fdx reader iconFDX Reader, our app for reading Final Draft scripts on the iPad and iPhone, came out a year ago today.

Usually, when people say, “I can’t believe it’s been a year!” they mean something like look how time flies or it seems like only yesterday.  

But when I say I can’t believe it’s been a year, I mean that I can’t believe it’s been only a year.  FDX Reader feels like something we did a very, very long time ago.

Why is my internal calendar so wrong in this case?

I have a few theories:

1. Digital things move faster.

We’ve become accustomed to shorter and shorter attention cycles for digital goods. Consider Draw Something:

  • Draw Something is a hit!
  • Zynga buys Draw Something for $180 million!
  • Draw Something is tanking!

The rise and fall of MySpace took years. The cycle for Draw Something has run about eight weeks.

Even though the time span has been incredibly compressed, our brains still try to ascribe a certain amount of time for a rise-and-fall cycle, so we subconsciously back-date events.

It’s not just apps that move faster. Many memes are essentially digital, and experience the same time-shift phenomenon.

Quick: When did KONY2012 happen? Was it before or after the Mel Gibson/Joe Ezsterhas fracas? And what about the Sandra Fluke/Rush Limbaugh controversy?

All of these memes burned bright and died out quick, leaving the embers to float in a sea of the recent past. 1

2. My clock started when we began working on the app.

Here’s what I wrote to Nima Yousefi on December 10, 2010:

I think there’s an opening for an FDX Reader (called, perhaps, FDX Reader) that would simply register itself to iOS as able to open .fdx extension files. Then, when someone taps a file with that extension in Dropbox or Mail (or whatever) it can launch. That way, you don’t really have to worry about getting files to into it.

What matters is the reading experience. Make it look nice, like the Instapaper app. Perhaps give the ability to add notes, but don’t try to become a screenwriting app.

If that’s interesting to you, happy to go halfsies with you. Lemme know.

FDX Reader was our very first app. Not only did we need to figure out how to build it — the design, the coding, the testing — we had to learn how to get an app approved and released in Apple’s odd ecosystem. (Just getting an account set up is surprisingly convoluted.)

That process took a little over six months, so it’s reasonable that the app feels older to me.

3. So much has come after it.

In the past year, we’ve released the iPhone version of FDX Reader, several installments of Bronson Watermarker for the Mac, the spec for the Fountain markup language, and successive betas of Highland. (Come back tomorrow for major news on that one.)

All that activity seems like too much to have occurred in just a year, so I’m mentally stretching the time period.

4. The less attention you pay to something, the further back in time you push it.

We don’t really do much with FDX Reader now. Our last update simply upgraded the graphics for the new iPad. If as rumored the new iPhone has a larger screen, we’ll make whatever changes we need to make. But the app itself is basically done.

We built the app because Final Draft hadn’t come out with its own reader. Now they have. Ours still sells remarkably well — probably because we’re the only one that works on the iPhone.

You never forget your first time, and FDX Reader really has been a remarkable experience bringing an idea to life. In celebrating FDX Reader’s first birthday, I’ll invite you to try it out if you haven’t.

(Or leave us a nice review if you’re so inclined.)

  1. Kony: February 20, 2012. Gibson: April 11, 2012. Fluke: February 29, 2012.