Building a Widget

In case you aren’t aware, we’re building a time tracking tool and actively developing it right now. It’s called Minuteglass and you can sign up for beta at Minuteglass.com.

Alongside of main application, we are now working on a desktop widget for Minuteglass! It is being developed in Adobe AIR and we’re pretty excited about the prospects. We designed everything in Photoshop first to get a feel for how it would work.

We’re realizing quickly that the widget will be a major part of our application’s success. Because it’s in Adobe AIR, we will be able to roll it out on all the major platforms and at the same time.

Screenshot: Widget sign in page.

Minute Glass

As we get closer to launching Minuteglass we’ll show you the rest of the widget. It has two major features: a stopwatch mode and a manual time entry mode. But you’ll always be able to use the web based tools as well.

Feature Lockdown

For about 6 months now we’ve been in a bit of a “feature lockdown” meaning no new feature is added if we think it will take an extra day of work. This allows us to concentrate on launching our product, and keeping our code debt to a minimum.

In the world of web startups they say “launch early” for a reason. The longer you work on your application the more details and ideas you have. Before you know it your simple idea has turned into the next bloated version of Windows.

We’ve recently picked up a lot of development momentum (5 people now working on it). We don’t have a launch date yet, but we’re really excited about our progress.

Website Builders

As many of you know, I built a web-based CMS. While my product is aimed mostly at people with an existing site, I recently did some research on web-based site builders, aimed at new sites, and wanted to share my findings with the Brainfuel faithful. I found 4 products and they all look great, especially for those occasions when you need to whip a site up quickly.

1) Squarespace
Squarespace
This is my favorite of the bunch. It’s not free. Pricing starts at $8 per month. That’s what a lot of us pay for shared hosting, so it’s pretty reasonable. This system is very user friendly and the menus and dialogs are very Applesque. One of their claims to fame is that Kevin Rose uses it. They also feature some really nice designs.

2) Brightegg

Brightegg is also a paid service (they do offer a free package) with pricing starting at $19 per month. If you happen to be a designer, they have a program where you can make money by submitting your designs. Another great thing about Brightegg is that they have a private label service.

3) Weebly

This site builder is totally free and features some nice designs. They offer a developer API that allows some extended functionality.

4) Synthasite

Finally we have Synthasite, a completely free site builder that offers (like the others) a design, hosting, and custom domains (custom domains cost money).

These are all great products and for canned websites, they have some very impressive designs and features. For free or for the cost of hosting, you can slap nice site together in minutes.

Common Craft

I just discovered Common Craft. It’s a great educational resource for all sorts of things (Chris posted a video by them a while back: here). They produce short videos that explain things to people like Twitter, or how to use LinkedIn, all in ultra-basic paper style. So now, the next time you have to explain what Twitter is, you can point that person to Common Craft. They cover a wide variety of topics too like Zombies (see below…no, really, you gotta see it).

Zombies in Plain English

Social Networking in Plain English

Twitter in Plain English

Wikis in Plain English

So Good, It’s Forgotten

Recently I was doing some work with logos (business cards, desktop backgrounds, etc) for my product. As I was working away, I would periodically save the files to my DropBox. For those who aren’t familiar with Dropbox, it’s an online storage/syncing utility that will make your life much easier (you can thank me later).

You see, I’ve been saving files to my DropBox for a few months now. It’s become such and integral part of my daily computing experience that I don’t think about it. The reason I don’t think about it is because it’s a trouble-free product and the experience is totally natural.

I think this is probably the high-point of any product or service; the ultimate benchmark for quality and usefulness. When something is so good you totally take it for granted an forget about it. That’s when something is truly valuable.

Another example of this phenomena is with my hosting company. I really put a lot of time into researching what host to use for my product, but no matter how great the deals were at competitors, no matter how good the reviews where, I still had to deal with a nagging truth in the back of my mind. I have never had to think about my current host. I don’t think about them because they are so good that I forget about them. Because of that, I stuck with them and I’m glad I did.

I’m not sure what this means, but it seams like there’s a pattern here. While not every product is best forgotten, there are some things in life you just don’t want to think about (like web hosts and file syncing) and when you don’t have to think about them, you probably found a good one. What do you think?