• Unfuddle Screenshots with Freshlog

    I don’t know about you, but when I create a ticket in Unfuddle, I often want to attach a screenshot illustrating the problem. We recently reviewed an application developed by one of our customers that makes the process of creating a ticket with a screenshot much easier.

    Enter Freshlog

    Freshlog is a Mac OS application that makes it very simple to take a screenshot, crop it, annotate it and upload it to a new or existing ticket within your Unfuddle account. Launch the app, enter your Unfuddle credentials and then ticket creation with attachments is only a keyboard shortcut away!

    Freshlog

    For more information on the app, visit https://freshlog.com.

  • Textile and Markdown Editors

    Today, in response to your feedback, we are releasing an update that provides a number of changes to editing formatted fields in Unfuddle.

    Editor Toolbars

    Let’s be honest, Markdown and Textile can be a bit daunting for non-technical users. When editing a formatted field (such as ticket description), you will now see a custom toolbar depending on your markup of choice. This toolbar contains buttons for some of the most common formatting tasks (bold, italic, strikeout, etc) making the specifics of your markup language much easier to remember. The toolbar also includes buttons for inserting links to Unfuddle tickets, changesets, repository source code, etc.

    Field Specific Markup

    Per Field Markup

    Every formatted field now independently stores the markup language in which it was authored. This means that you can also change the markup used for any text field at the time of edit. This has some interesting implications. For instance, if you previously authored all of your Unfuddle content using Textile, but decide to switch to Markdown, all of your old content will still render correctly.

    We have also made it possible for each person to individually specify their desired markup to be used when authoring new content from the Personal Settings page. Now, your Textile fanatic can finally have his way. However, you should note that it is possible to restrict which markup languages are available to your users from the Account Settings page. In this way, you can prevent any new material from being authored in a markup that you find undesirable.

    Text Preview

    Many of you have asked for the ability to preview a ticket, message, or notebook page before posting. Well, now you can! Simply click the appropriate button in the toolbar and you will be shown a nearly instant preview of your formatted text.

    Markup Preview

    Please enjoy the new editing ease and be sure to let us know what you think!

  • Recovery Strategy Improvements

    As we intimated in our previous post, the outage we experienced offered us an opportunity to evaluate our disaster recovery plan under pressure. While I am glad to say that no data was lost in the hardware failure, our team was convinced that there was definite room for improvement. After bringing the affected customers back online, we immediately began work on evaluating alternate systems and processes that would have shortened this week’s downtime dramatically.

    We are now taking snapshots of all customer data at 5 minute intervals. This provides us with two distinct advantages:

    • As many of you may know, Amazon EBS volumes are already redundant, a hardware failure on an Amazon EBS volume usually means a drastic reduction in speed, not a complete failure. This was the case on Wednesday. In the case of reduced performance, we can take down the affected server, take a final snapshot capturing any disk activity since the last 5 minute snapshot. This should go fairly quickly even on a volume experiencing problems.
    • In the case of the catastrophic failure on an EBS volume, we can very quickly restore customer data from the last snapshot losing only 5 minutes of data.

    If we had been using the 5 minute snapshot scenario before Wednesday, the downtime would have been lessened to approximately 30 minutes – the amount of time for one of us to manually snapshot the affected volume, create a new volume from that snapshot and reattach it.

    I want to thank all of you for your support and suggestions since this outage. Know that we are committed to the integrity and availability of your data and we will continue to evolve our systems and processes to make Unfuddle even more solid.

  • Outage Notification

    Earlier today, May 27, at approximately 10:15EST, one of the Unfuddle servers experienced a hardware failure with its attached storage (an Amazon EBS volume).

    Immediately upon failure, we contacted the Amazon support team and began the process of diagnosing the problem. At approximately 20:00EST, the hardware failure was remedied, the volume was restored and all Unfuddle accounts on that server were available as normal.

    Why did we take so long to respond? Unfuddle keeps hourly snapshots of all customer data, so it would have been possible from the very moment of the outage to revert to a saved snapshot. However, doing so would have caused everyone on the server to lose approximately one hour of activity on their account – a situation we clearly wanted to avoid. As we worked with Amazon throughout the day, it was looking probable that the data on the volume would be recoverable, avoiding any data loss. Unfortunately, only in the early evening was it actually guaranteed to us by Amazon the volume was intact and had been recovered successfully.

    As many of you know, we have been with Amazon EC2 since the beginning of this year and this is the first significant outage we have experienced since then. Our current data partitioning and snapshotting scheme has been excellent at mitigating risk for our customers. Even today, only about 7% of all Unfuddle accounts were affected. However, we do not consider this outage to be acceptable, and in hindsight we should have probably not waited for the volume to be rebuilt, but rather restored directly from the last viable snapshot.

    This morning’s events have given us some very practical ideas as to how we can even further improve upon our snapshotting strategy so that this kind of hardware failure is even less likely to affect our customers in the future. We are already working on implementing these changes.

    We apologize for the disruption that this outage has caused you and your teams. As a software development team ourselves, we truly understand the kind of problems that this has caused.

  • Automated Backups with Amazon S3 Support

    Since the launch of Unfuddle, we have always considered it one of our highest priorities that our customers would have direct and immediate access to their data in the form of project backups. Downloading comprehensive project backups has always been possible with Unfuddle. However, automating this process has always required writing some custom code against the Unfuddle API.

    automated backups imageAutomated Backups

    We now provide the ability to schedule automatic backups of projects, removing the potential tediousness of going through the Unfuddle API. Any project or account administrator may now setup a project to be backed up daily, weekly, or monthly.

    Additionally, with Unfuddle now running entirely on Amazon’s infrastructure, it seemed only natural to allow for these automated backups to be sent directly to Amazon S3 buckets. You can now specify your Amazon credentials along with an optional bucket name and all new backups will automatically be sent to your S3 account for your own storage.

     
  • Message Bumping and Comment Attachments

    Based on comments we have received from you, our Amazon EC2 migration has been a huge success. As promised, we are ready to start rolling out enhancements to Unfuddle. Today, we are deploying the following features along with some smaller interface updates:

    Message Bumping

    Unfuddle messages typically function as a blog for your project. However, as message comments can often be a natural place for discussion of the message content, we have decided to move to a message sorting model similar to most forums. Now, whenever a comment is made on a message, the entire message will move to the top of the stack making the activity more obvious.

    Comment Attachments

    Many of you have asked for the ability to add attachments to comments. Because you asked, it is now possible to attach files to your comments throughout Unfuddle. Additionally, please note that the attachment interface has been updated throughout Unfuddle.

    We are looking forward to turning more of your suggestions into enhancements to Unfuddle over the coming months!

  • Infrastructure Upgrades and Amazon EC2

    AWS LogoAfter some very long nights and a lot of very hard work, we are proud to say that Unfuddle is now running wholly on Amazon EC2 servers. Vast amounts of Unfuddle code have been completely revamped to scale horizontally and to take advantage of the Amazon approach to hosting. Site performance has improved significantly across the board with virtually infinite room to grow.

    Along with this infrastructure upgrade, a number of relevant software updates are now available. Most notable of these is that all Unfuddle Subversion repositories have now been upgraded to 1.5.x, bringing you new features such as Subversion merge tracking.

    In choosing the Amazon platform, Unfuddle is effectively saying goodbye to Rackspace, our previous hosting provider. Rackspace was an excellent partner that served Unfuddle and its customers very well over the years. However, we simply needed to move on to an infrastructure partner that could better grow with our needs.

    The Unfuddle team is very excited. Now that there is no longer an imminent need to upgrade our infrastructure, we can return to improving the feature set of Unfuddle. Many of you have been waiting patiently for more updates to Unfuddle – your comments have not gone unheard and we have some very exciting features that are now literally around the corner!

  • Unfuddle Welcomes Jayson Minard

    Despite being quiet on the blog lately, we have been very busy here at Unfuddle. The first piece of exciting news is that the Unfuddle trio is now a quartet!

    For the first time since it was founded, Unfuddle is adding a new team member: Jayson Minard. Jayson has agreed to serve as the new Chairman of the Board of Unfuddle and will be primarily focused on business and product strategy.

    Jayson has been in software development for over 20 years. He has worked for Zend, Novell, BEA, StarBase and Borland – where Jayson was the Chief Architect of JBuilder. More recently, Jayson was the CIO/CTO of AbeBooks which was acquired by Amazon. He currently runs MindHeap Technology consulting to technology groups focused on high scalability systems.

    There are many exciting changes just around the corner. Jayson has a strong background in highly scalable web applications and software development processes. We believe Jayson to be exactly the person who can help us better serve the increasing number of software programmers who use Unfuddle.

    Jayson, on behalf of all Unfuddlers – welcome!

    Joshua, David and Cary

  • Git Hosting and Repository Improvements

    Git LogoToday, we are proud to announce the immediate availability of Git hosting on all Unfuddle accounts. For those of you have not yet heard of Git, it is a distributed version control system that can have some distinct advantages over Subversion for certain teams.

    The release of Git comes with a number of exciting improvements to repositories in Unfuddle:

    1. Unlimited Repositories. Each Unfuddle account may now have an unlimited number of Subversion or Git repositories. Mix and match as you will!

    2. Project/Repository Associations. Each Unfuddle project may now be associated with any number of repositories. This means that you can have a mix of Subversion and Git repositories associated with each of your projects.

    3. Code ColoringRepository Browser. Unfuddle now sports a slick new repository browsing interface that makes it simple to view and analyze the contents of your repository right from your browser. One of the coolest things about the new interface is seamless syntax coloring for most commonly occurring file types.

    4. Repository Callbacks. Many of you have build or deployment processes that regularly “ping” your repositories to see if a new commit exists. In order to eliminate the need to “ping” at all, we have implemented the concept of a repository callback. If you provide us with a URL to which we can post, we will notify your servers of any commits that happen on your repository immediately after the commit occurs. Now that’s continuous integration!

    To learn more about Git support in Unfuddle and how to get started, please see our Git Documentation, or just click on the new “Repositories” tab in your account. Please note that the Unfuddle API has also been updated to represent the new repository model.

    Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to share your feedback. Unfuddle continues to grow with our industry and we have many new and exciting features on our roadmap!

  • OpenID Support and Other Random Tidbits

    OpenID LogoEarlier this evening, we rolled out a number of updates to Unfuddle. The most visible of these updates, and in direct response to your feedback, is support for OpenID.

    Unfuddle currently supports OpenID as a means of authentication when accessing the web interface of your Unfuddle accounts. While OpenID has many benefits, one of the biggest advantages to Unfuddle users is a single signin that spans multiple Unfuddle accounts.

    This means that you can setup each of your Unfuddle accounts to use the same OpenID. Once you have successfully signed into an Unfuddle account using your OpenID, you will then be able to access all of your other Unfuddle accounts associated with that same OpenID without having to sign in again.

    To setup your OpenID for use with Unfuddle, simply sign into each of your Unfuddle accounts using your username and password. Then, click on “Personal Settings” in each account and enter your OpenID URL. Once you have saved your changes, you will be able to use either your OpenID or username and password to sign in to these accounts.

    Additionally, we have added a number of export formats (like CSV and iCal) for both ticket and time tracking reports, accessible directly from the web interface.

    RSS, CSV, iCal and more!

    Another notable change with this release is that, for the first time since the launch of Unfuddle, many of the URL’s within Unfuddle have been changed, increasing their uniformity and similarity with the Unfuddle API. Please note that this will invalidate any existing links you may have out in the wild, including RSS and iCal feeds that you may have referenced from your clients. There is a new version of the Unfuddle Widget now available for download that references these new URL’s.