If our user base wasn’t developer-oriented, we probably wouldn’t bother going into this, but we feel it’s useful to keep everyone in the loop. In the last half of this year, we’ve accomplished three major goals, as well as a handful of smaller goals, in preparation for much bigger things.
We’ve relaunched our public site. That gave us a home to communicate more effectively as well as a better home for API documentation. What good is it if we expand the API but document it poorly? It was also great practice for the actual application redesign and helped us gather our thoughts for how we’re going to handle mobile support within the application itself.
We also moved to a new hosting environment with better performance, higher availability, improved backups and the ability to scale quickly and without downtime in most cases. Already, despite seeing the highest traffic we’ve ever seen, our application response times are down about 65% over the last few months, and that’s just the back-end improvements. We also have some aggressive plans for improving front-end performance as well, but that will happen hand-in-hand with the impending redesign.
Now we’re in the process of wrapping up our upgrade to Rails 3 and Ruby 1.9 during which we’ve also made some sweeping improvements to our test coverage. It’s also helped us escape from some legacy dependencies. This frees us up for all sorts of great improvements to things like file uploading and search.
All of these things are necessary, but none of them are things that we’ll ever hear customers ask us to do. They’re the foundation upon which we can confidently move forward. In the meantime, we’re acutely aware of countless shortcomings that we’re dying to improve. They drive us nuts, too. Thankfully, everything’s in place to move quickly on those items now.
For the foreseeable future, our two biggest priorities are the API and the redesign. The API covers a lot of things, but mostly it’s write-access and integration with other services. The redesign is larger. Much larger. In fact, “redesign” is a terrible word for it. It’s less of a single milestone and more of a unified long-term vision for where we’re going to take Sifter. It covers visual design, interaction design, information architecture, front-end performance, mobile, and plans for making the most of browser advancements. There’s even bits of the redesign that will affect the API.
Sifter turns three years old in a couple of days. In those three years, we’ve collected massive amounts of feedback and learned quite a bit from our own usage. Technology has advanced significantly, and we’ve had to grow to support a larger and more diverse user base. During that time, we’ve also been forging a unified vision of the future and where we’re heading. We have a clearer understanding of what’s important and what’s not important. We can’t wait to start putting it in your hands.
Thanks for being patient while we’ve forged through the growing pains. We’ll be switching gears soon, and it’s all about customer-facing goodness now.