From the beginning Joel made a simple assertion: Hire great people, give them a great environment, then sit back and watch them kick ass. He said this before all of this became conventional industry wisdom (and probably played a major role ushering it in). With products like CityDesk, FogBugz, and Copilot failing or seemingly meandering, it didn't really seem like much would come of it. But they kept at it and look at them now. I guess good software does take ten years (give or take) .
Of course it didn't hurt that Joel is one of the best bloggers who ever done it, and I'm sure at least Stack Overflow benefited tremendously from being seeded with Joel's captive audience, but they have still executed the hell out of it and continue to do so, and obviously continue to spawn awesome stuff on the side.
Joel if you're listening please come back to blogging. You're a great writer and I think you've got such an utterly different perspective on things now after having done SE and Trello that it would be a massive waste for you not to share it back with the world again.
However, I feel like we might be self selecting here for people who give a damn about their craft on this thread ;)
I've read it and I'd say that Steve Yeggie is making generalizations about static type systems using greatest common divisor of them all: Java.
He attributes the need for patterns to OCaml type system, where they aren't needed, for example. Or assumes that you need all interfaces up front.
Both those assumptions are not true!
I think SY is good at jealous humor like his post about "academy found an software engineer who cares about Haskell". That's his natural domain. I believe everything he writes is homorous and jealous, that way I don't have to think he is just plain stupid.
Don't forget Philip Greenspun!
I can’t imagine the youngsters of today never wondering who stands behind SO—and that brings you to JoS and CH too.
I’ve seen a different opinion though: people claiming Joel and Jeff spoiled a generation of developers by presenting subjective opinions as self-evident truths in the form of feel-good light reading. I don’t subscribe to this viewpoint but it’s worth mentioning.
I remember skipping my classes in my first year at college to read Joel's blog!
If you ever get lost trying to go to their office, tell a cabby to take you to the New York Stock Exchange, which they're adjacent to. They do not pay the rent with Broadway shows.
More like Stack Exchange!
Personally, Joel has been a big inspiration for me. He pretty much shaped how I view software development by writing those all time classic articles.
Trello is a good example of a much more (word-of-mouth) marketable name.
Naming is also really hard. We spent TONS of time picking out the name Trello and just narrowly avoided naming it something really stupid by serendipity. (The code name was Trellis, but all the domains were taken and we insisted on having a dotcom url).
I guess you must have heard this but "trelo" means "crazy" in greek; at least the stress is on "lo". Not exactly stupid but kinda close :)
He namechecks this great older post on PR and conferences and how to launch:
Worth a re-look for every startup founder
The shortest possible version is: launch is important
To me, that's the hallmark of a good tool: when it can be used in an industry it really wasn't designed for (publishing workflow) as if it was built for that purpose.
Props to Joel and to Trello!
The type of work I do would change before the need for controlled local hosting will--in other words it might be that mine line of work will become obsolete or transform so dramatically that the requirement of controlled local hosting is moot. That would be nice, but I'm not holding my breath.
We use FogBugz, hosted in house (can't have our data out in the open for several reasons) and with some custom plugins to integrate with other in house systems like serial number lookup. I recently learnt that they most likely kind of cancelled that codebase too, but did not tell anybody. They just stopped to provide updates and also removed the excellent and powerful ability for plugins with the "performance update" enabled (instead they but popular plugins directly in their code):
The only info I can find on the future of FogBugz is here:
A VM is not really a solution for me for several reasons, especially if plugins are gone and our own will not work. I can only speculate, but it really looks that way. (They send newsletters to customers and announced the "performance update", but never talked about how and when this would come to "FogBugz for your Server")
I wish they were able keep the version for your server with plugins and without VM around.
On the other hand, it may not be affordable depending on the size of your shop, but that's a different matter.
We also have no plans to make an in-house solution. While the tide has not 100% turned, in most places at big companies like Amazon and Microsoft, they can already use SaaS solutions (you sign a big contract, but even if your app is on AWS, msft employees can use it). For the companies that cannot, the added complexity to development and support is likely not worth it (for us).
1) it must be sufficiently expensive. free is bad
2) i must convince everyone on my department that this is "the new way" that we operate (i.e. everyone has to use trello just like I would)
3) i must show through some pseudo science how it improves efficiency to several layers of management
Unless something is super compelling, it's not worth the effort. And if it is super compelling, it probably won't be approved anyway.
I guess I'm pretty jaded about the whole thing. If there is a neat tool, or some productivity enhancement/stress reducer, I usually just find a way to use it myself under the radar and don't share it with anyone (which offends me greatly as it's a terrible waste).
I'd actually have to go through that process for emacs 24, though in that case it's getting past the IT gatekeepers and proving to them that emacs 24 won't bring down the cluster. So I find a way to compile and run it and just don't talk about it a lot.
But anything web appish is out of the question. I settle for org-mode in emacs, but it'd be nice to collaborate. Sadly with our process of onboarding something, there's no room for experimentation or feeling something out or developing a workflow that would be worth demonstrating.
I used to work at a client site where they wanted us to list all of the tools we used (as software developers) because they didn't want us to use these "computers" that we were using, in their offices on their network, and instead they wanted us to all code using citrix dumb terminals.
I no longer work at that client site, or for the company that sent me there.
Joel/Fog Creek are one of the few entities in the startup ecosystem that I read about and think to myself, I want to be a CEO like Joel and build a company like Fog Creek.
A lot of startups claim they want to "change the world." And I think Joel can actually claim to have done that thanks to his influential blog and the humane company culture he's setup at Fog Creek. And this is without even counting stack exchange.
"That architecture is all the stuff I spent ten years ranting on this blog about, but y’all don’t listen, so I’m just going to have to build company after company that runs my own wacky operating system, and eventually you’ll catch on. It’s OK to put people first. You don’t have to be a psychopath or work people to death or create heaps of messy code or work in noisy open offices."
What is their revenue? There's 4.5 million 'members' though less than 25% have used it in the last 28 days, from what the chart shows http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2014/07/24.html
Is it just that very few of these people are paying currently? I do see they are adding a business class tier now.
Joel wants Trello to grow a lot faster than Fog Creek could bootstrap it. In my personal opinion, a big reason why Copilot and Kiln never quite made it was that we didn't have the developer resources to dominate the market when we were in a good position to do so. Because we insisted on bootstrapping, we necessarily had very small teams, meaning that competitors, who were willing to go into debt to have larger teams, were able to come from behind and surpass us in both marketing and features. In other words, while both products are successful and profitable, they likely could've been a lot more successful and profitable if Fog Creek had thrown a lot more resources onto them back at the beginning.
What you're seeing with Trello is an attempt to avoid that happening again. Trello is currently in a strong leadership position; taking VC now to secure that will pay for itself later. While Trello could likely be profitable very quickly if Fog Creek wanted it to be, doing so would require a very small team bootstrapping itself again, meaning that Fog Creek could repeat the same mistake a third time. And that's why you're seeing this.
Joel and I are naturally conservative in nature and having succeeded at Fog Creek with what we set out to do (building a successful company where devs wanted to work) allowed us to swing for the fences with Trello and Stack Exchange. The risk is much higher. The reward is bigger, but we own a lot less of those VC funded companies.
Trello is one of those apps that you can dismiss too fast because you think it doesn't do enough, but which to come back to because everything else is too complex. I've been using it extensively, and it has almost gone viral around me. As in, every time someone needs to manage a project, I hear "Hey, what was this simple project management software you told me you're using for everything you do?", and there comes a new Trello user.
I even remember using it for managing my own time when I was working for a large Japanese company that was using excel spreadsheets to manage projects, so I could have a clear interface and use a quick and dirty piece of JS I wrote to generate the sacrosanct Daily Reports I was asked to provide.
Trello is the always going to be a horizontal app. And sometimes people will need to move to something else to solve their problems. If you are using Trello as an ATS and you start getting 50 applications a day, you are going to go nuts. You need to switch to Jobvite or Greenhopper. If you have a team of 100 devs trying to track your bugs, you want to use FogBugz or Jira or Pivotal.
Joel used a metaphor that I like: The verticals are like stones on a beach and Trello is the sand that fills in all the space between.
In the future I think you'll see the Trello product evolving to support those other verticals and adding value (i.e. quick overview) in the way Trello does best.
I tried it out and didn't get hooked. Then I went to use a bunch other other similar pieces of software, and eventually came back to kick the tires again. I was pretty much 100% hooked at that point. I've been using it for almost everything for two months now. We use it on my team, and I use it for almost all my personal stuff.
I think I've gotten about fifteen or twenty people I know to use it. They really dig it as well. I feel like it's one of those pieces of software that really "gets out of your way" so to speak
I'm sat here trying to think up some grand scheme that's going to make me my millions. Its a great lesson that really all I need is a simple idea. The key is in the execution. Take that simple idea and develop (and market) it to perfection.
Instead of saying "I need a simple idea"...I think you should phrase it as "what is a simple pain point that I can solve"
Trello is about putting lists of cards on boards. That's it.
You can use it to do all kinds of things, but it's a medium rather than a framework. When I've tried other to-do list apps, or project management tools, etc. they all end up becoming too restrictive. They try to teach you to do the right thing in the right way, not realizing that it is different for different people.
Joel himself once talked about Excel, and how for most people, Excel isn't about spreadsheets, or formulas, or calculations - it's about laying things out in a grid. That's it. People just want to be able to write things in columns and rows, and colour them. And that simple behaviour is incredibly powerful.
100% this, for me.
That's how I'm able to get people to use it. They ask a lot of questions about what means what and assume it's more complicated than it is. As soon as they realize that the top level metaphor is seriously just a board with cards, they're like "Oh! that's really cool. I can use this" and they're off.
Some people use it for completely non-tech things, a couple I know use it to track their sales pipeline.
It's pretty amazing that there really wasn't something quite as simple made before it, it seems so obvious in retrospect. The implementation is spot on.
Now I want to write a Trello knockoff using homoiconic clojure.
It's really clean and straight-forward to use, but the simple components provide a lot of flexibility and power, while being easy to teach someone.
I use trello for just about everything, and I would have dropped it a long time ago if it took more than five minutes to show someone how to use the fundamental concepts. I can get them up and running in no time, and the users (even non technical users) tend to find all the interesting bits on their own as they go.
So it's a Lisp!
It can be used to implement more deep ideas such as Kanban, but these aren't forced on you.
I remember before Trello came out I needed an app that provided a list of lists (who doesn't). I designed it all out but never implemented it. I saw how much competition there was in the space. There are hundreds of tasks list and to-do apps out there.
So when Trello was announced I secretly scoffed at them thinking they were doomed from the start for choosing such an obvious and already implemented idea.
Still I signed up and started using it. It has been fascinating to see the app evolve and become a huge success. I only feel a little bit miffed that it was something I almost did myself since I know I would not have implemented it anywhere near as well.
tldr; imagine a stock split like Google did recently where the shareholders end up with 2 different stocks.
In our case, we didn't want to give up ownership in Fog Creek (which is profitable) and the investors were happier with a separate entity.
1) simple way to delete a card, list, or board (not this archive nonsense)
2) multiple lists in a column
I disagree with your second, but am genuinely interested as to why you might want this.
The idea is with Trello and other kanban systems is you move tasks from the left to the right. If your intent was to create another type of transition, you're breaking the underlying concept. If your intent is to break up a single list into multiple small lists for organisation, could you use something like colour coding instead?
edit: have just read further down that they don't intend for it to be a strict Kanban system, so perhaps there's room for multiple lists in a column. I'm still interested in your specific problem though!
Is it really different enough that it crosses the threshold of being worth using?
I find that hard to imagine. How much time do you spend looking at archived boards? What would you do with two lists in a column that you can't do today with one list that has some "subtitle" cards?
I'm asking because I'm genuinely curious to know use cases like that, not rhetorically.
My own problem with Trello (that I use a lot despite that problem) is that I feel the need for more than one view of my data, i.e. sorting it in more than one dimension. Perhaps having the ability to have two boards with the same cards. Unfortunately, I cannot imagine any good UI for this.
It's s minor gripe though, Trello is pretty great.
Good luck to them!
I distinctly remember them keeping Trello running through a disaster and keeping all of it's users informed. Great job, guys!
Trello has a good balance of blending to your workflow and having your workflow blend to it.
I was even able to find a clever way to use trello to manage all of my personal reading:
I couldn't find the information anywhere.
What happens to the Fog Creek employees? Do they have a stake in the new companies?
This is not what actually happened. As far as I remember, Stack Overflow had nothing to do with Fog Creek per se, except for Joel begin a founder of both. Stack Exchange Inc. grew from Stack Overflow Internet Services LLC which Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky were founders of. Fog Creek did not make Stack Overflow.
What do you all use Trello for? I've tried a number of different task management systems, including Trello, but I haven't yet found a use case for Trello feels 100% perfect. Curious to hear how others are using it!
I like trello a lot. I'm practically obsessed with it.
It works really well for my small teams and my personal life.
A couple people have said it doesn't scale well to larger teams (with necessary ymmv disclaimers).
I wonder if that's because of how inherently formless and simple it is (which I think is its strength). It's a very general metaphor that narrows to lots of specific use cases easily. It'd be interesting if there were more optional constraints you could add to boards/cards/etc to formalize a specific workflow. I'm just shooting from the hip here, not sure what that would look like.
One thing I would like to know is what the hell is Yammer? Microsoft bought them out for 1.2 billion and I've never heard of it.
I'm in a completely remote company of ~65 people, and it's purpose is likely to replace some of the water cooler talk and serendipitous culture that you miss out on in virtual work spaces. I don't think it does this, but I'm also a pretty light user.
Tracking issues in github (and we use FogBugz as well) has the benefit of being where the "rubber meets the road", so it's effortless and transparent to keep up to date. Merging non-code tasks (e.g. design work) with code is still something we struggle to track and keep tabs on.
To be clear: while I can describe the problem, I honestly don't have any ideas what the most elegant or clean solution is. I have never found a satisfactory solution. I end up keeping lots of stuff in my head and writing summary emails.
I'm surprised no one has built a better way to do this. We tried syncing with Zapier first (a company I absolutely love), but if I recall correctly it was a one-way sync, and we needed it to go both ways.
No learning curve, exactly the right features.
And also there's something I like in Trello that Basecamp (I know comparing apples to oranges, but both can be used for similar purposes) doesn't support: closure. When something is no longer relevant, you archive it and it's gone, no more mental burden. Quite important when you have 100s of tickets.
I greatly prefer Tracker, but I would. I work at Pivotal Labs. Everything in Tracker is inspired by how we work and it makes perfect sense in our context.
I keep it simple: Todo, Doing, Paused, Done.
Colors indicate severity and I attach most task assets (documents, proposals, etc.) to the back of each card.
As tasks get done, they move through the pipeline. Some folks I know have an "inReview" list also before "done".
It's pretty simple that way. My only complaint is that when lists get too long it can be kind of a pain to manage them.
We're a pretty small team, I wouldn't be sure how well Trello scales to larger teams.
It has some nice features though. It's integrated with our slack chat, and it's very easy for users to pick up.
We use it for backlogs, sprints, operational tasks and many other things.
It's been excellent.
Good on ya man!
If you have _specific_ things you dislike about Trello, or advice for people to make it look more how you'd like, then _that_ would be something that people would be interested in (and vote up).