Way back in 2007 we launched the beta of Beanstalk. Back then, our industry was very different. I could probably name most of the SaaS products out there, Future of Web Apps was “The” conference for this kind of thing, and version control was something that people either didn’t do or managed on a clunky server. I still remember asking for feedback on the idea of Beanstalk, a hosted version control service, and almost everyone said something like: “Host my precious source code on someone else’s server? Why would I ever do that!?”
In a way, writing software for the Internet became more complex, not easier as we all expected.
It was a seemingly simple idea of making version control more accessible to a larger audience. And as a company, it was low risk. Fortunately, it took off pretty quickly and became a valuable tool for us and tens of thousands of customers around the world.
Beanstalk turns ten years old this year. As this milestone approached, it allowed us to reflect on where we are now, and where we want to go. One night we were catching up and asked ourselves, “If we were to build Beanstalk today, what would it look like?”
What we realized is that, given the opportunity, we would build something drastically different today to solve the pains of the development process. Once we realized this, we had two choices. We could either completely redesign Beanstalk or start from scratch.
The problems that we solved back in 2007 were quite different than the challenges now. Version control is an expected part of any development team’s process, thanks to products like Beanstalk, GitHub, Bitbucket and the many others that exist. It’s a different industry now, as well as a different product landscape. In a way, writing software for the Internet became more complex, not easier as we all expected.
Today Beanstalk has tens of thousands of happy customers. Redesigning the application with a completely new direction would disrupt the people who love and enjoy it daily. We decided the proper direction was to build something new, something completely different, and something focused on taking the increased complexity out of the development process.
So if we built Beanstalk from scratch today, what would it look like? The answer is Conveyor, a bold approach to getting control of your development process. It’s an opinionated yet thoughtful experience that lets you ship code faster, focusing less on remembering how your development process works and more on writing great software.
Conveyor is based on our ten years of running and supporting products for developers, listening to their pains, their confusion, and understanding what matters most to teams. It’s based on the realization that Git is just another tool, not a primary skill that people are yearning to master. With Conveyor, the process is not a bunch of pieces or features that you are left to jam together, but an experience focused on communication and writing great code. We’ve all been there, and if you look at the top questions on Stack Overflow or have been to a Git conference, the pain in the average development process is clear as day.
It’s a process you use, not one you manage.
Instead, Conveyor provides an implied workflow that happens naturally with the way you write software. It’s a part of your habits, removing the guesswork of what you should do next. It uses natural language instead of specific terminology that requires training or asking the “Git expert” on your team. It’s a process you use, not one you manage. And it’s built to avoid the snags that require low-level understanding or commands to recover.
Conveyor is also a service that keeps your team, your leads, and your product managers informed. Every team has the same types of questions when trying to build a product. What is currently in progress? Is someone stuck? I’d like to give our customers an update, what have we launched recently? Does someone have too much on their plate at the moment? These questions are not answered through features, flags, or actions but through your daily work interacting with your code. It gives insight to your team without the pressure or nagging to force or manage your process.
So what is Conveyor exactly? Is it a version control service? A code review tool? Yet another project management app? The short answer is that it is none of them and all of them. It’s a workflow service that considers the development process as a whole, making the experience obvious, enjoyable, and much more productive.
So when can you see it?
We’ve been under active development for well over a year now. In the last month, the product is coming to life, and we already have some initial teams testing. Over the next several weeks we will share more about Conveyor, the problems it solves, and specific details about how it will work with your team. We’re extremely excited to watch Wildbit’s next product come to life and for you to join us in the journey. It’s going to be something special.