The Explanation For Our Recent Downtime

Summary: I got a false alert that the issues were resolved. Foolishly, I didn’t look into it further and didn’t realize we had an ongoing outage. 

My deepest apologies for the two outages we’ve had in the past day. The first happened yesterday at around 5pm pacific time, the second today at around 6am.  Both were caused by the same simple, easy to resolve issue. In both cases, I did not resolve the issue causing the outage because I didn’t realize the outages were happening. Our monitoring system sent me alerts saying the issues had resolved themselves just moments after it pointed out the problems in the first place. I should have looked into the issues upon getting the alerts, regardless of their supposed resolution, and I didn’t. Thus, we had hours of downtime when we should have had minutes.

I am ashamed of the situation, and stressed by the potential repercussions on the trust of our users. Due to my actions, tens of thousands of people around the world were blocked from doing their work over the past day. My apologies to all of you.

Here is what I will do to prevent this happening in the future:

  1. I’ve added two new alerts to our monitoring which are direct indicators of our most common issues. These metrics will not incorrectly resolve themselves while an outage remains active.
  2. I will always look into outage alerts, even if I get an automated alert saying an issue is resolved.
  3. After an alert, I will look at our core metrics dashboards as opposed to my own app responsiveness to determine whether the app is healthy. Loading the home page is an incredibly dumb way to verify the health of our servers. I did it simply because I was away from my computer and have never seen a real outage falsely resolved  without additional alerts. That was a huge mistake.
  4. After an alert, I will monitor our user communication channels such as Twitter and email, to get a sense of how widespread an issue is.

Again, I am truly sorry for these completely unnecessary outages. We will do our best to maintain our previously wonderful reliability.

P.S. Please consider using our offline Chrome Desktop Application. This way you will have access to your WorkFlowy lists even if we have an outage, or if you’re away from the internet.

We Love You Too, Sami

We received this email from a WorkFlowy user named Sami. I thought it was funny and charming, so I’m posting it here for all to enjoy.

Hi.

I know this might sound a little weird since we just met, but the truth is that I have been looking for you my entire life. It’s like you’re a piece of a puzzle that I have always yearned to discover, but could never find.

When I first saw you, I immediately fell in love. Unlike others like you, you didn’t feel the need to force a specific idea or context to the way you are. You didn’t feel the need to tell me what to do with you, like so many of those insecure versions of you. From looking at you, I can see something that I see very rarely these days: trust. Some people might consider your blank expression as a negative, but I see you for who you are, WorkFlowy. I see behind that whitespace to the message it carries: “Please do with me as you please!”

You are special, WorkFlowy. You are free. You are beautiful.

Will you marry me?

PS. In all seriousness, thank you from the bottom of my heart. This app is pure genius and I am so glad to have stumbled upon it! I am definitely a subscriber for life and will recommend this to everyone.

PPS. Sorry for abusing your support channel, but when I discover things that have the potential to make a real difference in my everyday, I can’t help but to express my gratitude.

 

How Using Workflowy Keeps My Anxiety Under Control

Hi guys,

I’ve been using Workflowy for a few months and (like I imagine most users) now can’t figure out how I ever organized anything without it. Excellent job, there. I’ve been recommending it to just about everyone I know.

As someone who suffers from pretty severe anxiety issues and is also self-employed, I’ve found that using Workflowy actually helps reduce my anxiety levels and has allowed me to set up a system for dealing with particularly bad “episodes”. It’s prevented me from “freaking out” and losing clients, therefore it’s no real stretch to say using Workflowy has actually made me money.

I have a lot of friends with the same sorts of anxiety-related issues as myself, and find myself repeatedly explaining my personal Workflowy system and how it helps as part of the “sales pitch” to get them to try it out.

I thought “How using Workflowy keeps my anxiety under control” might make a good blog post, whether for one of my own blogs or for yours. Would you be interested in a guest post covering that aspect of your app?

Thanks for your time!

Michelle May aka “Shellbot”

WorkFlowy User Michelle May sent us this email recently, asking if we’d be interested in her sharing how WorkFlowy has helped her manage anxiety. We said, “Sure!” and she made the video above. Enjoy!

Idea: WorkFlowy Presentations

WorkFlowy offers a wonderful way to develop and expand ideas, what if it offered an equally great mechanism to communicate ideas with others? We messed around with the idea of quickly recording a presentation using WorkFlowy to replace slides, and the above video is an example

Is this something you’d use? Other feedback? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Frank And His WorkFlowy Book

WorkFlowy Book Cover

Frank, from productivitymashup.com, has written a 254 page book about WorkFlowy! How cool is that? The book, “Do Way, Way More in WorkFlowy“, is entertaining and crammed full of WorkFlowy tidbits. He describes using it with different productivity systems, extending it with external tools and a lot of stuff in between. As one of the creators of WorkFlowy, I found the book interesting, so you should be able to learn from it even if you’re an advanced user. Check it out.

After looking the book over I thought, “Wow, Frank is a prolific, entertaining writer and he seems to really enjoy WorkFlowy. Maybe I should see if he wants to write on the blog.” We talked, and lo and behold, Frank starts blogging in a few days. He’ll include some content from the book as well as original stuff. We shall see where it leads, hopefully up and to the right 🙂

Anyway, welcome Frank! Thanks for investing in WorkFlowy!

What We’re Work(Flowy)ing On

Hello WorkFlowians. This is your friend Jesse. We haven’t written anything on this blog in quiiite a while, so I’m gonna do that now. I’ll try to do it somewhat regularly, and perhaps share more of what we’re working on so you can see what is going on, know that there’s activity, give feedback along the way.

For starters, a short post about what I’m personally working on and our goals.

Today’s Immediate Goals

  1. I want to write a blog post, I feel I owe you all an update.
  2. I fixed an iOS9 bug yesterday and today I’m hoping to release that fix. In order to do so, I need to create a bunch of new launch images for the app because something got borked about those, and now the app won’t launch with the full height of the device.
  3. If I get that done (unlikely), I’m gonna move on to my current big picture project, which is improving our conversion rate from shared WorkFlowy documents, basically finishing up a first experiment on this stuff.

Short Term Goals

Our primary short term focus is increasing the effectiveness of our sharing flow. Sharing a WorkFlowy document constitutes the simplest way for people to spread the word about WorkFlowy, beyond saying “I love WorkFlowy” all the time to all their friends. (Which you should definitely, definitely do. We recommend screaming “I love WorkFlowy” at least three times a day. Especially if you work in an open office).

Regardless, we have never optimized this part of the product, which leaves a bunch of big opportunities.

We’re starting by focusing on the experience of someone new to WorkFlowy.  When Stewart, who has never seen WorkFlowy, receives a link from his co-worker Leshika, We want Stewart to feel welcomed, ushered in and taken care of. We want to show him around the place, make him feel at home. Hopefully Stewart loves the experience, sticks around and shares WorkFlowy with others.

Big Picture Goals

We want WorkFlowy to reach its potential. The product could be so much more amazing, and we just want it to get there. We’ve realized recently that our current trajectory won’t get us there, because development is just too slow and there’s too much to do. So we’ve been thinking hard, talking to people, and examining numbers to figure out a route forward. We’re close to the growth and revenue we’ll need to build a small but great team, and that’s what we’re plugging away on.

Okay, I’m gonna get to work now.

Flowin’ With Butterscotch

What follows is a guest post from Seth Coster, whose studio makes awesome games. I had the misfortune of downloading one of his games, and, I’m not kidding, it took over my life for a while. You probably shouldn’t play Flop Rocket unless you really want to get addicted, stay up late playing it, neglect your family, stop showering and other terrible things!

Hey, readers! Seth Coster from Butterscotch Shenanigans here. We’re a three-man game studio (and family business) based out of St. Louis and Dallas. We’ve launched four major titles on iOS and Android: Flop Rocket, Quadropus Rampage, Roid Rage, and Towelfight 2. Our games have accumulated over 4 million players to date.

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Now we’re working on a huge game called Crashlands, which contains dozens and dozens of hours of gameplay, narrative, and lots of complex systems, including crafting and creature taming. Crashlands is big enough that we needed a seriously flexible and useful collaborative project management tool to make it happen, and that tool JUST SO HAPPENS… to be Workflowy. 

The Old Way

When our studio was first formed two years ago, we had never handled projects of the magnitude of games. So when we looked for project and task management software, we didn’t know what to get. After trying out a bunch of stuff that was pretty rigid and generally forced us into a particular way of doing things, we got fed up and just resorted to using a shared Google Doc for all our project management.

It was great to have essentially a blank sheet of paper to work with, where we could put everything where we needed and organize it as we liked.

We just added tasks to the bottom of the doc, and as we completed stuff, we’d cut/paste those completed tasks into our game’s patch notes, which were logged just above. This gave us a record of all we had done, and a consolidated spot to store our tasks. Over time, though, this approach got incredibly cumbersome. As the doc grew, it involved a tremendous amount of scrolling up and down, ctrl+F searching, and scanning for what to do next. 

Then, we stumbled across Workflowy. AND EVERYTHING CHANGED.

The Better Way

Workflowy allowed us to maintain our old approach — putting stuff wherever we wanted, organizing things at will, and keeping a record of our patch notes — while also removing literally every problem we had previously been having.

The fact that we now have nested lists means we can keep every project in one place, instead of a separate doc for each, and just visit each list as we are working on things in that area.

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Instead of having to cut and paste completed tasks, we can now just drag them into their appropriate changelogs, and then minimize those changelogs for later viewing. And if we complete a smaller task that we don’t need a record of, we just mark it as complete, and it shoots off into the ether of the interweb, never to be heard from again.

We also developed an “inbox” system, through which we can give urgent tasks to one another. For non-urgent items, we just add tasks on a project basis and tag each other appropriately. If I ever want to see just my part of a project, I just type my name into the search bar at the top, and BOOM! A customized, nested list of everything I have on my plate.

All in all, having Workflowy has streamlined the crap out of our process and made our game development dramatically easier. Anyone working on a mid-size to small team (or even solo) who wants to make awesome things happen… get on this train. It’s going places.

Thanks, Workflowy team!