As a Product Manager of an open-source software company with a large community of stakeholders (enterprise customers, agencies, and individual practitioners, you name it), I've found it remarkably difficult to balance all of the various communication channels that we have open. From the frenetic mining in the catacombs of Github and the unyielding cascade of Discord messages (not to mention, meticulous re-readings of user interview transcripts), I often found myself lost in a torrent of feature requests, bug reports, compliments (😊), and help requests. To say the least, it's all a lot to parse through daily, and there was a sense of urgency in creating an organized, centralized hub for communication with our users. How could we communicate with everyone in a more meaningful way? How can we ensure that we're talking to everyone in an organization, not just a select few? Will I ever, in my endless march forward, find inner-peace?
Striking a Balance
At Apostrophe, we're always trying to strike the balance between an intuitive interface that content-editors actually want to use and a developer experience that allows practitioners the freedom and flexibility to author code they're proud of. Fulfilling these needs are critical to our continued success, but it's no secret that these needs are driven by wildly different desires that sometimes act in direct conflict. It's a tricky balance, but it's exactly what makes our jobs here interesting.
Open-source software companies often lean heavily on tech's standard bearers of communication: Github, Discord, Slack et al. I have a lot of respect for these companies, and they're all part of our standard suite here at Apostrophe, but content-editors don't live in this world, and we wanted something that would make them feel invited to the conversation.
Today, we're excited to announce the release of our shiny new product roadmap, which we're managing with ProductBoard. ProductBoard provides a neutral playground for both content-editors and developers (as well as our own team) to submit feature requests and ideas in a centralized place. For me, its also really easy to update, bringing me one step closer to the inner-peace that has alluded me for nearly 32 years. For now, we're launching with a few broad categories to communicate our timelines.
"Under Consideration" captures all of the ideas that users have submitted, as well as some of our own. Roadmaps are tricky. We know that a lot of you depend on us for your own roadmap, we won't want to over-promise or give anyone the wrong impressions. This tab represents ideas that we haven't fully committed to, but remain candidates for upcoming sprints.
"Planned" captures all of the features that have been fully designed, scoped, vetted, and are on our calendars. If it's here, you can be confident it's coming. We're segmenting by quarter because we feel that it's best to at least maintain some level of flexibility to shift cascading priorities, but you can trust that if we promise something by Q1, it'll happen. For now, we're in the netherworld between two major versions of Apostrophe, so we're also sharing the continued work on Apostrophe 2.x, but most features are planned for Apostrophe 3, which currently just entered its second alpha.
"Launched" captures everything we've released recently. Those of you that have been following us for a while will notice that this is only seeking to capture the recent releases related to Apostrophe 3. It's useful to see what we've been up to over the last several months at a glance.
Our favorite feature of ProductBoard is the ability for anyone to submit a request. Now, this doesn't mean it will immediately show up on the board, but it does mean that I'll see it, bright and early, the very moment I wake. The most important ideas are ones that come from our users, so don't be surprised if you get an email follow up from us seeking to learn more. You can also vote on other ideas, if you'd like, which helps us assess the volume of need.
Now we're here, standing ready for an onslaught of remarkable ideas, laced with fervent praise. Seriously, though, we hope you find this new approach useful. We've had a lot of requests for a more interactive roadmap, and we all feel pretty great about using ProductBoard as a solution. Our DevRel team will still be combing Github for angst-ridden bugs, but its our hope that we can use this new roadmap as a vessel to capture bilateral visions of Apostrophe's future.