A Moment of Reflection
We released VeSys 2.0 at the end of March, and when it came to preparing for our regular operations review I took the opportunity to ask Nuri (the Product Manager for VeSys) to put together a couple of slides describing the first 30 days of its life. There is a lot to be proud of but as I have a habit of saying to my team, it's the negatives that tell you what you need to do to be better.
First Things First
Our original goal was not for the first release to be instantly adopted by existing VeSys users (a loyal bunch, who quite rightly really like the product), we knew that to get all of the tweaks and tuning, as well as the migration tools required, would take a little longer to get into VeSys 2.0. So VeSys 2.0 was targeted at new users, but we made sure that it was very easy for VeSys Classic customers to get their hands on the new version and start giving us that all important feedback.
They have not disappointed! However, before we get to that I wanted to tell you a story about Apple (please, no groans from those that know me... it's relevant I promise!).
This Blog is not Sponsored by Apple but…
Apple have a product called iLife, you get it free when you buy a new Mac but you do have to buy upgrades that are released after you've bought your Mac. One of the key parts of the Suite is a tool called iMovie. It's a wonderful tool that allows Prosumers (highly skilled amateurs) to put together amazing family videos, and I've even used it for putting together the occasional product video. In 2008 Apple released a new version. In the words of Steve Jobs “completely replacing one of the key apps with something that takes it to a whole new level”. Although for new users (and given those users are probably new to Apple computers and OS X, and therefore in “Learning Mode”) there were no great shakes, what they saw probably made sense. For existing users the story was very different, and they expressed significant frustration and anger. What had Apple done? Well firstly, some of the features users were used to were gone. However more importantly, they had completely dropped the normal video editing convention of having an infinitely long timeline, for a new paradigm. For those of us who were long standing iMovie users, there were lots of things that didn’t make sense. Some of the changes didn’t even seem justifiable. Why would they do it this way for no tangible benefit?
Of course, the initial reaction softened over time, as we all learned the new interface. However, there were still missing features (no migration tools, old projects could be brought in as raw footage, but were no longer editable), together with a horde of smaller features that we had grown to depend on. Apple did listen, and a few weeks after the initial release, made the old iMovie available for download for those that had upgraded the overall suite, but wanted to stick with the old movie editor.
Roll forward to the next release of iLife… and iMovie takes center stage. The missing features were largely back in, all of the important ones anyway, but much more importantly for those of us who had been using the “Classic” version it was a real “I get it now” moment. The presentation wasn’t made by Steve himself, but instead by the engineer who had proposed the re-write, who had had The Big Idea. He took the stage and took the time to show that Apple had listened about the missing features, and they were there, but then when it to show how the new editing paradigm had been evolved… he demonstrated what had been his vision. Tasks that were previously not supported in the original version, were there. Things that had been hard, or very manual, were there and the re-write had enabled them to take the software in directions they simply could not have gone in before. I don’t use iMovie Classic anymore.
Change is Good
I’m sure you see where I have been going with this. Whilst our revolution is not in the editing paradigm, it is in the fundamental architecture of VeSys, and where we can take it in the future. It’s not that we couldn’t have done some of the things we will release in new versions without the replacement of VeSys, but they would have been dramatically harder to achieve. In fact out of the box VeSys 2.0 has drawn in customers that had previously rejected VeSys because of things that would have taken much longer than the entire development time of VeSys 2.0 to deliver.
For existing users for whom the benefit of VeSys 2.0 is not yet sufficient or obvious, you still have VeSys Classic. However, right now we are busily working on the migration tools, adding things that Classic did that 2.0 doesn’t (and trying to do them just that little bit better), and some other more immediate actions in order to respond to some of that negative feedback we received in the first 30 days.
I’m going to address some of that feedback in some subsequent blogs (I’ve gone on long enough today), and talk about the progress and timing of the migration tools (I don’t share Steve’s love of secrecy!), but for now… Thank you very much for all the feedback, we are listening, we are making changes in response, and please use this community to tell us what you think we need to know.