Owlymate: Development DiariesNews
We've just announced a pre-sale of Owlymate – our new SEO tool for macOS and Windows! In this post, I'll keep you posted about the latest news from our development team till the program is officially released.
So that it'll be easier for you to spot the latest entries, I'll post the updates in reverse chronological order. But if you want to start from the very beginning, here's a link to the first entry.
If you haven’t yet joined the rows of beta testers to be the first one who’ll have the taste of the new product awesomesauce, you can do it now 👇
The ‘Electron’ Operation
You know, for quite a long time we used the code name ‘Electron’ for our new product. And it wasn’t our deep knowledge of particle physics, it was named after the application development platform that we use. During the project design of our new product, we didn’t know what functionality and positioning it would have, but we knew for sure that we would use this particular technology.
Thanks to Electron, we have the opportunity to use web layout in the application, so we can implement any design ideas for the sake of better usability for our users. In fact, the application interface opens in the built-in Chromium browser.
And the biggest plus of this technology is that it lets you write cross-platform desktop applications: we’re developing a tool both for Windows and macOS (and even thinking about Linux). You have no idea how many requests from the macOS users we’ve received over the years of Netpeak Spider and Checker development 😩
Of course, we cannot do without challenges. JS isn’t the fastest and the most optimal programming language. To achieve interface usability and make it cross-platform, we always have to toil towards performance optimization. But it’s a feasible task for Merlin 😊
The second hiccup lies in the platform itself. Since a browser is built into the Electron core, the application file can easily weigh 200 MB. Yes, it’s not feather-light, but not too much for a program that does a complex technical SEO audit.
In short, Electron opens up many new possibilities for us as developers, so we’ll try to use them wisely.
In the next entries, we’ll tell you more about the Owlymate functionality. Stay tuned!
Perfect Tables Recipe
I love usability and everything that helps our users achieve results faster. I remember that in the fall of last year, Kutasok and Merlin asked me to draw up the requirements for tables in Owlymate. It’s an analytical tool where everything revolves around tables.
Such questions work like a charm on me, you don't have to ask me twice → I recalled many years in the role of a Project Manager, dived into the very jungle of Table UI / UX and came up with 26 bullet points that need to be taken into account + 50 minutes video presentation of technical task (let's call it that way 😜, a technical task in a video format).
Here’s a brief takeaway from my research:
I. Designing Tables for Reusability (by Ada Rafalowicz and Havana Nguyen) → a detailed guide to the usability of tables. I’m sure you’ll find something new for yourself if you take part in the development of interfaces, where tables are an integral part of it.
II. TradingView Stock Screener → one of the best table implementations I've ever seen. Sorting, filtering, working with columns, popular data presets, custom tables and much more.
III. I’ll keep those messages described in the technical requirements succinct and to the point not to rattle on across gazillion pages:
- Lazy Loading data.
- Pagination + quick jump to the first / last page.
- Indication of the amount of data: current and total one in the collection (for example, ‘100-200 out of 189382’).
- Select the number of data lines to be displayed (for example, the default is 10, but you can choose 25, 50, 100, etc.).
- Opportunity to sort in descending and ascending order.
- Display the sorting that has been applied to the table.
- Smart Sorting → sorts the entire dataset, not just the ones shown on the current page.
- Comprehensive data filtering.
- Quick search in the current table (Google Analytics style).
- Export the entire table in the CSV format (for starters).
- Select the columns / parameters to display in the table.
- Quickly removing (hiding) unnecessary columns.
- Copying data from cells.
- Interactive elements (for example, following a URL in a browser using a separate button).
- Freezing of columns.
- Formatting support in a table (e.g. cell colors, text color, text style, etc.)
- Simple horizontal scrolling (for example, with the scroll wheel pressing the ‘Shift’ button).
- Hints in the column headers.
- Indicator (three dots) if the value in the column / cell doesn’t fit.
- Hover tooltips if the value in a column / cell is being clipped.
- Custom filling of cells with any necessary data (for example, displaying the Title of the page in the cell with URL).
- Other options for displaying data (for example, pie chart, bar chart, etc.).
- Display of results in the form of a tree structure of the site.
- Display of results in the form of the link graph.
- Highlighting one or all URLs (checkbox, tick) for the corresponding functions.
- Color schemes: dark and light
The chances are we won’t implement everything off the bat, but the list of important functions has already been compiled. If I missed something out, let me know in the comments 😏
How Our Owl Got a Make Over
Hey everyone! I’m Nastya, and I’m managing the marketing department. I’m bursting into the development diary with a story about how our unnamed owl has garnered her name – Owlymate – and went through drastic changes.
It seems that first you develop the program and then give a think to branding. But noes, marketing promotion steps in much earlier than official release – in our case, one year prior.
Since our development team hatched a plan to release a new revolutionary product back in 2019, it was the time when Wise and I took up first tasks on branding:
- Come up with a name for a new product
- Design a logo based on our legendary owl that our users love so much
How We Came Up with the Name Owlymate
The name of the new product should have been:
- ‘owlish’ – contains a clear reference to owls for both Russian-speaking and English-speaking users.
- ‘friendly’ – clearly shows that our tool will be the SEO's best mate and assistant.
Owl + mate = Owlymate
By the way, I also like the double entendre of the particle mate (the linguists will catch my drift). After all, we develop Owlymate to automate your SEO tasks. You get it:
OWLYMATE TO AUTOMATE
Of course, we brainstormed the name many times over: and each time, a new ‘pair’ word was discovered. The top variants: Owlytron, Owlynator, and rather humble Owlify. In the end, we acknowledged Owlymate as the go-to variant. However, once I’ve seen a flash in the alley, then shooting in a bar, and the roar of a leaving motorbike. Is Owlynator back to save the world again?
By the way, nothing foreshadowed trouble, but recently we’ve launched an ad on YouTube, and it was blocked due to the ‘adult content’ issue 😅 Google support decided that the word Owlymate reeked of webcam industry.
Surely, we convinced Google of our good intentions, but we’ll keep in mind that a seemingly innocent word should be checked for any references to the porn industry in the future.
How We Were Working on the Owlymate Logo
Since 2019, our designer Lelya has had almost 20 do-overs of our owl. I even thought about giving her a special T-shirt, but in the end, I bought it for my own beloved self.
This is how the owl evolved during the year of work on the logo: as you can see, we dashed from one extreme to the other – from making the owl cute to terrifying.
And this is the winner owl – naturally selected by Wise, Lelya, and me.
We aimed to show in the logo that Owlymate will help you solve SEO tasks day and night (especially at night). Therefore, in the final version of the text logo, the owl has firmly nestled on the moon.
And now, the first Owlymate customers who have supported our team and purchased one or three-year license at the pre-sale are already receiving their next generation soft owls by mail 🦉
So how do you like the evolution of our owl? Do we need to call the fashion police?
Distribution of Tasks among Releases
Remember Wise told that we’re mapping out Owlymate features till the 4.0 release? I mean, we really do. Today, we defined what tasks will get to a particular release: we gave special attention to the in-house alpha, public beta, and the main release 1.0.
When we developed Netpeak Spider and Checker, we set our plans for a couple of months ahead. Yes, we have an optimized program, which solves many tasks better than competitors’. However, now we can’t do more than our best and add some features because we didn’t think about them in the past and didn’t lay them in the program architecture 😩
And so we wised up and considered the experience of our past developments. In Owlymate, we’re planning releases literally for several years ahead. It helps to bear the nuances in mind from the very start and create a flexible platform, which can be easily supplemented with new features.
Follow the development diary, we'll share the list of tasks once 😏
Will You Have the Dark Theme?
My short answer is YES.
The dark theme is ubiquitous across many popular products: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Netpeak Checker 😁
The biggest plus of the dark theme is that it’s more comfortable to work with in the evening or at night because the screen luminance is lower, so it reduces the eye strain. Another benefit – the dark theme looks more classy than the light one 😊
We also opt for the dark theme because our team members are largely the owls and like staying late. At the start of the development of Owlymate, we decided that it’ll have two themes: the light and the dark one. But we’ll launch the program first on the dark theme. Eventually, it’ll be the main one in the program.
Let me share with you the undercurrent that we encountered developing an instrument with a dark theme:
- We can’t use many colors and their hues. A familiar color in a light theme can look ugly in a dark one. We have to do a raffle on the colors that will look fetching in both cases.
- It’s harder to separate blocks from each other. It’s particularly visible in the pop-up elements, for example, tooltips. If in a light theme, it’s enough to use a shadow, in a dark one, you sometimes have to change the background color.
- Designing tables with data also needs tweaking. Light lines on a dark background are less noticeable, the regular blue color for links also looks bleak, etc. This becomes especially tricky if you need to take a screenshot of a table for a presentation. Then the data is almost invisible on bad projectors.
- It’s challenging to read the light text on the dark background. Fortunately, the situation with texts is moderate in Owlymate 😊 Meanwhile, we’re trying to make the reading comfortable.
Even though there’s a lot of trial and error, Lelya and I are getting through the traps and making the program interface nice-looking and easy to use. I’m pretty sure you’re going to love the dark theme in Owlymate.
Postponed Activation Date of Owlymate Accesses
In the previous entry, Wise revealed to you our development roadmap. I’ll remind you that if you purchased Owlymate access at the pre-sale, it'll be activated on the date of official release of the 1.0 product this autumn.
That’s why we decided to tentatively reschedule activation of all purchased accesses for September 1, 2021. And that’s what I’ve got for you 😊
When Will Owlymate Be Released?
I’ll come clean, this is one of the most frequent questions we’ve been asked these days. Well, it's time to show my hand and share our development roadmap for the next few months 💡
A little foreword: in November 2020, Kutasok and I had a cosmic connection with the development muses, and this is when we had an out-of-the-blue realization of how to make Owlymate revolutionary (we’re backing off at ‘just another SEO product’). However, to achieve this goal, we need more time than we planned from the outset – check out our roadmap to make sure we’re on the same wavelength 🌊
📍 Stage 1: Alpha Testing
We’re at this stage: our team of in-house QA specialists is currently carrying out alpha testing. Of course, there is always the option ‘to release a raw product and pretend that this is an inventive solution,’ but there is no such option for me to be honest. I want to immediately take into account the maximum functionality and plan its implementation. Therefore, we’ll move on to a slightly different plan.
Stage 2: Beta Testing
At this stage, we’re handing out Owlymate to private beta testing: access will be provided absolutely for free to all users who purchased the pre-sale product, as well as to those who signed up for beta testing via the form. We’ll show you literally the ‘foundation of the program’ – not yet penthouses and elevators. You’ll learn about them at the next stage.
📅 We’re planning to give access to this version in April 2021.
Stage 3: Early Access 0.1 – 0.X
This is the stage of public testing → we’ll give utterly free access to our customers, beta testers, and all users who have signed up on our website. During this period, we together will go from the first public release of the raw version 0.1 right up to the official release of version 1.0. During this time, we’ll release many updates and fulfill our heart’s desires by joint efforts.
📅 We’ll try to release this version in May 2021.
Stage 4: Owlymate 1.0 Release
I must confess, we’re thinking up a revolution for the technical SEO software industry, so we’ve already mapped out the features up to the 4.0 release – that’s going to be a long but exciting journey. And in the first version of the paid product, we’re going to show the basic functionality with the initial ‘issuing’ of those features we had planned before, and then develop them right on your watch.
📅 We’re tentatively scheduling this release for fall 2021.
Sure thing, we own up our responsibility for the people who have already become Owlymate customers and used the benefits of the pre-sale → the accesses that you bought won’t slip through the cracks. You can use them after the official release of version 1.0. Till then, you’ll have free access to the Early Access version – we will be as open as possible about the development progress and keep you updated on the latest advances.
Hope and pray that you understand why we’ve mapped out such stages and why the test version will be a little bit later – behind the development of Owlymate, there are many years of hypothesis testing, mile-long technical tasks, and a mountain of design layouts. It's not that easy to make the best product in the world 😊
In case of any questions or concerns, you can contact your manager or comment under this blog post. Till next time 👋
Charts: What Will They Look Like?
We set a goal – to make reports in Owlymate clear, functional, and beautiful. Today, I’m going to tell you how we’re working to reach it 😊
The program will have reports with charts for visual data display. We've sifted through several dozen diagram libraries. I'm glad there are a lot of them, but it was tough 😅
Main criteria we're going for:
- Visual attractiveness. The charts should be a sight for sore eyes. And they must be pleasant to interact with.
- Interactivity. When hovering, they’ll show the corresponding values. It’s also possible to highlight a series of data when hovering over the legend so that you can visually separate part of the data or emphasize it.
- Color schemes. We’re planning to implement dark and light modes. That’s why we’re so dead set about it.
- Full customization. The opportunity to change:
- text (font, size, background, color) in any chart element
- color of data series, background
- the location of the legend
- Quick export to file. The opportunity to quickly save the chart in the PNG / SVG formats not to lose quality when taking a screenshot.
- High rendering speed. The charts should be rendered quickly, even if they contain a lot of data. For example, to show a metric change over a long period of time.
And here’s the example of the program mockup (it’s not the final version, so don’t quibble 🤣):
We’re working most of the time remotely. Still, we don’t forget to discuss crucial decisions in good company – in the photo, you see not only the Owlymate development team but also my colleagues from the marketing, Q&A, sales, and support departments.
That’s how we meet to put our heads together and think of the company’s development strategy. To know and understand our plans was the privilege of team members so far, but now we’re ready to share them and reveal our workflow for the next six months. Stay tuned 😏
Thank-You Gifts for Owlymate Early Adopters
Yesterday we got down to shipping the limited edition of owl-assistants to the clients, who purchased access to Owlymate before the official release (but only for 1 year and more, as we meant from the outset 😊) – I’m sure they’ll be cheering you up and help you go great guns.
And I want to thank all our early adopters for the trust you put in us – we won’t louse it up 😎!
I’ll remind you that everyone, who buys Opwlymate during the pre-sale period, will get awesome perks:
- Access to private beta testing → you will be able to test the product before the official release, and your feedback will influence the final version of the functionality.
- Access for a friend for free → in addition to getting access for yourself, you will also get gift access for 1 friend for the same plan and subscription term. Have fun together!
- Owl-assistant → all clients that purchase a subscription for 1 year or 3 years will receive a limited edition owl-assistant toy.
- Gift set → owl-assistant will not only fly to all the buyers of the 1-year and 3-year accesses, but it will also carry cool surprises for the first clients.
Idea Behind This Diary
Hey guys! I’m Vanya (a.k.a Kutasok), and now I’m going to tell you what Wise and I are really up to.
We want to get the product development on the road as a reality-show – so you’ll become the insider and be able to sneak peek behind the scenes, find out the reason for this or that solution, and simply get closer to us. And we’ll get closer to you.
We’ll use this diary to:
- tell you what the Owlymate team is currently working on
- spill the beans about the new product interface
- answer your questions about the features
- share innermost thoughts
- and introduce you to our corporate culture
Stay with us and watch for updates → that’s going to be exceptional 😜
Let’s Get to Know Each Other
Friends, this is the first entry in our Owlymate Dev Diaries. But it’s not the first day of our work on the instrument, like not even close 😊
I want you to meet our team, each member of which has been solely focused on the new product. And don’t be surprised, we’ve been using nicknames for a long time, and we’ll be even pleased and flattered if you address us this way:
me – Wise
🔵 Apart from work, I’m playing futsal and drums in a giddy number of bands.
🔵 In this project, I’m responsible for all strategic parts: from developing the concept to the deployment of final interfaces. I have an eye for detail, plunge into the product, entirely dedicating myself to it. That’s why I can answer nearly every question about it: from commas in the texts to the reasons behind these or those global decisions.
Kutasok (Ivan Kutas):
Head of Products at Netpeak Software
⚪ He’s raising a daughter, travels a lot, and dreams of planting an entire forest.
⚪ As for Owlymate, he’s heading up the product engineering and development, as well as development team management. He’s hawk watching competitors, SEO tendencies, and always balancing between what he wants to do and what we can afford.
Merlin (Maksym Moskalyk)
Lead Software Engineer
⚫ He plays midi keyboard, loves board and computer games, and is a master of the ‘What? Where? When?’ intellectual game.
⚫ He turns all ideas into the operating functionality, builds the program architecture, and strives to make it as sufficient as possible: fast, robust, and reliable at the same time.
Lelya (Olha Lipova)
🔴 She’s doing CrossFit, plays Sims 4, sometimes oil paints, and is a happy owner of a kitty and two tarantulas.
🔴 In Owlymate, she creates mock-ups of the interfaces, visualizes all ideas, goes over all decisions concerning functionality. Her gifts are a sense of taste and healthy perfectionism. Shortly speaking, it’s her who makes the product fetching and user-friendly.
Gravelot (Alexey Podlipniy)
Head of Platform
⚫ He’s a successful husband and moderator of a home zoo (3 cats, 3 birds), fond of medieval history, life, and music.
⚫ In Owlymate, he’s managing web infrastructure: online reports, notification systems in messengers and [the content was removed due to NDA violation]. He believes that the ideal instrument is a balanced blending of the power of desktop and flexibility of cloud solutions.
Gambit (Aleksandr Shkarbaliuk)
⚪ Traveler and shutterbug. Raises (ahh, you guessed wrong) a blind cat taken from the animal shelter. In his spare time, he tries to automate everything around the house – at this moment, he focused on creating his own version of Jarvis 😜
⚪ In the project, he’s developing the architecture and functionality of the server side of the product and the platform as a whole. He adores complex tasks, as well as drawing charts and graphs.
Skazka (Oleksandra Novikova)
QA and Technical Writer
🔵 She’s also raising a daughter, two dogs, two cats, and dreams about adopting a turtle. When she has spare time, she likes singing and reading books about the biology of human behavior.
🔵 Within the team, she helps Kutasok to thoroughly develop the functionality ideas and write a quality technical task for Merlin. And the most important thing – she tortures the product in all conceivable ways not to let a single bug out to the user.
*Of course, this is not the full list of people engaged in the process, but I tried to pinpoint those who dedicate most of their time to Owlymate.
By leaps and bounds, we’re developing modules, interface designs, and testing current features. And to understand why we decided to keep this diary, you just need to look at our last entry.