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Archive for April, 2012

ASAP’s fables and ETA paradoxes

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What happened?

In the design world, there is a saying: “Quality, speed, cost. Pick any two.”  In our case, cost is already picked for us because we’re a small team; speed means “features” or “front-end” and quality means “infrastructure” or “back-end.” Back in 2004 when it all started we chose speed and quickly built Relenta into the killer app that it is. Our motto was “Put it out there fast, deal with problems later.” Eventually the time had come when simply adding features was no longer sustainable. For example, some of you may recall performance problems we had two years ago, and that was merely tip of the iceberg. Shifting focus to the back-end and freezing feature development for the time being was the only way forward.

Why did it take so long?

What do application development and bank loan payments have in common?

The development of an app of Relenta scale requires completing a seemingly infinite number of steps, which even Greek philosopher Zeno (490 – 430 BC) maintained is a theoretical impossibility as in The Achilles and Tortoise paradox.

Paradoxically, the last couple of years were our most productive ever in terms of sheer output and innovation. Problem is, you can’t see it because it’s all in the code and application architecture. On top of that, the progress didn’t always happen linearly. We had to trash significant pieces of work along the way, setting ourselves back sometimes as far as months at a time and going back to the drawing board.

What are the lessons learned?

In retrospect, we should have implemented a policy against issuing ETAs and other wishful thinking statements such as “coming soon” and “almost there.”  So here goes:

Regular releases instead of empty ETAs

What else? Writing this post a year or two ago wouldn’t have hurt. Oh, and a policy against procrastination also seems like a good idea, when we get around to it.

Written by Dmitri Eroshenko

April 30th, 2012 at 9:26 am

Posted in 2012,uncategorized

Relenta is changing

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The journey seemed long and disenchanting, for so it was. On the bright side, we are introducing a completely refactored application, so you can rest assured that your email and CRM house is built on a rock. In the last almost two years, 99.9 percent of our development action was on the back-end, therefore we can’t really show you most of the results. However, a few good things are happening on the visible side as well. For now, here’s a sneak peek at what we already have in store for you.

2-line object lists: more details, fewer clicks

2-line views

In line with our 1-click philosophy, we’re introducing 2-line views of the message, contact and activity lists.

All-new calendar with drag-and-drop

All-new calendar

Тhe entire calendar is rebuilt from scratch. We’re introducing weekly view; event duration; drag-and-drop action to change event date and time. You can also click anywhere on the daily, weekly or monthly view to quickly add the event, and resize the event icon to change its duration.

Universal date format

Country-independent date formatting is applied throughout the app. The new dates look like this:

 
 
     < 1 hour        25 min ago; in 25 min
     > 1 hour        02:06pm or 14:06, depending on user settings

     > -1 day        Jan 30 or Mon, Jan 30 (current year)
                     Sep 28, 2007 (past years)

     Full date/time  Fri, Sep 28, 2007 16:34
     Date range      Mar 1 - Apr 1, 2011 or Dec 1, 2011 - Jan 1, 2012

The look–and-feel changes are beyond cosmetic

Ergonomic navigation

The new space-saving design minimizes the number of clicks and mouse movements. We’re adding the “+” shortcuts so you can create new messages, contacts, activities and social network updates with a single click wherever you are in the app. To save vertical space in the left vertical navigation bar, we’ve moved the switch-between-departments dropdown and search box to the top header.

Fewer clicks to better search

Universal search box

Aside from being faster, the new search box features auto-suggestions and the ability to apply your search query on the fly to messages, contacts or activities.

Better tagging functionality

Better tags

We’ve added tag auto-suggestions and the ability to delete tags.

We’re still testing and working out the logistics of the new system launch. For now the main take-home message is this: The application infrastructure upgrade will enable us to release new features in a fast and continuous fashion. Until then, take heart!

Written by Dmitri Eroshenko

April 27th, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Posted in uncategorized

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