I was incredibly surprised by the turnout and amount of questions we had yesterday with the issue tracker chat. Since it’s not possible to have a chat that’s at the perfect time all around the world, I’ve pulled together some of the frequent questions and answers here. In most cases, I’m summarizing here to capture the spirit of the discussion rather than the entire dialogue.

When will it be available?
We haven’t drawn a line in the sand yet, but we’re expecting to launch around the middle of 2008.

Will there be a public beta? Can we help with it?
We’re not planning doing a public beta simply because it kind of defeats the purpose of being in beta. We’re having a limited private beta until the application is ready and suitable for everyone to use on a regular basis.

Will it work via email?
We definitely view email as a first-class interface to the system. We’re already planning on email supporting all of the features that will be available through the web interface. You can find a little more detail about this in my blog post, Beyond the Browser. More importantly, we expect to enable people to seamlessly reply to emails and have the contents automatically imported into the comment stream for the issue. While we haven’t implemented this yet, it’s an extremely high priority and something we’re taking very seriously.

Will there be an API?
We definitely plan on including a well-documented API, but it’s possible that it won’t make it into the initial release. It’s definitely a high priority, but the web and email interfaces are more important to get right for the initial release.

Will it hook into other services?
Our philosophy is to be a great neighbor with as many other applications as possible. Whether that’s Subversion, Git, Basecamp, Twitter, Pownce, or any of the other dozens of applications, we’re viewing the issue tracker as simply a small piece of your much larger puzzle.

What will the pricing be like?
While we haven’t established specific pricing yet, we expect that it will be inline with most of the other hosted web applications out there. Most, if not all, plans should be less than $100 per month.

Will it be hosted or installable?
We’re big believers in the benefits of hosted applications. While it may not be perfect for every company, we believe it’s important for us to focus on building a better application rather than troubleshooting compatibility across an indeterminate amount of platforms. We do not foresee offering an option for teams to host it in-house.

Can some of the design elements and/or domain name be branded?
For the initial release, we’re not planning on offering any degree of branding customization. It’s definitely something we’re considering for the future though.

Will there be a way to export the data?
Our view is that it’s your data. We ultimately plan to be as flexible as possible in letting you to get at your data and even offer interfaces to help you export it to a different system if we can. While we aren’t sure which options will be available on the initial release, we ultimately hope to offer an XML dump, Excel/CSV, the API, and even direct import/export integration with other applications through their API. We’ll be determining which apps on a case by case basis.

What’s the name of the app?
We’re keeping this a secret until the identity is finished.

All in all, the results of the chat were fantastic and far exceeded my expectations. A huge thank you to everyone that took the time to stop by and participate. It was really helpful and interesting for me.

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