The Agony of Prerelease

The ecstasy of almost done

a geek trapped in a cool guy's body presents an article by Jason Kemp 2016-11-18

The app still has bugs. Even though your devs are concerned about them, in the bigger picture, you’ve just realized you’ve got more important problems: no one knows you’re app is coming.

Welcome to prerelease. I don’t have much advice to give here: this is new territory for me. I know lots of theory, but I haven’t really applied it to any of my previous apps, or someone else did it. But, this time, I’m going to go through with it. This is learning in action!

There is a period where the app is ready but no one knows about it. I’ve been using it to record my progress; it’s really great. Now I have to start preparing for release.

Let’s go through everything we need to ship in the App Store:

  • an app (duh);
  • the app store description;
  • screenshots for the app store description; and
  • a pre-release website.

I’ve written about the app already, except for the code (it’s coming).

Next, the app store entry. This is a big form with a bunch of fields, most of which are pretty straightforward for Kapowski. The toughest one is the description itself. I know exactly why I wrote the app, but how do I get it down to something someone might read? (No one reads these.) Instead of agonizing, I just wrote something and put it up. My pitch will get better with practice. This is a version 1.0.

Here it is below:

You can never number-crunch your way to a satisfying relationship with your own body.

“Not everything than can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” — Albert Einstein

Calorie counting, Fitbits, scale weight: they all stop working. They are unsustainable. I know this because I’ve tried them all. I either got all stressed and no fun because I was obsessing over these numbers; or I’d barely keep it up for a few days because it was too hard, too unnatural. Then I was stuck.

That’s why I decided to write My After.

My After is different.

My After is focused on showing you the results of your transformation. My After lets you easily take photos of yourself from different perspectives every week. Compare each week with the first week.

Get motivated to keep going.

Stay motivated throughout knowing that you have to “weigh-in” every week.

My After makes it easy to form a weekly habit of checking in with yourself. See at a glance if you are staying true to your goals.

No need for a diet plan or workout routine to get started. Start taking pictures every week. The rest will follow!


  • take photos every week, compare with your “Before”
  • optionally track scale weight and girth measurements
  • integrates with Apple Health for body weight
  • get reminders for your weekly “weigh-in”
  • no account sign up
  • securely stores your photos

Next is the app screenshots. These are more important than the description. Apple emphasizes these in the app store entry: this is the store front display. Care must be taken. Even though we, as app developers, don’t control this part ourselves, it’s just as critical as the FUX.

In a way, this is an even shorter pitch than the app description. What’s your app do? I have five screens to show you.

The production of these took about a week: Finding stock before/after photos, putting them in the app, taking screenshots. Get one thing wrong, start again. Gah! I didn’t quite know what I wanted so there was definitely some trial and error. But things came together and I’m quite happy with them. Dan Counsell has an article on screenshot styles that I found enlightening. I decided on a mix of 2 and 3.

I’d love to show them to you, but I just realized while writing this post that creating app screenshots is a post in itself. So, you’ll just have to wait. \<- Marketing!

Finally, the prerelease website: I did this too. Rather than go ground up and take just as long as the app took, I searched for a template, modified to my needs and shipped it. It was better than I could have done from scratch in the time I gave myself to do it. You’re going to see it soon.

The hardest part of prerelease is not rushing it. My patience is thin. I want this out there for people to use.

I’m pretty sure it was Wes Anderson, but who knows. He was on The Late Show with David Letterman in the late 90s, a quirky director of quirky movies. He said it was miracle any movie got made because just showing up near the end was so hard. It’s a slog, in other words. I know that feeling.

We’re close now.