Hi there. We’re Panic. I’d like to try being more transparent. So here’s what going on, right now.
Let’s start with Unison. Earlier this year we released Unison 2, a dramatic update that totally modernized our Usenet newsreader. Since release, we’ve been actively fixing bugs and adding the occasional feature — here’s the full list — and now we’re up to to 2.1.2, just released. Even though Unison 2 work is complete, Dave continues to look at incoming crash logs and exceptions daily, fixing them in a continuous cycle. Now, will there be a Unison 3? It’s hard to say, for two reasons: with a few exceptions, we can’t think of many major features to add (without diving into minutiae — our design goal is to keep Unison general-purpose), and the future of Usenet itself always feels a little uncertain. We’ll play it by ear, but we believe Unison 2 is one of the best newsreaders on any platform — period — and we’ll continue to make it shine into the future.
After a huge development cycle, Transmit 4 has been a huge success, personally and publicly. If you’ve got files to transfer, we’ve got your truckback. We just released version 4.1.3, which fixes our most-encountered known issues — here’s the list of changes. Looking forward, Will is always checking out incoming bugs and crashers and we’ll keep fixing. We’ll also be integrating updates from Amit — the original creator of MacFUSE — who is steadily adding improvements to our massive new (and now 64-bit) Transmit Disk feature. Transmit 4 is exactly where we want it to be right now — smooth, easy-to-use, powerful file transfer. But hang on — that doesn’t mean we’re done, or don’t have long list of bigger ideas and improvements to make in the future. (We read you, Rackspace Cloud Files fans, and heavy-duty Places users.) It’s a matter of timing and we’re swamped — once we can take a breather from the next item in this list, we’ll keep working to make Transmit even better than it is now.
For the most part, though, it’s all hands on the next Coda. That’s what we’re living and breathing. Wade, Will and Ian are doing the heavy lifting, Steve’s also spending a lot of time in this world, and we’ve brought in The Coding Monkeys — Dom and Martin — to work directly with us on some lower-level engine changes. Last year’s plan for the future of Coda was to keep things simple, not touch the UI, and only focus on highly-requested editor features. Something about that didn’t feel quite right to us, though — it wasn’t a “true” Panic 2.0? — so after two fateful days locked in front of a whiteboard, we’re now looking at more substantial improvements and changes, while trying our best to stay balanced (keeping in mind the supreme court case of Baby v. Bathwater). We really see the next major Coda update as a massive, unmissable opportunity to fix and clarify a lot of Coda behavior that’s been nagging us from day one. We won’t do a half-hearted job — we want to rise to the challenge and make something special for you. This excitement comes, of course, with deflating expectation-setting: the next Coda is going to take some time still. But we’re working hard. And instead of guessing at a release date right now — guaranteeing disaster — how about I make the following promise: when we hit private beta, I’ll let you know via this blog within seconds. Then you’ll know things are close.
Finally, software-wise, Wade has a few bug fixes in the hopper on CandyBar, and has a few new ideas on how to improve its reliability, but it’ll take a little downtime for us to wrap up a release. Next year we hope to talk to our friends at The Iconfactory about where we go next!
What else is going on? We’re also got some very interesting iOS experiments. Dave and the recently-hired Garrett are doing some exciting proof-of-concept work on… things. It’s far too early to discuss. But rest assured that, not counting 2009’s Pantscast, we’re not ignoring this incredibly, critically important platform. You can quote me on that.
Finally, something interesting but similarly oblique: we’ve hired Greg (formerly of Apple, pinball documentaries and more) to tackle what we call “Special Projects“. What? Well, every now and then we’re approached with a job for an outside organization, where we make cool apps and creative things that we’ll likely never be able to tell you about. 99.9% of the time we say “no”, since I’m not super fond of agency-style work, but every now and then it’s fun, satisfying, and something we’re actually interested in, like right now. Greg’s doing code and art for this world, while in the future possibly becoming more of a “project manager” for all of our apps. (Welcome to Portland, Greg.)
While all of this is happening, something incredibly important but little-discussed is going on in the back of the room: the formative rumblings of a formal QA department. We recently hired James (formerly of Omni and bicycles) to work with our existing crack support team, also known as Les and Tim. They’re devising processes and methods to improve our regression testing, release checklists, bug triaging, and more. With any luck, this hard work will take a little pressure off the engineers, and improve the release quality of our software.
Speaking of Support, our queues are lower than they’ve been in months thanks to the ultra hard work of these very guys, also including Noby’s work in Japan and Mike’s handling of the non-technical stuff while establishing our ironic-or-earnest? sales department. If any of these guys have helped you lately, let them know. For me. My ultimate dream goal is getting Panic to a 24-hour turnaround time for all e-mail requests — can we pull it off before 2011? Stay tuned! Also, mysteriously, Neven and I continue to deeply enjoy handling support via Twitter. 140 character tech support is the greatest, most refreshing thing in the world. If you have a company and don’t do it, do it.
Last but not least, the Art Department — myself, Neven, and Kenichi — work daily to support every single thing you’ve just read, with a steady stream of mockups, icons, and more. And while a sharp increase of art department work has meant a sharp reduction in blogging, we also hope to keep posting fun things here, including the infamous “Panic Office Tour” post, as the Quicktime VR’s are finally done. The big albatross that looms over us? A redesign of the Panic main page, with (possibly) a refresh of our company logo. It continues to terrify, but we’ll get there in 2011, I swear. (This website redesign ties directly into minor updates of Stattoo and Desktastic, which we should have released long ago. My apologies — if I did it again, I wouldn’t make those dependent on each other.)
And, well, that’s us in a nutshell.
As always, thanks for your support, thanks for your purchases, thanks for your great ideas and suggestions, and thanks for your word-of-mouth advertising that has become the foundation of our company. You are the reason we do what we do.
We’ll always keep working to make even more cool things.
TL;DR: we are busy.