Supporting the app

Hello,

I am not aware of how big the team behind Agenda. I see this app as a great product, so my question would be to clarify what is your position now? How many team members? Is there enough financial support to support the app development? If not, would it be good if I or you opened a topic and linked to it from feature requests where you clarify the support you need?

If that can help in speeding up the development process, or at all help the team, it’d be great to know where we stand.

Thanks.

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Thank you for raising this question, it’s indeed good to clarify, let me take the opportunity to give our view on where we would like Agenda to go, both as a product and as the team behind it.

Agenda was launched a year ago by @drewmccormack and myself together with designer @wrinklypea and support from long-time friend @cparnot. And that’s still your team today. In fact we have no plans to change this. Not because Agenda isn’t profitable (it is), or because we are not ambitious (we are), or have no ideas what to do next (ok, you get the point already), but because we are very conscious as to how we want to work on and mature Agenda: as a life-style business rather than a startup. This has a number of implications, which i’ll try to set out below.

After the successful first year of Agenda it would not be hard to go on a fundraising tour, and pitch Agenda as the hot new Evernote-killer-unicorn-potential startup in town. The benefits would be obvious: after raking in plenty of funding we would be expected to quickly grow the team and have a lot more hands to work on Agenda, allowing us – at least theoretically – to bring you everything on the wish list much faster. Plus we would probably start working on cross-platform apps and web-apps right away.

That sounds great, but the downsides are pretty big too alas. Once you go this route, growth becomes everything, because that’s all the investors would like to see in the end of the day; it will quickly dominate priority so that they can get their cash back when the Facebook’s of this world snatch Agenda up, or an Agenda IPO gong has rung. But there’s a more subtle effect too, a larger team inevitably means more overhead, less transparency, and less approachability. Once we need to manage a large team of people we probably would not have time to prototype new features, nor answer questions in this community ourselves. In such as setting it is hard to stay really connected to your users, to maintain an app with a certain feel and empathy, and to deliver an app that we ourselves would want to use every day (as we do). How do I know? I’ve been there, if you’re curious to hear more, I talk about it in my recent talk at DO-iOS.

It is why we decided to not go this route and instead stay small and independent. It means you are much more likely to see us with the same excitement and dedication to further improve and mature Agenda as you have seen in the past year. Also this has downsides though. It means having only two pair of hands at work, it means some features will take a lot longer than you might have hoped for, it can even mean some features might perhaps never make it despite the fact they are on our personal wish list too. Ultimately a day has only has 24 hours. This is the painful consequence of making the choice to stay small.

Just so you do not get me wrong, remarks like the above one, posted in the topic on adding support for tables are totally understandable; in the end of the day I try to see them a testimony that people like Agenda and would love to see it becoming an even better fit in their day-to-day lives. And yes, of course it is frustrating if you see us pick localization of Agenda in foreign languages as our next priority while you much rather would see us bring table support or one of the many other things we promised we will work on some day. I am a user of Agenda too and of other apps from small developer teams, and I have the same reaction, so I do understand. The only thing we can ask though is for patience and be honest that an ETA is simply impossible to give.

As the developers of Agenda we must also accept that some users will not be able to wait that long and will decide to move on. For each of us the decision whether to wait or to switch to a different tool will be based on different criteria. The only thing we can promise is that we will keep going at it, we love Agenda and what it means to people, this is what is motivating us, much more than growing the company or the number of developers working on.

@mhmoodz, probably not entirely the answer you might have expected to your question above, but I hope this gives a bit more insight into our thinking and what to expect.

Coming back to your original question, what can you and others do to help speeding up the development of Agenda? The number one thing we ask is to continue what many of you have been doing already; we have received so much help through this community already:

  • by joining the beta programs for mac and iOS to help us test new releases.

  • by submitting crash reports, and reporting bugs, sharing libraries or examples that helps us reproduce issues if needed.

  • by submitting detailed feature requests, or ideally if it has been raised by others already, by voicing your support or adding thoughts to these existing topics so we keep the community clean and easy to navigate. And by being understandable if we cannot give a deadline yet for the feature you would like us to introduce most.

  • by offering your help in translating Agenda in other languages so we can make it more approachable to users who speak the same language as you.

  • by directly supporting us, which of course can mean buying the premium features, but also by leaving a nice review in the App Store, and by spreading the word to friends, colleagues, news and review sites, or other channels where people might not have heard about Agenda yet.

  • and finally by helping other users and answering their questions in this community, to help them get up and running or solve issues they bump into. But also to help set their expectations of what they can and perhaps cannot expect from us when it comes to their wishes for Agenda.

Together this will help us to maintain a positive and energetic feel in the community, which in the end of the day is the biggest motivating factor for us to keep on pushing Agenda forward! Thank you all for your amazing support!

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Thanks a lot for your reply. It’s indeed not what one would expect especially from a small team and especially this fast. It’s remarkable and obvious how much you are passionate about the project.

I’ve been always thinking to buy the premium features. The thing is that the free version already has everything. But I will still do it for support.

I am really glad that someone out there wouldn’t trade it with a bigger company and would keep it a community driven project.

Here’s the bottomline for me. I am a UX designer, I don’t know how many designers you have and how well it’s going. I run a small business too with 2 people. It must be clear to you that in brainstorming and sketching, the more minds involved the better the results, simply because you discover more options. I can help with planning and prototyping if needed. One of the things I love to do and I think I can contribute with is feature planning. If that’s something you need feel free to approach me.

Thanks a lot for this great app. Thanks a lot for your passion :slight_smile:

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Hi @mekentosj - great post, great values!

Re the above quote, I’ve always been slightly reluctant to respond to other comments, especially ’how do I do x?’ type posts, because I don’t want to cause confusion by perhaps getting it wrong.

I also see a lot of questions that have already been answered earlier on the forum, usually by you, and pointing people to those answers sort of feels like I’m criticising them for not searching the forum. Same with feature requests - can easily point them to the list of planned features, but is that helpful?

I guess I’m just asking for a bit of reassurance about how to help out in a way that is actually helpful!

Hey @trebso,

As a member of a few Discourse based forums (like this one), I probably see more than 20 new posts every day, from people asking about something that has already been answered.

Most of the time, they won’t have even thought to have searched before, or if they did, they often won’t find it.

Pointing them to the answer will definitely help, especially if there is no new info on the subject :grin:

As for this point, again, I think it’ll be useful to put your opinion/thought process across.

There may be more than one way to achieve the desired outcome, and people might be blinkered into doing it their way (and therefore always advise their way when explaining to others), and they may not have thought about it from a different angle.

I wouldn’t worry about getting it wrong, someone will come along and correct your mistake if required!

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@trebso please don’t hesitate to answer even if you feel it’s a duplicate (even better if you can point people to the relevant canonical discussion), what we often do is unlist such topics so they don’t clutter the search results or recent posts, yet the person who posted still gets his/her answer, which is nice I think.

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I just would like to say how refreshing your motivation is. Before I got too deep into using Agenda on a daily basis, I was fortunate to catch this talk on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NI8yYmqHahE - I hope its okay to share here. It helped me see the vision behind the app and set realistic expectations about how quickly features might be added. I respect you guys for making hard decisions to keep creative control over your passion.

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Thank you so much for your kind words @candy.jones!

@mekentosj,

Thank you for your above note about the Agenda development team and your future direction!

While I always seem to be looking for the latest GTD, productivity, or note-taking app, there are some apps that execute so well on very fundamental principles such as Things for GTD and projects/tasks. For this reason, the Things app has become a strong part of my daily workflow and productivity tooling for the last 7 years or so.

After using Agenda for the past few months and just now moving more of my notes and content into it from other apps, I know that Agenda is in the category of apps that gets the fundamentals just right. This is also clear from your talk linked above where you outlined the problem that Agenda was solving for you and how you iterated on that quickly with users towards the initial release.

I stumbled upon Agenda a few months ago when I was trying to make sense of notes that I had in Bear and Ulysses (and in Google Docs and Evernote many years ago) but just wasn’t finding myself using those apps often or working with the notes/content in a meaningful way. Then I found Agenda and tried it out, and it immediately resonated with me and made sense where it could fit into my daily workflow.

I work in a customer-facing software engineering position, so Agenda immediately made sense for certain notes that I have that are tied to specific dates or people (meetings, 1:1s, customer calls, travel/events). For people that work with dozens of different systems in the same day, it is very pleasant to open Agenda and make a new note in just the right place without having mental friction about how to organize that note for future or past meetings or for future reference. :sweat_smile:

I have mostly been using Agenda for these types of meeting and date-based notes for the past few months, and am now starting to bring in other types of notes and references in, and it is very pleasant to work with all of these types of notes in categories and projects.

Regarding your past work and products, I used Papers for ~6 years during my undergraduate and graduate research and studies. Papers was easily one of the top 3 most important tools that got me through graduate school and kept me extremely organized along the way. I had about 5,000 scientific journal papers organized by research topic in Papers, which was invaluable for keeping up with and reading new papers and ultimately for writing and referencing those articles in my own thesis and dissertation. Other students and even professors often wondered how I was able to keep track of so much new research and pull up relevant research papers on any topic so quickly.

After using Agenda, I see that it applies the same fundamental principles to everything related to notes, dates, and people, am I’m excited to apply it far beyond the scope of what Papers did for me in terms of organizing research papers. It means I can stop chasing different implementations of note-taking apps or waiting on the “silver bullet” new feature and just get back to work, getting things done, and getting real. :confetti_ball:

Regarding your statement on not expanding your development team or chasing VC funding or IPOs, I have worked at companies that have chased the funding and growth path that you mentioned. I can definitely relate to the effects of “more overhead, less transparency, and less approachability” that you mentioned, and I know from experience that it always has negative impacts on the quality of the software, the morale and happiness of the employees, and ultimately the relationship with and experience by your users. This approach also tends to attract even more of a negative user and employee base over time, which creates a viscous cycle that usually does not end well.

I have also worked at other companies that choose to focus on the long-term sustainability of their ecosystem, quality of their tools, staying connected to their users in day-to-day interactions, and retaining happy employees along the way. As a very satisfied user of your software as well as an employee of a software/product company, I applaud you and your team for intentionally taking the more impactful, sustainable, and human-friendly route in your approach with Agenda and communicating it out very publicly.

It was a big selling point for me when I learned that @mekentosj from Papers and the other members of the development team were behind Agenda, and reading posts like this further ensures me that this is the right tool for me in the long run with the right team backing it. I am confident that by sticking to the principles that you outlined, you will have many more happy users and fans to come.

All of that to say, thank you for being so transparent about the current and future states of your development team, company culture, and product timelines. :heart_eyes:

I look forward to contributing to the Agenda efforts using some of the methods that you outlined. And I look forward to being an Agenda Premium user for a very long time to make sense of all of my notes and expanding its use to track and improve on many different aspects of my professional and personal life. :smiley:

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Sounds familiar! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

All joking aside that’s really kind of you to say, it’s always super motivating to hear that the apps we build click so well with our users. Thank you so much for your support!

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