Hi there! My name is Darshan, and I run a tiny software company — it's just me — called Darshan Computing, LLC. I make apps for Android™, iOS, and the web, and most of my work is open source.
10 June 2016
If it seems like not much happened with my apps during the 2015-2016 academic year, that's because I was finishing up my degree. I just graduated (summa cum laude) and am about to make updates to BatteryBot and Noteworthy Tuner as well as finish up and release a social drawing app.
While I've set up a business and hope to continue making money from my apps (how else could I afford to keep making them?), I'm not willing to compromise my ethics in the process. If I make less money because of this, or eventually have to close the business, I can live with that. I wouldn't be able to live with compromising my values. I'm personally more likely to purchase from companies whose ethics fit my own, and I think others are too, so hopefully things more or less equal out.
In any case, the primary values that are relevant here (although there are many) are a user-first focus and open source.
This encompasses user friendliness, making sure apps are fun and easy to use. But it goes much further than that. As an avid user of software, I have strong feelings about when it seems like software is made for me — to make my life better — versus when it feels like I'm only valued as a way for a company to make money.
Most businesses have the primary goal of making money, and in order to accomplish that, they try to do something useful. It's often easy to see the priority of profit over utility and feel taken advantage of as a customer.
I turn those normal priorities upside down. The goal of this business is to create software that I personally find both useful and easy to use — hopefully even fun — and that other people will find just as useful, easy, and fun. The users come first and the software and any money I make come second. I need to make money to stay in business, but it's not worth staying in business if my users come second.
One way this plays out is by not having ads in my apps. I'm not 100% against ads in general, but in most apps that have ads, I feel like I'm not valued as a person, just as a source of income. The presence of ads makes it decidedly un-fun to use the app, and it feels like my experience as a user isn't valued. It feels like the developers want to extract every last cent out of me that they can. That doesn't feel good, and that's not the kind of business I'm running here.
Therefore my apps do not have ads, even in the free version.
Useful Free Version
Another thing that putting users first means to me is that my apps can be used for free, and that they are useful even when used for free. In a great many cases I've experienced, the free version of an app is either riddled with ads or it is a severely limited experience — either a time-limited trial or so lacking in features as to not be very useful.
I strive to always achieve a careful balance so that the free version is actually useful, and many users will be perfectly satisfied using it indefinitely. I hope that the paid features are so useful that many people will be happy to upgrade, and because there are no ads and the free version isn't overly limited, they will feel good about upgrading, rather than feel coerced. And some users may pay to upgrade just to support my business, even if they don't actually need any of the paid features.
I'm a big fan of open source software, and like everyone, I've benefited from it enormously. Android itself is mostly open source, as is much of the software the makes the internet work. In some ways, being open source is another way of putting the user first. It's also a way of giving back to the community and supporting the wider ecosystem that we all benefit from.
While I do not release all of my work as open source, I do so with the majority of it. The software I produce is open source by default, and only closed source when I have good reason to do so.
BatteryBot Battery Indicator
My first commercial release is BatteryBot Battery Indicator for Android, released in 2009. There is a:
My second product, released for Android in 2015, is Noteworthy Tuner. There is currently a:
- Free version available on Google Play.
All of the above apps are open source.
I have another project in the works — a social drawing app — that is expected to see public release around the end of August 2016. It will be web-only at first (with mobile optimizations to work very well on Android and iOS devices of all sizes), with native Android and/or iOS clients potentially coming later depending on demand. (Both native clients currently exist but are incomplete, and the web client works so well that these native clients will only be completed and released if there is sufficient demand.)
Here is a brief list of old (but possibly still useful) resources that I've created over the years:
- I composed a list of Android™ 1.5 android.R.drawable Icon Resources.
- I wrote a Qt®4 Tutorial for Ruby. It's a translation of Trolltech's Qt tutorial (for C++) to the qt4-qtruby bindings for Ruby.
- I created a write-up on how to install Gentoo/AMD64 on the Compaq Presario R4000. The information contained should be easily applicable to installing other distributions of linux on that machine as well.
- I wrote a command-line CD player for linux called cdp.