Writing on bootstrapping, product, and web development

Shape Up reflections: Volume 2

This post is a lightly edited version of an internal update I sent to everyone at CareerPlug after the completing our second product cycle, modeled on Basecamp’s Shape Up method. I am making these updates public in hopes that others will find value in the lessons learned from a real team adopting a fairly radical new product development process.

The first update includes more information about our product team and our company, for context. Italicized text are extra context I’ve added for the public version of this update.

Let’s dig in. -David

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Building an instant search form with Stimulus.js and Rails

Today we’re going to build a search form that instantly filters results using Ruby on Rails and Stimulus, a “modest” JavaScript framework designed to add small bits of interactivity without a lot of heavy lifting.

When we’re finished, we’ll have a list of Players that users can search by name. As they type in the search box, we’ll make a request to the server for players that match and display the results on the frontend (almost) instantly. Here’s what the end result will look like:

A screen recording of a user typing a search term into a search form and seeing results in a list below the form.

Read the rest 15-minute read

Building a simple commenting form with Stimulus and Rails 6

If you use Ruby on Rails, you’ve probably heard of Stimulus, a “modest” JavaScript framework for sprinkling in small bits of JavaScript to your mostly-HTML front-end. Instead of reaching for the monster JavaScript frameworks that have become very popular in recent years, Stimulus gives you the tools to add just enough interactivity while relying on plain-old Rails and HTML as often as possible.

To show you the power and simplicity of Stimulus we’re going to build a simple Stimulus-powered implementation of a commenting form. When we’re finished we’ll have a comment form that skips a page turn and neatly renders our new comments as we create them, without jQuery or JS partials — just a little bit of Stimulus-flavored JavaScript and HTML.

Read the rest 21-minute read

Shape Up reflections: Volume 1

Below you’ll find a lightly edited version of an internal update I sent to everyone at CareerPlug after the completing our first product cycle, modeled on Basecamp’s Shape Up method.

Since the target audience for these updates is the company first, I’ll add inline commentary and footnotes as needed to add context for readers that aren’t intimately familiar with CareerPlug’s internal workings.

My intent in sharing these kinds of internal documents is to help demystify the inner workings of product organizations — or at least the one product organization I can demystify.

As an introduction to our org, CareerPlug has ~50 employees in total, with a product team of 13 people. Today, our product team is made of up two UX designers, eight engineers, and two QA engineers, plus me.

Our core product, launched in 2012, is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) used by more than 12,000 businesses in the United States and Canada. Our core clients are brick-and-mortar businesses (think retail, restaurants, and home services) with limited professional HR resources. Our ATS covers everything from distributing job postings to a variety of online job boards (think Indeed) through pre-hire assessments, interviews, offer letters, and background checks. It is a big, fairly complex piece of software, but we do our best to make the end user experience simple.

Let’s dig in. -David

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Product managers: your job is not to say no

One of the most damaging pieces of advice you can receive as a new product manager is that your job is to say no. This advice, well-meaning and oft-repeated, isn’t wrong but when taken at face value it is incredibly damaging.

Your job as a product manager is not saying no; your job is saying yes to the right things.

This might seem like a silly distinction — in either case, you’re saying no a lot, right? — but your mindset makes all the difference.

Read the rest Four-minute read