Rebooting Podio: “A New Hope”

Let’s have a look at what happened to Podio in the last few months, what you can expect from us in the future and what are we dreaming of…

by Domenico Matteo

□□□□■ by Thomas Leuthard

So… What’s up?

Here are the facts

As many of you already know, Podio has undergone a restructuring phase in November/December that adjusted our direction and strategy for next year. Following up on the Operational Review 2015, Citrix released an announcement on the 17th of November 2015 in which was revealed the spin-off of some products, like the GoTo family, and also stated that we would be “de-emphasizing / winding down other non-core solutions (e.g., Workspace POD, Podio)”. The wording in said announcement and the lack of clear directions admittedly created some panic among our customers, which immediately pictured countless hours of work spent fine tuning their Podio workflows going to waste.

Due to a Danish law that protects employees from hasty decisions during hard times like these, we went through a 21 days long Consultation Process, which meant that a lot of decisions were taking place regarding Podio, our office in Copenhagen and the people working in it, but we couldn’t share any of these information with our beloved customers.

On the 19th of November ’15 we went public with a blog post, trying to address this frustration and provide some clarity around the many questions our users were throwing in the wind. Most people were relieved by it, but we could clearly see that some of our users were still uncertain about Podio and whether they could trust us anymore or not.

At the end of the day, the outcome of the process was:

  • Consolidating our two Citrix offices in Copenhagen into one facility in Nordhavn, where some employees will remain to support our EMEA customers.
  • Letting go of a number of positions in Copenhagen, spread out in pretty much every department.
  • Relocating a number of product team roles to Raleigh, North Carolina, co-locating Podio with the ShareFile and RightSignature teams. The new US team will then work more closely with our colleagues in these other product lines, to provide more value to our customers and a brighter future.

These are the facts, the true story of what happened to Podio between November and December 2015. The rest is just speculation.

Now, before we dig deeper into what’s the future of Podio, and what are we going to do with it, let me spell something for you:

Podio is here to stay, and we’re not going anywhere!

In fact, we are even growing our team in Raleigh! 
Read more about it at the end of this post :)


What’s next then?

As I briefly mentioned before, the future of Podio is one where ShareFile will play an essential role, as we will grow closer and closer with them and the other products of the Citrix family.

Podio will help ShareFile add some Collaboration and Workflow magic on top of their very successful file sharing service, and in return, we will improve our file sharing capabilities, which has been one of Podio’s weak spot for a long time, and also broaden our customer base, in an effort to give our users a full-fledged solution to their needs. We call these solution bundles, and we’re already there with the ShareFile Platinum bundle, which includes both our products and much more.

Another great example of our efforts towards better workflows and collaboration is our commitment with GlobiFlow, the amazing tool that empowers thousands of organisations, and in less than one month from the integration as already seen a huge growth!

Wasn’t this was supposed to be an Engineering blog?

Oh yeah, it sure is! 
Let’s look at some possible scenario of the technical evolution for Podio.

Let’s go back to the future

Disclaimer: From now on, I’m going to throw ideas and thoughts that I have, and those ideas are mine and mine alone. None of these is yet on our roadmap, nor there is any guarantee that any of them will ever be.

Built to last (and reuse)

If you read my previous articles about our Karma to Mocha migration and Coping with Refactor, you’ll know that during the years at Podio we have homegrown our nice little pile of technical debt, and you also know that getting rid of it, especially when it is at the foundations of your application, can be a real pain in the… back.

So instead of just throwing everything in bin, what if we could build the new components and infrastructure we need using bleeding edge technologies, and then port them back to our dear ‘ol Podio? 
Wouldn’t that be great?

Well, the good news is that we can. React opened up a new world of opportunities in that regard, and we have been doing this modular bottom-up approach for a while now, building all our new code in React since late 2014.

What I have in mind is something more ambitious though, that requires careful planning, time and bit of craziness. On our new adventure with ShareFile we’re gonna need to integrate the two products, but Podio’s parts are often time too coupled to be split and used elsewhere. What if we rewrote those sections as independent and self-encapsulated components, that once completed can be plugged back into our beloved Podio, thus easily getting rid of big chunks of technical debt for each component.

Rewrite, assemble, rinse and repeat.

And there you have it, a new application, one little piece at a time.

On one hand, we can manage to refactor a big piece of legacy code that otherwise would have been out of our capacity as a team, and probably a no-go, since it would have required the commitment of several engineers for 1 or 2 months. On the other hand, since we split those components in, well, other components, we can ship those to our users as we build them, thus giving a sense of continuity, and without letting you guys anxiously wait for months. This minimise both the feeling of “being stuck”, where the product doesn’t get any update for a long time, and the risk of dropping a huge project because it has been dragging for too long.

There’s more. What if they were open sourced?

I am a big fan of open source, and I believe that the Javascript community owes most of his insane success to the open source world and the people working on it. Too often we take it for granted, and even more often we don’t give back as much as we should.

Podio already offers it’s own SDKs for various programming language as open source tools, and people have used them to build all sorts of crazy systems around our API.

From a Frontend/UX/UI standpoint we can do more though.

What if we authored and published some of the components I mentioned before in a way that made them usable by other developers? It sure has its challenges, but I think it can be done, and I think it would be awesome!

Can you imagine running “npm install podio-comments” to add commenting on your e-commerce app, where internal agents could comment on the availability of some products or about having found a cheaper competitor, all backed into your Podio application?

Or maybe installing “podio-calendar” and have your Podio calendar always available in your gaming website, where you can schedule tournaments into Podio and have it visible for the whole world.

And what about “podio-tasks” then, one of our most appreciated features, which you could put in an Electron shell and use it directly from your desktop on Windows, Mac and Linux! You could even have it on your phone as a native application, with the help of React Native!

The possibilities are endless and super exciting!

Conclusions

I’ve been blabbering for a while now about my ideas, and you may have some ideas yourself on how to make Podio even better. I would love to hear about it, either on Medium or Twitter. Feedback and suggestions are very much appreciated!

I hope this post helped clarify what happened to Podio, how we worked through it and what’s our next big adventure.

I think it’s really remarkable how many of our users and customers didn’t even blink an eye during this transition period, and this really tells more than a thousand words, how much you love us.

To you guys, I only want to say: thank you!

One last thing…

If you’re excited about Podio’s new and upcoming future as much as we are, you think you know your stuff around the code and you’re not afraid of a challenge, I have some great news for you — we are hiring!

We are growing our team in Raleigh, an we have a number of open positions available. Check it out below and don’t hesitate to get in touch, even if you just need more information.


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