Status update - 2021-06

Status update - 2021-06

Console status update - June 2021: Mars research article, website tools directory, podcast, moving office and commercial experiments.

This is a monthly series reporting on how things are going at Console. This is our fifth post which will go into what happened in June.

Focus for June

I wrote last month:

...this month we'll be publishing our first research article. We'll then continue our focus on the website by starting work on a tools archive. We've been asked multiple times about tools we have featured in the past, so are planning to release browsable directory on our website. The design work will start in June but we may not finish the implementation this month.

So how did we do?

Research article

We published our first research article called "How will the internet work on Mars?" This was written as a fun exploration of how the technologies we currently rely on to run the internet will not scale across such large distances. This is because of the inherent latency constraints - even travelling at the speed of light, transmission of data over a direct connection from Earth to Mars would take between 3-22 minutes, one way!

We had hoped that this article would get picked up on various tech and/or space forums but unfortunately we didn't see much traction there. However, we have received positive feedback directly from individuals. We linked to it in the newsletter and on social media, and I had multiple people take the time to get in touch and say how much they enjoyed reading it. It also already ranks on the first page of Google for relevant terms.

This was a good first attempt at a long-form article with custom design and illustrations. We wanted to create something high quality within the Venn Diagram of our audience's interests. There's a good overlap between developers and space related stuff. And I like space, too. So whilst it didn't get the initial traffic we hoped for, it will probably have more value over time as it's discovered via search. It also helped us develop reusable components for the website because we plan to write more of these longer form articles.

Tools directory

Every week our developer tools newsletter includes short reviews of two interesting tools. They appear on the "latest" page of our website for a week and disappear after the next newsletter is sent, but we have been keeping them in our Google Sheets backend.

We've now launched the Tools section of our website which has a historical, categorized list of all the tools we've featured in the newsletter to-date. This is built automatically in a similar way to the "latest" page - using GitHub Actions to query the data from Google Sheets and written to a JSON file that Hugo reads when the site is built.

We default the list to order by review date because it gives a sense of what we include in the newsletter, but you can group by category as well. As we review more tools, we'll reevaluate the default order because at the moment there are only a few tools per category.

This is just the first version of that page which we plan to expand on a per category basis. Right now, the high level categories are quite generic e.g. devops and developer tools, but each tool is already categorized into a more specific category.

Having both the tools and betas on the website shows off our historical content but also indicates where we're going as we build out the website.

Developer tools reviews page on the Console website.

Podcast

We also just started recording the new Console DevTools Podcast! I'll be kicking off with our first few episodes, each no more than 15 minutes, discussing the tools featured in the newsletter with Jean Yang, CEO of Akita Software.

Jean earned her PhD in software correctness and programming language design from MIT and then became a professor in computer science at Carnegie Mellon University before she started Akita to build the future of API observability.

Our aim for the podcast is to go into a bit more depth than the 300 character constraints of the newsletter whilst still remaining concise. In particular, we want to introduce some debate and discussion by offering our opinion on all these new shiny things developers have to play with.

We're looking forward to releasing the first episode on 8 July 2021, and hearing what everyone thinks!

Recording the first episode of the Console Podcast.

Moving office

Finally, we have moved to a new office off Leather Lane in East London, just 10 minutes walk from where we were before. The new office is about double the size of the old one, which we moved into before we even knew what we wanted to create!

I've been working remotely for over 10 years and continue to find it the most productive way of working. However, we have found major benefits in being together a couple of times per week as we grow the business. Working remotely is good for executing on ideas, but coming up with them in the first place has been easier in person. I expect to be in the office 2-3 times each week from now on - hopefully without any more lockdowns.

Now we just need some plants.

Old office all packed up - June 2021.
New office set up, with room for another 4-desk island.

Commercial experiments

Now we're 6 months into Console, we're starting to experiment with our business model. You may have seen in the 2021-06-24 newsletter that we included an exclusive discount code for IPInfo, an IP address lookup API/CLI.

Over the next few months we are planning to experiment with these kinds of deals to see what works for our audience. Whatever we do, we will only include things that would be of interest to experienced developers and do not accept payment for product inclusion. Where we feature exclusive deals from partners, they must first fit our selection criteria before we consider working with them.

Focus for July

In July we'll be releasing our first three podcast episodes - one per week - starting on 8 July. We will also be continuing to work on the Tools section of the website to build out more in-depth reviews.

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