Weekend Already!

June 29th, 2007

Wow, what a crazy week. Casey finished off his day job today- yippi!

My parents, Casey and I, my brother and his new fiancee are heading out to the Berkshires to a celebrate Mom and Kyle’s birthdays, Ravelry’s kickstart, and Kyle and Erica’s engagement. Whew! (You would not believe how long it took me to construct that sentence and I am still not happy with it- hah)

We thought the inn was going to have internet but I don’t think it does- we will be on to check in but are not sure where we can get a connection…

So everyone be good while we are gone-ish!

Next week Casey and I start our first week working on Ravelry full time! We are so excited and can’t wait to get our ideas on the screen for you guys!

Have a great weekend- hope the weather is as nice where you are!

Away for the weekend

June 23rd, 2007

Jess and I are taking the weekend off. Hooray!

Our 2nd wedding anniversary is Monday, June 25th and we’re heading up to Ogunquit, Maine for 2 nights. (Hi frecklegirl.com readers! Thanks for all of the destination suggestions.)

We probably won’t be checking our email at all. I know that the beta testers will behave and the server will take care of any unruly processes by itself, so we’ll be relaxing and thinking about things other than Ravelry for a change.

An important note: there are several outstanding bugs and I don’t think that there are many (or any) issues that haven’t been uncovered. If you could hold on to any bug reports and wait until we get back and catch up, we’d sure appreciate it. Our email is a constant battle… Also, if you are new try searching the forums – you’ll might find that your issue has already been reported and there may be a workaround (such as “install Firefox” haha).

Invites will go out today but tomorrow’s will be delayed. We are up to 3063 users, 682 unclaimed invitations, and 7303 people on the waiting list. The invitations going out today will be from May 10th signups.

Don’t despair if it seems like your invitation will never arrive – one more week until we are both working on Ravelry full time!

See you later!
Casey and Jess

quick update : we are leaving now and we didn’t get through all of our email – there is a lot of unanswered mail from yesterday and a few stragglers from earlier. We’ll get back to you when we return – sorry!

I quit my job and in 2 weeks Jess and I are going to be working on Ravelry full time!
This means that the site will be open to all sooner than it would have been otherwise. Hooray!

It’s definitely a gamble, but it really felt like the right thing to do. We are *really* proud of what we’ve accomplished in 5 months of working after dinner and on Saturday afternoons but now it’s time to get serious. We want Ravelry to be great and we want it to be open as soon as possible.

Jess and I feel really good about how the beta is going and how things are shaping up. The only thing that is really stressing us out is the waiting list. We know that people are getting anxious and it’s hard to explain to people why they have to wait. The beta has been *really valuable* and I’m so glad that we decided to develop the site in this way. I feel bad about the waiting list but I still think that it was the best thing that we could have done. It’s nearly impossible to let a site such as our grow organically, people find out about things SO FAST and we really need to have slow growth as we are building and testing.

I know people often see the “beta” label as meaning “new”, but Ravelry is really in a beta stage. There are bugs, there are things that are incomplete, there are important features of the site that we really want to have in place before we have tens of thousands of users. People have asked The site seems done enough, why aren’t you open yet?. Here are the main things that we are working on:

  • Data. Ravelry contains a huge amount of user-edited and contributed content. We are still making lots of changes and improvements (thanks to TONS of feedback from beta people) to these aspects of the site. It’s very important that everyone feels that our information (specifically patterns and yarns) is accurate, complete, and easy to navigate and discover.
  • Bugs. We’ve been so swamped that I haven’t been keeping up. The biggest problem here is that there are lots of outstanding Internet Explorer and Safari issues. We tell our beta testers that using Firefox is their best option, but once open the majority of our users will be on IE.
  • Community features. We have a few very important features that need to be added before the # of users gets too large. We really want Ravelry to feel like a small and friendly place even after there are tens of thousands of people inside. It should always be fun (and easy) to meet and connect other Ravelers.
  • Performance. The site is built to scale and we are prepared to build it up and add servers as needed. However, there are lots of things that can be improved and now that we have a couple thousand testers, it’s much easier to find and stamp out the bottlenecks.
  • Feedback. We’re having trouble keeping up with the feedback from the 2500 users that we have now. We have to streamline things a bit, make improvements to the forums, help to improve the wiki/user’s guide.
  • Advertising and other plans for earning money aren’t in place yet. We’ll need to spend more of money on servers and hardware when the site is open to the world and we can’t do that until we have some money to spend.

Also, we’d like to wow you all with the awesome features that we haven’t added to the site yet, but if we are missing some of those, it won’t stop us from opening :)

So when will we be open? We don’t know – it’s hard to plan when we’re still doing this in our free time. Ask again in 2 weeks. In the meantime, we’re still sending out about 1000 invitations a week.

Many of you have been waiting 5 weeks for an invitation. We had SO MUCH interest in the first few days that the invitations being sent our are still from early/mid-May. We are into the invites from May 7th at the moment and after the next 1000 invitations go out, we’ll be up to May 11th. We’re going as fast as we can (maybe a little faster) and we thank you for your patience.

There are currently 2505 users in Ravelry, 6846 on the waiting list, and 541 invitations that haven’t been cashed in.

Casey

Busy busy busy

June 15th, 2007

[ If you just want the update on invitations, skip to the end. In short, 2400 have been sent and about 1000 more will go out during the next 7 days ]

Workin' on the Rav

(Yes, it’s yet another photo of Bob. It’s unavoidable – if you’ve got a camera, he’ll get in front of it.)

First of all, thank you all SO MUCH for your donations. We can see them all come in along with your Ravelry username, avatar, and all that and we appreciate every single contribution. I really think that donations are going to make all of the difference – I hope that your contributions will help us get Ravelry up on it’s feet without compromising anything. Also, we won’t have to cry a little when the next monthly server bill hits our credit card :)

Jess and I have been very busy responding to a mountain of feedback and improving Ravelry. I release a new version of the site daily and there are always feature updates, bug fixes, and improvements being rolled out. A few of the recent updates:

  • Last night, I introduced a big change in the pattern editing features. Any Raveler can now adopt a book, website, or magazine and help to add and improve the information that is in Ravelry’s database. It’s been going well so far and I’m really excited about how our pattern database is shaping up. We now have have 6674 pattern pages on Ravelry and more than 1/3 of them have been checked by someone for completeness and general goodness (and that number is rising fast). Once we get a couple kinks worked out, the Yarn section will get the same treatment. Great job, volunteer editors! Also, a really BIG thank you to the super-editors who have been with us since before this feature was added. I see you helping people with their editing questions in the forums and it is much appreciated.
  • A couple new toys like a better search by tag (ie. find projects tagged with “harrypotter”, “blue”, or “ugly”) and a random UGH! browser (UGHs are projects that people have marked as disasters) with a “most favorited” browser to accompany it.
  • We’ve added a wiki-like User’s Guide. There is a lot to Ravelry and we take pride in keeping it easy to use and intuitive. Still, the new community edited guide was sorely needed. The guide will be a great place share answers to frequently asked questions, find out about different tips and tricks, and learn all about Ravelry.
  • Bug fixes, performance improvements, and browser quirk fixes. We’ve still got lots of outstanding IE 6 and Safari issues. They’ll all be fixed, but in the meantime, please give Firefox a shot.

Also, lots of people have written to ask if we could fill the void left by DeStash. Of course we can! We just need some nice stash browsing pages. At the moment, we have over 1600 skeins (635 different stashed yarns) that people have marked as “will trade or sell”.

Finally – a quick update on invitation status. So far, 2414 invites have been sent out. About 800 invites went out in the last week and we expect to send out a little over 1000 during the next 7 days. I know that lots of sites say “beta”, but we *really are* in beta and we just aren’t ready for you all yet. I just want to reiterate that the invitations are going out in the order that they were received. We don’t see any names until they are sent (because we are CCed on the emails). Thanks again for your patience!

oh – one last thing: we still haven’t had a chance to give our blog the Ravelry design treatment, but feel free to swing by if you want to leave a comment: http://blog.ravelry.com.

You twisted our arm…

June 10th, 2007

…and we give in. We are now accepting donations! If you are already a Ravelry user, check out our page at http://www.ravelry.com/donate.

Also, many people who have been waiting for their invite have said that they are interested in donating. That’s very sweet, but we’d like to earn your support! We’ll see you soon and we really appreciate your excitement.

Our dog, Bob (a Boston Terrier, thus the accent ;)

Here is our explanation – reproduced from the Ravelry donation page:

Why donate to Ravelry?

  • Say “Thank you!” for what we’ve built so far
  • Help us pay for the costs of running the site
  • Help ensure that Ravelry continues to grow and improve
  • Get our dog, Bob, the dental work that he so badly needs (kidding!)

What will my donation be used for?

Hey – it’s me, Casey. There are two main things that we are hoping to accomplish. First, we’ll use donations to pay for server costs and other expenses. I’ve been working very hard to make sure that we are getting the most for our money but Ravelry needs a dedicated server and this sort of thing doesn’t come cheap. At the moment, this is our biggest expense cash-wise.

We’re dreaming a little, but your donations could be enough to get us to work on Ravelry full-time. We didn’t create Ravelry to earn some extra cash. Honestly. It wouldn’t have been worth the trouble – haha. Jess and I built Ravelry because we thought that it was something that the community needed and we thought that we’d have a fun time doing it. Since mid-January, we have been working very hard building this site for you. Jess works long days editing, emailing, planning, and managing. I start coding as soon as I get home from my job and work late nights and weekends. It’s really hard to keep this up and we’ve been wishing that Ravelry could be our “real” job. We’ve always dreamed of having a business together and we’d really like Ravelry to be our job.

Can’t you earn money some other way?

There are many ways that Ravelry can earn money and we’re hoping that we’ll have the freedom to pick the options that are the best and the most fun for everybody. We’ve got big ideas like online and local yarn store connections and comparison shopping and smaller ideas like advertising, more book sales/commission programs, and pattern sales. Getting this site up off the ground is tough and your donations will be a huge help!

Do I get anything for my donation?

You get a huge thank you from us!

Quick waiting list update

June 6th, 2007

The posts here go to our blog (which many waiting list people are subscribed to) as well as the “beta news” page inside Ravelry. I don’t want to over-do the communication, but since I put up two member-related posts in a row…

1931 invitations have been sent – 437 of these invites have gone out in the last 50 hours.
See what you made us do? ;) The invite request list is now just under 5700 people long.

We have about 250 things (large and small) that we still want to add to the site. Beta testers suggest new ideas and add to our list on a daily basis. There is just SO MUCH that Ravelry could do – what you see in the screenshots is just the beginning.

Okay – my little bug notifier is telling me that a Blackberry and a Sony Ericsson W810 phone are having trouble getting on. Hold on! You are way ahead of me. I’d love to do a nice mobile Ravelry but I’ve got a lot of more important stuff to do first. What are you guys trying to do anyway? Just playing around?

PS – if you dig in the forums you’ll find that you can text Ravelry (from most US carriers) and get information from your needle inventory. Maybe that will keep you busy.

A big part of the beta is improving the way that we manage the data that flows in from our users. (We currently have 4900 patterns and 6676 yarns in Ravelry.)

Have you noticed the little red flag button that appears on some pattern and yarn pages?
This allows you to flag a pattern or yarn as duplicate or erroneous and leave a little note if you wish.
(If the flag button doesn’t appear, that means that you are looking at a pattern or yarn that has been approved by the editors.) We’ve got almost 40 volunteer editors who have been helping us whip our data into shape and your flags are a BIG help.

2 days ago, I put together some Yarn admin pages that make it easier for us to keep the yarn database clean. Here is a picture of me merging a duplicate Rowan yarn:

Note that this dupe never should have happened – I recently tweaked Ravelry so that it’s a lot less likely that people will add duplicate patterns but the yarns still need some attention. If this were a pattern, it would have reminded the user twice that something with the same name already existed. The pattern suggester even catches typos and variations in spelling and naming.

Anyway – go forth and flag!

Our inboxes runneth over!

June 5th, 2007

So much email!
(Those spikes are invites going out – yay!)

I put up a publicly viewable sneak peek. I figure that the cat is out of the bag and people are already posting screenshots to Flickr and stuff. We might as well show people what they are patiently waiting for!

http://www.ravelry.com/tour/peek