First post! This year, that is. Wow, time flies.

I’m glad to report that my back is all cleared up and I’ve been working away at the upcoming Quay update. And yes, it’s another complete rewrite, at least where the background application is concerned. So far it looks like I’ll have either a beta or an intermediate version out over the weekend.

The main feature on this will be that, for normal Stacks, the whole drag-to-window/then-drag-to-dock procedure will be gone. Quay will work automagically (but optionally) on your Stacks! The positive side-effect is that you’ll also be able to drag stuff to them; the negative side-effect is that, for now, you won’t have custom icons. You can of course still build the old-style Quay dock items, with not much new for those.

The final version of this must await the launch of Mac OX 10.5.2. Not that I can comment on what exactly is changing on Apple’s side, but I’d like to reassure all Quay users that Quay will continue to offer significant extra functionality. In fact, I’ll be repositioning Quay as “the Leopard Dock enhancer utility”.

However, this raises the usual question: what do you do when you have some shareware on the market and suddenly someone – either Apple or a third party – comes out with a free solution to the same problem? There are some freeware utilities out that purport to do more or less what Quay 1.0 does, and there are 10.5.2’s rumored capabilities, but of course I’m confident that the new version will be sufficiently more powerful and polished to merit wide adoption by the market.

Something similar just happened in another segment of the Mac market: Newsgator’s NetNewsWire, the premier RSS reader for the Mac, is now free. There are some interesting comments out there. I do know a few developers that have RSS readers in the works, and no doubt they’ll have to rethink if they should continue or not. I don’t know if free RSS readers have had any impact on NetNewsWire sales in the past, and of course they’ve always had their own free “lite” version. It also seems that Newsgator’s decision was based more on their network business than on the Mac shareware market as such, so this probably isn’t a canonical example.

Still, developers entering the Mac shareware market nowadays should really think twice about such a possibility. If something seems easy or obvious to do, better to release it outright as freeware; it may not help the bottom line, but it helps build experience and buzz around your name.