Product launch experience
4 min read
DevRaven was launched to public last week. It took about 3+ months to develop the product that was launched, working about 12-14 hours a day and 6 days a week. I do not work on Sundays so I can recover and be ready for upcoming week.
While the features I wanted for GA are dev complete by July first week, I spent almost a month just for launch activities. Beyond development of the product, a lot of other activities happen when public starts to consume the product.
- Product Documentation
I did not want documentation to be a check mark, just for the sake of having a documentation site. I think product documentation is your chance to explain a feature and it should show the passion you have for the feature for anyone reading it. Products like Stripe, Twilio are examples of documentation sites that I think have contributed significantly to their product success and gain following among developers. So, I spent quite some time writing documentation for all the features. I have already heard from a partner that my product documentation is pretty good and every minute I spent on documentation is completely worth it hearing that feedback. Here's DevRaven's documentation site - docs.devraven.io/docs/intro
- Product Videos
Though documentation site helps explaining a feature, videos can offer great help to explain step-by-step instructions for using a feature. Unlike a large company, I can't afford to get videos produced by professionals. It was painful initially with lot of bloopers and cuts to create a simple explainer. By the time of launch I created five videos explaining each of the types of monitors and how a developer can setup a local environment for running synthetic tests before setting them up DevRaven. The videos are available in our YouTube channel
- Product Scalability
When a product feature is developed, you typically are the only user using it. But launch would mean thousands of users visiting your site, hundreds of users trying to use the product. DevRaven is built to be a stateless, horizontally scalable service. So, I had to enable scaling features to handle the traffic and spin up additional services anticipating the usage. For the most part everything went well and two days before the launch, I found that www site (the core website that everyone lands on) had bandwidth limits on the service where I was hosting at. So, I had to setup a new location and redirect the traffic to the new hosting site.
I spent significant amount of time running end-to-end tests, setting up API and synthetic monitors and setting up alerting rules in GCP. The process did expose a few bugs that were resolved before the launch. I have the rules to send alerts for every single error log message that must be ack'ed and closed. One of my strongest belief's is - no product can be 100% tested and it can never be bug free. But I want to be the first to know about that bug so I can fix it before a customer encounters it.
The launch week
And after all the effort, I was still under stress during the week of launch. My sleep quality was very bad as I could not stop thinking about what could break on the day of launch. In fact, I was unhappy about the features that I did not build instead of being happy about the feature that are available. I don't know if this happens to everyone, but it was the worst part of my experience launching the product.
Finally, on the day of the launch there was significant amount of traffic landing on DevRaven website and some users trying out the product. Things went pretty smooth (except for one bug that a user has reported and I was able to roll out a fix in a couple of hours) on the day of launch. One of my former coworker said some time ago - a product launch should be uneventful. I completely agree with that. And finally, after the launch I was able to get a good night sleep.
Since the preview to limited users, DevRaven already ran more than 150,000+ monitoring checks and still runs thousands of checks every day. I am super proud of what I was able to accomplish so far and very excited about the new features that will be available in the coming weeks.
P.S.: If you are a developer who hates to see a customer issue about your feature not working or something is broken, monitoring is the only thing that can help. DevRaven helps you setup synthetic monitoring and API monitoring for your features for free.