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BackupBuddy: A Product Launch Story

As you may know, we launched BackupBuddy last Thursday.

The entire launch process has been a huge emotional high tempered with a lot of additional hard work.

After having a few days to reflect on the launch, the time before the launch, and the time afterwords, I’d like to share some of what it has been like in the office throughout this process so our customer community understands the hard work and commitment that goes into ALL of our products.

Hopefully, this gives you, our community, some insight into what any big launch, similar to BackupBuddy or previous iThemes Builder, is like for us.

HOW THE IDEA FOR BACKUPBUDDY STARTED

The idea of BackupBuddy was to create a plugin that finally made backing up an entire WordPress install as simple as possible, to make restoring that backup possible and just as simple, and to make migrating the WordPress site no more difficult than restoring a backup.

Given that a solution like this didn’t exist and that so many WordPress users have been looking for such a solution, we knew that the launch would be big.

PRODUCT LAUNCHES ARE LIKE ROCKET LAUNCHES

I believe that a somewhat appropriate analogy is that launching a software product is like launching a rocket.

There is a huge amount of passion, energy, and time that goes into the development. Then you get outside opinions to tell you what they like and don’t like about the concept.

Next you test and test and test some more. (We sent two separate beta versions of BackupBuddy to well over 700 people, including WordPress plugin experts like Carl Hancock). Actually, testing is a constant companion and dreaded enemy; we’re always testing.

Then, when you’re exhausted from working many days/weeks in a row with little rest and all that is on your mind is the upcoming launch, all that you’ve worked for comes down to an instant: the moment of the actual launch. The only thing you can do is hope that all your preparation and hard work results in a successful launch.

Of course, the likelihood that anyone would actually die if a mistake was present in the BackupBuddy code is very small (hopefully non-existent), but just the same, the pressure of trying getting everything right on the first try is huge.

Rather than expounding in boring technical detail about some of the more specific bits about the response after launch, I’d like to boil it down a bit. In short, we have received a huge amount positive feedback on BackupBuddy. The entire team is extremely pleased with the feedback we’ve heard.

BUGS ARE A FACT OF SOFTWARE LIFE

However all software has bugs, and BackupBuddy is no exception.

In spite of all our efforts and testing, some people have had issues with BackupBuddy. I believe I speak for everyone on the team when I say that the last thing we want is for a user to have a bad experience; we always try our hardest to give every user a positive first experience.

Reality dictates that this is an impossible dream, so we compensate for that by doing our best to help people via our support.

ON FIXING BUGS AS THEY HAPPEN

Since launch, we have released 10 updates to BackupBuddy. Some people have commented that this shows that the product was not ready for launch. It really, really irritates me when I see this (and I have seen it often).

When we launched, people reported issues we had not seen before and we had two options: work diligently to fix the problems and release updates or hold off on fixing the problems until a later time and tell the customer to wait. Since we had just launched and wanted others to not have the same issues (and since BackupBuddy has automatic upgrades), it was a no-brainer to opt for fixing the problems immediately.

I believe that most people see this for what it is — responding to customer needs — but it still puts me off when people want to use our efforts to improve the product and respond to customers as a means to devalue our previous hard work. (I would add though that this is a very small minority.)

STATUS OF BACKUPBUDDY TODAY AND IN THE FUTURE

Due to the current response, I would say that it’s safe to say that BackupBuddy works on 90%+ of server setups. While having BackupBuddy function perfectly on 100% of all server setups out there is probably unrealistic, I’d like to publicly say that we are very dedicated to getting full functionality on as many servers as possible.

Right now Dustin and I are working on building a completely restructured backup process. The reason for this is that there are some setups that simply won’t let BackupBuddy create successful backups. So, rather than saying that we don’t support systems with setups like those, we are rebuilding the entire backup process to bring that 90%+ compatibility closer to 95%+. We hope to have this new version ready today so that people with these types of setups can start creating backups and stop worrying about their data.

So, if you are using BackupBuddy and are having problems, please go to our support forum, log in with your member login, and post about your issue. We are dedicated to getting this solution to work for as many people as possible.

In closing, I’d like to say that BackupBuddy will continue to improve. This new version we are working on will increase the number of setups that BackupBuddy can support, will improve performance for those that are currently using BackupBuddy without any issues, and will lay the groundwork to allowing BackupBuddy to handle massive sites that currently are too large for BackupBuddy to make complete backups for. There are many improvements planned for the future, so keep watching for new announcements and make sure that you keep your plugin up-to-date by using the built-in automatic upgrades feature.

Thank you for a great product launch. We look forward to bringing you more solutions that will make managing your blog easier.

Comments

  1. Chris – Clay and I feel your pain man. It has always interested me how some people will cut you down because you are responding to issues and trying to fix them.

    Great product you have here too in Backup Buddy. We are recommending it to everyone.

    Keep up the good work guys.

  2. Chris & Justin, I can see how hard you worked on the plugin and I’m close to having it work on my first migration. The steps I’ve completed make perfect sense and I love the idea of how it will migrate a site. This is not a fast process using the steps on wordpress.org. Yours makes it a breeze.

    Thanks for a great plugin!

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