Quest of 2024/Q2

With the first quarter over, it is time to take a look back on how we did on the quests we embarked before we take a look on the quests to come this quarter.

Quest of 2024/Q2

With the first quarter over, it is time to look back at how we did on the quests we embarked on before we have a look at the quests to come this quarter.

A look back

How did we do on the quests we embarked on at the beginning of this year? Overall, we are pretty happy. On the product side, we delivered on the uniqueness of our product (namely Updates, Events & Pins with attachments and comments), improved the resilience by adding more tests, and a UX test library and improved the code base in several areas. Through a new task force, we took a fresh look at the registration, login and first-start experience when onboarding and shipped several improvements. We also added multi-language support and extracted all strings into an open web platform with which anyone can start translating the app.

On the side, we squashed several bugs, including super annoying problems that prevented events from syncing under certain conditions and improved the user experience throughout the entire App. We also worked relentlessly on the tech debt and refactored several widgets and entire aspects of the App to be more resilient. Last but not least we made huge strides forward on UniFFI-dart. We are sad though that we didn't get the CI to run our new end-to-end-UI test suite just yet - so these tests are not yet run on every PR or merge.

Also outside the App Development things went pretty well. We had a very successful funder online event and secured a first yes from a partner to continue sponsoring the development while we are actively engaging with others. Community onboarding has also ramped up, with several groups piloting the App in close contact with us. But we've also opened up the pathway into the community if you learn about Acter without any prior relationship, by publishing an invite code on the website.

Talking about the website, you might have noticed an uptick in our online communication: we are more actively talking about how things are progressing (this blog post is part of that effort) through the blog, a newsletter and on several social media platforms. Additionally, the first three episodes of our podcast on digital activism have been produced and published - you can subscribe to it in the podcasting app of your choice.

Finally, in internal operations, we have established a new internal group ("steering") comprising the leaders of the "several departments", who come together regularly to talk about and adjust the broader strategy as well as define the quests. We have restructured our internal work meetings, opening them up to contributors (with notes and recordings) and started preparations for the upcoming general assembly of the Association.

So, yeah, overall, this was a pretty successful quarter.

The quests for Q2

So what is happening in the second quarter?

As we've already hinted at in the initial quests explainer we are trying out the quests for other non-product areas, but there is only so much that changes from those quarter to quarter. If I were supposed to give it a tl;dr for those I'd sum it up with "more of the same and better". In detail that means that we want to get at least one more funder on board this quarter, we will reach out to other influential people in the space to start collaborations for the podcast and take more meetings to get more groups onboarded.

For logistical reasons we had to push the General Assembly by a month, it is now scheduled to take place on May 7th. Internally we are still moving more decision-making away from the board and into the newly established steering group, all ongoing activities.

Product Quests Q2

Now, what is planned on the product side?

The main quests:

  • Getting into Ready State: We think this App is ready for production. It has the minimum viable set of features in a state that makes it usable but also explains how our approach differs from other apps. And while we have crashed the main blocking bugs and problems, when onboarding with actual people things have come up and continue to come up that we want to address. Therefore our main focus this quarter will be on those topics and issues. Some we already know about it, and others might come up throughout the onboarding process. But especially parts that are confusing or keep people from using it will get our main attention.
  • A key reason to work on Uniffi as a side-quest over the last several quarters is that the middle layer we are using to connect Flutter and Rust has run its course. We have several hacks in and around that layer and must add more when implementing features. Additionally, certain features are just blocked by that layer. So, this quarter we will be trying to Switch to Uniffi-Dart. This will probably take several attempts while we learn of problems or shortcomings that we need to fix first, and it is unclear whether we will be successful before the end of the quarter. But we need to do it, and sooner rather than later.

Yes, there are two main quests. Part of the team will be dedicated to each, while others might switch depending on needs. However, when the pressure isn't too high, we, of course, have several side quests to tackle:

  • Tighter Integrations: In release 1.23.2229 we have showcased how you can integrate events directly in an update to boost. This is one case of integration between the different parts of the app, and we have ideas for several others (like having super-invites in action, links to Chat rooms and Spaces, etc or sharing the news in a regular chat room). Or syncing the events in the Acter calendar with the system-provided calendar so your events show up there ... All these are integrations that we want, but that aren't necessarily critical for people to use the App. Because if they are, they fall under the "Getting into Ready State"-main quest ;).
  • Of course, we still want to track and squash all Bugs, improve the stability, UI clean up and reduce the tech debt. That is always good to do. We have combined tech debt into these quests as UniFFI has been elevated to be one main quest for this quarter. And here, too, everything that blocks people from onboarding will be elevated to the main quest.
  • Last we have elevated the Design System & Components library into its side quest. We have tried to do that on the side for a while and must acknowledge that the lack of a proper components library and an underlying design system is holding us back in terms of quickly and efficiently building out new features that "fit right in". So while we are not building out any new features (unless warranted by the need to get ready), we decided to give some more attention to getting this in shape being able to ship features faster in future.

As the year moves ahead and plans change it is only right to mention as well what is not in here that was previously hinted at or planned for: We do not intend to build out any new big feature (e.g. Polls), we will also not be embarking on integrating third-party chat-systems or other external Apps. With UniFFI blocking any progress on this, we are also not expecting to work on Sliding Sync and encrypted space will at most see some minor experiments.

Of course, as before, all these and what that means in concrete tasks and issues can be observed in our urgency-oriented product kanban on Github (select the "By Quests" to see the following view).