Writing when travelling

Maintaining a writing schedule while travelling is tough. You are in a different city and have a different routine with how you spend your day. There are places to visit, people to meet and new food experiences to be had.

Writing or doing any kind of work then falls down the list. You still want to write and get work done, but now you have a limited amount of time compared to having 6-7 hours when you are at home.

Designing and programming for me have always taken priority over writing whenever I travel. But now that I am more committed to writing, I have added writing to the priority list.

Writing within limited time is something I have never done before. Each post takes me about 30-40 minutes to write and re write. Having to write while travelling is going to be a interesting challenge.

Sharing work in progress

It’s difficult to like things when you initially start developing it. The structure is not in place, the design does not resemble the image you had in mind and the final content is not part of the page as yet.

Working through the progress is a great experience though. You slowly start to see the final design take shape, you change a few things to make it look better than the design you had in mind and soon the final product looks a lot better than how you imagined it to be.

It’s frustrating though when you are in the in-between phase. When things don’t look as good and when you share your in progress work. People who see it are usually not happy with what you have built. You know there is more to come, but they don’t. It’s difficult not to be discouraged by comments people leave behind when you share your work in progress.

Maybe writing about how you envision the final design to look like is a practise I should follow more often. Or not sharing the work in progress. A choice which on some days is difficult to pick between when the project you are working on is for a client who wants regular updates.

HTML to Wordpress

“WordPress is web software you can use to create a beautiful website or blog” wordpress.org

One of my friends is a freelance graphic designer and front end developer. Being a one person shop, he often gets contacted by clients who want him to design a website. Since most of them also want to be able to manage their website content, Wordpress is a solution he often considers.

During our conversation last week, he told me how he did not like Wordpress that much. The process of converting his HTML /CSS files to a Wordpress theme is not something he enjoyed or wanted to do. There are often PHP errors he comes across which add to the pain of theme conversion.

This could be a good problem to solve. Take HTML / CSS from the end customer and deliver a Wordpress template.

If you know of a service which already does this, do let me know.

Play the long game

I know so many people who don’t play the long game. It’s tough, I understand it completely. Short time benefits on most days out weight the benefits of waiting for long term results.

In not just about software, in about every aspect of life, playing the long term game is difficult. It’s easier to fix the bug with this short piece of code, but difficult to patch the library which was causing the issue. It easier to not invest in employees and save that money, but difficult to keep an employee, vendor or client happy so that they stay with you for a long time.

Most people I meet, play the short game. I hope this changes over time. As much as I believe in life is short mantra, I am equally a big believer in playing the long game.

Work can wait

We believe Work Can Wait is an important notion. 9pm on Friday night is not work time. 6am on Wednesday morning is not work time. It may be for you, but it’s not for me. And I don’t want it to be work time for my employees either.

I really like the thought behind this feature.

Basecamp 3 - Work can wait

Your product idea matters

There are new tools, softwares and blogs being launched every day. If you follow reddit, product hunt, twitter or hackernews you will come across new products every day. These are exciting times.

2 days ago, a friend mentioned how he had a few ideas he wanted to work on, but when he researched his idea, there were other products already doing something similar. My advise to him, work on your idea and build it. Your product idea matters. Even if someone has already created what you had in mind, go ahead and build your version of the idea.

The features, design, experience you end up building would be different from the product which already exists and that might be the reason someone chooses you over hundred’s of other products which exist.

Brightpod a project management tool I have been working on since the past 3 years has over 100 competitors. Yet, as a business we are doing well. People who like us, like us for the interface, the experience and customer service we provide. This along with the features we provide differentiates us from every other product.

It’s tough for any software to please everyone. We also have some people tell us that our user interface is not that good and our software experience not being as good as some other tools they have tried.

We need more people to build products which are different and yet does something similar. People are still looking for the best project management system, the best bug tracking system, the best travel booking site, the best place to host their blog, the best place to buy fonts…

Hey Siri Event

Ever since owning the first Apple product (MacBook (13-inch, Early 2008)), I have always followed every Apple Event.

There is so much buzz around Apple as a company. Their stock predictions are a topic of discussion the next day after each event. No matter how much time Apple spends trying to perfect a product, analyst are always disappointed that Apple is not focused on inventing the next best thing.

I like that each year Apple continues to focus on minor improvements over the previous year. They have a lot of products to work on now and each product takes time to research, design, build and test. It takes time and money to build the next best thing.

As long as Apple continues to make smart improvements their products, I will continue to spend money on their products.

I am definitely buying the new Apple TV, Apple Pencil and iPad Pro.

tabrisjs

If you are trying to avoid learning Swift / Objective-C / Java to create an iPhone /Android mobile app you should give tabrisjs.com a try.

I am personally working on an iPhone application using tabrisjs. So far the experience has been really good. More details about the app soon.

If you are building an open source app, they let you use their platform for free. Private apps start at $5/month.

tabrisjs.com

Record Exceptions

Programmers are usually optimistic about their code. Most of the code I have read over the past few years have a well thought of “if” condition. Very few look into making the “else” equally better.

I spent the last few weeks optimising Brightpod to work better when things did not work as expected. The “else” part of the code, which had “return false” mentioned almost every where. After all, everyone who had worked on the codebase(myself included) was optimistic about the code we had written. We had tested it well and we almost never reached the “else” condition.

Last month, I noticed that we received a few complaints about things not working well. As the number of user’s using the system increased things which worked well before now started to fail. Issues on the production server can be tough to debug.

Recording exceptions was always on my list. From all the things I had on my plate, recording exceptions was not quite high enough, until 2 weeks ago.

For all major features where things could go wrong i.e “else” conditions or the catch part, we now use getsentry to record exceptions. Recording meta information about each exception also helps us be proactive about getting in touch with the user and letting him / her know when the issue they last experienced got fixed.

No longer is a user bug complain a mystery as we get to trace the error which caused the issue. Having data about exceptions on the production server has been really helpful. I can’t recommend using a exception recording software enough.

Knowledge is for sharing

Being open about how you run your business is difficult. It takes effort from people in your company to write about things they do. It’s also another thing for people in your company to do after finishing all other work they have on their plate.

Writing about your company should not feel like work. This should be an activity more companies should encourage their employees / founders to do. After all knowledge is for sharing.

I really like that companies like Balsamiq, Buffer and Basecamp(formerly 37Signals) continue to share about how they build their products and about their company.

If you are not following these blogs and not sharing about how you are building your startup you should. I personally am working on this from today.

Balsamiq Team Blog

SignalvNoise

BufferApp Blog

Know of any other companies which does this? Do let me know.