You’ve probably heard the buzz about a new version of Portal. Actually, there’s more than a 72% chance, since that’s how many of you are already using it. Well, i’m excited to let you know that we are officially cutting over to V2 and shutting down V1 on Thursday. I’ll get to why this is “exciting” for those of you who are about to scream, trust me it’ll make sense.
I know, I know, we tried this a couple months ago and it didn’t go so well, did it? We had beta tested the site for several months and thought we were ready to launch on April 15th. Many of you were NOT ready. You spoke up and gave us a ton of great feedback. Since then we’ve ramped up our team, and spent thousands of hours tweaking functionality and fixing bugs (the list of improvements and bug fixes is included below in case you haven’t checked back in on V2).
So, why should you be “excited” about this change to Portal 2.0? Because it’s so much more than just making the site look prettier. Making it look pretty was a bonus, the main reason was to achieve development efficiency and scalability. You see, we’ve been very disappointed with the rate at which we’ve been able to add and deploy features over the past couple years. When we first started Portal six years ago, our feature velocity was fast. A little too fast actually, since many of you who have been with us from the start got used to lightning quick feature releases. What started to happen is that a little thing called “Technical Debt” started piling up. In software development this is the price you pay when you choose the easy solution to problems instead of a better approach that would take longer. You operate this way so you can be responsive to change while conserving resources, as you try and figure out your product-market fit. At some point, though, if your model is successful and you haven’t gone out of business, you have to pay the piper. You have to invest, re-factor and prepare for the big, bright future you worked so hard for. Almost two years ago now, we started that process and V2 is the result. Everything is brand new: New backend, host, database, front end, services, data import. Everything.
Now we are faced with another big problem: the cost of maintaining two sites, or better yet, two code-bases which use different technologies. Our developers are essentially doing twice the work for every single feature or improvement they code. They have to perform full regression testing on both sites, in all areas for what could be described as a “simple” fix on V2. Why should you care about this? It’s our problem after all. Well, because it’s extremely costly - which is also costing you in slow site improvements. As soon as we shut down V1, we instantly free up resources, which means we can finally get to the real reason we embarked on this journey: to dump our technical debt and start increasing our dev efficiency in a fresh, new, light-weight, nimble, and developer-friendly environment. That is why we are so damn excited.
I want to be very clear about something important, though… Just because we are shutting down V1, doesn’t mean we haven’t decided to improve certain things you might have requested. If it’s a popular request, we’re almost certainly going to add it. We just haven’t considered it a show-stopper to shutdown V1. We know that change is difficult. After all, the only people who like change are wet babies. We know that after a week or so you’ll not only get used to the new site, you’ll see how much of an improvement it is and start to get more efficient than you are now.
A few major improvements on V2:
We have a solid, real-time browser updater in place for those of you who like to use Portal in multiple browser tabs. Editing on the iOS app or in another browser will automatically push changes up to all open browser windows.
Format of Parts on Proposals
The first iteration of V2 had a single edit icon to change anything about a part on a proposal. This made quick price and quantity changes more complicated than in V1. We’ve improved this by allowing you to click and edit common fields directly now.
Order Email Change & Bounce Notifications
Changing the email after an order was submitted was difficult, so we fixed it. This would usually happen when an email bounced, so we also added better bounce notifications.
Site Updates Without Interruption
When we shut down V1 we will be able to deploy updates to the new site each week with no downtime. You’ll get a brief notice reminding you to save your work, then just refresh and that will be it.
For a complete listing of updates, here is a link to our Google Drive folder containing detailed release notes. Here you can see every little thing we’ve added to the site over the past few months. Warning, though - you must be a nerd and have lots of time to review what’s in here:
Coming soon after V1 shutdown:
All New QuickBooks Connector
Let’s face it, our current connector is pretty bad. Not only is the UX poor but the functionality is lacking. We took the time to redesign it from the ground-up. In addition to a fresh, new, intuitive design, it supports line items for proposals and orders as well as support for QuickBooks online users. That means that QBO users can now download the connector, link their QBO account and gain all the new functionality. Before you ask, yes, we are still going to improve the web integration, no ETA yet.
Improve Adding Labor
We realize that adding labor in V2 is a few more clicks and feels less simple than in V1. We’ve got improvements to the pop-up windows which will make this operate better than you are used to. The old version couldn’t support the improvements necessary, so these will be completed after the cutover.
So here we go! Thursday is the big day. We are going to sink the old site that got us all this far, in favor of our brand new superyacht. Our Dealer Happiness team will be standing-by to help via chat. If you’d like some one-on-one time to review the new site, feel free to book a screenshare. Thanks in advance for your patience and support!
Founder and CEO