The Wilderblog

Announcements, tips, thoughts, and words of wisdom from your friendly, neighborhood Statamic team.

A New Hope

Posted on January 10th, 2017

My dearest Statamic community. An update on the status of 2.2 is long overdue. I am so, so sorry to have left you hanging this long, wondering what’s happening. I imagine you may feel we’ve been taking you for granted, or taking advantage of your patience. I also imagine you’ve begun to wondering if anything is even happening. I acknowledge that you’ve been promised this major release and that it should have been here already. I can even imagine some of you might see us as a greedy (or perhaps even lazy), small company intent on taking your money and performing the minimum amount of work possible to prevent refunds. We made promises and we didn’t deliver on them.

So here I am today, to peel back the curtain and provide you an explanation and an updated timeline. But first, brace yourself. You’re probably going to be upset about the release date.

The story

In short, here’s what has been happening. For 2.2 we bit off a piece of work that was larger than originally expected (our signature move), and couldn’t quite finish it before it collided with the holidays, travel, and temporary time zone challenges. It was close. But close isn’t enough. Last week was my first full week back after Christmas break, and as a team we’re not yet back up to 100% capacity yet. I wish we were, but we’re not.

This update’s primary focus is on a rework of the Assets system, making it operate outside the cache. There are big performance benefits to take advantage of by doing this, not to mention that not having to interact with those IDs directly anymore will make development more enjoyable again. There are a lot of things that needed to be done to make the update seamless, from writing migration scripts to convert IDs to file paths, to rewriting all the Control Panel interactions and features to work directly with folders instead of the cache. The cascade effect was rather massive. Ironically, this was one of the features that made 2.0 take so long to build in the first place. Lessons learned the hard way.

We were pretty close to having these pieces complete in early November before I did something that was rather foolish in hindsight, I slated a Taxonomies rework to the release as well. Their update had been slated for 2.3, but they were going to receive a similar treatment (eliminate much of the cache, removing IDs, migration scripts, logic to resolve duplicate slugs, fieldtype updates, etc), it felt right to combine them. It is The Great ID Exodus of 2016!

The update’s primary focus is on Asset/Taxonomy performance and ease-of-use.

It was logical. It felt right. I knew it would have been a half-assed update without the pairing. I still feel that way, but wish we could have had one more week before the holidays threw a grenade into the schedule. And here we are, still at it. I hope we haven’t lost you in the wait. It’s been several months now, and if there was anything i could have done anything to speed this up, I would have. I take full responsibility for the failure, both to deliver, and to communicate.

The timeline

As you are probably aware, we don’t generally share timelines and release dates because they’re hard to hit. I fear the failure of a missed deadline, and so we don’t set them. I need to get better at that. A lot better. I owe you all a date, a new hope even, so I doing that which I fear, for you, to hold us accountable. It’s not going to be this week, nor the following week. We are officially targeting the week of January 23rd. That gives us two weeks to wrap this up internally, with a few more days to test. If you’re available and interested in helping test the upgrade process at the beginning of that week, please let me know. I would be most grateful.

We are officially targeting the week of January 23rd.

Also, we are planning on calling this update 2.5. Yes, it disregards SemVer. Oh well. It represents a rather large change, and a significant shift in how things work (though the update itself will take care any necessary changes to your templates and configs). We want the version number to reflect that.

The lessons learned

I’ve learned a lot over the past (almost) 5 years working on Statamic, mostly the hard way. I learned that I was arrogant, when I thought myself humble. I learned I was very busy, not productive. I shunned the expertise of others, actively choosing to not read, study, and learn from the experts on how to plan, be highly productive, and how to grow. I thought I knew better, that my experience combined with brute force, good code, and intuition would more then compensate for my lack of continual self-improvement.

I’m here to say that after a number of years in this mindset, they don’t. Statamic could be a better, more coherent product, more successful, less expensive, with better support, better docs, and a larger, more educated community if I took the time to focus. To plan. To learn and grow, instead of plowing forward with the team’s nose to the grindstone.

I can’t go back, and I’ve decided I can’t waste anymore energy on guilt and regret. All I can do is move forward, work on converting failures into fuel, ignorance into focus, and do what needs to be done, starting now.

I spent the bulk of my free time over the holidays reading and studying. I read a literal stack of books - the very stack I should have worked through years ago. I sat by the fireplace and read, and highlighted, and took notes. It was like a training montage, except not short, and not set to inspiration 80s music. I focused. I planned. I communicated with my team. I changed the way we’re going to work as a team in 2017, not in a few small ways, but in huge, radical ways. I choose to treat this moment like a tipping point, instead of just another missed target.

I pray you stick with us as we continue this journey. I don’t take you for granted. I do appreciate you. We will deliver the value you deserve and the features you need for the hard earned money you spend on supporting Statamic.

Most sincerely,
Your scrappy leader – Jack

Learn How to Build Profitable Statamic Sites Next Week!

Posted on December 14th, 2016

Next Monday, December 19th, we’re launching our first paid Statamic course, which will cover the ins and outs of building sites quickly and efficiently with – you guessed it – Statamic.

In this course, we’ll be building a real site from the ground up all the way through launch. Learn tips, tricks, and workflows you can use to speed up your site builds, saving you development time and putting more money on your bottom line.

And best of all? We’ll be sharing an exclusive coupon code for $25 off the course, available only to our mailing list. You can sign up down there in the footer.

You can bookmark learnstatamic.com, where course will go live in less than 1 week. Stay tuned!

New Support Portal

Posted on November 2nd, 2016

It’s here. I don’t really like the term “portal” because it reminds me of the old days working in a marketing agency where everything was a portal, but that’s what it is. It’s a launching point to finding the best medium for support no matter what your question.

When you need support, the place to go is statamic.com/support. We’ve loaded it with Knowledge Base articles to try to help immediately, and as you drill down into the area you need help with, we suggest the most appropriate method for support, usually ending in direct contact with us.

We’re holding ourselves to a high standard for response time. We have our own internal SLA (did I mention we can support SLAs now? Contact us if you’re interested in your own) to hold us accountable and prevent anything from slipping through the cracks. We will be respecting standard office hours for the sake of our families, so please understand that in most circumstances support time is between 9am and 5pm EST.

We’ve begun to withdrawl from Slack slowly, like a crab who has snagged a delicious sandwich and wants to get away undetected. To those in Slack, please feel the liberty to refer newcomers and veterans alike to statamic.com/support for direct help. You’ve been doing that already, and it warms my heart like a slanket on a cold February morning. And don’t worry, we’ll still pop in from time to time! You all are the whiskey to my bacon.

Slanket!

I’m off to make Statamic better than yesterday. At at least try, anyway.

Improving Support

Posted on October 17th, 2016

Today I wanted to take a few paragraphs to tell you about some upcoming changes to our support practices so you react to them with whatever emotion feels most appropriate. We hope it’s 😍 or 😘 . Or maybe the blushing face one. We like that emoji a lot too.

Our Support Process is Broken

Right now our support “system” is broken. Sure, you can get great, personal support from us, quickly and sometimes even in real time (on Slack), but “broken” can mean many things. And let me tell you, if we do this right, not only will you get better answers from us and the community, but Statamic will be a better product. Let me explain what I mean.

The Slack Support Experience

Slack is awesome. Slack is awful. Both of these statements are undeniably true, depending on your perspective. Here’s a common enough scenario:


Jean Ralphio is building a site and runs into an error message he don’t understand. He takes a screenshot of the error, pops open Slack, jumps into the #support-v2 channel and uploads the image. Friendly @emd asks him for more details, I suggest clearing his cache, and @jason asks for some detail from the logs. A few minutes and few suggestions later he has a definitive answer on how to correct his template and he’s back in business. That’s an awesome experience. For Jean Ralphio.


Here’s the otherside of that story:


I was helping Ron debug something else more complicated with a lot of template code involved, and all of a sudden that conversation got hijacked. Jean Ralphio’s issue was pretty easy to answer, so we helped out right away so everyone could move along with their day and we could get back to Ron’s tougher issue at hand. Ron got frustrated so he went back to trying to fix it himself, and after an hour he comes back to Slack for more help and waits patiently for another conversation to end before jumping in. It doesn’t arrive, so he DMs @jason and asks for help. But @jason is away from his desk boarding up his shutters for an incoming hurricane. Ron thinks @jason is ignoring him, and goes back to trying to fix it himself again. But the problem is, he’s hit a real bug, and does need our help to get out of his pickle.

Later, Tom comes along with the same exact issue that Jean Ralphio ran into, but because there’s so much going on in Slack he doesn’t search for the issue (which was in a screenshot anyway) and so we start the whole story over again, except a little less friendly because we’re frustrated we just went through this 2 hours ago. Rinse and repeat.


You get the picture, right? Meanwhile, we’ve only been able to help 3 people, and anyone else with those same issues won’t benefit from the valuable exchanges. Ultimately the most important thing is to resolve issues quickly and efficiently, regardless of where the answer comes from.

When Slack Fails, it Fails Hard

Slack is fantastic at triaging an issue in the moment, but only for one person at a time, with no lasting benefit for those come along later.

To be fair, if you visit https://statamic.com/support you’ll see Slack is not an official support channel, and if you’re in Slack you’ll see the support room description says “unofficial support”. However, we set enough of a precedent by favoring the medium regardless that the words don’t mean anything, and there is very little activity in the Lodge or via email. Support has become 95% Slack. And it’s become unsustainable.

It’s also worth mentioning that only 10% of our community is on Slack. Some people just plain don’t like it. And while I love what it does do well, I also understand that perspective.

Our Goals for Next Phase

If people won’t use the forum, and we can’t make Slack support sustainable, what then? What then indeed!

I took time to identify my top priorities with a redesigned support experience. There are a lot of small things I want, but here are the top 3:

1. Support cannot be real-time.

Offering realtime support with a team of 3 people, all of whom work on the product itself, is a false promise. A dream. We even had live a Intercom chat on our site for a few months. Support exchanges would often take 20-30 minutes of back and forth waiting for each other to respond to even get to the beginning of an real question, teasing out little details at a time.

2. Answers must become resources to other users.

Answers to common issues must be found easily if they can’t be designed around with better help messages, docs, and UX design. “How do I reset my admin password?” is one such example.

3. We must provide transparency with the customer.

Once an “official” support request has been submitted, customers need to know that we received it and have realistic expectations set regarding how long it will take for a response. If it’s 2am EST on a Saturday, it’s going to be a day and a half at least. There’s no way around that.

We’ve used poorly suited tools in the past (GrooveHQ and more recently, Intercom), but we’re going to get it right this time around.

Next Phase Plan

Okay, it’s more than just a plan, we’re just about ready to launch all this. But before we do, here’s what’s going to happen. We don’t want to blind-side anybody.

New Self-Segmenting Support Page

We’ve designed a new landing page for All Things Support™ that helps to funnel you to the best channel and medium for your particular type of question or issue. We’ll take the chance to suggest some existing knowledge base articles along the way. It doesn’t hurt.

Support isn’t forever

Buying a license currently entitles you to support for 12 months. We don’t have way to enforce that right now, but our new platform will make that easier to accomplish. We’ll also be reducing that time period on new licenses to 3 months, which we feel like is still a generous period for lifecycle of an average site in development.

Statamic Unlimited will have ongoing, non-expiring access to support, in addition to some new team-driven features. It’s going to make life easier for everyone.

We’ll Be Using Kayako

Official support will happen through Kayako. It has a great system for keeping track of open cases with routing rules, priorities, automatic escalation, SLA enforcement, all sorts of goodies. I’ve spent the last 2 weeks trying everything. Trust me. If it’s out there, I’ve spent at least an hour in it. I’ll write another article on why I chose Kayako specifically, but 2nd place (Desk.com) wasn’t even close. We’ve already canceled Intercom, and are using Kayako already. So if you email us at gentlemen@statamic.com, it’ll happen through there.

Kayako

Kayako has the transparency we like. Email auto response, office hours rules, an optional customer portal that will let you see all your previous support requests, a robust API for us to work with, you name it. We’re excited to put it through the paces and fine-tune our workflow.

Scheduled Slack Chats

If you’re still reading, you saw this coming. Slack support via @jason, @jaggy, and myself is about to come to an end. We’ll all be better for it, trust me. We’ll be renaming the support-v1 and support-v2 channels to simply statamic-v1 and statamic-v2 to reduce the implication of official support happening there.

We’ll also set up a weekly time to have a Statamic Chat about what’s new, improved, coming soon, what we can do better, and so on. We’ll need to leave support questions out of it to avoid having the conversation hijacked, but it’ll be a good time. We’ll post more info when make some date and time decisions.

We love that you help each other out as a community as much as you do! Please continue that! But also feel free to point people towards our support portal. And please refrain from DMing and @ name pinging us for support unless it’s an emergency.

We will still be in Slack often I’m sure, but socially, rather than in a support capacity.

Changes to the Lodge

We also want to improve the Lodge to make it more enjoyable, more useful, and even simpler. These changes won’t be ready to roll out with the previous updates, but we’ll be unifying the multi-room organization it into a single stream, add tagging, and working some other UX improvements. Low hanging fruit is delicious.

TL;DR

Getting great support from us will require a little extra work and a few more clicks from you first, but we’ll all be better for it in the long run. That’s pretty much the sum of it!

We love you. Always.

✨♥️✨

Jaggy: The Newest Statamic Gentleman!

Posted on September 8th, 2016

A few weeks ago we announced we were looking for a new team member. Someone to jump in and help us grow Statamic. We received a massive flood of email, I couldn’t believe it. I’m still working to respond to everyone. Thank you, everyone who applied, for the kind words you had to say. I wish I could hire everyone. But we had to pick just one at the moment. And his name is Jaggy.

Everyone please welcome Jaggy Gauran!

Jaggy is a Laravel and Vue.js developer hailing from Parañaque in the Philippines. Not only does can he code up a storm, but he’s also a musician, a self-proclaimed Whovian, and has a killer design instinct. We’re all gonna get along just fine.

Jaggy!

Jaggy is totally prolific on Github and has released up a number of projects, packages, and even CMS experiments we found to be very interesting. A few like Alchemy and TypeCMS have us very intruiged. We can’t wait until he’s ramped up on Statamic and bringing his own ideas to the table.

Check out some more Jaggy-related details:

His official first day is September 19th. So follow him and congratulate him on twitter, welcome him to the Slack room, and be nice as he ramps up. He’s one of us now.