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Ask HN: Review my status board startup
78 points by pmjoyce on July 19, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 108 comments
Geckoboard launched into private beta last week. It's very much a minimum viable product in that it's a functioning product but there's still lots to do. It's bootstrapped by me with the design and development outsourced to companies in the UK and Belarus respectively.

Geckoboard is SaaS status board that uses other services' APIs to collect and summarise key business information and display it in a way that's easy to understand and interpret.

Data from web analytics, server monitoring, project management, email marketing, CRM/helpdesk etc shown together on one dashboard to give a near real-time status on the health of all aspects of your business.

At the moment we integrate with about a dozen different API but more are being worked on right now and even more on the backlog. I'd love to hear your thoughts and/or suggestions.

EDIT. Signup instructions: We're in private beta but you can bypass the private bit by using the invite code "HN" on the signup page (don't include quotes). Link: http://geckoboard.com

I'm trying to add a Google Account for my Apps email, and the oAuth connector seems to be broken.

Here's the output:

Fatal error: Uncaught exception 'OAuthException2' with message 'Request failed with code 400: The token is invalid. ' in /home/geckoboa/public_html/system/libraries/oauth/OAuthRequester.php:125 Stack trace: #0 /home/geckoboa/public_html/system/models/gmail.class.php(195): OAuthRequester->doRequest(0, Array, Array, Array) #1 /home/geckoboa/public_html/system/controllers/oauth.class.php(76): GmailModel->getAccessToken(Array, '4%2FUvLUOZSga3M...', 'CVoQvrifDsxjv%2...') #2 /home/geckoboa/public_html/system/base/controller.class.php(82): OauthController->response() #3 /home/geckoboa/public_html/system/base/base.class.php(80): Controller->execute() #4 /home/geckoboa/public_html/system/base/base.class.php(50): Base::routing() #5 /home/geckoboa/public_html/index.php(21): Base::createWebApplication('/home/geckoboa/...') #6 {main} thrown in /home/geckoboa/public_html/system/libraries/oauth/OAuthRequester.php on line 125

This is on Snow Leopard and Firefox 3.6.6

Broken for me as well on Chrome. I was going to report this but I thought I saw a ticket on your site for it already. I'm guessing GMail and Google Apps Mail behave differently with OAuth?

That's exactly it.

Thanks for the report. I'll make sure it's investigated.

We're in private beta but you can bypass the private bit by using the invite code "HN" on the signup page (don't include quotes).

Link: http://geckoboard.com

Hmm, I'm getting a "Invalid or expired invitation code" error - did you cap the number of new accounts?

This is great! I had some penned out drawings of something like this but never really took it anywhere. As a developer what I would really like to see is some GitHub/Google Code integration - I want to know when a commit is pushed etc.

Some other ideas:

- RSS feed block

- "Pings" - when a block is updated flash it yellow and fade to the original colour over 5-10 minutes.

- "Workspaces" - separate dashboards that suit different uses, for example a build indicator, site-status and other monitors on one, support requests and tweets on another.

- Custom components - having a developer ecosystem would top this off.

I could see myself using this on a spare monitor or TV if some more components were available.

Yep this is pretty funny because I seriously considered working on this idea too and had a decent chunk of code written before moving on.

Your implementation looks great though. Do you mind if I ask what you used to built the UI? It looks great, transitioning etc.

Also +1 on the GitHub integration.

Thanks for the feedback some of which others have asked for and some new, all appreciated.

One our first beta users is already using it on a large display in their office http://yfrog.com/5fv5gdj

create a demo site. personally i wouldn't start entering passwords before having seen a demo and being convinced that it'll be useful.

also a votebox (as in dropbox.com/votebox/) to suggest widgets would be nice.

Demo site is a good idea - thanks!

We have a feature request forum where users can vote on ideas submitted by other users. http://geckoboard.zendesk.com/forums/176685-feature-requests

If you were feeling bold you could create a demo site that displayed stats of the app itself!

Great work,very slick. Out of interest, can you provide any information about the system architecture?

Things i noticed:

* do you really need my pingdom password? * drop-down in pingdom setup process does not work on the iPad (can see the options, but cannot scroll) * I wasn't really clear on what the fields did on the last stage of the pingdom setup process * The text in the text boxes could do with being lighter, it doesn't really have enough contrast in comparison to the background and is hard to see * I am asked to choose the size of the widget without really knowing what is going to be appearing in it. I do nit have enough information to make the decision. Maybe always make the small type, with the option to enlarge later? Would shorten the process a little * nice work on the 2-step signup (getting my email then asking for the other information once the user has brought into the process)

Anyway, great work! We hope to be in your position soon with our startup, http://playnice.ly </shamelessplug> :)

Sorry about the formatting there! Those were supposed to be bullet points

You need to go a bit deeper on Google Analytics. I can't get trendlines, just numbers, and no ability to see goals. (This probably goes for a lot of analytics packages, but we're using GA.)

Also, Flowtown and Wufoo would be nice - I believe they both have Webhooks, so it shouldn't be that difficult to add.

That said, this is exactly something I've wanted for quite a while; congrats!

Thanks for the feedback. We're purposefully shying away from trend lines and analysis at the moment and only showing high level summary information that's useful for right now. We don't want you to have to interpret, just to see what a current snapshot of your business is.

I liken it to the dashboard of your car; if you have access to your key numbers you can see any problems straight away:

  going over the speed limit? 
  oil pressure too low?
  how many miles have I done this trip? 
  are my servers up? 
  do I have a ton of outstanding support requests?  
  have visitors to my site this week jumped suddenly?
I'm all for analysis and agree it's an essential function of almost any business but there are lots of products that can help you with that (see http://metricly.com for an excellent example), but that's not what Geckoboard is for.

Shameless self-advertising:

You may want to have a look at www.getmetricmail.com (recently also here on HN). We are still in beta but we might offer what you're looking for. If not now, then in the future.

Very nice UI. One big improvement could be a small graphic with instruction when you get to the blank dashboard. At the moment it's looking a bit empty at first impression (and that matters!)

Maybe provide a desktop version which is just a shell for the online site? That is, using AIR or Prism or other?

Good luck, it looks like a great product.

Agreed - user communication and flow management is lacking at the moment.

Hadn't considered a desktop version until now. What benefits does it bring over and above the web app do you think?

Webpage tabs get closed, open, closed.. if this is actually updating all by itself throughout the day, I could see value as running it like a desktop app.

The cost is minimal (to make a prism version for example) and it takes 0 maintenance, and some users which are not uber-geek enough to make their own desktop version might see it as a big plus. "And it run on desktop too? Cool".

Also I could see it running a "public version" on a television hooked on the wall for everyone to see the web app live. Just a thought.

You seem to have all your features coming along, I just wanted to bring my 5c :)

Have some fun.

Thanks for clarifying this. I'll certainly give it some consideration.

I wouldn't bother with a desktop version, most users already have enough things running. Doing a Dashboard widget would be easy through, so would a notifier plugin for the common browsers

It can run in full screen live updating on displays for example.

It's beautiful. Great job!

It definitely needs those additional API's. And could you offer a simple full list of all the widgets upon signup, where you could checkbox the ones you want, instead of hunting one-by-one in a dialog? It would make it easier to get started.

But I would definitely use such a service. That'll do pig!

Yes, we could certainly use something to make things easier to configure your initial dashboard. Thanks for the feedback.

I had the exact same idea. When I saw panic's dashboard, I thought "Man, If I could make a script to do that for everyone, that would be awesome"

Granted I wanted to release mine as open source. Congrats man, It looks awesome :)

See if you cant find a way to get server uptime in there. Maybe with a script we throw on our server.

Thanks for the compliments. I loved the Panic status board, just fantastic.

If you have a Pingdom account you can display your server uptime from there right now. Otherwise, we will be implementing a "reverse API" for custom data and external services to push data to your dashboard at some point in the future.

Oh, this is fantastic. I can definitely see myself using this, thanks!

One quick note: On the Beta sign up form there's a misspelling: "Acount" instead of "Account."

Thanks for the catch!

UI suggestion:

I'm in the "add widget" pop-up. Currently, I select a widget, then have to hit the green "select widget" button. I think that step could be eliminated? I actually went through the different service categories on the left, and for the ones that I wanted, I just clicked on the small gray box, and once I got the green dotted highlight, I thought that I had maybe added the widget.

Not a big deal. Just a thought.

Thanks for the suggestion and sorry the instructions aren't what they should be. We'll address both.

This is really slick & feels especially solid, especially given that it's an MVP.

I'd love to see Clicky integration.

Also, thoughts on pricing? Flat rate, per widget, other?

Thanks. We're working on fleshing out a pricing model but it won't be implemented until the product has matured a little and we've added a few more APIs. Nothing is cast in stone but I like the idea of a freemium model which included a couple of levels of paid accounts in addition to the basic free model.

I'd love to get the thoughts of people who would pay for it to hear what they need before I set out exactly how it would work so I will be consulting in the coming few weeks.

Also, Buffalo didn't happen to design it, did they?

That's 2nd vote for Clicky.

Yes, Jason from Buffalo designed it (I've credited him elsewhere in this thread). He totally got it and did an amazing job IMO.

5 second review:

I visited the site, read the headline (good job there), and then clicked the thumbnails to see larger images of the status board. It is very confusing that some of the images are snapshots of panels with an X in the upper right hand corner, but you have to click off the picture for it to close. Maybe make it so any click closes the picture?

Yes, that's annoying. I glossed over this in testing but I'll make sure it's seen to.

I'd feel a lot more comfortable if I knew what you were doing with my Pingdom password (e.g. securely storing it), and if you used an input type="password" when entering it.

Also, I'd would be cool if I could choose to show only stats from Gmail with a certain label. That way I could show stats about unanswered ticket/support emails.

I totally understand and appreciate your concerns and I hope to re-assure you that your authentication details are being stored encrypted as per industry standards.

User privacy and security is of utmost importance to us, without trust we're dead in the water. Where there are options to use OAuth we only use OAuth, and for each API we aim to use the strongest possible storage solution.

We don't allow you to change connection details for an account meaning that if someone gained access to your dashboard they would not be able to see your connection details.

We can certainly change the input box to a password type to reduce the risk from over-lookers. We'll put it in the next drop.

Please let me know if you would like to discuss any of this in more detail.

Any reason why I can't sign up with my real name (which contains non-ascii characters)?

Come on! It's XXI century.

No reason other than an unacceptable bug. I'll make sure we fix this and please accept my apologies.

I really like this idea and the look and feel/usability of the app. I like it so much that it would be homepage if it had the metrics I needed, but it doesn't have them right now.

Here are the stats I want to see: 1) MailChimp - it only has campaigns. Right now I am more interested in seeing the number of people on a certain list 2) FeedBurner for my blog's RSS feed 3) Karma for various sites where I am active (like http://duckduckgo.com/karma.html) 4) For twitter, I want to see number of tweets, replies, etc, not rotating tweets 5) Bit.ly (not sure if the API lets you do that though) 6) UserVoice

Care to list which APIs you integrate with? Just to decide if I want to check it or not

Sure, this ias the list as it stands today. More APIs are being developed as I speak.

  Basecamp	Project Management
  ChartBeat	Web Analytics
  Get Satisfaction	Customer Service
  Google Analytics	Web Analytics
  Highrise	CRM
  MailChimp	Email Marketing
  Pingdom	Server Monitoring
  Prefinery	Beta Management
  Text	Custom Alerts and Messages
  Twitter	Social Media
  Zendesk	Customer Service
Edited for formatting. Edit 2. Removed Calendar from the list, it's not quite ready yet.

Any chance for adding own data through REST api?

I'd be nice to see output of my custom monitoring daemon sent as JSON to your service and displayed in the Dashboard.

This is a big thing for us and something that will definitely be included. We're working on a design for that at the moment and I hope it won't be too long before we can include it.

I would use this as well!

Awesome stuff.

Anyway you can add Salesforce into this? My team would LOVE you for it. :)

We can certainly consider it and I'm sure you're not the only person who would find it useful - what sort of data would you like to display on the dashboard?

The problem with many API requests is that, unless you're a real user, it's hard to figure out what the important metrics are.

How about XPlanner or some other custom task-list integration?

This is beautiful. I've just played with it for a few minutes. Only comment so far is have defaults wherever you can, instead of asking the user to fill in a value. For example, "label" for the email widget can be "email" as default instead of blank, so that it doesn't fail when i just want to add it quickly. I can always edit to relabel it. In a similar way, you could probably reduce the number of clicks it takes to add a widget.

Fantastic idea and pretty good execution so far. All the best!

This would be absolutely huge if you integrated with other affiliate networks(especially Linktrust and DirectTrack API). I know a lot of affiliates who would pay good money to have all of their stats in one place. Your major competitor would be statsjunky.com, which is an expensive desktop based crap tool.

Do you install this in the local network and tie into the Apps people use, or do you run this as a cloud service?

It's a cloud service at the moment. I have no philosophical objection to it being self-hosted and it could be something we look to in the future but no plans yet.

We're working on a design for a reverse API to allow users to plug in their custom data.

This looks fantastic, congratulations!

You might want to remove this weirdness at the bottom of the front page: "Start GOOGLE ANALYTICS<--> End GOOGLE ANALYTICS<--> Start CHARTBEAT<--> End CHARTBEAT<--> Start ZENDESK<--> SupportEnd ZENDESK<-->"

Thank you. I figured if it was something that you were going to look at throughout the day or even put it on a large screen in the office (as one of out testers is doing) then it has to look decent.

It was actually designed by Jason Reynolds at a company called Buffalo based in Brighton, UK (http://builtbybuffalo.com/). I've used them before and was really happy with the result.

Thanks for spotting the "Start End" weirdness, will fix it.

Fantastic app! UI is particularly well done, great job.

Small number of currently present APIs definitely is a let down, but I suppose that will change soon?

I would love to have ability to create multiple "pages", for monitoring different projects - so that their widgets don't overlap.

Yes - we're ramping up the number of APIs, this was just the bare minimum required to get it out there and hear what people needed.

And thanks for the multiple pages suggestion. Certainly something we'll look into!

I am not sure if it is possible (as my programming experience is very limited) but an API for this so, rather than continually having to provide support for other services, you outsource the development to the community!

I wanted to work on something similar so I'm very curious about the pricing of this app. If it's not what I expect I might consider trying to work on it with a different approach so it wouldn't be just a copy. :)

Pricing is still to be finalised. It will come from a conversation with our users. I want it to be reasonable and affordable.

Wonderful! This is EXACTLY what I requested in a HN post here just a month ago: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1441770

Glad to hear it. Although I have no idea how I missed your original post, sometimes I feel like I spend all of my time on this board!

as a little request, it would be awesome if you could connect to salesforce.com in some way, so we could have a widget with sales numbers

Yep - I would anticipate this sort of "leaderboard" to be a big use case.

Some weird behavior when I open a new browser and try to go to <my_account_name>.geckoboard.com. It would be nice if that went to a login page and then took me to my account.

Spot on. We want you to be able to log in from here as you expected. This functionality is included in the current sprint.

That is awesome, both because it looks great and also because I was going to build something similar and now I don't have to!

If you could add Clicky and Recurly support I would be your best friend.

Thanks! I'll add Clicky & Recurly to our feature request forum. We don't have any finance APIs integrated yet, this is certainly something we're looking to address.

Great Work, we created our own custom Status Board a few weeks ago but this definitely rocks. Will be using this in the near future on other projects for sure! Great work.

Well done on launching! find the bootstrap/outsource combo very interesting - surely this is somewhat of a oxymoron What's your background if you don't mind me asking?

No problem, I'm more than happy to share :)

It is sort of an oxymoron but it I've managed to get it working for me. My day job is as an ETL developer specialising in building data warehouses (usually Oracle) for the purposes of MI. I run my own company and contract for large multinationals mainly in the financial sector in the City of London and usually on 6 month contracts. I don't get a lot out of the job except the cash so I've always developed other things on the side

I started building apps that scratch my own itches about 6 years ago. Sometimes I'd develop myself and sometimes using external help sometime a combination of both. I don't spend a lot on luxuries and so the income I make in my day job has allowed me to roll the dice with a few larger ideas in the past but nothing really took off.

As soon as the light went on about this idea I wanted to do it right and put aside a certain amount of money to get it where it is today - I know enough to make me dangerous but wanted a proper job done so outside help was essential and I had built up a certain amount of cash since my last project. I don't have limitless resources but by my calculations I have enough to continue the push until it starts making money with some contingency, development continues full speed.

Let me know if you would like to know any more.

What was your motivation for getting it done right from the start, rather than bootstrapping it yourself first for proof of concept/profitability? time constraints?

Obviously you have made some assumptions as to how long profitability will take - something I presume only comes with experience.

Not to over step my mark, but what magnitude of savings is needed to fund this sort of development? I ask this as I have recently started work on my own project, and am curious if my savings are even ballpark to consider outsourcing it.

Anyone have a metricly.com invite code that was mentioned in some of the posts below? Would like to compare to the dashboards mentioned here.

Wow, great work on the MVP. I'd like to see PivotalTracker and Chargify added to the widgets down the line. Overall amazing job.

Thanks! I'll add both of those to the feature requests forum. We're actually using PT for Geckoboard development so it would be useful for me too!

What did you make the UI in? looks really nice.

I find the text really hard to read when configuring a widget.

Also, uservoice support :)

We actually went part down the road of Uservoice integration and it was going to make the first cut but due to a few issue we had it's been put on hold. We'll get it in soon though, I promise.

Wanted to complement you on the design as well, looks really nice! Just one issue, the background is flickering on my Laptop's screen (Lenovo T510i). No of to explore your solution some more.

Thanks, although full credit for the design has to go to the designer Jason from http://builtbybuffalo.com/

We'll look into the flickering, could be to do with the repeating background image.

Just wanted to let you know that I'm getting a flickering on my laptop as well, a MacBook Pro, using Firefox 3.6.6.

It's flickering on my laptop as well (Fujitsu SH760). Perhaps it's because the dots in the background are so closely spaced?

Do you mind sharing who you outsourced development to and how you went about finding a developer?

Your los angeles time conversion in your clock widget is incorrect, it is one hour behind.

Fantastic idea and UI

We're working on daylight savings support right now, should be there soon.


No problem was just trying to help. I really like it and I hope you add on more key google analytics indicators like conversion rate, number of sales, etc.

Cool - thanks for the feedback! Feel free to drop me a mail (email in profile) or add something to out feature request forum at http://geckoboard.zendesk.com/forums/176685-feature-requests if there's something you would like to see.

When you working in the clocks, you should also make it possible to add a caption to each one.

Yes - someone mentioned this in our feature request forum. I can see how it would be quite useful, should by fairly easy to add too.

Great work!

I would probably start using when Aweber, ActiveCollab, Feedburner and HyperTracker are supported.

Bug note: The "What is this?" button doesn't work

Mac OS X: 10.6.4 Chrome: 5.0.375.99

No errors in Javascript console, sorry

Did you decide to limit signups by making the buttons invisible in Internet Explorer?

Really nice. Needs plugins, so my specific business needs can also be aded.

Looking forward to hearing what you need so that it works for your business. We have a fairly lively feature request room over at our help and support forum (http://geckoboard.zendesk.com/forums/176685-feature-requests) or feel free to shoot me a mail (see profile).

This is way too pretty to be a minimum viable product - great work!

Reminds me a bit of metricly.com.

Any plans to include Google AdSense stats?

Amazing app. Need more plugins/custom APIs.

looks cool so far. one little bug: mail adresses with a + are dedected as invalid, they are not.

Thanks, I'll make sure this is addressed.

I'd like to see GitHub integration.

Me too, we're hoping to get this in soon

rss support like the twitter-ticker would be nice as a basic need for a system like this...

looks great. What was the inspiration?

Discussions here about status boards and, of course, Panic's internal status board.

I know this isn't going to concern you TOO much, but I thought I'll add my comment anyway.

I'm on a Fedora X86_64 box running Firefox 3.0.11 (with no flash, but I don't think your site needs it anyway), and whenever I click the "Add a Widget" button, I get an error.

I provided the browser/OS details to help narrow the problem.

The screenshots make it look like it'll be a great app. Congrats on getting it out there.

I'm pretty concerned about this and would love to dig into it a bit more. Could you mail me paul at geckoboard.com with the error message and/or any other details and I'll look into it straight away? You're right - you don't need Flash.

Email sent.

Cryptic Subject: Error details.

(So check your spam)

This is awesome! I will definitely be using this.

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