What is going on with the Glowforge software team?


#1

I’ve been away for about 2 months. I expected to come back and see at least a couple of new features in the software, especially given the huge backlog of requested (some very basic) features.

But I don’t see that anything has changed. Nothing in the announcements, and a quick perusal of the app looks identical. Am I just missing it, or has there really been no forward progress in the GF app over this time? I see GF seems to be catching up on shipping, which is a great thing, but I was not expecting zero progress from the software team over this time. Now I am wondering if the departure of the gentleman who wrote the GF app has put them in a knowledge deficit wrt. the software.


#2

There have been incremental changes on the whats new page, but no, nothing huge in terms of UI flashy stuff.


#3

I was just saying on a different topic I am a bit confused about why all of the user stuff, the design app, the store, the catalog isn’t done and finished last year.

I’m prepared to believe the software to drive the laser is hard. But the rest of this stuff is everyday web work and independent of the laser but. I do this for a living, any one of those projects should be no more than a month and some follow up tweaking.

The same issue applies in support too. Supporting customers is a bog standard process. Why is it being done so badly?

The shame is, the hardware seems bloody brilliant, but us customers are being badly let down by stuff that (a) is trivially easy and (b) could have been done years ago.


#4

They did state that there would be a mobile app and I would imagine some of the development is heavy into that.


#5

They are hiring. And they offer some excellent referral bonuses, I believe. Don’t they also cover relo?

Sometimes one has to put their money where one’s mouth is. :slight_smile:


#6

Dan, if you’re listening, I’m up for this, though I am UK


#7

I do it for a living too, curious if you had an example in mind.


#8

I’ve written complete stores from scratch in two weeks. The drawings catalog is a bog-standard business app, pretty much any file attachment organiser. As a private commission I’d say six weeks for both combined. Minimal fix up afterwards but always some beta test tweaks.

Maybe add a couple extra weeks to make it all work on scalable AWS

For the support process and organisation there are so many off the shelf systems, couple with mgmt defining a process, no one would write their own. A big issue in support is I think they have no process and systems defined.

Front end of drawing things on screen is slightly more bespoke, but it is not uncommon, I’ve done mapping systems with sort of similar features, maybe two months.

But, this all comes back to that this is independent of the hardware dev and should have been done years ago. Even with times much longer than I estimate it should still have been done.


#9

So you’re saying improvements to the design store are what you have in mind? I wasn’t aware that the store is deficient in any major way, but then I don’t buy my designs.

You’re assuming a few things here, of course, GF’s architecture or business needs might make a “bog-standard” store out of the question… but like you said, those details are things that can probably be worked out.

I won’t even touch their support process except to say that I am not a fan of “take support questions via public forum posts”. It’s a way to shift the labor of support to us, the end users, and I find that a bit unseemly. I wish they would at least have a standard form/template that must be completed to submit a support question… so often the requests for help are so incomplete as to be useless, wasting everyone’s time.


#10

This would be great for a few users, but I would prefer to have the web app firing on all cylinders before the resources were spent on an interface with limited utility.


#11

I also feel like new features and fixes are happening too slowly. Since they don’t announce their plans, I just have to assume they’re trying to get to everything on the list they promised us, like passthrough support, and anything not on that list is just not a priority.


#12

This is so true. I totally agree with you we need to have a standard form for support questions. But, I think having the forum for support questions is a great way to build knowledge of what can go wrong and how to possibly fix it.


#13

That’s more or less the case. We have enormous resources put against some of the most challenging problems, like machine vision. Over the past months, we’ve also had the majority of the software team working on back-end quality and stability improvements that help us scale both the software and the factory.

We can’t wait to release some new UI features. We all print all the time - anything that annoys you probably annoys us too.

Please send us your resume at jobs@glowforge.com! We’re always looking for folks.

Just one very hardworking iOS engineer.


#14

No international purchases is a bit “deficient”…


#15

Thanks for the comment Dan, one good iOS engineer is probably all it takes for the app.

Personally, I think the app is a red-herring, you still have to get designs from a desktop machine to the app I would think.

I recognise that there is more than just the UI, but remember the old adage, “you only get one chance to make a first impression” - the UI is where we spend our time - so it what we see - and where our frustrations fall.

Lastly, I know you are already aware of my issues with the support process.

Having had the machine for a couple of weeks - I love it - and want it all to be better.


#16

Don’t take this the wrong way but I am really glad to hear that. :slight_smile:


#17

Target market for the Glowforge has to be highly segmented. One segment, folks who would not use design software but might do only trace and engrave photos that just needs simple shapes for cutting out would only need a tablet most of the time. Eventually they may want to do some bespoke designs, but in the meanwhile the catalog might just be enough.

I can’t speak to resource allocation and market research, but from my time teaching tech, using a Glowforge for a year and a half and demonstrating to hundreds, a mobile app would be welcome.

Will be most interesting to see if the target for a mobile app is small or large, meaning, only iOS devices or a build our for Android. From Dan’s comment it looks like iOS.

Ready the moaning from Android users.


#18

As an android user, I’m the first to moan. :slight_smile: But customers before execs… iOS helped the most of you, so I’m on the back burner.


#19

I’m an Android guy but didn’t see anything compelling in the iOS app that makes me wish for an Android version. I’ve enough tablet sized devices running Windows (or Androids running Chrome) that I’ve not ever missed an app instead.

But that’s just my lens.


#20

I like that GF is keeping its promises by developing the iOS app, but I can’t imagine ever needing or wanting to initiate laser printer jobs from my phone. What I would like to see is:

  1. The ability to implement more automated control of what prints, in particular in a way that frees me from dependence on limited functionality web UIs.
  2. Better support for large print jobs, obviating the need to manually split large jobs into multiple runs. Give me #1 and I’ll implement this myself.
  3. Better alignment, and to me this means, barring addition of a marking laser, using the camera on the laser head, not the lid camera.

That said, I doubt the iOS app is competing for resources with items #1-3.