Interview: Meet the Push Popcorn Team Behind the Upcoming Records App

It’s always exciting to come across new, upcoming apps that seem exceptionally promising. That’s exactly what Records for Mac is. It’s an upcoming database app for the Mac that aims to make databasing much more accessible to everyone, with a graphical app that lets you quickly add and sync data, and more. That’s quite a lot to pull off, especially since most databasing apps are far from simple to use, so we were eager to learn more.

We were excited to get a chance to interview the Push Popcorn team about their work on Records, and what we can expect from it. Keep reading to hear about their workflow, the Macs and apps they use to build Records, and more.

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Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us! Could you tell us a bit about your Push Popcorn team? Also, where did your name come from?

First of all, we want to thank you for this opportunity: we are glad that Mac.Appstorm decided to help and support our project with an interview. Thank you!

About us, Push Popcorn is a really small software house based in Italy, with a simple focus: developing Records for Mac, a new personal database “for the rest of us”. The team is composed by me, Andrea, lead developer and graphic designer, and Gabriele, for marketing/PR and copywriting. We are also honored to tell you that we are closely working with Icon Factory for the app icon and some awesome other UI elements.

About our story, I will be very brief: Gabriele and I worked together in the same company, and we had a lot of things in common. In few months we decided to start this new adventure, “living the dream” of running our own business, developing great Mac and iOS apps. Then, our company name it is based on a catch with “Push” and “Pop” actions available in iOS UINavigationController: nerds’ stuff. We were searching for a funny name, not too trivial but easy to remember.

The Push Popcorn team at work

We’re excited about Records, your upcoming database app. What was the inspiration that got you started making Records?

We love collecting and organizing stuff: from invoices for our work, to our catalog of movies and books. Before we started thinking of Records, we used several different tools for each different scope. Basically, we were using different apps that all were “small databases”, and that gave us the inspiration: we could build a single powerful but easy-to-use application to organize everything more efficiently. The idea was that easy: let’s build a “personal database”, very powerful under the hood, but extremely user friendly, so that almost everyone could use it for both hobby and work.

We decided to make the all development process public, so we started a blog and we share news and updates about Records’ development. We would like to involve other Apple users to become part of the project and share their thoughts and ideas with us.

Why did you choose to make apps for Macs, instead of mobile devices, the web, or even PCs?

We love Apple and its products, and we are Apple users too: Macs, iPhones, and iPads are part of our daily workflow. Starting with a Mac app was an easy decision: we want a powerful tool with a good number of features and options, and OS X is the best platform for developing a sophisticated app like Records. I’m now enjoying my new MacBook Retina, and it’s awesome. Seriously. Gabriele switched to a MacBook Pro in 2007, and he is actually very proud of his MacBook Air 13’’, light and incredibly fast.

Honestly I can’t remember when I used a PC last time since I started using a Mac when I was at school. I also took part at the 2008 MacWorld (during the keynote of the first MacBook Air – amazing!) and I have never missed a WWDC in last few years (or at least I tried to buy a ticket before they get sold out). Honestly I’m packing my bags, because we would like to make a trip to next year’s MacWorld/iWorld and I’m sure it would be an awesome experience.

Access is almost universally used for databasing on Windows. What’s your view of databasing on Macs, and how Records will fit into the picture?

Records will be an easy-to-use but extremely powerful tool, something different from Access and Filemaker. They’re both powerful but not that easy to use. We are focusing most on “prosumers”, people who want to use apps for both productivity and free time. We are actually not interested in developing a professional database app, so we don’t consider Filemaker or Access apps that can inspire or lead our project. At least, for now.

In this scenario, as we pointed out, we think that there are several specific apps nowadays and only few are really complete as Records will be. We are developing an app that will let you organize anything you want, in a visual way, with a gorgeous UI. Records will perhaps be considered  similar to Bento, the most known “personal database” for Mac out there. We consider Bento as the most analogous app to Records in the OS X ecosystem, but we want to raise the bar and develop something better that goes beyond other apps’ limitations and known issues.

That’s why we hope that other users will help us with their feedbacks. We want to make an amazing app, based on users’ needs and workflows.

Can you share a bit about how Records will work? Will it integrate with standard database formats?

The Records database engine is built on top of Apple’s Core Data framework, and it works really fast. It will be able to import data from standard file formats, like CSV or TXT, so everyone will be able to import and export database files. Later, we hope to add other supported formats. We want to make the import/export process really smooth, and we are thinking of all the possibilities to make it really simple, in a few easy steps.

A sketch of the concept for Records

Tell us a bit about your workflow. What Macs and apps help you make Records?

I am actually developing Records on a MacBook Pro Retina Display, and I love it. I use my old MacBook Air to test the app everyday, so I can be sure that the app will perform pretty well on older Macs too. Gabriele is working on a 13’’ MacBook Air, but it’s a different model from mine: it’s great, and he loves it. Currently we don’t have any office, as you can see from the picture, so we work on the go, sitting in the park or in a café, and our laptops are perfect for that.

We use iMessage to chat almost every day and Kickoff to keep things and to-dos well organized. On the iPhone, we keep in touch with Verbs and Mail. Of course, I develop with Xcode and I use GitHub for managing repositories. A special mention goes to Squarespace, the platform we use for our website: we love it!

Do you plan to ship Records on the App Store? What’s your view on the restrictions in the App Store right now?

Yes, we’ll ship Records on the Mac App Store, but we will probably let users directly buy from our store too, via Fastspring. The Mac App Store is great, that’s for sure, and we think that current restrictions will only affect few, specific apps. We can’t actually find any negative point in it with Records. But, we’ll want to offer it directly from our own site also, so users can choose the best solution for themselves.

Apple probably should work to address some Mac App Store limitations, and we’d love to see paid upgrades or trial versions added in the future. In order to support indie developers like us, we think that these elements are necessary for a long-term business: subscriptions could be useful too for some specific kind of apps, as seen on the iOS App Store.

If Records for Mac is a success, would you plan to make accompanying iOS apps?

Absolutely. iOS apps will let everyone update or create databases on the go, and fit perfectly with our vision of Records and the future Push Popcorn. Honestly, we are thinking of an iPad app as soon as possible and, later, an iPhone version too. We always try to reach perfection, because we’re exigent and careful to details, and iOS apps will be available only in a second time, when we could be totally focused on that.

So what’s next after Records? Do you plan for it to be your main work for years, or do you have other apps you want to make?

Our main project is Records, and we are totally focused on it. We want to make it extremely powerful, easy to understand and to use and, of course, always better and faster. So, we are not actually thinking of any other kind of app, and probably we won’t for a long time. If you want to help us with this project, we’d be glad to hear your ideas: you can use our blog to post a comment, drop us a line to our email address or simply sign up to our newsletter to be among the firsts to receive significant updates and alpha/beta versions of Records app.

Records for Mac coming together, bit by bit

Thanks, Gabriele and Andrea!

We’d like to thank Gabriele and Andrea for taking the time to do this interview with us. We’re excited about Records, and can’t wait to try it out ourselves!