The Roadblock Is Your Exit (And Why I’ve Been Silent For The Last 3 Weeks)

You may have heard the first part of the title worded differently, something like “the obstacle is the way”. That’s because it’s also the title of a quite popular book by Ryan Holiday. What you may not know, though (if you didn’t read the book) is that the phrase was not coined by Ryan Holiday himself, but it was extracted from the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Meditations writings, where it was something like this: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way“.

So, I’m not gonna pretend I invented the whole thing, I’m just going to use my own wording: the roadblock is your exit, and also put in the context of a little bit of a stress I had to manage lately. Without further ado, let’s start.

The Mac AppStore Ordeal

As you may already know, I just launched my own productivity app, ZenTasktic, a couple of weeks ago. The next step, once the iOS version was live, was to take care of the Mac version – yes, there is a Mac version of it, mind you. The only problem was that I never submitted a Mac app to the Mac AppStore. I do have tons of experience with the iOS store (after all, that’s my day job these days, building and maintaining mobile apps) but never interacted with the Mac one.

“How hard can it be?” I said to myself, and started to push forward. For those of you not working in this area, you must know that the approval process in Apple’s AppStore is notoriously difficult. On top of verifying (as much as they can) the functionality aspects (spotting crashes, bad UI experiences, etc), they are also asking for a ton of meta-data. And that meta-data includes links to privacy policies, EULA and many other small things, which only look small, but take a lot of time and attention to manage.

Long story short, after basically repeating the entire pre-submission process of the iOS app, with the Mac-specific ingredients, one late evening I find myself pushing the “Submit to review” button. Fingers crossed, a good sleep and woke up the next morning eager to see my app in the Mac AppStore. Alas, it wasn’t there. Instead, there was a short message in my inbox, from the AppStore Review team, letting me know a small list of issues for which they had to reject my app.

This was the beginning of a (roughly) 2 weeks long back and forth process with the AppStore Review team, in which I made enormous efforts to comply with their requirements, although I couldn’t always understand them (yes, you read that right: the communication process with the App Review team is highly formalized, including references to legal texts and such – probably for legal reasons too). So, unobfuscating those messages, trying to understand what I had to do and then complying with those things, these were basically my main focus points for the last 2 weeks

The good news is that during the pauses in which I was expecting responses to my re-re-re-submissions, I also made small tweaks to the app, which, at the end of the process, looked significantly better than in the beginning.

And with that, I’m hitting the goal of this small post.

Muscles Are Built By Resistance

At times, during this process, I literally felt like I had to change my shape in order to fit in through a very narrow network of holes. I had to reframe not only my expectations about having a Mac app in the AppStore, but also about the entire process of maintaining only the relationship with the AppStore itself – and I’m not even getting to talk to the actual customers yet.

But you know what?

I feel good about this. I feel like I’m at the end of a marathon. A bit battered, a bit bruised, but happy I finished and checking all the boxes for a future, similar experience. It’s because I know now what it takes to have such a product on the market, that I’m confident I can do it again and again and again.

It’s the same in all the other areas of our lives, I reckon. That goal that you seem to never attain, elusively departing from you every time you seem to nail it? Well, just start over. Do whatever it takes. Keep your focus at it. And, after a few dance steps back and forth, you will get there. There’s bound to happen. Eventually, you’ll get it.

It’s oh, well too often that we give up in the middle of the process, because it’s hard. And hey, I’m not saying it isn’t hard. At times, I felt like my brain was mushy just by trying to understand what the AppStore wants from me. But the hardship of the experience is what makes it valuable. Had I have given up, nothing was to be achieved from all the hard work I put into designing and coding ZenTasktic.

So, from now on, since both apps are in their respective app stores, I will hopefully get back to my standard writing routine here.

The roadblock was transformed into my next exit, so I’m really looking forward to what this new path will bring.

You can share the journey by downloading the app and trying to make it crash as hard as you can. All feedback is very welcome.

2 thoughts on “The Roadblock Is Your Exit (And Why I’ve Been Silent For The Last 3 Weeks)”

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