Quality is super important to us at Coconut and is something that we try to do really well. Here's how we reacted to (and what we learned from) a technical issue.
I'm posting about a technical issue in our recent 1.2.0 App Store release on June 25th, that caused some of our customers to experience a crash when they opened the Coconut app until they deleted and reinstalled the app again.Within 5 hours of seeing the issue we'd managed to locate, identify, fix and reissue a new version of the app (1.2.1) to the App Store, which is now available (June 27th).We're very focussed on creating a high quality engineering processes to ensure that our service–both the app and its backing infrastructure–is stable and reliable for our customers. In fact, the stability of the application in terms of crash-free uses of the app is the only key measurement I currently report on as CTO, such is the importance of a great customer experience to Coconut.So this was really disappointing to me personally, and for all of us, as we've been used to 98-100% crash-free sessions for a while.
There are lots of ways you can think about quality: of experience, of aesthetics, of feature breadth, of performance and so on. We choose to care about all of these and more, but I want to talk about quality of experience of which stability and the reliable functioning of our service for customers is part, and especially in the context of software engineering.Being a startup is extremely fun and also very hard work, if you don't believe me please do try it once in your life! With a limited set of resources everyone wears different hats and juggles a multitude of priorities on an hourly basis. It often feels a bit like building a house on quick sand. As such, startups need to continually make tradeoffs and hard decisions they can at a point in time, monitor, rinse and repeat.One decision we took from the very start was believing in following processes and best practices no matter our size. That comes from previous experience and seeing what happens when you don't.However, it doesn't need to be black or white. You can take the most lightweight process in the world for, say, task management, or a simple approach to code testing and you are immediately better off than not doing those things. You don't need to be Netflix doing crazy amazing things in QA throwing spanners into all your systems as your modus operandi to test their ability to self-heal etc.; you just need to do something and evolve as needed over time - you'll know when.
So, the best practices we have operated and evolved to date are:
You might be wondering, if you are still with me, if their processes and QA is good then how did the crash make it to the App Store?Well. There's some very technical reasons and some procedural reasons.
Quality is super important to us at Coconut and is something we try to do really well.We are disappointed that we did not capture the issue prior to the release hitting the App Store and apologise to our affected customers.Our processes were setup to give us a good chance of catching the issue but the complexity of the specific issue found gaps that will prepare us for next time:
We hope our transparency on this issue has been insightful to those of you who got this far, and we welcome any and all questions and suggestions.
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