James Adam by James Adam

Week 199

Previously, on Week Notes:

Will we succeed? Will we survive the importpocalypse? Will those faulty soldering irons that I keep plugged in near a precariously-balanced bucket of water be a problem?

Yes, yes, and no, it was not a problem.

Right – with that all taken care of, what’s been happening in Week 199? It felt like a really busy week to me.

We had an early GFR Social this month, because Chris has now begun his Antipodean odyssey, and we won’t see him again until mid-December. Have fun down under, mate!

Inside Government preparing for launch!

Inside Government launches publicly with the first department on Thursday, and our work has correspondingly been filled with all the little (and not so little) things that must be done before then. The great thing about working in an agile way with GDS developers is that it doesn’t need to be perfect for Thursday, because development will continue in the same vein for months to come.

It’s going to be an intense few days next week, but it will be great to finally make public some1 of the work we’ve been doing for so long.


We’ve also been really getting some momentum behind Harmonia, with more and more people asking for early access. Huge thanks to everyone who has signed up already, and particularly to those of you who’ve given us the detailed and useful feedback so far.

If you work in a team and would like to streamline managing shared responsibilities, you should sign up to Harmonia now!

This week we started thinking harder about how to hit our goal number of active users, which is one of the aspects of product-building that we are hoping to learn more about. You can build the greatest thing in the world, but it’s worthless unless people are using it, and people won’t use it unless they know about it.

So, in the end it comes down to marketing, and figuring out how to do that in a way that doesn’t chafe with our shared general distrust of advertising is a challenge in and of itself.

Product stories and company philosophies

I’ve also been thinking more about how to distill Harmonia’s story – the simple description that communicates what it does and why it’s useful without resorting to loaded terms like task and assignment. I suspect this is a crucial part of a successful product; people need to be able to quickly relate how something will fit into their lives.

I had a really good impromptu chat with Toms Taylor and Armitage that gave me a bunch of ideas about this, along with some other thoughts about a product’s symbiosis with the philosophy of the company that created it.

Think about how 37 Signals’ views about how companies should work are bound up in the products they make. It’s clear that something similar is going on with Harmonia and GFR, because we built the tool to help run GFR, but perhaps we can use that relationship to promote both the tool and our company philosophy in the future2.

Other things!

James M has prepared another freshly-cut Mocha gem, now at v0.13.0. This was a huge piece of work, but should leave Mocha in a much more stable position as other libraries change and evolve. You can read more about it on James M’s blog.

We spent a bit more time together in the office than we have in the recent past, and I really enjoyed getting re-settled there. I’m definitely looking forward to spending more time there in December and the new year. Tom and I want to get a projector3, but we might need to move some filing cabinets around to get a big enough wall to use as a screen.

Is it too early to start drinking mulled wine? In the office, I mean.

Roll on Week 200!

– James A.

  1. I say “some” because a great deal of the software is behind the scenes, managing data and relationships and so on. 

  2. You can expect a business advice book loosely based on The Dice Man in a year or so, I’d imagine. 

  3. I’m not sure exactly what Tom wants to use it for, but I’d like to alternate between screencasts and In the Mouth of Madness

If you have any feedback on this article, please get in touch!

Historical comments can be found here.