Spending time planning a perfect pre-launch stage

The recent rocket launch Falcon Heavy taught World the importance of get everything ready and well tested before press the launch button, because after it, there is no going back. And even if you have the best and well payed engineers, fail is a part of the process, like the fail of third rocket in getting back to soil.

We are a small and lean startup, but for us, our rocket’s have as many technology as Falcon 9, and it is even more important to us then any other rock lauch. We are focusing so much effort in testing and getting early feedback as we can, it is a hard and tedious task, nobody want to do it for many time and we are waiting for lauching for so long, since 2010, that maybe the anxiety was something to be care of nowadays.

We are not in a technology rush (for while) with any competitors, since we dont even have market yets, we dont care about market growth, we only focus on make the best technology for our target public, getting feedback on early stages and having many ways to get it.

So in our blog it is possible to see how many posts talking about launch expectations, as we get closer and closer to launch we also getting huge priorities shifting. But the official release of our first USA & Global product, with massive marketing campaign, will be near at the end of the year, before many tests in Brazilian market.

F5 Sites Strategy For 2018: Expected Our First Product Release For USA and Europe

We are more than never focusing on USA and Europe market, there are tons of tests beside an official entrance. As a CEO I often repeat the same mistake, underestimate the time for long projects, I was expecting the first official F5 Sites products launches for 2017, but we did not released officially a single project, we focused more on IT infra-structure and primary code releases, and even exhaustive testing of new routines and process for backup and data synchronization in large data clusters.

I did not mean I did not worked well or I do not have capacity to preview, It just mean we must set some strategic milestones on initial planning, for products built up from zero it is impossible to address all uncertainties in the beginning.

For Brazilian market we make a great progress, besides it’s not our main focus, to make software in Portuguese, we just reprogrammed an old product, our principal product for Brazil in the period 2011-2015, the Pomodoros.com.br webapp. It is back online, after two years offline, but it is still in alpha stage, just for tests and costumers feedback, we will proceed in the next months with a small online campaign for getting new users and promote a donating campaign for support the project.

The webapp have an English version, but we will launch a different and much improved version for USA and Europe, a new software is being made, we started it in the last years and probably I will launch it in 2018, now we have well stabilized our servers and backup routines. That is why I am, in January 2018, thinking that this new year will finally be the most important year in F5 Sites history, our first Brazilian turtle is expecting to reach California sea or some Europe bay.

But some things can again late market entrance, we are passing trough our must difficulty founding moments, with few sources of founds and no costumers revenue, we are struggling in a mess state of priorities and expected that it become even more difficult for next months because of time-pressure. We are chasing the most relevant investors for the projects stages, it iss clear for me that the entrance of new interest parts can speed-up some parts of project, but in other hand it can rearrange our launch schedules.

Contact us now

After putting our blogs and startups online, testing everything we was then ready to starting receive leads contacts for project development. We are growing up our service capacity, ramping up and scaling os customized customer service.

Putting contact forms on sites was an easy task years ago, but we are now surrounded by tons of bots, simple contact forms can receive a lot of spam, besides annoying it can make tedious for fast response receiving notifications of spams.

After testing the Google reCaptcha, with great results for spam control, we are moving for a new and simple solutions, Honey Pots, bots are dumb and putting an hide field for then is a trick way to prevent it. We are using 3 wordpress plugins for our contact form:

  • Contact Form 7
  • Contact Form 7 Honey Pot
  • Contact Form 7 Database
  • F5 Sites Bug & Correction Plugin

The last one was custom made to “unify” all contacts from multiple domains under the same table, now we can use the same contact form on multiple sites, speeding up development and launch of services, centralizing contacts from multiple sources.

Widget For Recent Posts Is Now Working

When working with an emergency project we must set priorities, testings up plugins can be exhaustive, nobody want’s to retest every location where the plugin is installed whenever and minor modification occurs, but when we are in a fast pace projects, with no planning and just one mark, proves that it worth effort, the process of testing is even worst and consuming.

So is basically working under a large growing mess of annotations, papers and folder, software for project management, but in fact nothing can really help. That is the very start moment of an project,  changes are very often and when it finally reach an first stable version, is time to get back on track and get the word left behind done.

For about months the Recent Posts Widget not working was annoying me very much, consuming and stressing, I then realized that it is almost the center of the blog, if that list was wrong, with wrong content, links, information and languages, visitors may not understand where they are, so it become a urgency.

Now I can share all my blogs links, without getting people confusing asking themselves why that Recent Posts links is showing that weird stuff, now everyone can navigate safe and be related with the right content in the right time.


F5 Sites WordPress solutions: simple for developers

Simple for developers

That quote is suggest to be in the most WordPress development project we lead, we respect the regular user, but we focus most on the developer point-of-view. One simple example of what it means on our wp plugins is most of then don’t have an wp-admin options panel, you must edit it directly on plugin folder.

WordPress community quick reject that way of doing projects because when you update it, you lost the changes. That can be really a problem, but we suggest you just fork our projects and be the owner of your own custom solution, it means stop receiving or updates, for good or bad.

So we came back to original quote, simple for developers!

Our first public and opensource WordPress plugin

plugin: f5sites-shared-post-tables-and-uploads-folders

After almost 9 months of tests and improvements, a lot of risk taken, we got in alpha stage of development for Shared WordPress Post Type and Taxonomies + Uploads Folder. The projects uncertainty itself seems not enough, if it was about risk taken, that new plugin initiative was a big all in, because I it stopped every single project for more 6-9 months, again, latening market entrance.

Years ago, 2014, a recent bachelor programmer said to me that WordPress data model was a mess, I took it personally and go look for more informations and sadly find out that he was partially correct, the simplicity of it’s model was very good for some situation, but locks out the developer in some scalability problems, if not well configured.

WordPress development is already fast, it has dozen of bult-in functions and integration, for start a new project is easy as use Fantastic or other script installer to get site ready in seconds. But for quickest deployment ever it was a prision, one installation for each project is the start of a big mess.

So the first step of rearrangement was simple using one single install for all blogs, and take the code dependency management to the next level, using Composer. Next is share all the users across single installations, it was a huge progress, and finally why don’t share blog posts too? In that point we can start answering where is the “mess”.

Objects are stored mixed in database schema, blog posts is stored as the same global type of products, pages, menus, contact forms, and every object called post_type. To make things more complicated there is a separated table for postmeta, it is a relational table with same index (post ID), so you must let wp address it’s number, and using a second table will make unique identifiers desync, it is very hard schema to break.

But came to me that the solution was easy, don’t take me too long to realize that it is actually better than worst, I can now share pages, menus, contact forms, midia, products, everything, withou losing control of some data stored in single databases, for each single installation. It was just a question to make it works well, sharing post_types and don’t break-up WordPress, all of it without touching core code, just by enabling/disabling a plugin, and after 9 months of intensive tests and twice almost abandoned it, finally it get stabilized and ready for refinements.

For separate singe install shared data I used a category, and for automatized more the process the category is exactly the domain name, so just check the domains when creating a blog post, and will be displayed only in that domain. For products it works even better, it list all products and just indicates and redirects the user to the correct store domain, it was great.

It also inaugurate a new era of development, focusing most effort in making public open-source software, hosted primary on open Github configuration, for free download and re-utilization, we perceive a new paradigm of value on it initiative. It stills in alpha, but already available for public.

We Are Going To The Ocean

When you are a guepardo you can always say the other animals in nature is very slow, but if you think deeply you will perceive that the guepardo cant hunt slowly, for the guepardo it is not a good idea to hunt without reaching top speed, they did not choose to be fast, they were made to be fast.

As a CEO and developer I can always choose the pace of the projects, it is good have a good schedule and nice budget, but is not guarantee of success. In the first look you can bet the guepardo speed as a better option than turtle speed for project pace, but what are you considering, just the speed?

Turtles can live up to 200 years, the don’t need many food and they spend most of theirs time relaxing on the sun or surfing good waves. To guarantee the specie survivoring along the years they put dozen of eggs yearly, a lot of slow turtles, fragiles, being served as food for other species, but a few survive.

The baby turtles learn quickly they need to make their own way to have their food, in other hand the guepardo is always hunting dinner for children, one day without feeding the babies can put they in danger. Think if the mother is sick and dies it is probable the end for the children too. But where is startups in that animal talk? Our startups it the little turtles, we are sending many of them to ocean right now, some of them was already eaten, most not even touched the water, most of them are breaking it’s eggs toward the ocean.

SSL Certification Concluded

Without strong walls why the gate? Securing data is a big concern for today servers managers, data collecting and storage is crucial, we are living in the beginning of big data era. Some of that data are no for public access, and some information is very confidential, how to deal with that needs a complex answer.

Security access is the basics, it is more than have strong passwords, it is to give right people the right information and keeping not-authorized ones out. As a server admin I can say our servers security is high, but for strictly security performance the server admin words doesn’t guarantee nothing, we need third parties specialists to confirm it.

When a site or domain have SSL certification they have guaranteed that the interception of data between the final user and server is way difficult, all protocols and security norms is followed, and the constat renewal of SSL certificates guarantee the servers is always updated with most recent security standards. That is certainly a big mark for all our projects.

We want to know what USA markets expects from a new IT service or product

Since December 2016 we start focusing in USA market, we are a little Brazilian startup looking for achieving the impossible, our first costumer in USA market, our first invoice and billing in USA dollars. We are not just translating Brazilian or portuguese content from our blog, we decide to take more risks and stopped all operations in Brazil, we stopped getting new costumers for IT services to focusing providing sofware as service, we are developing a SaaS based company, focusing since (re)born in USA market.

We write posts in english, we are now even trying re-think how we approach to our real target market, we have to write directly in english, even with a lot of mistakes and mal formed sentences, we are doing our best to improve our communications skills, so we can listen and get feedback from USA costumers, do you live in USA, tell us what is important to you for and IT company, service provider?

Author: Francisco Matelli Matulovic

Date: 2016-12-04