New Orleans Programmers Hit it Big with Mac App Finch

New Orleans programmers Neel Sus and Jameson Quave have hit on something big—their Mac app, Finch, has been selected by Apple to be a featured app, and is currently climbing steadily on the Apple productivity chart.

Finch was born when the combined Susco Solutions and Touch Studios programming teams needed a way to keep track of billable hours for clients. “Artists, writers, programmers, they all tend to zone in and get work done,” Quave, of Touch Studios, LLC says, “and at the end of the day they need to retroactively remember what they did, and when.”

“We found you need to collect the data at the task level,” Neel Sus, Quave’s Touch Studios compatriot says, “We’re up to thirteen people now, and as we get bigger and bigger, more developers equal more errors, right? We needed something that keeps track of everything.”

Finch was the result. A Mac app that acts as a background task, Finch collects data on which windows are open and when, and allows the user to tag various tasks, enabling detailed reports about time spent working on specific projects. “There wasn’t anything else quite like it,” Quave says. The closest thing seemed to be an app that tracked open windows and created a spreadsheet-like chart with the collected information. What’s more, the potential competitors were generally for corporate usage rather than for smaller companies or individual freelancers. “There aren’t many competitive apps that feature the same technology and ease of use,” Sus says.

Finch is a time tracking Mac app created by New Orleans-based Touch Studios

Aside from a lack of competitors, Finch has benefited from the fact that it takes advantage of Apple’s new operating system, Lion. “Finch has features that never existed before Lion,” Quave says. “For example, apps can go full screen, which mimics the feel of an iPad. No existing apps had this feature yet, so that Finch was designed for Lion attracted Apple’s attention.”

“If there’s any time that Apple is going to be developer-friendly, it’s when developers launch something really new,” Sus says. “The Mac app store needed to advertise itself, and so launching Finch when we did was a huge opportunity.”

More than just a one-time success, though, Finch, Quave says, is emblematic of what has become a thriving New Orleans development scene. “There’s lots of good opportunities out here post-Katrina,” he says. “The business community has opened up, and a very strong development scene has grown up. Our peers in other cities seem to be having hard times, but here, if anything, we’re struggling to hire. We’re very excited about the pace of work here, and we enjoy taking advantage of it.”