I've made a decision

My goal was to release at least a beta for the all new Hill88 for Asana (v3) by the beginning of this year. Needles to say that I have totally missed that target.

I got to about 80% with the new version which has been a complete re-write from the ground up to support multiple accounts, real-time sync, inbox, and more. The only bit not being completed at this point is the sync of task changes, the inbox and some of the backend work for real-time syncing and push notifications. Sounds all good, so why haven’t I completed the remaining 20% then?

The answer is simple, nobody I work with including myself is using Asana anymore.

Every single client project that was managed via Asana, has been switched to use Github Issues instead, and even I have been a pro Asana guy for quite some time, I have to confess that this switch has transformed the team performance as well as communication for each single project. I’m not saying that Github is better to manage any type of projects, but it certainly is for managing software development projects, and that’s what I do 100% of my time. Asana has gotten more and more bloated over time and since the recent rebranding it feels more and more like an enterprise software to me.

I stopped using Asana as well as my own product, which disconnects me from how Asana is changing, how my product is working, and how I deliver support and maintain the product.

Sometimes you download software and you just can’t believe how bad it is, or how hard it is to accomplish the very simple tasks that the software tries to accomplish. Chances are, it’s because the developers of the software don’t use it. ~ Joel on Software

I really don’t want Hill88 to end up as such a product.

What I want is to be productive, and build a product that I enjoy using. I have so many ideas that I could’t realise with Hill88 as I was forced to build one workaround after the next. With my desicion to end the development for Hill88, I make space for something new, which allows me to put my own ideas forward, in a way that I can actually control.

Asana was from the ground up built for the web. The way how the API and the data is structured, felt always like swimming against the stream when building a performing native mobile app, which should sync in real-time, use as little data transfer as possible, support offline, etc.

Hill88’s signature feature was offline support as well as an unified task list, allowing the use of tasks across workspaces and projects in a way I actually work (and it turned out that it hasn’t just been my way of working). Those features in Hill88 rely on hundreds of network requests (which became a massive issue with Asana’s rate limites), making the entire concept slow, error prone and just not feeling right.

It was first in March 2014 when I got really frustrated with the limitations imposed through Asana’s API, when I first tinkered with a new concept of organizing tasks in a much simpler way. I started to build various prototypes which were still quite influenced by how Asana was working, but my goal was to simplify things and break down all those limiting barriers.

I started to use my prototypes more and more instead of Hill88 as it just felt bloated and making things more complicated than they need to be. Since then Andy joined me as product designer on the journey to build an app that helps to be more productive (managing to-dos shouldn’t be another task) and the result is Context, which we have just released the 2nd beta to a limited group of beta testers.

Context is a simple text based task manager, for individuals and teams which makes to-dos focused, organised, easy to share and collaborate on. Our approach is the exact opposite way of Asana, as we started with native mobile, working towards native desktop and might eventually end up having a web version too. Because we put mobile first, Context has been build with mobility at it’s core rather than as afterthought like many other productivity apps that started out on the web or desktop.

By now you have hopefully recognised my passion around mobile productivity and understand my decision to end development of Hill88 in order to fully focus on the development of Context for iOS and macOS.

Even though we are just starting out with Context I find myself already so much more productive using it, which makes me choose it over any existing productivity app out there (and believe me I have tried a lot of them).

I’m sorry for the news if you depend on Asana but if you are an individual or member of a small team who is keen on being productive and you would love to be part of our journey in growing Context into a new productivity solution that takes a fresh and modern approach, join our beta or if you aren’t ready yet, follow us on Twitter and our Journal where we share our journey.