Principles

We designed, architected and built Tact with a particular viewpoint. We ask everyone thinking of working with Tact in any capacity — as beta tester, customer, employee, or investor — to read our principles, and only join the journey if you find yourself nodding along to most of these points.

Community

Close, closed groups. The basic premise of Tact is to connect small groups of people who know and trust each other, and assume good intent.

Long term. These groups tend to have stable membership and long-term bonds that may last for years and decades. Tact fully intends to support the relations, and everything that gets posted in Tact within them, over their entire lifetime.

Based on your iCloud account. People in the Tact network are individuals authenticated with their iCloud account on their Apple devices. Each of them forms their own network of conversations as they please. There is no facility for the Tact staff, outside businesses, employers, Apple, or any other party to see, change, or otherwise manage the user’s chats on their behalf.

Dignity and respect. We pledge to treat people using Tact with dignity and respect, and encourage everyone to promote these values throughout our network. We celebrate humanity and do not believe in treating people as an anonymous mass or a resource to be harvested.

Business

The user is the customer. Tact will be a paid product, and the people using it will be paying customers. The Tact team will be fully accountable to these customers, and aims to build the product and business in a way that encourages our customers to stay with us.

Steered by the community. We will engage with our community to decide on the future direction and enhancements to Tact, along with our own vision.

No advertising or data harvesting. Tact treats everyone’s data as a responsibility and a liability, not an asset. We do not have access to your data (with some exceptions — see more in “Technology” section below). We will not sell or resell our users or their data. We do not make any specific statements about exact future business plans, but we pledge to never use advertising as the primary means to fund our business.

No growth hacking. Tact will not use over-the-top growth hacking or engagement tactics that are not consistent with our viewpoint. We do not aim to maximise the user number at all costs in the shortest time; rather, we build quality, long-term relationships with and between our customers.

Minimal operating cost. We have designed and built Tact as a side project and without funding. It has minimal ongoing operating cost, enabling it to be sustainable even with a modest number of customers. Our primary cost is our own time to design and build the product. We have negligible operating costs for other aspects of our work — most of the heavy lifting and storage happens on Apple iCloud servers that the users themselves fund as part of their free or paid iCloud accounts.

Technology

No third-party code. As a general policy, we use only Apple APIs and frameworks. We may make exceptions, but we recognise that any third-party code in our product is a maintenance liability, so we mostly intend to avoid it.

No third-party services. In addition to maintenance liability, relying on third-party services may introduce privacy and availability risks. We mostly use Apple services, and complement them with our own when necessary. We may use third-party services after careful consideration, but we won’t make the decision lightly.

Boring code. We want our code to be boring; that is, understandable and maintainable to ourselves and anybody else we may bring along to the journey. We steer clear of brittle hacks and obscure language features. We don’t need to impress anybody with our smartness.

Provably correct. We aim for our code to be provably correct; that is, covered by automated testing. We architect our code and systems in a way that affords maximum testability, and always aim to maximise test coverage on all abstraction layers.

We reluctantly operate some infrastructure. We’d prefer if Tact was client-only, and we could rely on Apple and CloudKit for all of our cloud services. This is already true for the “source of truth” and long-term storage, and mostly true for other operational aspects of Tact.

One notable exception is notifications. We push and stretch the limits of CloudKit, and the notifications currently provided by CloudKit are not sufficient for us to deliver the best user experience. So, we build and operate our own notification service to complement CloudKit. We do this reluctantly, recognising that some user data passes through our systems as a result, and this somewhat compromises our “Straight to Apple servers” privacy pledge. We take care in ensuring the correctness of our cloud services, only implement the absolute minimum needed to deliver our desired experience, and only store the data that is essential to operate the service.

Skate where the puck is going to be. We aim to continuously embrace technology and design innovation from both Apple and the broader market. This may mean implementing novel design patterns, or dropping support for older devices and operating systems sooner and more aggressively than is typical for mass-market apps.

Design

True to platform; unapologetically Apple. Tact is built for Apple, with Apple’s design guidance and software libraries. We aim to be true to the platform and intent of Apple, and follow both the letter and spirit of Apple’s design and development guidance. We have worked in the Apple ecosystem for many years, and have internalised our own take of the spirit of the platforms. We note that Apple keeps evolving and experimenting their design direction, and will continue to embrace any future design language and technology updates.

Celebrate desktop. We are creative professionals who spend a large part of their working and leisure hours in macOS. Frustration with the sorry state of desktop conversation clients was a large part of what motivated us to build Tact. Desktop will always be a first-class target for Tact, and we will push the state of the art to be always better than low-quality web wrappers.

Celebrate craft. We are craftspeople and celebrate polish and fit-and-finish in our work. Our aim is to use state-of-the-art tools and methods, be proud of what we make, and treat Tact like a performance arts and personal expression project, rather than merely business software and software business.

Do less, but better. We won’t have a large number of features and functions. We aim to do basic things, do them well, and iterate our functions over the long run.

Don’t fear incomplete. We may ship work that is half-baked, only do the minimum, or lack polish. It’s OK to not know all the answers ourselves, and we’ll take joy in iterating with our community.

Harm reduction

Do no harm. We designed Tact to place the safety and well-being of our users at the centre of the experience. Everyone should feel safe in Tact, free of unwanted invasion and intrusion. We always consider who might be hurt by our work, and choose to not build things that might compromise this principle.

No discovery. Tact is not a social network for contacting people you don’t know. There is no directory, and no way to discover new people in Tact. You cannot search or browse other users. The only two ways to connect with someone are to open the Tact invite link that they themselves have published or shared with you, or to add someone who is physically close to you and explicitly agrees to connect, using our Nearby feature.

Explicit opt-in. To join a chat in Tact, you must explicitly opt in. You can always decline any invitation.

The owner is in control. All chats in Tact have an owner. Only the owner can add new members to the chat, and can remove anyone at any time.

You can always leave. If you do not wish to be in a chat, simply leave. No one can add you back without your explicit consent.

Straight to Apple servers. Tact does not store your messages, files, photos, or any other data. They are stored only on Apple servers, and we as the makers of Tact have no access to them. We cannot provide your data to anybody even when requested or forced — we just don’t have it.

Only name and photo. Your Tact profile consists of a name, and optionally a photo. Your profile is visible to other members of the Tact chats where you belong, and is shown to people you invite to Tact with our Nearby feature. It is not otherwise searchable or discoverable. Feel free to use your real name and photo, or a pseudonym. Change them as often as you wish. Tact does not require or use your e-mail address, phone number, or any other personal information.

Help us keep it safe. We aim to keep Tact safe, both by adding harm-reduction features to our product, as well as taking action against malicious actors. We encourage you to report any safety, well-being or privacy concerns and ideas to us.