Panic Inc.

Panic Blog

January 26th, 2016
hawaii
The complete Panic Family, circa 2015.

Welcome to the 19th year of Panic.

That’s one heaping teaspoon of life-time, but you know what? It doesn’t feel like it. I think it’s because things at Panic are always evolving — gradually evolving, but evolving still, like any good business. Things are always being learned. Ideas are always being tested. You’re treading water in some areas, but not in others. There’s enough change that each year has a certain “feeling”, a certain texture that can only be felt in retrospect. I would describe 2015’s texture as a little nutty, mostly smooth, yet significantly chewy.

I already went off the rails. Let me try again.

In 2015, we watched our processes and systems improve dramatically as our talented team took ownership of parts of our puzzle that suited them best. We got an all-in crash-course on the business and creative challenges of developing a cross-platform video game, something we’ve always wanted to attempt. We saw some experimental notions get put on hold, while others expanded. And we shipped a couple of great new apps and stretched our creativity. It was, all told, a great year.

Here’s a look back at 2015, and a look forward to 2016.

Releases

In 2015 we released two significant new apps:

Coda iOSCoda 2 for iOS

This was an incredible, top-to-bottom overhaul to Coda for iOS — which we now just call “Coda” (but for iOS). A significant amount of work went into adding new features and improving the user interface, making Coda a truly desktop-quality text editor that just so happens to fit on your iPad — and now, your iPhone. I’m incredibly proud of this product, and based on the product reviews, it’s clear that our customers appreciate it also.

Happily, Coda was chosen by Apple as an App Store Best of 2015 and landed in iMore’s Best of 2015.

Status BoardStatus Board 2 for iOS

We also updated Status Board dramatically with a brand new UI, new panel types, and a new revenue model — it’s free to download the app and try it, and you can unlock more panels if you like it. The cleaned up visuals and extra room for customization really improved the flexibility of this app.

Plus, there were some interesting side moments:

FirewatchGDC Firewatch Party

We put together a pretty amazing, highly-themed space to promote Firewatch during GDC and get buzz going for our game. People are still talking about it, so I think we did pretty good! Also it smelled nice.

Panic SignThe Panic Sign

We finally got a sign on our building — and made it interactive, rolling our own software to control DMX lighting via a web page. It’s a little something fun for Portland — and it feels amazing to watch a sign change before your very eyes. Until we finally do a blog post about this (lol), all you need to know is if you visit Portland, please come over and hit sign.panic.com on your mobile device.

Little thingsLittle Things

Our office lobby was finally redesigned. (The rest of the building hated it, it’s a funny story.) We spruced up our own space, adding a second conference room, freshening up some tired bits, replacing the new hand dryers in the bathroom, important stuff like that. Oh, Steve had another baby. We got a new accountant. And, of course, we released the revolutionary Apple Watch. Wait hang on that was Apple

Updates

Not only did we release great things, but I feel we demonstrated dramatic dedication to our apps — we released the most high-quality, bug-free updates in our history. To give you the scoop, I’ll hand this blog post over to Ashur, who is currently leading our QA/Release efforts and is largely responsible for keeping this machine rolling:

This might bake your noodle: we shipped 35 updates across all six Mac and iOS apps by the end of 2015.

 

2.5.2 2.0 2.1 2.0 4.4.10 1.2
2.5.3 2.0.1 2.1.1 2.0.1 1.3
2.5.4 2.0.2 2.1.2 2.0.2 1.3.1
2.5.5 2.1 2.1.3 2.0.3
2.5.6 2.1.1 2.0.4
2.5.7 2.1.2 2.0.5
2.5.8 2.0.6
2.5.9 2.0.7
2.5.10 2.0.8
2.5.11
2.5.12
2.5.13

This includes major 2.0 updates of both Status Board and Coda iOS, and a significant revamp of Prompt’s emulation internals. That’s three times as many as last year — and an average of one release every 1½ weeks. Mamma mía!

Here’s a little bit about our testing and release process.

Each of these releases required regression testing and verification that the changes we made didn’t inadvertently cause problems elsewhere. If we ship something embarrassing, I document the hell out of it and make sure we don’t do it again. As a result, every project repository now contains:

  • Detailed documentation of tests designed to confirm core functionality behaves as expected
  • A checklist to guide the tester which tests to perform for a given update.

Through these tests, we occasionally catch medium-to-large issues before they have a chance to escape into the wild. Hooray!

Bug verification and pre-release testing only capture part of QA’s involvement in the pipeline:

🔍 Exploratory testing
💡 Helping to determine which fixes and features should land in a given update
🔬 Verification and release testing

And everything that pertains to moving a candidate build from Development through Release falls under the QA umbrella at Panic:

📷 Updating screenshots
✒️ Gathering, preparing and filing release notes
💥 Pushing dSYMs to Hockey
📦 Archiving release builds, for future update testing and historical purposes
🎉 Submitting to iTunes Connect or preparing the website for direct downloads

Some of these tasks take just a few minutes, others take much longer. Regardless, I feel like we’ve really made great improvements to our process, and we have many more improvements planned for 2016.

Thanks, Ashur.

I’m continuously proud of the effort that goes into making sure our apps are the best they can be.

Challenges

Not everything can be smooth, of course. A couple things that we struggled with in 2015:

iOS Revenue. I brought this up last year and we still haven’t licked it. We had a change of heart — well, an experimental change of heart — and reduced the price of our iOS apps in 2015 to normalize them at $9.99 or less, thinking that was the upper limit and/or sweet spot for iOS app pricing. But it didn’t have a meaningful impact on sales.

More and more I’m beginning to think we simply made the wrong type of apps for iOS — we made professional tools that aren’t really “in demand” on that platform — and that price isn’t our problem, but interest is.

So, once again, we will investigate raising our iOS app prices in 2016, with two hopes: that the awesome customers that love and need these apps understand the incredible amount of work that goes into them and that these people are also willing to pay more for a quality professional app (whereas, say, the casual gamer would not).

Shelving a New App. One of our interesting app experiments — an app to share and discover music — was 95% done, had a beautiful interface and some interesting ideas, plus a complete server-side component… then got shelved. It wasn’t an easy decision. It was mostly worries about revenue — it doesn’t seem possible that you can charge money for a social app in 2016, since mass adoption is critical. And is advertising really a thing we want to do? This is maybe one of the only times I wished we were a startup — with a “release now, figure out how to make money later” culture — but we’re not. I feel terrible for all the excellent work that went into it for seemingly “nothing”. That said, I am still determined make something out of it. We’ll find a way. I said: we’ll find a way!!

Balancing. We always have a million ideas over here, but balancing “keep our current apps going” and “run and do something new” is an eternal challenge that we struggle with. Too many distractions and you lose focus. No explorations and you’ve got all your eggs in dangerously few baskets. We’d love to make another Mac app. We have to find a way to make this work.

Next

2016 is going to be an extremely interesting year for Panic. Coming up:

firewatch-alt
An actual screenshot of Firewatch running on a 21:9 ultra-widescreen monitor.

Firewatch. Holy smokes, it lands in two weeks: our first major video game, developed by Campo Santo (in co-operation with Panic), shipping on Mac, PC, and PlayStation 4. Can you believe that? And I’m really proud of it: it’s an incredible piece of work, in my humble opinion, a video game that unabashedly tells you a story with humor, heart, and beauty. The team at Campo did an amazing job building this game. We really hope it resonates with people. I’m nervous as all hell but it’s the excited kind of nervous.

It’s hard to overstate how much we’ve learned, and how Firewatch’s success (or failure!) could chart our future. Of course, our goal is to break even, flush with knowledge of a new industry. But if Firewatch does more than just break even, it opens up major questions for Panic: do we want to publish more games? It’s possible — it felt really rewarding ‘nurturing’ this game into existence. How do we do that and maintain focus on apps? What if we just lucked out with the greatest possible team for our first game and that will never happen again? And if we don’t recoup our investment, how does that impact our future? A lot of questions will be answered…

Prompt. A really great Prompt update is almost here, with a new tabs interface, split-screen support, iPad Pro layout, 3D touch, ECDSA host keys, and more. Hang tight, it shouldn’t be much longer!

Transmit. Later in the year should see a brand-new, major update to Transmit, that will increase speed, add Panic Sync, seriously expand protocol support, and more. A Transmit overhaul is long overdue and we are extremely excited to get this out to the world in 2016. (One open question: will we distribute it in the Mac App Store? Hmm…)

Coda Planning. We won’t ship a major new Coda in 2016. But that won’t stop us from having frequent meetings and discussions about the future of Coda. Coda needs to be torn down to the studs and radically re-thought and re-built for today’s web development landscape… while still retaining many of the core features that a large number of users love and rely on today to get their work done. While that’ll be difficult, we think we can crack it, and to be honest, it’s pretty fun and exciting to think about.

Experiments. Of course, we’ve still got some people working on crazy experiments and bold new ideas.

And who knows what else — there’s still tons of stuff we’d love to add to all of our apps!

2015-big
Some of us goofs during our annual XOXO party.

Thanks

As always, thank you for being a Panic customer, and a Panic fan. Thank you for allowing us to run this company making neat things that you hopefully like. And thanks for giving us the chance to do what we love every day. I hope that our journey can also kind-of feel like your journey, because you’ve been with us every step of the way.

And of course, I must give my deepest and most appreciative thanks to the hard-working men and women here at Panic who care about one thing: making great products. I am so fortunate to work with this group of people.

Now let’s get out there and make the best of 2016!

(PS. Another change: Patrick, one of our iOS/Mac engineers well versed in modern web development will be off on a year of globe-trotting travel. Jealous. If you know anyone who can fill those shoes, e-mail jobs@panic.com!)

Posted at 5:47 pm 51 Comments

From the desk of Cabel
Portland, Oregon 97205

Firewatch. February 9th, 2016.



Our beautiful, gripping first-person adventure game set in the Wyoming wilderness is almost here.

Firewatch is coming to Mac, Windows, Linux, and PlayStation 4… at the same time. February 9th 2016.

Here’s the official game website, and here’s Campo’s awesome dev blog.

Our friends at Campo Santo are still polishing, optimizing, writing, and developing the very last bits of the game, working hard to make it amazing, and we can’t wait to put it out there. We’ll keep you posted, of course, and remind you when it’s getting close.

I can’t wait.

This is something special.

Posted at 9:29 am 8 Comments

From the desk of Cabel
Portland, Oregon 97205

Panic + OS X El Capitan

OS X 10.11 El Capitan
Now that OS X El Capitan (10.11) has shipped, just a quick note on Panic Compatibility!

Coda 2.5Coda 2

With the release of Coda 2.5.12, Coda 2 works great with OS X El Capitan.

If you’re not yet running Coda 2.5.12, click here to auto-update.

(Check the Coda 2.5.12 release notes if you’re curious about the handful of El Cap bugs we found and fixed.)

Transmit 4.4Transmit 4

Transmit 4.4.8 already works great with OS X El Capitan – no update required.

But, Transmit Disk feature is not yet compatible now compatible with OS X El Capitan.

UPDATE 10/16 — We’ve now posted Transmit Disk 4.4.9, which should work with El Capitan. For now, you can download it on this Panic Library page and install it separately. We’ll integrate it into Transmit soon.

 

Panic Reference LibraryHave you seen the Panic Library?

Most of this update is basically copied from our Panic Library — which we work hard to keep up to date with helpful articles about our software. If you’re ever stumped, please check it out!

Posted at 12:03 pm 12 Comments

Status Board 2 is Here Also

icon-statusboard2@2x

There’s a funny thing I’ve noticed in the Panic office: our beautiful status board is second only to our weird-snack wall as the office conversation spot. We often gather in front of our status board to discuss funny tweets, or look at our sales charts and figure out what’s next. It’s a center point. And you should have one too — for your home, your office, your business, anywhere.

We built Status Board so that everyone can make an incredible status board.

And now, Status Board has hit version 2.0, free update to our powerful iPad app that makes beautiful status board creation as easy as dragging, dropping, and configuring.

We started with multiple board support: now you can set up an infinite number of status boards, and automatically rotate between them. It’s great. There’s also a brand-new UI, built from scratch. There’s some new panel types. There’s publish and subscribe, so you can create a beautiful board for your organization and automatically update everyone’s boards remotely.

There’s also an interesting pricing change: the app is FREE. Yes, you can try Status Board without paying a cent, including six panel types. If you like Status Board, and you want to do more, six more panel types are only $9.99 in our “expansion pack”.

If you bought Status Board 1, don’t worry: we’ll automatically unlock all twelve panels for you. It’s our thanks for your continued support.

You can read all about Status Board 2 here — or,  just go ahead and get it on the App Store.

Like Coda for iOS, it took us a little while to get this out the door, but we think it’s worth it. It’s packed with new stuff.

When you set up your cool status board, please tweet us a photo!

Posted at 1:30 pm 14 Comments

Coda 2 for iOS is Here

icon-coda-ios_2x

Diet Coda just got an update so big, we didn’t feel comfortable calling it “Diet” anymore. (Ho-ho.)

Introducing Coda for iOS (formerly Diet Coda) version 2.0, a massive, free update to our incredible, desktop-class text editor. It gives you an incredible amount of power tucked into your iPad or, now… also your iPhone.

iPhone support is not the only new thing. There’s a brand-new UI redone from scratch. Full Panic Sync support. More syntax modes. Better file management including our dual-pane file browser. The latest SSH engine from Prompt. Javascript Playgrounds. More nice touches around every corner.

And, once again, this is a free update for Diet Coda owners. (You may already have it.)

For everyone else, we just reduced the price: $9.99. To be honest, that feels nuts for the amount of work put into the app. But a bargain is a bargain! (You should grab it now before we change our minds.)

Read all about Coda for iOS here. (Or, if you want, just grab it on the App Store!)

Thank you for your patience while we worked on this enormous overhaul. We truly hope you enjoy it. Tell us what you make with it! And if you find any bugs or have ideas, send us an e-mail!

Posted at 12:34 pm 12 Comments

From the desk of Cabel
Portland, Oregon 97205

Firewatch. Mac, PC, and now, PlayStation 4.

firewatch-ps4

Have you heard of our upcoming game, Firewatch? (It’s a first-person mystery/drama/adventure set in the Wyoming wilderness. You’re Henry. You just got a job in a Firewatch tower. You make contact with another watcher who only exists on the other end of a handheld radio. And then… things happen.)

Being developed by a talented bunch of smarties at Campo Santo, we’re immensely excited to be publishing what’s shaping up to be something special.

We’ve already announced that Firewatch will be coming first to the Mac and PC. (And at WWDC we announced that the Mac version will support Metal for ultimate performance and fidelity! We’re really excited about this.)

But we just announced the other half of the equation…

Firewatch will also be coming to your PlayStation 4.

And there’s more:

Here’s the brand new trailer we just unveiled at Sony’s E3 Keynote:

And here are some fresh in-game screenshots of Firewatch:

newscreen2

newscreen3

newscreen4

newscreen5

newscreen6

newscreen7

We haven’t announced a release date yet — or the release date for the PlayStation 4 version — but keep an eye on our Twitter and we’ll let you know the moment we know.

We can’t wait to take you to this place!

UPDATE 6/16: Some further reading. Jake discusses how we put together the trailer for Sony’s crazy huge screen. And over on Sony’s PlayStation Blog, Chris talks about how we landed on PlayStation 4.

Posted at 6:40 pm 13 Comments

From the desk of
Cabel
Engineering Dept.

Violet Beep

I have a 1-year-old daughter named Violet.

For whatever reason, we began calling her Beep. Sometimes Beepy. Usually Beep. Rarely Violet. These things happen.

Yesterday, Ashur and Heather revealed to me a tiny little easter egg they snuck into our SSH app, Prompt 2.1

With the right set of steps, you can switch the normally-white visual beep to be… violet.

Heather coded it up and Ashur made this graphic to reveal the secret:

slack-imgs.com

Basically, I will know you are the deepest of Panic fan if you are rocking the purple flash. (Someday I’ll explain this to Violet. Probably her first question will be, “Wait, you called me what?”.)

There aren’t a lot of secrets in Panic apps, but I’ll never forget this one.

Posted at 12:49 pm 8 Comments

From the desk of Cabel
Portland, Oregon 97205

Firewatch Demo Day at GDC

You knew Panic was making a game, right?

Technically, we’re not actually making the game — we provided the funds to launch both a brand new game studio, Campo Santo, and an ambitious upcoming game… Firewatch.

Panic is, I guess, the “publisher”, although to me that conjures up imagery of a guy in a suit slamming a table and yelling “If you don’t add a goddamn assault rifle in the first five minutes of this snooze-fest we’re shutting this whole thing down!”. We are not that publisher. Campo Santo has become extended Panic family, and we feel as strongly about Firewatch as we do any of our apps.

“In Firewatch, you play as a man named Henry who has retreated from his messy life to work as a fire lookout in the Wyoming wilderness. Perched high atop a mountain, it’s your job to look for smoke and keep the wilderness safe. Your supervisor, a woman named Delilah, is available to you at all times over a small, handheld radio — and is your only contact with the world you’ve left behind.”

You can watch 17 minutes of gameplay here. The game already looks incredible:

firewatch_150305_06

firewatch_150305_05

firewatch-2

Now, while Campo builds the game, it’s Panic’s job to help sell it.

We talked a lot about how we wanted to do that. Should we get a booth at PAX? E3? What’ll get the word out best? Trade show booths are notoriously expensive — I’ll never forget getting yelled at once because I was carrying in a single box to our Macworld Booth one year, that was the Union’s job!, not to mention the $1,500 three-day internet — plus your game gets lost in a giant sea of bright lights and loud garbage.

So, we focused on GDC — the Game Developer’s Conference — a time when a lot of press and peers are in one place. Then, we thought it’d be more cost effective and possibly more powerful to do something “off-campus” — make a destination for attendees. And since not everyone can afford to attend GDC, we thought it’d be incredible to do a Public Demo Day, where anyone in town could play an early build of Firewatch for themselves, for free.

Sounds great. But how could we make this event feel amazing for our guests?

We needed to find the right space… and lights… and trees.

Because we brought Firewatch to life.

Firewatch (1 of 11)

Guests were greeted with some helpful signage. To the right, we built a full recreation of Henry’s tower and desk… down to the smallest Olly Moss-crafted detail.

Firewatch (2 of 11)

Firewatch (6 of 11)

Firewatch (5 of 11)

On the left, we set up these demo stations with the latest build of the game right in the middle of our own tiny forest.

Firewatch (11 of 13)

Firewatch (10 of 11)

Firewatch (12 of 3)

(That’s Rich Sommer, the voice of Henry in our game — you know him as Harry Crane from Mad Men. I asked if it was weird playing a game with his own voice but he said that kind of out-of-body experience doesn’t really affect him anymore.)

We even included some cool special effects, like this magic poster at the entry stairs:

magic-poster-128

(FYI, the secret to an eye-fooling projection is to project onto a textured surface — in our case, canvas — and layer a lighting effect on top that spills outside the primary surface — in this case, faux window light.)

The doors opened and we were slammed. Nearly a thousand people showed up to our (quickly-very-toasty) venue and played the game. We got a giant stack of feedback forms and learned a lot about what was, and what wasn’t, working. The experience was invaluable for us.

Firewatch (13 of 3)

Plus, the reactions to the demo have blown us away:

Rock Paper Shotgun: “It was agonising when the demo ended – I desperately wanted to play more. I wanted to know what happens next! Despite the fact that, looking back, what had happened so far was so relatively mundane. It was the strength of the characters, and the wonderful sense of place, that made me not want to have to leave.”

gameinformer:Firewatch is my favorite game from GDC. It immediately hooked me, and I never knew what I would find next. […]  I’m still thinking a lot about my time with Firewatch, and that says something.”

Spectre Collie: “If we get enough people pointing at a beautiful, engaging, and mature experience and saying, ‘This. We want to make more of this,’ then the entire medium will be better off.”

Firewatch has been teed up.

The goal is in our sights.

Now we just have to hit a home run.

I’m not good with sports analogies.

We hope to release Firewatch in late 2015 for Mac, PC, and an as-yet-undisclosed console.

(Production notes! The bulk of the planning, design, and hard work for this event was done by Greg here at Panic, who really did an incredible job. Beautiful photos courtesy Sebastiaan De With. The venue was The Box SF, which was already laden with warm wood and tower-ready windows. Lighting and sound was installed by Got Light. Props came from the incredible Prop House. Our ambient forest sound loops were crafted by Jared Emerson-Johnson. Boombox audio from the incredible Cheap Talk as discovered by Chris Remo. PCs were provided by Nvidia. Our stump tables and chairs came from Campo’s downstairs neighbor, a woodworker, and they were heavy as all hell as it turns out trees are heavy. When we unloaded the stumps to the Campo office, a random San-Fran-coolguy quickly roosted on one and we love him. Secret party weapon: ambient pine scent provided by a hidden Accuscent HD, which delighted me to no end. And everyone at Campo, of course, worked incredibly hard to guide players, talk to press, make everyone feel welcome! Thanks!)

 

Posted at 4:56 pm 31 Comments

From the desk of
Cabel
Engineering Dept.

EditorConfig for Coda 2.5

edcon_color_transbg2

EditorConfig is a clever idea: a simple text file you can put anywhere in your code source that automatically changes settings in your favorite text editor.

For example, let’s say someone decided one project had to use space indentation (for Python?) even though everybody usually uses tabs. With EditorConfig, you can easily declare this setting in an .editorconfig file in the root of the project…

  1. # top-most EditorConfig file
  2. root = true
  3.  
  4. # 4 space indentation
  5. [*]
  6. indent_style = space
  7. indent_size = 4

…or you could put this file in any folder in your project, and the editor will automatically pick it up. Then, you can easily check this file in to your source control system. Anyone who checks out your project — and uses a EditorConfig-capable editor — will automatically inherit the recommended editor settings.

We thought this was pretty cool, and so did our users, so we went ahead and built an EditorConfig plug-in for Coda 2.5. It currently supports everything except for the text encoding setting.


If that install link didn’t work, or you don’t want to install it right now, you can browse our plug-ins here.

When you’re ready, read up on the file format here. We hope you enjoy it!

Posted at 3:44 pm 11 Comments

From the desk of
Cabel
Engineering Dept.

ShrinkIt 1.3

ShrinkIt 1.2 icon

Quite some time ago, we made a quick, free, handy tool called ShrinkIt®.

(Yes, we actually have a registered trademark on ShrinkIt®. Why not!)

ShrinkIt takes bloated Adobe-saved graphic PDFs, runs them through Apple’s PDF renderer, and saves them back out, making many of them smaller without any quality loss.

Note, though: it’s not really for long complex PDF documents or bitmap images. It’s generally for simple PDF symbols and glyphs you might use in your apps, where saving space is critical.

We’ve just updated ShrinkIt to version 1.3, and wanted to let you know!

ShrinkIt Release Notes:

  • Processing is now threaded and significantly faster.
  • It’s now properly signed with our Developer ID
  • There’s a new icon
  • And it’s now Retina-ready
  • 1.3 — Fixed exception when dealing with Unicode file paths
  • 1.3 — Added cool progress bar and gratuitous animation

Two important ShrinkIt instructions:

  1. If a finished file is not smaller after being processed, it will not be saved.
  2. Your original files are renamed with the prefix “_org_” just in case.

We hope it serves you well.

UPDATE 2/11: We bumped it to 1.3.
UPDATE 2/13: Aaaaaand 1.3.2 fixes some problems with 10.7 and 10.8.

Posted at 3:53 pm 9 Comments