I thought I would address some things since quite a few people have reached out to me with concerns after reading the comment above.
Here are some facts:
1. "Ethan" app:
I have never talked about this app much other than that it's just an app that uses Jasonette. Most of you probably don't know how Jasonette was born, but it was extracted from an app called "Ethan" http://www.ethan.fm/pages/press
"Ethan" was a global "trending" app on the apple appstore for a while (which means it was trending everywhere in the world whenever you opened the "appstore" app). It was genuinely pushed up to the top list because people downloaded it a lot.
"Ethan" had HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of daily active users at one point
Jasonette was initially an effort to speed up development/iteration of the Ethan app (back then it used to take 2 weeks or more to wait for review). This is why everything on Jasonette is 100% pragmatic, it was never built with some isolated ideal that has nothing to do with the real world. It was built by gradually abstracting out an already existing native app into JSON expression.
The app was covered in many global major publications such as the New York Times, CNN, The Guardian, ABC, etc. http://www.ethan.fm/pages/press
Ethan app doesn't have many reviews
I never asked for one: This is app marketing 101 but if you want more users, you need higher rating, and if you want higher rating, you ask your users for review. This is why you see a lot of apps display popups frequently asking you to leave a review on the appstore. BUT, I personally don't like this approach so I never asked for reviews. (But this is my personal preference and I recommend you do so for your own apps if you want more reviews)
The user demographic is not people who leave reviews: If you actually try using the app, you'll see that a lot of the "channels" deal with personal and private topics. Basically the app had turned into something that catered towards people who wanted to just chat with others in complete privacy without the risk of revealing to outside world. I totally respect this and understand why people don't like to leave reviews on even the app itself because of the private nature of the app. The app operates 100% pseudonymously because of this reason too.
So it's not some pitiful little app that never had any users. It had A LOT of users at one point, and it still has enough users who use it every day that I feel the responsibility to keep it running with my own money.
That said, I have stopped working on the "Ethan" app long time ago and have been only doing some maintenance, etc.. when needed. There were many reasons why I stopped, and I can't really discuss them here in public forum because most of the important reasons are very private reasons.
But surely I didn't stop because the app lacked users. There can be many reasons why one does something one does, and it's impossible to understand unless you're in that person's position.
I would have preferred if I didn't have to talk about this at all if I didn't need to, but I hope this helps. As you can tell from the name of the app itself, the whole thing was, has been, and will be extremely personal, and I think I've already shared enough about it than I need to.
2. Other apps with many users? "Success Stories"?
The whole open source nature of this project makes it impossible to know who's using the framework to build their apps. So the only way I know if someone is using Jasonette is if they tell me. I've talked to quite a few users each with different stories, at different stages of their app development.
A. Small companies
I once talked to a guy who ran a moderate sized media company. He already had some "shitty" apps built through outsourcing iOS and Android developers.
The app had 100K+ users.
And he was glad he switched to Jasonette because once he learned the markup he could just build the app himself instead of either paying money for outsourcing, or hiring an in-house team of iOS and Android developers.
This is just one example, but I have talked to plenty of people similar to this person, and they're doing just fine.
In fact, one of the most frequent use cases I hear of are more on the "hobbyist" side. And I'm glad because that's exactly who I'm building this for at this stage.
But overall, I don't believe these "success stories" is what matters. What matters is that it works, and I know it works because I took out the framework from a working app, with actual users.
And I hope the examples I gave above helps.
3. Why not move faster? Why not make money?
I could be out there marketing the project like crazy, for example speaking at a conference, creating a company, hiring people, etc.. This is the most obvious route most other projects in this field takes.
It would be a wise choice if the end goal was to build a "app maker service". But that's not the goal. If that were the goal, I might as well be working on something else because it doesn't interest me at all. Anyone can do that, and there are tons of other interesting problems I would rather be solving.
The goal is to build a versatile language. Apps come and go but language lasts. A robust scalable markup language for describing consumer applications is not something you can perfect just by pouring tons of money into it and moving fast.
And you don't get there by moving fast. You'll end up with all kinds of junk.
Another reason why I am disassociating the project with money as much as possible is because I think that model is flawed and unsustainable. The very nature of "easy to build apps" is that it will bring the cost down for building apps, but once you associate a lot of investment into building things out, there's a huge disparity between the business model and the vision. I predict that most startups trying to build a business on top of react native or some framework will either shut down or get folded into a larger company like Facebook in the next few years. It's already happening https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/08/apples-widened-ban-on-templated-apps-is-wiping-small-businesses-from-the-app-store/ and is inevitable exactly because of this factor.
The only viable business model if I REALLY wanted to make money is if I do consulting (which I have been asked countless times but all rejected because I think the best use of my time is working on the project itself), but that doesn't create much value overall. Sure I may make some money, but to be honest I don't really need money for a while, what I want is to create something meaningful.
I DO think there's potentially a huge value here somewhere that can be capitalized on, but I don't think it will happen by building a cliche "app making service" on top of an open source project. And this is one of the top priority problems I'm trying to figure out a solution to.
Honestly, I could spend all day implementing all the small feature requests on the github repo and probably can implement all of them pretty quickly if I didn't care about the long term aspect, and in the short term that may feel like "progress", but in the long term that will lead to shitty framework with shitty language.
4. End game?
If you think Jasonette is "build apps without code", you're completely wrong because it's never advertised as such and I don't even believe in that concept. There always is code somewhere, it's just a matter of who is the one that writes that code. It's far from the selling point of Jasonette.
Rather, the real strength of Jasonette is that it separates "soul" (app logic as data) from "body" (device).
Currently using Jasonette you can write a JSON markup and make it run on iOS and Android (and partially on the Web, through http://web.jasonette.com/) and that's cool, but that's just a small portion of what makes Jasonette exciting.
What makes it truly exciting is that you are expressing an app as data (JSON), which can be transmitted and stored anywhere. This doesn't matter to most users using the framework today, and that's fine, but this is the main reason I'm excited about the project.
I think this aspect will make a lot of previously-impossible things possible, and that's the "endgame" I'm trying to realize.
But in the meantime, the framework works just fine, albeit with a few bugs, and I'm happy to fix them as long as users report them with easy-to-replicate test cases.
Also I am happy to add features that make sense as long as they're not some fad features that may be en vouge for now but will only bloat up the language in the long term. But all this requires thinking. And that's why I appreciate it when these things come as a "proposal" with examples and thoughts, instead of a simple sentence asking for a feature.
- There are plenty of people using the framework just fine.
- But it's a constantly evolving project so there will be bugs. Feel free to report and contribute when you come across them. Just remember to make it as easy as possible to replicate so minimum amount of time is wasted on just understanding the issue.
- I keep working on Jasonette because I think this matters and can potentially have a huge value in the long run.
- I have no intention of making money by providing "app making service". All such services shall perish and have no value in the future.
- More money and moving fast might be good in the short term but I think it's BAD in the long term.
- It's not that I don't want to make money, or I don't want to move fast. It's that I think there will be a certain point in the future when it makes sense to do so, but not now. The business model for this approach should be completely different from what came before, otherwise it might as well not exist. This reasoning doesn't come from being naive, I made the decision based on actual calculation and projection.
- There is no "customers", there are only "users" and "contributors". If you see yourself as a cutomer, you'll only be frustrated because I don't see it that way. I see everyone as contributors even when they're making feature requests and bug reports.
- This won't change, so if you don't like the approach, I think it's better if you pick up another framework to work with. You'll probably find that nothing is perfect.
- I will keep working on this project regardless of external conditions. I am working on this project not because of external validation, but because I think it needs to be built. So even if nobody uses the framework (which is highly unlikely) I will still keep building.
- I will keep working on this project until I think the project has reached its full potential.
- But I think the "full potential" is almost infinite at the moment, so you won't see me stop anytime soon.
- This project is NOT "Ethan's project". It's an MIT Licensed open source project which anyone can fork or contribute to. If you think it would be nice to have a feature, think about the feature a bit more and make a proposal about the syntax at https://github.com/Jasonette/Jasonette/issues and we can go from there.
- If you don't want to go through the contribution trouble, you can still just make feature requests, but please be positive on public forums. Nobody enjoys working on a feature request that comes with accusations and complaints.