Announcing a rewrite/version 2.0 without causing a panic

When we decided to start from scratch and build a v2 of Invoice Ninja one of our first actions was drafting a blog post to share with our community.

Before sharing it with everyone we initially posted it in our Slack group. I can’t overstate how valuable the feedback was. I thought it may be worthwhile to share the before/after versions of the post.

Here’s the initial draft.

Fork In The Road

We’re coming up on five years since we first started working on Invoice Ninja and are at a critical point in our company’s story.

When we first started working on the app we were experienced developers & marketers with basic understanding of invoicing. Over this time we’ve had the opportunity to learn a tremendous amount about invoicing practices around the world.

Although we’ve taken great care to keep our code to a high quality, a combination of domain considerations and changes to our underlying frameworks have made our code less than the perfect ideal we’re striving for.

We now have a choice to make. We can either maximize immediate profits and short terms gains, or work to reduce our technical debt creating a stable platform for the future. We choose the latter.

Our plan is simple… while building the new version, hosted platform users will continue to receive security and bug fixes. Once we’ve completed the core features existing users will be able to easily migrate over.

For self-host users we’ll create a branch in our GitHub repository which will include new features added by the community. We’ll also continue to improve our new mobile app making sure it’s entirely feature complete.

We’re at the beginning of something amazing. As always, we will be completely transparent with our work. You’ll be able to follow the development process in our GitHub repository, the new version will of course be entirely open source.

If you have any concerns please don’t hesitate to contact us. We see this as a great opportunity and hope with your input we’ll be able to create an even more outstanding invoicing platform.

Here is some of the (extremely helpful) feedback we received:

  • Rob: Is this a v2 or something else?
  • Gijs Rutten: Is there a migration process?
  • Billyggla: Those who have used Invoice Ninja will understand the post and the reasons behind it. However someone new to Invoice Ninja reading the post may come away with “Although we’ve taken great care” “less than the perfect ideal” “maximize immediate profits”. It may be simpler to put across the point that Invoice Ninja is at the forefront of invoicing software and you can continue to use it while we focus on…
  • Nateamus: Transparency is the key to any successful open source project but I think you can be a little to militant about it to the point of creating fear. Really, the net effect of this will be a vastly improved experience once everything has been refactored. Instead of posting about how you’ve “…taken great care” etc etc, I would simply inform the user base that you have bandwidth constraints and perhaps won’t be as responsive to requests because you are focusing on improving the core product. I agree with Billy that it may be a tad alarming. The net effect is going to be amazing with no change in vision, mission or direction, just perhaps less bandwidth. Perhaps that could be the focus.
  • Olivier B. Deland: I think your post is maybe too “developer-friendly”. I would start with something more client-friendly, saying that you are starting a 2.0 version which will allow you to pump more great features faster in the future, cleaner UI, or whatever, etc. Then, start a new sub section with the transparency details for people who are more interested in those things. Non-technical people, who will just stop reading at this point, need to be reassured already that everything is fine and for the better.

Finally, here’s the revised version incorporating the feedback.

Invoice Ninja v2.0

We’re excited to announce that we’re starting work on a major redesign of Invoice Ninja! By upgrading to the latest and greatest web technologies we’ll be able to provide more features at a faster rate.

We’re a small team, accomplishing this task will requires us to slow down feature development of the current version while we focus on v2.0. Once the new version is ready you’ll be able to click a button to migrate all of your data and settings.

For self-host users we’ll create a branch in our GitHub repository which will include new features added by the community. We’ll also continue to improve our new mobile app making sure it’s entirely feature complete.

As always, we will be completely transparent with our work. You’ll be able to follow the development process in our GitHub repository, the new version will of course be entirely open source.

If you have any concerns please don’t hesitate to contact us. We see this as a great opportunity and hope with your input we’ll be able to create an even more outstanding invoicing platform.

Thankfully our announcement went extremely well. I believe the revised post does a much better job of explaining our intentions without causing unnecessary fear. I’m extremely grateful to our community for their help here and of course their ongoing support of our project. We’re a few months in now… v2 is coming along great.

 

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