Our DNA is written in Swift

Selling Linguan

It is with a heavy heart that today we’re announcing that we are looking for a buyer interested in acquiring our Mac localization tool Linguan.

When I came up with the idea for Linguan it was because I hated the way how you would work with strings files in Xcode projects. Linguan arranges all translations for a token in a grid and gives you comprehensive warnings if some are missing.

Linguan Screen 1

Linguan uses an Open-Source rewrite of genstrings to be extremely fast in scanning source code files compared to the original.

Reality Bites

When I started development of Linguan together with my partner BytePoets I figured that soon this would be making enough money to be funding itself. And so we agreed on a 50:50 partnership to split future expected profits.

When sales didn’t make us rich as expected it turned out that there wasn’t enough income to allow for ongoing improvements. BytePoets – understandably – are a development contract who needs to make enough money for each hour they spend on any project. The are not a product company.

A true product company would have a certain amount of money to invest on an ongoing basis or to at least take care of necessary adaptations as Apple makes changes to the Xcode workflows. It is not something you can expect developers to happily work on for free, hoping for future profits.

Thus we and BytePoets have reached an impasse, there is not enough money to pay them for making it better, but without improving it, sales will stay at a level that cannot sustain any development.

Future Challenges

Linguan has a few users who are really happy with it, but there are some relatively pressing challenges to address in future updates or versions:

  • Linguan is not sandboxed because it uses the ibtool to extract strings from XIB files. Non-sandboxed apps can only get minor updates.
  • Linguan does support base localization properly, you only see the strings files
  • Linguan is in desperate need for some attention from a proper designer
  • There are several ideas how you could make Linguan way more productive and integrate it with online translation services

The first thing to decide is how you want to deal with the sandboxing restriction. Maybe you could relaunch a revamped Linguan as “Linguan 2” and rename the current version to “Linguan Classic”. Or maybe pull the old Linguan from the app store and make available a version with XIB support via direct download, authorized with a sales receipt from the Mac app store?

There is a small but outspoken market for a cool tool like Linguan, which is why we are not simply retiring it, but hoping for somebody to acquire it from us and give it a new lease of life. Linguan is a very unique tool that hardly has any competition. There is much potential for partnerships with translation providers and also fancy things you can do like finding string tokens which are no longer in use.

This is why we want to be selling Linguan to a company that is willing to take this app seriously so that we’ll be happy to be continuing to be users of it, even “under new management”.

We’re Selling

As it stands right now Linguan produces annual sales of around 10000 Euros. This is also the minimum asking price  we are hoping for. For anything less BytePoet’s CEO stated that he they wouldn’t agree to sell for but rather keep it as a reference project for their own use.

I am in a similar situation, I lack in almost all necessary capacities that Linguan would require. I am a beginner Mac developer, I am a bad designer and I am all by myself. Above all I have too many activities on my plate for the next 6 months to be spending any time on Linguan.

Linguan needs to be taken on by a true product company to get the love and polish it needs to stay competitive. Please e-mail me if you want to make an offer.

Categories: Business


  1. Why not open source it?