Wii Transfer takes over internet

Okay, not really. But this has been a crazy and surprising week for my “little” application, Wii Transfer. Putting 8 hours each day into “VitalSource”:http://www.vitalsource.com/ (I have a post coming about that tomorrow, by the way) and then juggling home responsibilities, putting out various other fires, and sitting down to work on Wii Transfer until 3am is just not healthy.

Luckily I slept great last night and took a 3-hour nap today. So time to blog again. :-)

Over a week ago I released Wii Transfer 2.0 and made a big mistake, and since I’ve been programming for the Mac for over a dozen years now, I really should know better. It was buggy. And not just a few minor cosmetic problems, but at least two serious crashers. I simply had not tested enough. It’s difficult (sometimes impossible) to regain a user’s trust after their first experience with an application is a bad one, so I got to work that weekend fixing problems and releasing beta builds to customers to get a few extra eyes on the software.

Then Monday came, and all hell broke loose.

Links from “Daring Fireball”:http://daringfireball.net/linked/2007/january#mon-22-wii_transfer, “Ranchero”:http://www.ranchero.com/?comments=1&postid=1523, and “The Unofficial Apple Weblog”:http://www.tuaw.com/2007/01/22/wii-transfer-2-0/ were followed by “Jostiq”:http://joystiq.com/2007/01/25/wii-transfer-for-mac-os-turns-your-wii-into-a-media-center-but/, “Infendo”:http://infendo.com/2007/01/wii-media-center-software.html, “4 Color Rebellion”:http://4colorrebellion.com/archives/2007/01/22/wii-transfer-for-mac-reaches-20/, and a bunch of others. Ironically one of the only gaming sites I read that never linked to Wii Transfer was the only one I had actually sent an announcement to (“GoNintendo”:http://www.gonintendo.com/). Traffic and sales were way up (“here’s a Mint screenshot”:http://www.manton.org/images/2007/riverfold_mint.png from one day last week).

But meanwhile, the application was just not that stable. I started rewriting most of the web server inside Wii Transfer and fixing lots of issues with iTunes and iPhoto libraries stored on external drives. Then I made my second mistake: I added a feature (album cover artwork!). Obviously, adding a feature in the middle of bug fixes just delays the original fixes and introduces new problems.

I also quickly realized how many things could go wrong with how music and picture sharing works. It relies on the Nintendo Wii and your Mac being on the same local network. Because Wii Transfer pings a bookmark server to register your IP address, you also have to make sure the app picks the right IP if your Mac is on both ethernet and wireless networks. Worse, many people have the Mac OS X built-in firewall enabled, so users are required to manually open up port 9000.

At one point on Tuesday when sales were coming in, every time I received a PayPal notification email I literally groaned. “Stop buying this software until I can make it work reliably,” I would say to the computer. The thing that got me through was that all customers who sent in support email were extremely helpful and patient. The other good news is that with version 2.1.1, it’s looking pretty solid, and the next update should wrap up any remaining fringe issues.

To everyone who gave Wii Transfer a try, thanks! I think you’ll like what comes next.