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Farewell from Waffle (waffle.io)
150 points by gre 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 76 comments





Oftentimes I see farewell posts like this, but the company website has already been mostly turned down. It would be helpful for folks like me who have never heard of Waffle to know what the service was. Having that tiny bit of context at the top of the article (or even just keeping the marketing site alive!) helps to put the shutdown in context.

And yes, I can search, but more often than not the first page of search results are news stories that the service is shutting down rather than resources that describes what it actually was.


In short: Trello, but with GitHub integration.

https://help.waffle.io/getting-started/what-is-waffle


But trello has github integration.

Notice they're closing?

Trello's integration is an afterthought and I never found it as useful or simple as Waffle's; they'll be missed.

They're not "closing"; CA Technologies bought them a while back and now CA is selling to Broadcom, who's killing the product.


It didn't always. Products like Waffle and ZenHub came about to meet market needs for better project management with Github. (Waffle launched in 2013)

Hence the shutdown

Exactly.


waffle.io was github projects, built on top of the github api, a few years before github projects. basically a github-based kanban board. It was pretty great if you were a smallish startup.

I worked at a small startup that used it, and I didn't see the point. It was clever in how it provided an alternative interface to GitHub Issues, but to someone who was already familiar with GitHub, it didn't really make anything easier than just using the normal interface. There are things I hate about GitHub Issues, but this didn't solve any of them.

Plus, an add-on service like that was just begging for GitHub to add the feature themselves, so the company always had an end-of-life looming.

One possible exit was GitHub buying them, but I'm sure GitHub would rather build the feature natively (as they did, right?) for technical reasons. Another is expanding to a standalone service, but GitHub and Trello already owned each side of that space.

It always looked like a technically interesting product but one that I wouldn't use myself and which had no future.


In case anyone is wondering about this particular case:

https://github.com/waffleio/waffle.io

https://waffle.io/waffleio/waffle.io


Or github repos, showing how to use it but not even a simple paragraph up front stating what it does, or why you'd want to use it.

To be fair not every Github repo cares whether you know what it is or not. Some people just wanted the repo hosting and the public/social aspect was merely a byproduct.

Could be an interesting project to collect & archive these case studies as they’re published...

Same, also from what I gather they've been acquired, so hardly a sad day.

To work on a different team though, with a similar but not identical product I assume.

Try the Wayback Machine.

Glad to see this as the first comment. Was curious what waffle was, so I spent five minutes googling around and going to cache:waffle.io

A very good point. I would like to see that as well.

When people ask me whether my self-funded (bootstrapped) business is viable, I point out that a self-funded long-term stable business is more viable than a VC-funded startup.

In discussions, I ask customers to imagine which of the possible outcomes of a VC-funded startup would be good for them as customers (hint: none of the possible outcomes are good for customers, with the possible exception of a rare unicorn IPO).

My problem is that VC-funded startups have money to burn, so they artificially lower subscription software pricing.


It's not just lower subscription software pricing.

It's also faster time to market, because they're able to field entire teams of engineers to deliver what your tiny team is working on much faster. And they can do a lot more content marketing and advertisement that you've no time or budget to get done.

And then when they run out of money they post a blog post on a Friday morning to announce that you need to get your data out of their system by the end of the day. (Edit: in this case 2 months.)

On an off topic note, your site's FAQ says:

> So is this a one-man operation?

> Yes, for the moment it is. Which is actually a good thing, if you're concerned about viability. This means that there are no investors, no burn rate to speak of, no need to shut the company down because the money ran out. It is a mature, long-term project.

FYI my own concern as a buyer would be what happens if you get hit by a bus. You really need to get some kind of partner, or an employee the moment you can afford one.


If I get hit by a bus, there is a list of people/companies that can take over the business and continue to develop/maintain it. And since it is a viable business, it will make sense for someone to take over.

Please note that getting hit by a bus should be considered in terms of probabilities: while possible, compare it to the near-certainty of "something" happening to a VC-funded business within 3 years, where none of the "somethings" are good for customers.


Consider adding that first paragraph to your FAQ. It will go a long way towards reassuring some of your prospects.

I’ve never liked the gruesome connotation of getting hit by a bus. I call the same risk the Lottery Risk. What happens when your most valuable employee wins the lottery today and doesn’t show up tomorrow?

"And then when they run out of money they post a blog post on a Friday morning to announce that you've need to get your data out of their system by the end of the day."

Are you referring to the date of May 16th given in the blog? That's two months, not one day. (Easy mistake on a fast read. No particular criticism intended.)


Yes, I did misread. Edited. Thanks!

Or they may very well decide to do something else and drop the project entirely on a moment's notice

I think you mis-read that they are closing on March 16th. It actually says May 16th, so users have two months to migrate....

Yes, I did misread. Edited. Thanks!

If someone is looking for an alternative, we use:

https://www.zenhub.com/

I specifically like that it gives us estimates and a Kanban board approach. I also like that they are thinking about the project management workflow as a whole and trying to educate:

- https://www.zenhub.com/book/github-project-management

- https://www.zenhub.com/github-project-management.pdf

It's not perfect, but it's been serving our needs better than Redmine used to and GitHub alone was doing.

No affiliation, just a mostly satisfied customer.


ZenHub Co-founder here. On behalf of the ZenHub team we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge all of the incredible work by the Waffle.io team (past and present) over the past four years. We have nothing but respect for the team and want to wish them all the best in their next adventures!

While Waffle and ZenHub are competing products in a way, we both share similar views on the importance of project management being developer-first. It's been a fun journey building in the space along side Waffle and we continue to remain excited about the future of project management in GitHub!

If anyone is interested, you can check out ZenHub here: https://www.zenhub.com/


Man, I don't know if I'm going to regret posting this tomorrow, but if folks at ZenHub are going to pop into this thread and promote themselves as a product developers are encouraged to switch to, as a blind developer, I wish they'd at least pay lip service to web accessibility best practices. As a blind screen-reader-using developer, I tried to use ZenHub as a contractor at my last gig and it was impossible. As in, I'm on my desktop doing a screenshare to my coworker across the country viewing my screen on his iPhone, and he's trying to tell me milimeter by milimeter how to move my mouse so I can dismiss one of your onboarding popups which I couldn't dismiss via keyboard on several OS's screen readers, only to be presented immediately thereafter by another. I couldn't use your broduct at all on my own until a sighted coworker helped me to dismiss your onboarding popups, then I found it hard and unintuitive how to navigate the interface as a screen reader user.

Not upset, just frustrated that I couldn't do my job, and I wish you'd done some basic accessibility testing on your interface. If that's a gap in your development staff, I'm currently looking for work. Just sayin'. :)

In any case, kudos for creating a quality product that folks I respect enjoy using. I hope that one day I can be among them.


Thanks for this feedback ndarilek, I appreciate you taking the time to call it out. Candidly, you're absolutely right—this is an area that we need to be more considerate of as we continue to scale and I apologize that it lead to a less than ideal first experience for you.

We've started down the path of completing an accessibility audit, and are hoping to use those findings to drive highest priority areas of improvement moving forward. While I'm not certain on timelines , I definitely think there could be an opportunity to engage moving forward and would be happy to keep you involved if you're interested.

If you'd like, you can reach me directly aaron@zenhub.com


Thanks, super happy to hear that! If I sound harsh, please understand that it's from the perspective of someone who starts out excited about how the latest and greatest startup will disrupt my life, only to realize that half of their app is unusable to me. When I raise any issues like this, the most I can usually hope for is "thanks for your comments, they made our day, unfortunately we have no intention of fixing these issues at this time." So when I encounter inaccessibility among developer-focused tools, and think about how unemployment among disabled folks hovers around 70%, it's hard not to be jaded, and frustrated about how making accessibility an afterthought makes employment a bigger challenge for some of us.

So I'm glad to hear that you're undergoing an audit, and I hope that I can someday count ZenHub among the developer tools I can use. FWIW, Slack isn't even in this group, which is shameful given they patted themselves on the back for such a keyboard-friendly interface when they killed off XMPP. No, I'm not bitter. :P


Will Zenhub ever go the route of Waffle?

I'm using Zenhub. The only missing feature to me, is linking issue within milestone description.

Is there a comparable kanban project manager that uses github issues?

I would migrate to github projects, but last I'd checked some key features were missing from github projects:

1. New issues are added to the backlog column by default.

2. Epics, or anything that allows one issue to have multiple sub-issues.

3. The ability to label one issue as blocking another by using keywords, eg: blocks #123 or requires #321.

Is there a simple way of solving these with probot or github actions?

[probot]: https://probot.github.io

[github actions]: https://github.com/features/actions


Zenhub is a great alternative, has all the features that you mentioned!

I think it is _extremely_ positive that they built an export function to GitHub projects, and wish more startups did a "clean" exit in terms of customer data.

Kudos.


Presumably when you hit the point of shutdown, most companies don't want to (or realistically, can't) spend the money on what is a new feature (and potentially a pretty significant one)

(though a simple export to CSV would be better than what most companies do)


Ditto. I used it, it looked good, but I never had any useful usecase for it other than pointing clueless managers or coworkers to it. But for them it was a great show, better and simplier than Jira. You will be missed and thanks for the converter. I never actually tried Github projects, will do soon.

Farewell and good luck on your new adventure, loved your product and used it to our great advantage a few years ago.

Totally agree. I've used your product in the past, and I was quite happy with it. I think you can take pride in a job well done.

Unmentioned in comments so far: Waffle had the ability to consolidate issues from several Github repos at once.

We used one view that made issues from four repos appear as one.

This is a feature I'll really miss.

What other product does this? Looking for something.


Hey stblack - we have that same feature in ZenHub. Feel free to check out https://www.zenhub.com/product

The “Rally product” mentioned here is atrocious. To discontinue Waffle and continue Rally is a tragedy.

I had the misfortune to use Rally for a few months about five years ago - I often laugh quietly to myself when I hear people complaining about Jira's UX.

I was sad and surprised until I realized it wasn't the waffles I care about.

I thought it was the WaffleJS in SF.

i got waffles from their food truck at githubconf.

what no RED account? ;-)

I really appreciated the candidness in this post - really feels like fresh air compared to how such posts are usually worded (https://ourincrediblejourney.tumblr.com/)!

I wondered if they were consciously avoiding "journey"!

Hey all,

Always sad to see good products shutting down. Also a bit frightening as I'm about to enter this same market, hehe.

I want to mention what we're building in case anyone looks for alternatives in this thread.

It's called GitSpeak and it's a project management tool which prioritizes developers first. Our goal is to create a PM tool that devs actually enjoy working with, and which saves them time rather than eat time.

Some of our features include multi-repo views, boards, a rich text editor and a neat screencasting option for code reviews, docs, and onboarding. Plus, we are going to be the fastest one out there (we're using Imba.io to build the tool btw).

Check it out here if you're interested:

https://gitspeak.com/


Are you trying to get users to sign up for the product that you say you are about to shutdown?

I don't think they're part of Waffle, but rather a new competitor.

No, they are entering the same market as Waffle; they are not shutting down.

Instructive when using SAAS. >>In the summer of 2014, we accidentally deleted everyone’s “In Progress” column from their board. And not just the ones in English either…. After 2 feverish hours of scripting, MongoDB ninjary, and Google Translating, the columns were back and we decided we should not attempt to ship anything else that day.

This is why I find it really difficult to adopt smaller products. They quite frequently get shut down.

The primary issue is the cost of switching, and Waffle was actually very good at this. It was basically just a front-end for GitHub Issues. I always knew that if at any point Waffle shut down, I'd be no worse off than before I started using them, and I'd still have all my data.

I'm actually much more concerned about GitHub itself. I still haven't found a good way to back up my Issues. They used to point to joeyh's Haskell program, which is neat but has many severe limitations (like: doesn't support private repos at all). Their current recommendation seems to be a third-party service called "BackHub", whose cheapest plan is more expensive than GitHub Pro.


Maybe issues should just be built into Git itself. Can't really imagine software development without them.

If you track issues in a text file, sqlite DB etc -- they already are in git. (But I've never seem anyone do this)

SQLite files can't easily be merged. Putting one database in another database doesn't allow you to take advantage of the best features of either one.

Text files are a good idea, and I've done that for many of my own projects. You just need to figure out a filename scheme, and a file format (JSON? YAML?). It's great to be able to atomically commit a fix to the source code, and also close the bug report.

I'm not sure how well it would scale. (Mozilla has 1.5M bug reports in their Bugzilla!) At the least, you'd need a local client that could index the text files into a format more suitable for sorting/searching. It would only need to download the diffs, though.


Oh oops, there already exist bug trackers for a few decades :)

Take your favorite bug tracker and put its offline storage into a git submodule?? I imagine they are all better than GitHub issues which are literally just a forum of threads


I agree, and it creates a real chicken-and-egg problem.

I've also been on the other side of things, working for such companies. I've always felt a bit of unease knowing that prospective customers may be taking on more risk than our salespeople were letting on.


I guess there's people willing to take that risk, or have short-term benefit of whatever your snowflake solution of a service is, that nobody else could provide for you-- e.g., use a service provided by small business for 2 years or have no solution whatsoever.

I don't know Waffle very well, but if it's just some project management thing, chances are there's a more mature app that does 90%+ of that.


It would be a lot easier to invest in a small company if there was a guarantee that the project would be made open source if the company doesn't make it. Unfortunately, that rarely happens, and then you're stuck. (Doesn't even have to be a small company - people have been worried Evernote for years.)

Why did Broadcom buy waffle?

They didn't, exactly. Computer Associates bought Waffle, and then Broadcom bought CA. Not all of CA's priorities are going to be Broadcom's priorities, so.

It's even more far removed than that. A team of interns at Rally Software created Waffle.io in 2013. Then CA acquired Rally in 2015. Then Broadcom acquired CA in 2018. Waffle.io was not a material reason for either acquisition.

Used waffle.io for many years in my university years, however the market is very competitive and I understand why they shut down.

what is the deal with these startup company names that have nothing to do with anything the company does? they are just random single words with a logo directly representing that random word in a “cute” way. why not name the company sensible? or is the mentality truly temporary?

Well, it does avoid them needing to rebrand if they decide to pivot...

In the case of Waffle, I always thought it was quite a clever name. Their product is a grid of issues. Waffles are a grid of little squares of deliciousness. Works for me.

This is not new. Silly/arbitrary names for companies and products have always existed. Amazon, Git, Apple, BlackBerry, Whirlpool, and Bad Boy are all examples of this.



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