Archive for the 'Reflections' Category

What is DevjaVu even about?

December 27, 2007

As an introductory topic for our users forum, I’d like to pose the question: What is DevjaVu and Trac about?

It’s not exactly “project management” even if it does involve it. You might say “developer tools” but tell that to a developer and they’ll think compilers and editors. Sure it’s “issue tracking and version control” but that’s not all it is. Plenty of people have those things but don’t have what DevjaVu is.

So join us in a discussion about how to describe DevjaVu. As our users, you guys should know best!


DevjaVu helps build the Development Abstraction Layer

December 20, 2007

I was just re-reading The Development Abstraction Layer by Joel Spolsky and, even though it’s exaggerated for effect, this long-winded example does a great job of showing how big of a difference using DevjaVu can make for your startup:

Programmers need a Subversion repository. Getting a Subversion repository means you need a network, and a server, which has to be bought, installed, backed up, and provisioned with uninterruptible power, and that server generates a lot of heat, which means it need to be in a room with an extra air conditioner, and that air conditioner needs access to the outside of the building, which means installing an 80 pound fan unit on the wall outside the building, which makes the building owners nervous, so they need to bring their engineer around, to negotiate where the air conditioner unit will go (decision: on the outside wall, up here on the 18th floor, at the most inconvenient place possible), and the building gets their lawyers involved, because we’re going to have to sign away our firstborn to be allowed to do this, and then the air conditioning installer guys show up with rigging gear that wouldn’t be out of place in a Barbie play-set, which makes our construction foreman nervous, and he doesn’t allow them to climb out of the 18th floor window in a Mattel harness made out of 1/2″ pink plastic, I swear to God it could be Disco Barbie’s belt, and somebody has to call the building agent again and see why the hell they suddenly realized, 12 weeks into a construction project, that another contract amendment is going to be needed for this goddamned air conditioner that they knew about before Christmas and they only just figured it out, and if your programmers even spend one minute thinking about this that’s one minute too many.

To the software developers on your team, this all needs to be abstracted away as typing svn commit on the command line.

With DevjaVu you can skip all of that and jump straight to svn commit. Not to mention everything else you get.


Ugliness averted

December 7, 2007

That’s better. Not perfect, but nothing will look as good in IE. At least I got to brush up on the timeless art of cross-browser styling.

Actually I think I cheated because I just used conditional styles for IE and IE7. Anyway, this has been a nice reminder that we still have to think about IE (in fact, in two flavors now). I’m really happy to get back to non-browser issues now.

Hope you guys are enjoying the free accounts and spreading the word. They won’t last long!


We scare away 15% of our visitors

December 6, 2007

Today I was playing with Parallels for the first time and I tried out our site using the Windows Internet Exporer and… wow… We’ve checked on Windows Firefox, but for whatever reason, we just never bother to check on IE. The explanation is probably obvious, but I think that’s still no excuse when 15% of our visitors are IE users. I’m surprised we haven’t gotten hate mail.

Actually, it’s not that bad, but definitely bad enough to scare away anybody that might have been interested in using us, I’m sure. Click for full size:

 Pure Ugly

Yeah, I don’t know what to say. I guess we have a bit of browser compatibility work in front of us.


DevjaVu Usage

February 28, 2007

Unlike SourceForge and Google, we don’t care if your project is open source or not. We encourage open source (and we’re working on ways to discount open source projects with our pricing model), but we understand not all projects are right for open source. We don’t see why we should exclude anybody that’s writing software and could benefit from our service.

This goes especially for personal projects. In fact, that might be the truly underserved portion of the market, which is silly because that’s where a lot of passion can be found. And if we can easily let you “scale” from a private personal project to an open source or commercial project, that’s a win for everybody.

DevjaVu Usage

As of today, personal projects make up the majority of projects started with DevjaVu. That might just be because personal projects are what most people are ready to try something new with, but I hope that DevjaVu continues to serve the personal project market well. With that said, I don’t see why we can’t do well across all these project types.

What I’m curious about is what kinds of projects are “Other?”


So quiet

October 11, 2006

I know we’ve been quiet. It’s as if we haven’t been doing a whole lot. Well, that’s only partly true.

We’ve been working with another startup that’s going to be announcing itself real soon, something completely unrelated to project hosting. We’ve also had a continual stream of consulting projects coming through (which has been a great use for DevjaVu!), including the site for the Netflix Prize.

So besides giving out invites and dealing with some light support issues, I hate to say it, but we haven’t been getting many new features integrated. Though we’re still getting a lot of interest. Lots from schools, including MIT, lots from small development companies, some startups. I think we even have a Trac developer using DevjaVu. There’s also several game development projects, which I love.

What should you be looking forward to in the near future? Well we’re behind on some important things, like exporting your repository data and more intuitive user management. Importing repository and ticket data from other systems is also a priority. And those are still part of the free account feature set. We’ll be announcing the pricing structure for the premium plans soon as well.

As much as I’d like to promise dates for features, I’d hate to break them because of other obligations. That’s just the price we pay for starting up this way. That’s okay, though, right? You still love us don’t you?

How many of you are going to be ninjas for Halloween?


Multiple Projects and Disk Space

August 29, 2006

Since making a basic DevjaVu project is free, there’s no big reason to use a single DevjaVu project for several projects. Though there’s nothing stopping you, and it might make sense in some situations, Trac was really designed to house a single project and repository. Right now, projects might not seem completely “free,” since you do have to request an invitation, but please do feel free to request more invites if you have more projects.

This might raise the question of disk space, something we’ve been trying to avoid talking about for a while. The fact that nobody has asked about it reinforces our stance that it’s really not that important and you shouldn’t have to think about it. We believe, and I’m going to quote David Weekly on this, “Storage is a solved problem.”

Does this mean you have unlimited disk space with DevjaVu? Well, sort of. We’re still trying to figure out exactly how to handle this. We know that we don’t want to have to show you a disk quota (something you probably wouldn’t even look at anyway), we know that you should be focusing on making great software and not worrying about disk usage, and we know that we don’t want to use it as a selling point.

We’re most likely going to impose an ever increasing limit that’s mostly transparent to you. Something along the lines of GMail: more than you need, and increases as average usage increases.

Feel free to share your thoughts about this. :)


Embrace communication!

August 22, 2006

The invite requests keep coming in! Just about all of them are accepted as soon as I see them, minus a few suspicious ones. I’m having fun reading some of your pleas. :P

One thing I need to improve is the communication between us and you beta users out there. A few of you have emailed with questions or have posted in the forum, but only from a fraction of you. It seems so trivial, but I’ve yet to set up a way to send notifications to you guys! I’ll be fixing that soon.

I might also get a little bit more “in your face” about giving feedback by putting a little feedback button on your project pages. Not that the feedback we’re getting isn’t good. In fact, the feedback so far as been very positive and very helpful.

I’ve noticed the majority of projects are starting private, so it’s hard to see what you guys are up to. I might have to start getting clever and analyzing logs to figure out the aggregated use of DevjaVu. The things you guys do the most with DevjaVu need to be as slick as oil. Hopefully some of our improvements will make their way back into the Trac open source project.


Another round of invites out the door

August 2, 2006

Some of you may have noticed a recent addition to the homepage that allows you to request an invite code. At the time, I was doing invites by hand, which was not very fun. In fact, I think the work involved prevented me from wanting to give invites out.

It was apparent I needed some sort of invite manager. You know, sometimes the simplest things that don’t even have anything to do with your product can be more of a pain than implementing an actual feature. You’d think, “Oh, an invite system. I’ll just throw one together when I find some time.” But really there’s some workflow involved, setting up a database, several email notifications… just enough work that I ended up procrastinating.

That is, until tonight. So now, I’ll be sending out invites to a handful of you that requested. I’ll get invites out to the rest of you as soon as I’m sure the system works as intended. I don’t want to give too many out before we switch servers.

And yes, we obviously have a blog now. Hosted free at, just the way I like it. Though I have to say, the setup process wasn’t as quick and simple as it could have been. :P