I also personally did Coherence 2 and 3 in 2014 and 2015. But, when 2016 came around, and it was time to work on Coherence 4, I had a new idea:

All of my coding skills were self-taught, and frankly sub par. While I was fortunate enough to figure out how to make a mildly successful app, I needed to find a new strategy to bring my apps to the next step. It was at this point that we began looking at Freelance developers to work on Coherence 4, as a bit of an experiment to see if we could turn the costs around in profit.

Coherence 4 turned out great, and thanks to our great developers, we were able to put out an app that matched the entirety of Coherence sales in its first three years in the first three months. It was at this point we made a significant shift in our business model, I would coordinate our development team in the creation of my app ideas, and stick to marketing and managing while setting aside the development aspect.

Internally, we put together a new goal for our next few projects. We wanted to streamline our entire lineup using this new system and create new, up-to-date, great versions of our flagship apps. We had just done Coherence 4, so it meant Sunlight and Browse would be next.

In the fall of 2016, we put together our plans for what was internally referred to at the time as Sunlight 7, but eventually renamed Area. At the same time, I began a year abroad, and I started a quasi-hiatus through Summer 2017. We spoke to some of our developers and reached out to new ones, but at the time, it didn't end up being feasible with my situation. Simultaneously, a few things fell together that made it the right time to do a version of Coherence on Windows. We hired our first Windows developer, and while it was a bit of a journey, Coherence for Windows finally came out a few weeks ago.

In May, we began thinking about what to do next. We made a layout for the rest of the year, which included creating Area in the Summer with a release in the Fall, and releasing Coherence 5 some point in December, which would include a Windows version.

We've been very fortunate to have formed relationships with some excellent developers over the last two years. However, none of them were available to do Area at the time. We hired a new developer to work on the project, who was unable to complete it. This happened three more times. As such, we reversed course a bit, began work on Coherence 5, and began to do a review of our plans for Area.

Since August, we've been thinking hard about how to make a spiritual successor to Sunlight. We've got some great ideas that we don't want to go to waste. However, after considering all possible options, we've decided to shelve Sunlight/Area for the time being. This doesn't mean it's never happening; we want it to. We just have other things that can be done better now.

While it is true our original plan was to redo our three flagship apps-Sunlight, Browse, and Coherence-before moving on to making new apps, we have now decided to change course. I can confirm a Browse update in the pipeline for some time in 2018, but there's more coming sooner. Our fourth flagship app, for macOS, is coming later this year. Additionally, in just the last few days, we've begun ground work on our fifth flagship app, which we plan to be ready in the first half of 2018.

Sunlight will always remain important to us, and one day we hopefully will continue its legacy. But for now, we've got other, cooler things to deliver. Stay tuned for the next few months; they're going to be big.

Oh, and one more thing, I didn't feel comfortable completely letting Sunlight die. So, while the ultimate window manager app that we want to create isn't happening right now, we are working on a modern version of the original Sunlight app that we hope to have out by the end of the year.

Thanks for reading and supporting,

Binyamin

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