I’ve been busy as ever since last I wrote. At Big Cartel, we’ve continued to tear through our roadmap for the year with a new discount builder launching last week. We’ve got at least two more major new features to introduce before the holiday season gets started, so look forward to them. We’ve also added Jeff Johnston to our team. After receiving the firehose treatment last week, he’s rapidly settling in. It’s been amazing to see this company grow from Matt, Eric and myself to a team of ten in just a few short years, and I’ve really enjoyed working with these amazing people. We’re still looking for another designer, so tell your friends.
As for button-down bird, we finally finished designing When Comes What Darkly Thieves and have released a PDF for separate purchase. I am also working on an ePub edition that will (hopefully) be available soon via iTunes, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. I’m not sure that ePub is the right format for a picture book, but I am interested to see just what it can do. Work will resume on the iPad app next week. I just received a beautiful demo of the soundtrack last week, and I’ll be getting together with Ryan, the artist, to discuss interactive possibilities soon. Launching the company and book has been a whirlwind, and we’re not nearly done. It’s been exhausting, but I think the finished product will be worth it.
Last but not least, Transitflow. Two weeks ago, I wrapped the initial prototype, and last week I had an epic three-hour chat with Jeff and Leah about where we are going next. We’ve set out a fairly ambitious timeline to get to a version 1. I’ve never worked with a cartographer before, and it was good sitting down with Leah to figure out where our respective specialties meet.
With so many balls in the air, I decided to rethink how I keep track of it all. I’ve been doing some form of GTD for about 5 years now, but my to-do list tool of choice has changed several times. I started out using Kinkless GTD which was (quite amazingly) a set of AppleScripts built on top of OmniOutliner. When Omni began releasing public betas of OmniFocus, I tried them out for a while but ended up switching to a custom tool I built using Tinderbox. That tool went through several iterations as Tinderbox added new features and as I learned how to better use it. Then, Things came out which was pretty and synced (sort of) with my iPhone. I liked its simplicity, and I no longer had the cognitive overhead of deciding how to organize my to-do list. Things has served me well for several years now, but my needs are more complex of late. Unfortunately, there’s no way to view Tinderbox documents on an iPad or iPhone yet, so I decided to give OmniFocus another look. It has taken me a couple of weeks, but I feel as if I’ve finally settled into it. I really like the Perspectives feature which allows me to cut across projects and contexts to create individual views onto my work for Big Cartel, button-down bird and Urbanscale. Being able to break down individual actions into sub-actions as needed also saves me from having to prematurely categorize and decompose complex tasks. And syncing seems to just work (I will be curious to see how Things sync ultimately turns out, though). The only thing I miss from my Tinderbox tool is the ability to draw links between tasks and projects, treating my to-do list as a map rather than just an outline.
In the end, it’s not about the simplicity of a tool but whether or not the tool simplifies the work at hand. Often we try to oversimplify our needs to fit the tool or work around it. One of the reasons why Big Cartel’s new discount builder has been so well-received is that it makes creating complex discounts simple. Our customers asked for this—they have suggested some surprisingly complex promotional schemes, and the new builder makes it simple to try them out. Eventually, you have to move beyond minimum viable product if you want to continue delivering value. We all have complex needs, and sometimes we need complex tools to meet them.