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Tagged with “people” (2)

  1. Ken Case on Omni’s 2018 Roadmap

    Brent Simmons: You’re listening to The Omni Show. Get to know the people and stories behind The Omni Group’s award-winning productivity apps for Mac and iOS. Music!


    Brent: I’m your host, Brent Simmons, and I am massively relaxed today because I just got out of a massage, which is one of my favorite perks of working at Omni. That and the food. Good grief. In the studio with me today is Ken Case, the CEO of The Omni Group. Say hello, Ken.

    Ken Case: Hello, Ken.

    Brent: Thank you. Today, we’re doing a special episode. We’re looking back at last year, and looking forward to what’s coming this year. So, fair warning, it might be more than 30 minutes. It might be a lot less. It depends. We’ll just see. So, Ken. Last year was a special year, in that it was Omni’s 25th anniversary. Our listeners want to know, was there a cake?

    Ken: I’ve forgotten. Was there a cake?

    Brent: I don’t even know. Did we have a cake? We do celebrate releases with a game day, often, but there may not have been a cake. Maybe there was. I don’t know.

    Ken: I don’t know. There was a graphic on our homepage. That, I remember.

    Brent: A fancy graphic, too.

    Ken: Nice, pinball-inspired neon graphic.

    Brent: Captures the essence of the company very well. I liked that. That was cool. So, what did we get done last year? 2017. 2017. We got done free downloads. We changed the way our licensing for our apps works.

    Ken: Yeah, that was kind of a big change, and it was something that we had to think about for a number of years before we finally landed on that solution. And now that it’s done, I’ve almost forgotten about it, because it’s just part of the environment now. But for years, we had been thinking about how we sell our software in the App Store, and we were thinking about the problem of, how do we offer upgrade discounts, how do we offer free trials, how do we offer price protection? So if somebody buys OmniFocus 2 today, and we ship OmniFocus 3 tomorrow, do they have to ask Apple for a refund? Do they have to ask us for a refund? Or can we give them a free upgrade, which is what we’ve always done on our own store.

    And so, finally where we landed was, let’s separate the original download cost that’s in the App Store, which we have, where we can only offer a single fixed price, from the cost of unlocking the features of the app. So, we make that now an in-app purchase, and we let you download the app for free, and that lets you do a free two-week trial, and it lets us provide upgrade discounts where you can prove that you own an earlier version, and then we give you a 50 percent discount on your upgrades. And it lets us do price protection, so all the people who have bought OmniOutliner 2 in the last year will now be receiving a free upgrade for OmniOutliner 3 for iOS when it ships next month.

    Brent: Ah, so, sounds like a win for everybody, really.

    Ken: Yeah.

    Brent: Was it difficult, engineering-wise, to go through all this in-app purchase stuff?

    Ken: There was a lot of detail involved.

    Brent: I bet. And testing the different flows?

    Ken: Yeah. And suddenly … We try to make it simple from the customer’s perspective, where we show you … two options for buying the app, and then the free trial option. But behind the scenes, those two options for buying the app are actually something like 12 in-app purchases, or 14, depending, for all these different scenarios of, have they already purchased the standard version and now they’re unlocking Pro, and were they a prior owner or not, just all these different variants end up being a lot of complexity. And then we have to test all of those different paths and make sure that they’re all —

    Brent: I feel lucky that I personally didn’t come anywhere near any of this. That’s difficult. But, well done. It seems to be working.

    Ken: It has helped a lot. There’s still a few rough edges, that I would love to straighten out. In particular, one of the issues that we ran into with in-app purchases is that they are incompatible with the Volume Purchase Program that Apple offers for businesses. So, businesses who are trying to license our apps now can’t use the technique that Apple is steering them towards for buying apps. And so that is an issue that we have yet to resolve. That’s the big one.

    Brent: Right yeah. It continues.

    Ken: But overall, our customers have been much happier, and feedback has been great, about being able to get the discounts now, or to be able to try our apps before they buy them, and so on.

    Brent: Cool. So, last year we shipped OmniGraffle 3 for iOS, which I should point out is my wife’s favorite Omni app. She uses it on her iPad to design quilts.

    Ken: Oh, nice.

    Brent: So, yeah. All the time. She often asks me, "Oh, how do I …" and I don’t know, because I work on Outliner and Focus, but she loves that app. How did that release go?

    Ken: I think it was a really great release. We introduced a lot of big things. So, that was where we brought our free downloads, free trials and so on approach, to iOS. Also, brought the new iPad three-pane experience for the iPad Pro, that we had designed, to OmniGraffle, so now you could work on shapes and see their attributes without having to bring up a popover that showed those details, and then dismiss it, and then bring it up again, and dismiss it as you switch between your canvas and the object details.

    Brent: So this is like slide-in panels?

    Ken: Slide-in … Yeah. One for navigation on the left, and one for editing the object details on the right.

    Brent: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

    Ken: And, ah —

    Brent: It is a lot nicer than popovers.

    Ken: Yeah. And it’s what we’re moving towards now for, well for Outliner 3 and so on. But that’s a future part — We’ll talk about that later.

    Brent: Speaking of Outliner, we did ship Outliner 5 for Mac. Big upgrade. I worked a little bit on that … or quite a bit on that. I don’t remember what Outliner 4 was like, cause I’ve been working on Outliner 5 for quite a while. But I was really pleased with how that turned out.

    Ken: Yeah, me too. I think it was a really good release, a lot of features that people have asked for for years and made it into Outliner now, like being able to have persistent filters on your outline, rows that show you certain details, and let you … you can switch between them, you can save them, customize them. And I think you worked with some of that. A lot of great customization options there. As well as adding features like statistics about what you’re writing, so you have word counts and so on — also long requested. And the ability to keep your writing in the center of your window, instead of always … we used to have this problem where you stuck writing at the very bottom of your screen all the time.

    Brent: Yup. Yeah.

    Ken: And so that was the Pro version for the customers that we already had who had been asking, you know, for new features. But the other big thing that we did in Outliner 5 is we introduced the new Essentials version, a low cost version that’s just $10.00. And that version is much, much simpler and easier to use and we … the hope is that that will give people a nice entry point to outlining if it’s not something they’re familiar with, an application category that they’re not familiar with.

    Brent: Outlining always seems to me to be the kind of thing that, if you don’t know about it, and then one day you go to use it, you’re like, "How did I not have this all along?" It seems like a fundamental app that everybody needs.

    Ken: It’s one of the apps I live in all the time.

    Brent: Yeah, right. Let’s talk about OmniFocus. Last year we did faster syncing with large attachments. Sounds like a small thing, but I’m assuming to some of our customers, that’s a really, really huge issue.

    Ken: Yeah. One of the big support requests that we were dealing with related to how long it would take to sync data. And one of the big problems that we had before we made this change to OmniFocus was that if you attached a bunch of attachments, big or small really, but it’s the total size that mattered, from time to time we would coalesce the history of all of the changes that you made into one new … we call it a root transaction, a new starting transaction that represents your database. And whenever we did that, this new transaction would include all of the data that you had written up to that point, including all of these big attachments. So from time to time, we would be writing all of those attachments back to the server all over again and then every one of your devices would have to download them all over again.

    And this was a bunch of needless transfer, which, if you’re syncing to a local WebDAV server, then that’s not a big deal. If you’re syncing to the Omni Sync server from here in our office in Seattle and it’s also in Seattle, again, that’s not a big deal. But if you’re syncing to our servers from Europe or China, then that could be pretty slow, or just over a slow network connection. It could be in Montana somewhere or something. And so, the change that we made was to separate out those attachments into their own separate folder that can then live persistently on the server and each one of those attachments can be synced independently and we don’t have to keep transferring them back and forth all the time.

    Brent: So you’re not copying them. You have a single copy and then reference them somehow.

    Ken: Right. So that new root transaction just says, "And here’s where you’ll go find that attachment" instead of actually including it.

    Brent: So we’ve got a lot for OmniFocus coming up in 2018, but what else did we do for OmniFocus last year?

    Ken: Well, we rolled out these same free downloads, of course, that we talked about with OmniGraffle. But the big thing that we did, that sort of interrupted our planned schedule last year, was we made a lot of changes for iOS 11. iOS 11 brought a lot of great changes to the platform, for productivity apps in particular. It brought system-wide drag and drop, between apps on iPads, but even on an iPhone it’s useful to be able to drag and drop tasks from one project to another inside OmniFocus.

    Brent: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

    Ken: So we adopted that and it’s really great now, that you can just go to the Mail app on an iPad, drag a message into OmniFocus, and you’ll see a new task created with the details of that message. You get to drop it right into wherever you want it. It doesn’t have to go into the Inbox. Just much, much better workflow has come out of being able to do this drag and drop. And of course we did that, not just for OmniFocus, but we adopted iOS 11 across all of our products, so you can drag and drop from OmniFocus to OmniGraffle, or I should say really the other way around. You can drag an OmniGraffle image into OmniFocus, and it would make an attachment that you would attach to a task.

    Brent: Everything gets dropped in OmniFocus eventually.

    Ken: Yeah, that’s usually the directions things go.

    Brent: Makes sense. And we had support, as I recall, for iOS 11 features on day one, with at least three of our apps?

    Ken: All of our apps except for OmniOutliner because we were right … we were busy on Outliner 3 at that point.

    Brent: Right.

    Ken: And so, we didn’t wanna slow down and go back and update Outliner 2 for a bunch of iOS 11 stuff when we knew everybody that was currently buying OmniOutliner 2 would be getting a free upgrade to 3 anyway when it shipped.

    Brent: Yeah.

    Ken: It makes sense.

    Brent: It works out for us. Yeah. That’s nice. Did a little with Siri last year too, I think.

    Ken: Oh, that’s true. In fact that was the place we got mentioned in the keynote [at WWDC].

    Brent: Always an exciting moment.

    Ken: Yeah. Siri added a lot of support for third party apps to integrate with being able to manipulate lists, basically, using Siri. Now in Siri, you can say, "Have OmniFocus remind me to do something when I get home" or whatever. And now it will add that location-dependent task to OmniFocus and when you get home, you’ll get that reminder.

    Brent: Hm. People seem to love Siri. I haven’t got the hang of using it yet, myself. But I’m the only person, I think.

    Ken: It varies, I think, how much I use it. I use the "Remind me to do something" feature, for sure. Really, I think that is the thing I’ve most often used Siri for. I don’t have, "Hey Siri" turned on or anything because I value my privacy too much to have something listening to me all the time.

    Brent: Yeah, if we say —

    Ken: Even something as safe as Apple’s devices.

    Brent: If we say, "Hey Siri" too much on this podcast, people complain, because we’re waking up …

    Ken: Oh yeah. Sorry about that.

    Brent: their iPhones. Sorry! So we had a busy last year. So let’s talk about 2018.

    Ken: All right. 2018.

    Brent: We’re gonna come out, probably the first big thing will be Outliner 3.0 for iOS?

    Ken: Sort of. We’ve already … We have two minor things that we just shipped, OmniGraffle 7.6, what we sort of called the big stencils update.

    Brent: Ah, BSU — the big stencils update.

    Ken: And if you haven’t yet seen the video that we put up for that, that’s a great introduction that shows what the benefits are for this update. But basically we did a lot to improve the workflow of using stencils, where stencils live, and how you can use them, how you can manipulate them, edit them, and so on. So I would definitely recommend people check that out. And of course we have an OmniPlan update coming out. But yes, Outliner 3 is our biggest … it’s the major product release that involves a product that sells for money, as opposed to being a free update. Even though, yes, it’s a free update to anyone that’s bought in the last year. Outliner 3 brings OmniOutliner Essentials and Pro, that split, to iOS for the first time.

    Brent: Okay.

    Ken: It brings the sidebar, the slide-in pane interface, to OmniOutliner on the iPad, so now you can work with your outline and see those details either on the navigation side or on the details for your task panes, and brings filtering abilities, the ability to add and save filters, and so on. All of those are some great new Pro features. And for Essentials, for people who are new to outlining, again, it brings a nice low cost version of Outliner to the platform.

    Brent: I really enjoyed working on it. It has a great feel on iOS.

    Ken: Yeah. Again, it’s one of my most used apps.

    Brent: Yeah. And, I probably shouldn’t say it out loud, but if I didn’t work at Omni, I might just be tempted to buy Essentials, because it really is just a nice, cool, simple outliner. But, listeners, you should get Pro.

    Ken: If you’ve used an outliner in the past, you probably should get Pro, because it really does have a lot more capability than Essentials. But if you’re new to outlining and you’re not necessarily sure why you would care about filtering or why multiple columns might be useful, things like that, then by all means, go for Essentials and try it out.

    Brent: Now with our in-app purchasing, could they buy Essentials and then upgrade to Pro?

    Ken: Absolutely.

    Brent: So you can always put off making that decision.

    Ken: So we give you full credit when you upgrade from Essentials to Pro in this case. We give you whatever you paid for Essentials is discounted off the Pro price.

    Brent: Yeah, cool. OmniFocus. In some ways it looks like this is gonna be a huge year for OmniFocus. We’re working on OmniFocus 3 for iOS and 3 for Mac. Tags!

    Ken: It is —

    Brent: We’re switching to tags.

    Ken: Yeah, yeah. Well, this is kind of a long time coming. OmniFocus is now ten years old. That’s hard to believe.

    Brent: That is hard to believe. I remember Kinkless GTD like it was yesterday.

    Ken: Yeah. And when we shipped OmniFocus, it was based around the GTD model. The Getting Things Done model, by David Allen. And in that model, you have projects and you have contexts, and there is a bunch of terminology that is specific to that model. I mean, it’s not like those words were made up just for GTD, but other people who are not familiar with GTD sometimes have a little trouble wrapping their heads around what those things are and how they should use them and so on. The way that OmniFocus organizes tasks is you have … you break down your tasks into an outline basically. This started life in OmniOutliner as a set of scripts, so you build your Outliner tasks and then you assign different contexts to those tasks to say where you would like to be reminded about them, what lists you’d like to see them on, to get them done later. So I might be working on a home remodeling project or something, and I need to go get some nails. While I’m out running errands, I could also be picking up milk, which is for a totally different project, but I’d like to be reminded of both of those things while I’m out running errands. So I put both of those things in an errands context.

    So that seems simple enough, but as people … because it’s unfamiliar terminology, I think a lot of people were just confused about it, and a lot of people, for a long time, have been asking us, "Well, could we just add tags to the program?" And now, because tags is now a very familiar concept that you can just add a tag to something and it will show up in that tag list when you go looking later.

    Brent: Yeah, ten years ago, it wasn’t so common, but now —

    Ken: Now it’s part of the base operating system, but it wasn’t back then.

    Brent: Yeah.

    Ken: So, tags makes a lot of sense to call it that way, and at the same time to lift the restriction that each task would only have a single context. Now it can have multiple tags. So if you want to put it on your list for errands, that great. If you also want to put it on … tag it for today, then you can have a "Today" list that you could see it in as well.

    Brent: Yeah, that makes sense. I think it might have been Curt Clifton who said something about having tags for different energy levels too.

    Ken: Yeah.

    Brent: Like if he’s feeling energetic, he might do this, or ignore it if he’s not.

    Ken: Some people order tags for energy level, for priorities, for locations. My only caution would be, just because it’s possible now to add as many tags as you want to a task, that doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to go overboard with tagging everything as much as possible. The goal of capturing data at all into OmniFocus is to check it off and if you’re spending more time capturing it than you are checking it off and getting the thing done itself, then that’s not a very good use of your time. You want to get things out of this list, not curate a perfect list itself.

    Brent: So if you look at your to-do list as a garden you’re growing, that’s wrong, but if you look at it like bowling pins, you’re right. Okay.

    Ken: Yeah. But that said, for some people, if we don’t let you organize the work [in the way] that makes the most sense to you, then we’re getting in the way of getting those things done. So we wanted to give the flexibility to make some of those choices and figure out what workflow works for you.

    Brent: Ah, that’s cool. One change I saw coming … my wife in particular has asked for, and that’s manual sorting inside tags. So if you have a "Today" tag, you can actually put stuff in the order you want rather than assigning fake due dates or times to stuff.

    Ken: Yeah, absolutely.

    Brent: That sounds really cool.

    Ken: That’s I think a pretty huge feature for at least some subset of people. As you said, in the past you could kind of work around this by maybe setting due times at different times of the day that were earlier or later or maybe you could set estimated times and sort your tasks by their estimated duration, but all of those were just time wasters. It was getting in your way instead of getting the task done. So now, it’s great that you can just go to any tag, reorder it however you want. It only affects the order in that list, but it does remember it, and it does sync it between devices.

    Brent: Oh that’s cool.

    Ken: So you can set that "Today" tag up the way you want on your Mac and then when you look at it on your iPhone later, you see those things on that list.

    Brent: Mm-hmm (affirmative)- So we’re doing more with flexible scheduling too. I understand we’re working on enhancements to repeated tasks?

    Ken: Yeah. So dates, of course, are incredibly important in any task management system, and one of our most common feature requests for years, has been, "Well, could we have more flexible ways of scheduling repeating tasks?" So that, maybe I have a meeting that happens every second Wednesday of the quarter, and so I can’t just say, I want to repeat this every three months, the way OmniFocus 2 would allow because that would be on a particular day of the month and that day is not always the Wednesday.

    Brent: Right.

    Ken: So we wanted to add more flexibility to how you could schedule your work. But at the same time, the more flexibility we add, if we’re not careful, that flexibility quickly turns into a very complicated interface …

    Brent: Hmm. That’s true.

    Ken: … that is intimidating, or just distracting and hard to use. So we also restructured the way we do our scheduled repeats so that we can avoid overwhelming people with a bunch of decisions that they might not care about. If I’m setting up a repeating task that happens every day, I don’t need to worry about which week it is, of the month or something.

    Brent: Ah, right, you can hide that. Yeah.

    Ken: So we start out asking, "Do you want to repeat at all?" And then we ask the period, and then we start to delve into the details of what the period is and whether that period is from completion or if it’s on a fixed repeatable schedule. The very last thing we ask these days, instead of being the first thing that we ask, the way we used to.

    Brent: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay.

    Ken: Which was sort of how we had implemented it, so it made sense from our point of view, but it didn’t make sense to ask that if it didn’t matter, like sometimes you don’t have to worry about that question. So we might as well wait until the very end to ask it.

    Brent: So this is progressive disclosure, I guess is the term for this.

    Ken: Yeah, the term we call it … that’s actually a term that I learned during the unveiling of the Aqua interface for Mac OS X. When the new save panels were introduced and they talked about progressive disclosure of being able to enter a name into that Save panel, but not show you all the details of your folder hierarchy unless you wanted it. And if you did want it, then there was a little expansion button you could hit and you could then see those details. And so you still had all the flexibility that was possible before, but for simple tasks, all you had to do was pick a name, hit return, and you were done, or you could select a favorite location from a pop-up in that case.

    Brent: Mm-hmm (affirmative)- Ah, makes sense to adopt that. Cool. So we’re doing more flexible notifications as well.

    Ken: Yeah.

    Brent: I understand a lot of people have asked for different features about notifications.

    Ken: Well maybe I should back up and note that OmniFocus started out its life without any notifications at all because the systems didn’t start out with any notification APIs.

    Brent: Yeah, right.

    Ken: When you were on the Mac ten years ago, there was Growl. And we did support Growl, but there was nothing built into the system that … the way it is now. And on iOS, there were no notifications at all to start with. If you’re app wasn’t running, then the app wasn’t running, and that was it.

    Brent: Oh, yeah. I forgot about that, and there one app running at a time. There was no background. Yeah.

    Ken: So of course, we have added notifications, and we have adopted backgrounds, all sorts of things over the years, as the operating system has become more powerful, but one of the areas where we realized we had a lot more options available now than we did when we last built notifications, and what you see when you receive a notification on … and I’m talking right now particularly about on iOS devices, and on iPhones where you can do the deep pressing on it, on a notification.

    Brent: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

    Ken: So now when you see something … in the past when we would send a notification — because we didn’t want to overwhelm you with, say, twenty notifications at once for a project that was becoming due, and it had twenty tasks in it, and they all were becoming due, we might say that this is becoming due, and twenty more things, or three more things, or whatever. And that was because we were sort of limited in what we could put in notification. We just had a message and maybe some actions, a sound …

    Brent: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

    Ken: … and that was about it. But now we can actually provide our own custom interface for that and so we do, and it will show you a list of all of those tasks, in the context of the project that’s due.

    Brent: Oh, okay.

    Ken: So it’s a much, much nicer picture of what’s going on. There will be a … well I guess by the time you’re hearing this, listener, there are screen shots on my blog post that show how this works. We can also display a map for the location based notifications.

    Brent: Oh, that’s good.

    Ken: So if you had a reminder to do something when you’re at the Space Needle, then when you get there, we’ll show you a map to where the Space Needle is from where you are.

    Brent: All Seattleites are surprisingly near the Space Needle, often, it seems like. It’s in walking distance from here, actually.

    Ken: It’s true.

    Brent: So we’re five years into iOS 7. Is that continuing to affect our designs? Is OmniFocus gonna look or feel any different in the coming year?

    Ken: So thinking back again to ten years ago of OmniFocus, when … well, ten years ago, we didn’t have OmniFocus on the iPhone. Nine years ago, we did have OmniFocus on the iPhone, or nine and a half years ago.

    Brent: Wow.

    Ken: Because we were there at the launch of the App Store. And at that time, the way apps were designed, of course, looked very photorealistic. You know, people were putting leather in their apps, or felt, or different wood grains, and so on, to try to make it look like the real world objects that they might be representing. In a lot of ways, all of those graphics … it was beautiful in some ways and it was also kind of distracting in some ways, from letting you see the underlying structure of an app.

    Brent: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

    Ken: In OmniFocus 2, we were right in the process of doing our new design. In fact, we’d already presented it at Macworld, what our new design was going to look like. When Apple announced iOS 7 and showed us their completely different direction for iOS that moved completely away from all of those skeuomorphic designs and instead we had a sea of white everywhere.

    Brent: Yeah, with those thin fonts too.

    Ken: Thin fonts, thin icons. Instead of icons being filled in, they were all line art, and so on. And it was a very clean look, and I think it was an important counter to where we had been.

    Brent: We had to bend the stick back, I think.

    Ken: Right.

    Brent: Yeah.

    Ken: But it was a bit extreme as well.

    Brent: Yeah.

    Ken: So, while OmniFocus 2 … in OmniFocus 2 we adopted a lot of that. Like I said, line art icons. We even … some of the recommendations from iOS 7’s human interface guidelines were to use font faces in font types, to indicate hierarchy instead of using things like indentation, which we’d been using before, or icons that we’d been using before.

    Brent: Huh.

    Ken: And so for some of our customers, that was fine, but for others, they felt like now they lost their road maps. Their eyes no longer had sort of a good sense … things to hang onto to give them a sense of place and where they were. And we tried to provide some of that in our app by changing the colors subtly, as you go from one section to another. So in Projects, the colors are different than when you’re in the Contexts list for example, or in maps, and so on. But, it’s been five years now, and I think Apple has certainly …

    Brent: Are we going back to green felt?

    Ken: They have not gone back to green felt! But they have started filling in their icons and bringing in some more subtle cues, visual cues that help you find your way around the system.

    Brent: A little shading, a little indentation.

    Ken: Yeah.

    Brent: Occasional borders around things.

    Ken: Yeah, I sometimes forget that, on some of my devices at least, on my iOS devices, I’ve turned on the accessibility feature that adds borders around buttons, and so I forget some times, oh yeah, the basic experience doesn’t even have those. You just have some bare text laying out there and the only way you know it’s a button is that it’s tinted like a button.

    Brent: Yeah. It looks great until I find myself tapping on something, or I want to do something and I have no idea where to tap.

    Ken: Right.

    Brent: Yeah, so.

    Ken: So in OmniFocus 3, we are coming back a bit ourselves. We’re bringing back more icons. We bringing back more indentation to help give you a sense of that structure that the app has, that it’s always had, but maybe wasn’t as visible in OmniFocus 2.

    Brent: So it’s some of the classic techniques of user interface design, but without …

    Ken: But without some —

    Brent: … going crazy.

    Ken: Not necessarily with green felt.

    Brent: Yeah. That’s sensible. So, Omni Automation, OmniJS, JavaScript on automation is … we’ve rolled it out in which of our apps so far?

    Ken: Right now it is in OmniGraffle 7 on Mac, OmniOutliner 5 on Mac, OmniGraffle 3 on iOS, and it’s in the current test flight builds of OmniOutliner 3 … is that what it … OmniGraffle 3 and OmniOutliner 3 on iOS. Yeah. It will be in Outliner 3 when that ships next month. So.

    Brent: So Focus 3 will be, OmniFocus 3 will be getting this too, I imagine.

    Ken: Yes, I’m not sure whether it will be ready in time for 3.0. I don’t necessarily want to hold 3.0 back if that’s not ready yet. But it’s certainly part of the 3.1, 3.2 road map.

    Brent: So likely this year then.

    Ken: But this year, for sure. Yes.

    Brent: Cool. That sounds good. And I imagine there would be a lot of Focus users who would be quite happy to have some automation, particularly the ones who have been using AppleScript on their Mac.

    Ken: I expect so. We have always had a lot of strong automation support in OmniFocus for the Mac and people have been using that for years to do things like manipulate templates or do reporting, and so on, and find out the stats of how many things they closed this week, and so on.

    Brent: Hm.

    Ken: I think being able to do that in dual platform, where it works on both Mac and iOS and —

    Brent: So the same script will work in both places.

    Ken: Yes.

    Brent: That’s pretty cool.

    Ken: And it will be much faster than AppleScript was, so that will also be useful. I think it will be a very popular feature, as it rolls out.

    Brent: I like the choice of JavaScript because it’s so much the language that people are most likely to know, at least a little bit, if they know any languages.

    Ken: Yeah, in terms of scripting languages out there, I think it’s the one most … it’s most likely for people to be familiar with.

    Brent: So are we doing any collaboration features?

    Ken: Ooh, that is a big one. Yes we are. Again, not for 3.0.

    Brent: Okay.

    Ken: I should back up. OmniFocus has been designed as a tool that helps people manage their own personal work. It’s not really designed as a tool for collaboration. But for many of us, our work involves collaborating with other people.

    Brent: We’re all introverts, we all wish it didn’t, but it does.

    Ken: Unless we somehow manage to really be a hermit up on the mountain — which I recently learned those people do exist — then we probably have some things that involve us waiting for somebody else to finish something or somebody else waiting for us to finish something.

    Brent: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

    Ken: While I don’t think OmniFocus is the best tool for coordinating very large interdependent project schedules and … We make OmniPlan for that kind of work.

    Brent: Right.

    Ken: I do think that there is a place for automatically relaying status updates between shared tasks for people.

    Brent: Hm. Okay.

    Ken: For specific tasks. So for OmniFocus 3, what we’re doing is we’re adding support for linking tasks between unrelated databases. So I can have a task that I send you, and you’ll receive it with its notes and attachments and due date, sort of the essentials of the task. And when I send it to you, I am proposing that our task should be linked. And you can choose, when you receive that, whether you want to accept that link or not.

    Brent: Okay.

    Ken: If you accept the link and all those tasks are linked, we both get to see updates to that task. So if I check it off complete, then you’ll see that and vice versa. But it’s just that specific task. In each of our tasks, in each of our databases, that task can live wherever we want and have whatever relationship to other tasks that we want.

    Brent: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

    Ken: So maybe in my database I have a whole bunch of subtasks for that task, and I didn’t send those subtasks to you, I just sent you, "Here’s the overall status of this group of things", it’s its own project. And maybe in yours, you’re waiting for me to finish that before you finish something else, and so it’s a step in one of your projects, a sequential project, and so it’s blocking the other action from becoming available.

    Brent: I see, yeah. That makes sense. Yeah. That’s pretty cool.

    Ken: So I feel like that’s a good way to let people continue to manage their own personal work however they wish, but other people are not somehow inserting themselves into my database, or me into their database, and us arguing over what tags should exist, or …

    Brent: Right.

    Ken: But while solving the basic problem of making it easier to communicate shared status between individuals.

    Brent: That’s cool.

    Ken: Between collaborators.

    Brent: Yeah, it’s peer to peer, rather than having someone from above control your OmniFocus and thereby what you do.

    Ken: Or just a big "wild west" database, where we’re both seeing a common shared database and who knows what’s changed since the last time we looked.

    Brent: Yeah. Are we gonna do OmniFocus for windows? People always ask. I gotta ask. Or Android?

    Ken: Aah.

    Brent: It’s the one time in the podcast where Ken asks to say no. I’ll say it for you. No, we’re not doing OmniFocus for Windows or Android. How about the web?

    Ken: Yes, we are gonna bring OmniFocus to those screens.

    Brent: Yes! Okay. I like that answer.

    Ken: Thinking back over all these features that we’re adding to OmniFocus 3, we’ve actually hit a lot of the things that the customers have asked us for, over the years, except for this last bit, which is, "What if I am at work? I’m forced to use a Windows PC there, and I wanted to look at my task list, or I wanted to add a few things or I want to check some things off?" And to date, we have not really had a good solution for customers for that. So, details in the blog post, but yes, we are building a limited OmniFocus for the web. It’s not going to have all the custom perspectives, and you won’t be able to … It’s not meant to be it’s own stand-alone thing. It’s meant to be a tool that you can use in partnership with our existing OmniFocus apps.

    Brent: Okay.

    Ken: When you’re away from home, we call it, and you need to access that data.

    Brent: Will this cost extra for OmniFocus users?

    Ken: It’s gonna cost extra for us to provide it, so we’re going to need to … we need that to be self-supporting. So we will be charging some fee. I don’t know what that fee will be yet.

    Brent: Yeah.

    Ken: Because we have not worked out what all those costs are.

    Brent: Sure.

    Ken: But hopefully not unreasonable.

    Brent: Right.

    Ken: And it will of course be optional. We’re not turning OmniFocus into a subscription priced app or something. This is an optional fee for those who want that remote access and need, then, for us to provide this new service.

    Brent: Hm. Given how often this comes up, I think this is gonna make a lot of people happy.

    Ken: I hope so. It’s a lot of work, if it didn’t make them happy!

    Brent: Yeah, right. It wouldn’t have to be the whole experience. If you’re at work, maybe you just do need to see what’s on tap for today or check a few things off, or something. I think that’s great.

    Ken: Yeah, I think for most people, if you’re able to access your custom lists under your tags, and to be able to add new things to your Projects or inbox and manipulate things there, then … Well, we’ll see. I’d love to hear from people who are interested in this and to get feedback about whether this sounds like something that they’re interested in.

    Brent: Mm-hmm (affirmative)- Very cool. So will we be doing a beta testing, a TestFlight thing for OmniFocus?

    Ken: Ah. Of course we will, yes. I’m starting to be a little … yeah … no. I shouldn’t joke in this context. Yes, we expect to start the TestFlight for OmniFocus 3 this quarter.

    Brent: Okay.

    Ken: Sometime … and since the first month is now approaching its end, that means in the next two months I guess.

    Brent: February, March. Okay. Yeah. Cool. And in the show notes, I’ll put a link to the blog posts, which then have a link to the TestFlight sign-ups, so people can check that out.

    Ken: In fact, we’ve already started laying the groundwork for that with some TestFlight builds of OmniFocus 2 that are sync compatible with OmniFocus 3, because we don’t want people to have to throw out all of their … we want people to be able to use their existing databases and sync back and forth between OmniFocus 3 and OmniFocus 2, in case there’s a bug they run into in OmniFocus 3 [beta], they can work around it by just going to OmniFocus 2 and doing the work there.

    Brent: OmniFocus is also, I’ve noticed, very good about making back-ups of things too, so … Always treat beta software carefully, but it does back the data up, which is good.

    Ken: Yeah, since we live in these apps ourselves, it’s always been important to us to make sure that this data gets preserved. So in OmniFocus for Mac, for example, I think it does daily back-ups for a month or something. I don’t …

    Brent: Yeah, something like that.

    Ken: Lots of checkpoints that you can get back to in case something isn’t the way you expect it. So.

    Brent: Well that just about covers it, I think. Am I forgetting anything important? Are we gonna have cake in 2018?

    Ken: I think that covers the road map. I’m sure we’ll have cake from time to time.

    Brent: There’ll at least be cookies.

    Ken: Yeah.

    Brent: Well, thank you, Ken.

    Ken: And mac and cheese.

    Brent: And mac and cheese, yeah. Yeah. The food’s so good every day. Today was Greek lunch. I love … and hummus and everything. It was so good.

    Ken: Yeah. Greek lunch is one of my favorite meals here.

    Brent: Yeah. Of course, another of my favorites is the farmer’s lunch, which is just like a whole bunch of different things, cheeses and cold cuts, and breads, and stuff. The only problem with that is that’s the one where the line is super slow. Oh, it’s farmer’s lunch, oh, hmm, all right.

    Ken: All right. I’ll set a timer for 15 minutes and come up then.

    Brent: Hey Siri, remind me … Oh sorry, listeners. Well, thank you Ken. How can people find you on the web?

    Ken: Well, of course, if they follow the show notes … the blog post. I’ll have some notes there, but you can find me on Twitter @kcase and you can also send me email at

    Brent: KC. Did people ever used to joke about KC and the Sunshine band with you?

    Ken: Occasionally.

    Brent: Yeah, I thought so. Well, I’d also like to thank our intrepid producer, Mark Boszko. Say hello, Mark.

    Mark Boszko: Hello, Mark.

    Brent: And especially, I want to thank you for listening. Thank you. Music!


    —Huffduffed by pattulus

  2. RWD Podcast Episode #27 : Andi Dysart — Responsive Web Design

    Justin Avery: Hey everyone, and welcome to another episode of Responsive Design Weekly Podcast. This is Episode 27. My name is Justin Avery. I am your host and the curator of Responsive Design Weekly Newsletter.This week, our sponsor is Ghostlab. Ghostlab is a pretty cool little testing tool that you can use for your responsive site, so you’re testing across a variety of different sites. It’s synchronized browser testing for the web and the mobile is the strap line on their website itself. It’s produced by

    a company called Vanamco, and this week our special guest is someone from Vanamco, Mr. Andi Dysart. Hello, Andi.Andi Dysart: Hello, world.Justin Avery: How are you?Andi Dysart: Good, thanks. Not too bad tonight.Justin Avery: Excellent. Whereabouts, whereabouts are you based?Andi Dysart: I’m based in Zurich, Switzerland. It’s the German part. It’s in the northern part of Switzerland. It’s on the border to Germany. But I’m actually a Kiwi, so an Australasian, like you.Justin Avery: I was going to say, it’s a very strange Switzerland-ish German accent you have going, there. How long have you been out of Kiwiland?Andi Dysart: I’ve been hitting the, I’ve been on the road off and on pretty much since nineteen … So, eleven years. Twelve years, I think.Justin Avery: Oh, wow. Happy thirtieth.Andi Dysart: Yeah. I’ve got more than that, but yeah, been quite a while. In Switzerland seven years, eight years.Justin Avery: Oh wow, that’s awesome. So how did you, at the moment you’re working for Vanamco.Andi Dysart: Yeah.Justin Avery: And they’re doing lots of different stuff. The Ghostlab is definitely one that I’d be keen to hear more about. But how did you kind of, like, what is your role there, and how did you fall into kind of working with the web?Andi Dysart: Okay. So [00:02:00] I’ll start with the, how did I get into the web, because it’s actually quite a long story, right through till Ghostlab.Yeah, so I’m actually an industrial designer. I studied industrial design, I worked in that industry for quite a few years developing [really cool 00:02:16] products in sports, sports and transport, like trains and stuff.Justin Avery: Oh, wow.Andi Dysart: And anyway—Yeah. It was quite intense stuff. It was really interesting stuff. But the only problem was, with this job, is everybody wanted to do this job because it’s so good, and there wasn’t that many jobs. I worked in some good companies, but I wasn’t that flexible,

    so I decided to look around for something else that was a bit more flexible, and yeah. Yeah.Justin Avery: So is that right as the web was sort of kicking off? Like, at what point-Andi Dysart: No, no. That was, I’m actually quite a latecomer to the web. That was about five years ago? Yes. So not that long ago, actually. The, actually in the web, and yeah. In web live, that’s probably quite long, but yeah. And that’s, no, it’s, I’m quite a newbie if you say, if

    five years is, yeah. I’m not an old-school guy.But I did develop my first website in Dreamweaver, if that’s any cred. Street cred.Justin Avery: Yeah, that’s, that’s definite—It depends with, was Dreamweaver owned by Macromedia or Adobe at the time?Andi Dysart: Macromedia.Justin Avery: Oh, that’s definite street cred on that one.Andi Dysart: Yeah, because, yep.Justin Avery: So were you, were you kind of building sites while you were, while you were studying at uni to become an industrial designer?Andi Dysart: Yeah. More designing them than [inaudible 00:03:39] stuff. But actually coding them, I was never actually coding them. It’s not until I decided to get into web design I started, like, had to make a portfolio, so that’s, then I started coding. My start in coding.It was actually quite a smooth transition from industrial design. I put out a ad in the local [00:04:00] online hipster website, and they, yeah. Then a couple of, a week later, I got a call from Florian, which is the owner of Vanamco, and yeah. It kicked off from there. It’s been, it’s been, yeah.

    So that was … It’s pretty much the story how I got into web design.Justin Avery: When you, when you were doing the design through Dreamweaver, because … So, Dreamweaver, for anyone that hasn’t used Dreamweaver before and is stuck with, like, the text editor and stuff. It used to kind of be, like, draw a box here and draw a box there

    and insert an image here, right?Andi Dysart: Mm-hmm.Justin Avery: So is that, did that kind of make sense? Could you draw parallels between, like, industrial design with physical things, and what you were doing on the web?Andi Dysart: Yeah that, I think they’re quite different things. I think between product design and digital design is, 2D design, means a large difference, a big gap between that. But there’s a lot of similar stuff, like corporate entity, usability, colors and forms, and people recognizing

    symbols, and stuff like that. So that’s, that can be brought over.But [actual 00:05:15] 3D … Yeah, the human emotion part is also quite, you can bring that over as well. Like, how to manipulate, I guess people when they come to your website. Get them to do what you want them to do. Get them to download stuff, or get them to scroll, or go … Like, get them to convert.

    You can bring that into web development from industrial design.And industrial design, it’s not only 3D products, it’s also touchscreen, like, we did a lot of interface design, with how to use a machine, or how to use a … A [eye surgical 00:05:55] machine. So we had to develop … We have to [inaudible 00:05:58] the interface for that, [00:06:00] as well. So

    it [wasn’t yeah 00:06:01]Justin Avery: Yeah, that’s really cool. Because I was, I was just thinking, then, when you came across to work on the web, or Vanamco, were there lessons you were able to bring from industrial design that digital designers or people from websites just, they didn’t, they

    didn’t grasp at that stage?Because I would think, because industrial design has been around for so long. I’m guessing since the Industrial Revolution, maybe? And yet the web is so young. Like we said, you’ve been in it for five years, you’ve been in there for a quarter of its life. Were there lessons you brought across which

    people were like, holy shit, I never thought of that?Andi Dysart: Um … Yeah. I can only, I’ve only worked, really, for one company, Vanamco. So I can, yeah, I can talk for what I’ve, I guess from what I’ve learned there. But yeah, I think that for me … Industrial designers need to … I guess that the main thing is how to work with

    the people that actually use the product at the end of it.I think industrial designers, they get taught that actually the people that use it are the people that judge what a product is, or how much it’s value, or what it feels like when you touch it. Or what response it gives you in, you do something to it, or it does something for you. I think that’s, that’s

    to me the, the thing that I thought that the web lacks, when I came in, and what I thought I could bring into it. A bit of, yeah. A bit of consumerism, you could say that, as well.Justin Avery: Yeah.Andi Dysart: I guess, it’s cruel to say, but that’s what … That’s what a lot of it is about, actually. Wanting people to want your application, your app or your, your website. Give them that personal touch.Justin Avery: So I suppose a lot of it is around [00:08:00] the, and I’ve seen it quite a bit is, UX and UI have been … Like, it just used to be bundled into a project, or bundled into a role that people were doing. And now there are these UI and UX developers, or designers.

    But if you were to suffix it with … They’re a role unto itself. Because … Do you think it’s, the web has matured to that point now, where that is a requirement? Is that kind of what you are doing within the company itself?Andi Dysart: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I think so. What I’m doing in the company at the moment is a bit of, I was [initially in front-end development 00:08:41]  I deal with the front-end stuff … And things like that, developing the products, and building the whole system up.We’ve got two, main, two products. The Ghostlab, and Devicelab. Devicelab was the whole, the idea is that development, the tooling, the production, the shipping and the [inaudible 00:09:12] so pretty much had my finger in every pie, there. Devicelab now is pretty much the front end of marketing. The

    team … [inaudible 00:09:22] Mathias [inaudible 00:09:25] into Florian, they pretty much do all the back-end stuff on that. They’re the geniuses that actually make it work. Just put a, I just put a bit of lipstick on it.But yeah, that’s my role there at Vanamco. It’s pretty much front-end development, and the marketing side of it, I guess. Developing new products and new ideas. Looking to develop new products and new ideas for the company.Justin Avery: That’s awesome. I won’t ask you what’s, what new ideas that you’ve got up there, because I’m sure it’s under a veil of secrecy at the moment. But when [00:10:00] you were, like, as a front-end developer, then, I want to talk a bit more about, like, the difference

    …Actually, maybe, can you talk our listeners through what, what actually is Ghostlab, and what is Devicelab? Start, kick off with Ghostlab.Andi Dysart: Okay, Ghostlab. Ghostlab is an app for Mac and Windows that synchronizes events in the browser. So when you’re developing websites, Ghostlab takes care of the legwork when it comes to refreshing the browser, and taking care of the server. It has a server built in. It also

    synchronizes all events.What you can do with Ghostlab is you can pretty much type a URL from one browser to another, so you can open your website up in Chrome, Firefox, or Internet explorer. Then you can develop in one browser, and what you see in one browser, you see in all other browsers. What that does is just ease the

    developer’s life when it comes to developing a website, yeah.Justin Avery: But it’s a bit more as well, with … Because you could have live reload, right? Loaded into the, to, like, there’s a footer script which would just then refresh the page as you hit save.Andi Dysart: Mm-hmm.Justin Avery: It’s a little bit more than that, though, right? It’s not just refreshing the page after each save.Andi Dysart: No, no. Refreshing’s quite simple to achieve. It does quite a few things that … It looks for your events, so it replicates clicks, it replicates scrolling. When you fill out a form on one browser, it will do the same in every other browser that’s connected to Ghostlab.

    That’s the base functionality.For example, logins and stuff like this, it also achieves that quite well, as well. But basically, that’s what it does, yeah. It replicates events [00:12:00] throughout all your connected devices and browsers. That’s mobile, or if it’s a web, wordpress website, a live wordpress website, or a local

    environment, yeah.Justin Avery: And so when you, do you need to have a master thing that you’re working from? So if I’m working from my laptop, and I connect it, what have I got around me. I’ve got a Blackberry and I’ve got an iPad and an iPhone. Do I, is the laptop the master which then

    controls all of them?Andi Dysart: They can, there’s a function called presentation mode which, you can choose who’s the master or slave. So like, if you’re, Andy Clarke gave us the idea. He was presenting for … He was presenting to clients here in Switzerland, Geneva. And he said, a good idea would be

    if I can present to my clients and they could actually hold the device in their hands, and I could actually show them the workflow and how people log in, and navigate the site, but I had the control of the, the page. So if they touch the screen, it wouldn’t be, show up on other devices.So yeah, you can actually choose, if you want, other devices, or your Blackberry to control an Android or your master computer to turn this on and off.Justin Avery: That’s actually really cool.Andi Dysart: Mm-hmm. It’s good for presentations. People actually use it quite a bit. It’s quite hidden, at the moment, this functionality. Yeah, on the surface it seems quite simple, Ghostlab, what it does. But to get it actually working, and people don’t actually notice when it works

    and doesn’t work. It’s so … There’s, we’ve solved so many problems. Like, especially with logins and tunnels and VPNs and stuff like this. It just works, that’s the thing, because we’ve solved a lot of problems with it.Justin Avery: So you kind of get it, there’s no add-ons to it, like, oh, if you want login capability, if you want to [beat 00:13:55] the VPN, you pay extra for this.Andi Dysart: Yeah, no, no. Just works. [00:14:00] That’s the thing, it does cost, too. But there’s a lot of, we do support a lot, too. We spend a lot of time with support. We get our clients moving, because these guys are professional testers, you know. So Mathias is always on the ball

    there, fixing the problems or logins … A lot of the cases it could be we debug for them, or so we find a bug on their side, maybe. And we say, oh this is the reason, because Java [inaudible 00:14:31]Yeah, yeah. But the networking is difficult anyway. Yeah, there’s a lot of support involved. Ghostlab as well, it’s just not there. People contact us for a variety of things, yeah.Justin Avery: Because I saw, I’ve seen in the past something called BrowserSync.Andi Dysart: Mm-hmm, yep.Justin Avery: I think I’ve, I did a screencast about that once upon a time. There were some issues around that, so I don’t think it … It had the scrolling, so if I scrolled on one it scrolled on the other. I think it had the touch events. But I don’t know if it actually

    had the form filling, or it definitely didn’t have the logging in functionality. I had to log in on each individual device.Andi Dysart: Really? Yeah.Justin Avery: Yeah.Andi Dysart: I’m not sure, I think it’s quite active, the project BrowserSync … Yeah, I think that it does fill out forms. I haven’t had a look at it for a while now, but yeah. It got some [inaudible 00:15:27] motion on GitHub.Justin Avery: Yeah, I’ll have to, I have to go revisit it and do another run-through. And one of Ghostlab, of course.Andi Dysart: Yeah, it’s even got a ghost mode. So has, like … But yeah, we, it came out, [inaudible 00:15:42] came out six months after … What, eight months after Ghostlab, which is quite late, I thought. I thought Ghostlab would have been, you know, I think yeah, somebody would

    have tried to replicate Ghostlab much earlier than that. The URL got snapped up within the first day. [00:16:00]Justin Avery: Oh, no way.Andi Dysart: Yeah.Justin Avery: So who launched it without getting the URL?Andi Dysart: No, that’s … Yeah, that’s the idea. We could have, but it wasn’t … We’ve got a different system. We were going to run the product through our corporate URL. It’s much easier to manage domain names and stuff like this. Yeah. We’ve got a different idea about this. Like or, things like this.Justin Avery: Yeah, good idea.Andi Dysart: Yeah, it’s better to … Then we know that we have the URL every time.Justin Avery: Yeah, no, that’s a good point.Andi Dysart: [Matilda 00:16:34] does that as well, so.Justin Avery: The, I have … I’m trying to find where I can … I’ve got … I’m doing a bad job of explaining this. I’m trying to send you a message on, on Skype, and I can’t find how to send a message while we’re talking.Andi Dysart: [inaudible 00:16:52]Justin Avery: I’ll find it, though.Andi Dysart: Oh, there it is. Yeah, Skype is, the UX on Skype’s terrible.Justin Avery: Are you, shoot me a quick message. This is terrible listening to, I apologize to anyone that’s listening. There we go. Hello … There we go. So I, I Googled for Ghostlab. There’s actually, have you ever watched the television show?Andi Dysart: No, I’ve never watched the television show.Justin Avery: It looks awful.Andi Dysart: [inaudible 00:17:17]Justin Avery: I’ll put this up in the show notes. When I Googled it, I’m like, oh man. Andi Dysart is massive. He’s this huge, burly guy with a goatee and looking real mean with Ghostlab in the background. So I’m actually going to download one of those episodes and check

    it out. But the picture will be in the show notes of that, and it’s not Andi. I’ll put a picture of you up there, as well.Andi Dysart: Yes, [inaudible 00:17:40]Justin Avery: So that’s, you could play for New Zealand if you were that size.Andi Dysart: Yeah, I could.Justin Avery: If you were out in the front row, it would be, it would be outstanding.Andi Dysart: [Beat the Americans 00:17:49] yeah.Justin Avery: Not that you couldn’t make the side now, it’s just … You’d be in the front row.So that’s, that’s Ghostlab. So Devicelab is something different, as well? [00:18:00]Andi Dysart: Yeah. So, yeah. Actually, it was about, started at the same time. We started developing both of them at the same time. They were both out of my necessities as a front-end developer. Like, I’m quite chaotic and … Yeah.The idea for Devicelab came, I had seven, eight devices on my desktop, and I was testing them. They were always turning off, they were always sleeping. They were always out of batteries, or if I wanted to look at one, I had to pick one up and code with my one hand. [inaudible 00:18:37] Yeah, I couldn’t

    type with my hand. So I thought there must be a better way. Then, and everyone in the office needed them, as well, so they’re stolen or they’re … Someone’s wife had them for that week or something, because they smashed the screen. I don’t know.Being an industrial designer, I thought, okay, I can fix this. It … Yeah. We started developing the, Florian and I started developing the Devicelab, not knowing, really, how it was going to work, or what’s going to happen, or if it’s going to be successful or not. And yeah, that took us quite a while.

    Took us eight months, nine months to get it to production.Justin Avery: Wow.Andi Dysart: Which is, in product terms, it’s quite quick.Justin Avery: Yeah. In physical, like industrial products terms.Andi Dysart: Yeah, industrial products when you’re producing, yeah, it’s pretty quick. But it felt like a long time. Because yeah, we had to deal with every aspect of it. From … Like, digital products you can just ship it, you know? You can, oh, there’s a bug? Update it. Push it.

    You can see it in the browser, but yeah. Those kind of decisions for toolings, tooling and things like this is, yeah. You’re investing money into it. You do it once, you got to do it properly.Yeah, so what I, I designed it, tested it, did the C-A-D, the CAD. Then [solid works 00:19:54] built it, 3D, and we did quite a few prototypes, as well. [00:20:00] Got it working. The hardest thing was to future proof it, I guess. Like yeah, there’s so many different devices coming out all the time,

    different size and stuff. You have to think of a way to actually future-proof it, so it doesn’t get stagnant within a year. There was the Velcro part, we need to sew down Velcro for that, which …Yeah, people don’t really like putting Velcro on the back of the phones, which we understand. But they are, [it is 00:20:25] a professional device.Justin Avery: They’re test phones, right?Andi Dysart: Yeah, exactly. Exactly, yeah. It’s a personal … yeah.Justin Avery: And put, put a cover on it.Andi Dysart: Yeah. Exactly, yeah. And it’s the safest way. If we did anything else, then people would be sending us bills for their … They can’t, anyway. But we’d be getting complaints for that.But it’s incredible. It’s actually quite a, successful so far. Agencies really lap it up. They order the agency package, which is three Device Labs, and five license to Ghostlab. They work quite well together, as well.Justin Avery: Oh, great.Andi Dysart: Those two products. Yeah, the agencies really get into those Device Labs. Because yeah, it’s one of the only, I guess … It’s a geek product, in 3D.Justin Avery: Yeah, yeah. I’m looking at a couple of pictures on the site itself, here. There’s an example of three Device Labs. So you picture like, a … Well, basically, it’s a thing which holds your phone, with Velcro.Andi Dysart: Mm-hmm. It’s pretty simple.Justin Avery: But the simple ones are often the best. It’s solving good problems. So what’s this? This is, one of them’s holding six phones, two by three. Another a tablet and two phones lengthways, and then a, three phones at the top, a giant Galaxy gigantor Note next

    to an iPad, and it’s almost as big as the iPad. So I don’t know if that’s a tablet. It’s a phablet, I suppose.Andi Dysart: Phablet.Justin Avery: But they’re, they’re [00:22:00] actually, that’s really cool. That is really cool.With … Do you ever offer any … Because I’ve asked you this before. Ever offer any advice around, so if I bought a couple of Device Labs off you for the agency I work at, so just say I get the agency pack. Have you ever thought of supplying second-hand phones? Or do you recommend certain devices

    that people should be testing on?Andi Dysart: Yeah, we get this, we do get this question often. Not that often, because there’s some good blog posts out there, about what, which devices to test on.I guess the best place to start is … Well, our rule of thumb is just get the devices that cover most of the fields. Because no agency has enough money to spend on, or, yeah. The budgets for these devices are quite expensive. They’re quite, they are quite expensive. But if you get one from each operating

    system, and a few versions, then it should cover it. Like the Apple phone, the old ones with the latest one. And an Android four and above, and then Blackberry, and …Yeah, we have quite a few in the office, so it’s easy. But we’ve got [Mozilla 00:23:19] phones, the developer phones, and also tablets, there’s one or two tablets. So an iPad and an Android tablet of some sort.But it is a difficult question, because it kind of … It’s nice to have a variety. Then, when you need to, when a client … Most of the time the problem comes when a client says, okay, it doesn’t work on my crappy Android, you know. What’s the problem? It doesn’t work on my phone. Or my clients have

    mostly Blackberries, or something. So then it’s worth it just to go and buy a dead phone for that job, if it’s a big job, or …Often, we also refer [00:24:00] the clients to Open Device Labs around the area, around their area. They can always go there and use those phones, if they have them in stock.Justin Avery: They’re really cool, the Open Device Lab stuff. Are you in touch with many open Device Labs? Because I know that the, so this is a bit weird. But Device Lab, your product, as in the stand, went to an Open Device Lab, the OD … I think it’s Dysart: Yeah, ODL.Justin Avery: Yeah, ODL, go and check that out and it has a map of ones near you.Andi Dysart: Avery: Oh, yeah? Is that it? It’s not It’s Dysart: This, too, is Lab Up, I think. Yeah, I’m just [inaudible 00:24:50]Justin Avery: Yeah, you’re right. And Dysart: Yeah, and But yeah, is the place where you can find devices in your area.Justin Avery: Yeah. That’s typical … So I know, Aaron Gustafson got a device, a Device Lab the product off you guys at the [on teller ium 00:25:18] when we [inaudible 00:25:18]Andi Dysart: Yeah, yeah, that’s right.Justin Avery: Which is, which is lovely. So I know he was super stoked about getting it, getting that back, and setting it up in their device lab.Andi Dysart: There was two we gave away. There was, when was that? That was in summer.Justin Avery: That was, that was in May. It was-Andi Dysart: Mm-hmm. That’s an awesome conference there, it’s amazing.Justin Avery: It was fantastic. I was very lucky to be able to go, because I was getting married a week later-Andi Dysart: Yeah, that’s right.Justin Avery: And I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to be allowed back into the country for the wedding. But it all worked out well. We had visa issues, it was fine.Andi Dysart: Yeah, I know, I know that’s … Issues.Justin Avery: They’re terrible. So back on the, for the Ghostlab and stuff. [00:26:00] When … What was the catalyst which sort of landed when you went … No, we need something like this. This is going to, this will be a good business.Andi Dysart: Mm-hmm. Yeah, it actually didn’t start off as a business idea. I was, before I was using Adobe Shadow. It was like the, it was actually the first product to have this kind of system, where you could put a website on the device. I was actually using this, there was a better,

    I think, Adobe Shadow was the better version.Justin Avery: It’s Edge Inspect, now?Andi Dysart: Yeah, now it’s Edge Inspect, yeah. It’s part of the Adobe Cloud package, yeah. Or it’s something, it’s twelve thirty in francs, dollars or pounds a month, or something.Yeah, that’s, I was using that. I was complaining. I just think, oh, I’m too lazy to scroll on every device and fix the bug in this footer. I had a real bad bug in the footer of this website. And every reload I had to scroll with my finger right down to the bottom.I was complaining about this for a couple days, and I think Florian, my boss, he got sick of me, listening to me complain about it. And now, he’s a hacker. He’s amazing, he’s really talented. He just loves these kind of questions, and so he … Unbeknown to me, he just started hacking away at this,

    at a solution for that. And yeah, and then Ghostlab was born.Then yeah, we had to, we saw the movement online. This is right at the time when responsive design was … Coming of age, I guess. You know, everyone was talking about it, it was the new coolest thing on the block, and we’ve already had this product, like, we already had this thing, really, like, and

    it was actually perfect timing.We put a skin on it, made it work really well. Extremely well. And put it on the market. Yeah, it was … Yeah. So there was two products on the market, then. [00:28:00] it was the Edge Inspect and Ghostlab.Justin Avery: Nice.Andi Dysart: Oh, yeah. Mm-hmm. You know, it did well. Yeah. That was the catalyst. The catalyst was me being annoying. That as … No, that little bug in the footer was the catalyst.Justin Avery: The … The recent topics that I’ve been speaking to guests on the podcasts about have been about sort of advanced responsive design techniques. And a lot of the feedback from them have been like, just get the basics right, and get that sorted, and then

    start, like, build progressively, and stuff.Now, as a front-end developer, and someone who’s been frustrated with testing responsive designs before, and you’ve obviously been building them, because these sites are lovely, as well, the product sites that you’ve done.What are the kind of, things that you’ve found sort of frustrating or enjoyed with responsive design? How have you stepped it up over time?Andi Dysart: Enjoyed, I guess the mass adoption of it, like how people just take it and just run with it. What I found at the start, everybody was complaining oh, it’s so hard, and there’s so many questions, especially with the responsive images and stuff. But it’s quite nice that everyone

    just got on with it, and did solutions and just by default started using responsive design as their base, or mobile first. That’s the cool thing about it.What was the other question? Was [inaudible 00:29:37]Justin Avery: Well, like … What are the kind of things that you’re finding troublesome at the moment? Or that you’re beginning to introduce into the builds that you’re going? Like, are you touching on-Andi Dysart: Yeah, Flexbox.Justin Avery: Flexbox?Andi Dysart: Yeah, yeah. So yeah, I’m developing at the moment the new Ghostlab. And [00:30:00] we build this in HTML5, and a lot of other technologies. But yeah, we’re doing the front end in HTML5, so we can deploy it in Windows, as well. We just put a wrapper around it, and then deploy

    it within … The wrapper’s actually online on GitHub repoed for Ghostlab. So if you want to build it, your own, it’s on that repo.It’s a wrapper for Windows or Mac, [Depo 00:30:26] I think it’s called. Anyway, yeah. Some develop-Justin Avery: Because, just to, just delve into that a little bit more. Because Ghostlab itself isn’t like, something that runs out of Terminal or in the browser, right? It’s an actual app you download from the App Store, or it’s an executable, right? But it’s still,

    it’s built in HTML.Andi Dysart: Exactly, yep. See, I’m the … I don’t know a hell of a lot about it, like, the how it, like, technical side of it. I’ve got the team, it’s doing that. But yeah, pretty much. It’s built in HTML. It’s just simply, extremely intelligent app, website, built around a wrapper

    that communicates with the operating system. Although, if it’s Windows, or if it’s Mac. Because with a browser, you can’t do, yeah. You can’t communicate through every action with a browser. You can’t have the right to do a lot of things, actually, you need.Especially with networking, as well. It can be quite technical, it’s going to be quite, with firewalls and permissions, and stuff.Justin Avery: So what you’ve done is built a wrapper to allow you to …Andi Dysart: Mm-hmm. Yep. It’s a custom wrapper, and there’s other wrappers out there. Zephyros is what, it’s called Zephyros, the wrapper. It’s a multi-platform HTML5 wrapper. It’s on Short for Vanamco. VNMC.Yeah, Zephyros is pretty much a wrapper that we put Ghostlab into. From there you can [00:32:00] run your own apps across multiple platforms. Because we have Ghostlab on our own build, we have it on Windows, and we have it also on App Store. And App Store is quite, you know, they have their own rules

    about what can be and can’t be downloaded from the store, as well. This wrapper that we built, that’s for all these platforms.Justin Avery: That’s really cool. Are you building any other apps that you use to wrap around this?Andi Dysart: At the moment, not. No. At the moment we haven’t. We’re building other apps and stuff like this, but we haven’t used this-Justin Avery: But none that you’re using.Andi Dysart: Yeah. [inaudible 00:32:38]Justin Avery: Out of interest, then, like the way this wrapper works, because I’d forgotten we’d talk about this. I think it’d be on [teller 00:32:45] as well. But the way the wrapper works, because it’s got HTML in it, but you’re not running it out of a browser, right?

    You’re running it out of an application window. Does it, can you make it responsive? Like, can you put CSS, I imagine you can put CSS.So as you resized, or if you allow people to resize the app, you could actually respond to that, and have a responsive app inside this wrapper that is running on HTML and CSS.Andi Dysart: Yep, pretty much, yeah. And so it’s pretty much a website. Like, what you can do in a website, you can do inside this app. This wrapper.Justin Avery: But more as well, right? Because you can get into the OS.Andi Dysart: Yeah, much more. Mm-hmm. Much, much more. But essentially, yes. Essentially the app’s a responsive website inside a … And also, yeah, it’s, you’ve got to cross the line. You’ve got to decide, okay. How much, how webby am I going to go, and how appy should I go? Because

    people expect different things from different platforms, you know.So we’ve got to decide, okay, do we show, is it a cursor pointer, or do we show a finger on a link or something like this? You don’t in an app. All those things have to be considered. Or how big is the viewport, and things like that. It’s interesting, it’s very, very interesting.Justin Avery: So have you made those decisions across the [00:34:00] different platforms? Have you got it slightly different for Windows and slightly different for Mac?Andi Dysart: No. No, that’s the same. Same thing.Justin Avery: Good. Good work.Andi Dysart: Also, like, we’ve, coming up … Also we’re coming up with a new design. We’ve worked with a company in Zurich, awesome, awesome company. Ala, that is, A-L-A-dot-C-H. CH is the top-level domain name for Switzerland. They’re doing our icons and interface design. So yeah,

    it’s pretty cool. It’s coming up.They designed it, and their way of thinking about how things should be displayed, and how, when stuff should be displayed, and how things move when you click something. How they, what happens to this object? So they’ve been working on that. And yeah, and I’ve been implementing it, and it’s been …

    Yeah.Justin Avery: So, speaking of implementing.Andi Dysart: Well, the front end.Justin Avery: Yeah, yes. We were touching on, like, the testing of things, and building things responsively, and stuff. Did you, did you have this huge weight on your shoulders when they came to building a responsive site about a responsive testing tool? That it couldn’t

    fail in any browser or device ever, because you have this tool, and you’re trying to sell it?Andi Dysart: Actually, no. Because I know that there’s so many different, [inaudible 00:35:24] there’s so many different screen sizes. If I start with that, then I’m going to go crazy. It’s not possible. But what I did want to do is make sure everybody got the data they needed to do

    [in the kit 00:35:35] you know. If they wanted to know something they knew it. It just got downgraded, the experience, pretty much.But funny that you ask me that, because I found a bug on our website, on the Ghostlab website. I left it there because I wanted to see if anyone would pick it up, you know? And I left it there for, I think it was a month and a half, two months. It was a, it was a Facebook widget, you know? It was,

    it was blowing out the side, and … [00:36:00] I ripped that out straightaway, anyways.Yeah, I left it in there just to see what, somebody would say something. Or it’s to see, you know, if people are actually testing the sites, or looking at the code, or … You know, if they’re using Ghostlab to browse. But yeah, no one said anything. So I guess they had their own problems. Their own

    bugs. Pretty cheeky, I know.Justin Avery: Just, just download and get on with it.Andi Dysart: Yeah, yeah. Which is good, they should do that. That’s what the …Justin Avery: So is there anything that you’re looking forward to at the moment, on the responsive design horizon? With, we’ve almost solved, well, we’ve solved images I think.Andi Dysart: Yeah.Justin Avery: But then there are problems that you’re running into. You said you’re using Flexbox more, and is that for … Like, the large macro layout and columns, and the grids? Or is that more for, like, specific, widget-type things?Andi Dysart: That’s for the whole grid. Yeah, that’s pretty much, yeah. The main layout, and also the smaller components, as well. But I [inaudible 00:37:05] said to you, we don’t have to use Flexbox for everything, but it is … Once you got a handle of Flexbox, it’s amazing. Oh, it’s

    such a dream.Justin Avery: It’s like going back to tables.Andi Dysart: Yeah, it is. Yeah, it’s kind of, kind of a bit. But it’s … Nice, flexible tables. But I hate tables. I do. There’s not one table in Ghostlab. There’s on in, just in the settings, in the code. There’s one table. The rest are, yeah. I’m not a table fan at all.But yeah, the future of responsive design. Yeah, I think we’ve passed this, it’s grown up a bit. I think it’s, it’s, get quite accepted, I think. What’s really cool is how it’s getting mainstream adoption, which it has already. But people actually, like the marketers and the SEO people are actually

    realizing now how valuable it is.I actually wrote a post last week, we put it on [00:38:00] about responsive design and SEO. Just Google it. We wrote a post about that and how the marriage between responsive design and these other areas of the web are coming together quite nicely, and becoming a nice big flexible family,

    I don’t know.Justin Avery: That’s really cool. Is it Nick SEO, you said?Andi Dysart: Yeah, And I guess it’s the latest post, [inaudible 00:38:26]Justin Avery: Yeah, it’s[SEO 00:38:32]Andi Dysart: Is it? Okay, sorry. Sorry, Nick. [inaudible 00:38:33]Justin Avery: It’s really cool. I’ll, I’ll actually include that in this week’s newsletter, you don’t mind. Thank you for adding an extra link for me.Andi Dysart: Yeah. It’s … Yeah, Nick is, he’s got quite a nice site there, quite a, going to the roots of SEO. It’s a, what is it? Avery: Yeah. Yeah, we’ll chuck that up there. So I’ll have a look, and then I’ll run that through for this week’s, this week’s newsletter, as well.So I’ve got an, like, one last kind of question for you, which is a question … And I’ll ask you, once I ask you this, and you can answer it. I’ll ask you to come up with a question for next week’s guest.So each week, the guests ask a question of the one afterwards. So the question from you came from Stu Robson. It was a few weeks ago when we were in Cardiff. He was, he was saying, if Ethan Marcotte didn’t come up with the three tenets … Or, he came up with the three tenets of responsive design.

    So flexible grids, flexible images, and media queries, to resize things at different viewports.If he didn’t come up with that, would we have seen a [surgence 00:39:54] of more m-dot sites, and possibly t-dot sites, [00:40:00] or would someone else have connected the dots?Andi Dysart: We would have seen a big, yeah. I think … Yeah. Probably would have taken a bit longer to get where we are now. Maybe a year or so. But I think this is a natural progression. Yeah, I think people realized when he coined the term, and everyone started using responsive

    design, then I think it was just natural. I don’t think it was …I think, maybe it would have been delayed, sure. And we would have seen more m-dots, websites and stuff like that. But … Yeah, I think he did, Ethan did some good work there by getting it out to the people so quickly as well, also. So thoroughly.Justin Avery: Yeah, he did well.Andi Dysart: He’s still going hard, yeah. He’s still doing it.Justin Avery: Yeah, they’ve actually released a version two of the book. A second edition, which is pretty cool. And I think we, he spoke at the [inaudible 00:41:01] right? As well. When we were there.Andi Dysart: Yeah, he did, yep. That’s cool.Justin Avery: Yeah, that was, yeah. That was super cool. That was really cool. Yeah, it was very cool.Andi Dysart: But yeah, he’s always got some good to day, yeah. Definitely follow him. Follow him if you’re not, already. Who isn’t actually.Justin Avery: It’s @beep, if you haven’t already. If you’re one of the-Andi Dysart: Yeah, and it’s [inaudible 00:41:18]Justin Avery: Seventeen … If you’re listening to this podcast, I’m going to put it out there that if you’re not following @RWD, which is his Twitter handle as well, follow @beep for just a plethora of GIFs, really.Andi Dysart: It’s awesome.Justin Avery: He speaks in GIFs. It is. It is fantastic, it is really cool.Andi Dysart: And the RWD, they’ve got, he’s got quite a few followers in that, too, haven’t they? Eighty K, or something.Justin Avery: Yeah. I thought, yeah. He’s, yeah. Very a lot.Andi Dysart: Boom. Hit the roof.Justin Avery: Yeah. I … You know, he does, he does very well. So do you have a question for our next … Podcast?Andi Dysart: Yeah. I do. It’s not a very serious one. But I’m not a very serious kind of [00:42:00] guy, but yeah.Justin Avery: Me too.Andi Dysart: I do, I do a lot of … With this, I do a lot of marketing. And yeah, and I, I sit on my, sometimes I’m sitting in my desk, and I see, I’m on Facebook, and my colleagues come over and they look at me, like, yeah, you’re on Facebook. And it’s like, yeah, but it’s for work.

    It’s actually for work, you know? I’m actually, like posting something, caught, like, trying to … Yeah, or Twitter or something.My question to the next interviewee, what’s the best site to waste time on? Yeah, what’s the best site to waste time on, but still look like you’re actually working? If it’s … I don’t know. If it’s searching through code on GitHub, I don’t know. I don’t know. Whatever that question means, but yeah.Justin Avery: That’s, that’s quality. And I think, if anyone listens to this edition, they’re definitely going to be tuning into the end of the next one to go, yeah actually, seriously, what is that best site? That’s awesome.Andi, we’re running out of time now, so thank you very much for making some time. It’s the evening, for those of you that are unaware. And I think you’re even an hour ahead of me as well, so it’s even later for you.Andi Dysart: Yes.Justin Avery: So thank you for making some time, sharing your knowledge and your background, and how Ghostlab has come about. And … And everything that you’ve shared so far. Before we go, though, how do people get in touch with you, or follow you, or look at these amazing

    things that you’ve been talking about?Andi Dysart: Yeah. So, my Twitter handle is GitMesh. G-I-T-M-A-S-H. My personal website is Andi with an I. The Germans don’t know, the Germans don’t put a Y, they like to put I. So I did, yeah, I got used to it.And yeah, Vanamco. Vanamco, on our website, you see the products and everything that we’re doing. We’ve got a blog too, which we’re updating all the time, which is pretty cool stuff. The guys at work, [00:44:00] they’re real, real good, proper nerds. Good nerds. They like to do cool posts, and stuff.

    So we’re updating the blog all the time. Yeah, check it out, and yeah.Justin Avery: Awesome. Andi, thank you again for your time.Andi Dysart: Thank you.Justin Avery: I’ll put you, as well, if in the next couple of weeks, maybe after Christmas. If we can maybe do a, we’ll run a screencast perhaps of how Ghostlab is, how quickly we can set up Ghostlab and get going and get testing, as well, if you’re up for that?Andi Dysart: Definitely, definitely.Justin Avery: Awesome. So all those links and stuff will be in the show notes of the show. Andi, thank you again for your time. It’s been absolutely marvelous. Thank you, all the listeners, for tuning in, downloading, or subscribing on the podcast, podcast listener of

    your choice, as well. If you want to learn more about responsive design, jump onto Responsive Design and subscribe to our weekly updates, or go and hit us up on and check out some of the stuff there.Once again, thank you very much Andi for tuning in, and thank you listeners, and we will see you next week. Cheers, everyone.

    —Huffduffed by pattulus