Happy New Year

Matt Jankowski

Here at thoughtbot, we think that ending the year without wishing everyone happy holidays and a happy new year should be considered harmful….

Enter this blog post.

Early this year we launched teebot, an online store that sells t-shirts we think are amusing to ruby programmers and other web/geek types. We had a lot of fun designing these shirts, giving them away at conferences, and wearing them. We plan on adding more shirts that are less ruby-specific during 2009, mainly because of how awesome this image is.

We also launched widgetfinger, our first hosted software product, and learned a lot about how many times it’s possible to redesign one application in the process, and how important it is to stop adding features and Just Launch.


In July we launched hoptoad - the app error app. Building on what we learned during the widgetfinger product development, the hoptoad development and release process has been so much smoother. We’ve had great support from Engine Yard on the hosting front, great feedback from the community and our users (and now customers!), and will continue to give the toad a ton of attention in 2009.

In September we launched umbrella today, and announced that we were offering ruby on rails training services. Umbrella Today has probably had the most refactoring-per-line-of-code of any application we’ve ever built, for what we can only hope is a productive purpose (simple weather reports!). The training sessions we’ve held thus far have been successful, and we’ve already announced the first few for 2009. Thanks to everyone who attended a 2008 session and gave us feedback on the training.

Earlier this month we announced our kickstart service for new web applications built by growing teams, and we expect to formally begin our first kickstart-style projects early in 2009.

Various thoughtbot developers spoke at and attended RailsConf, RubyConf, VTM Boston, Scotland on Rails, Mountain West RubyConf, Acts As Conference, GoRuCo, LittleItalyNYCRubyConf, and more. We really enjoy being part of the positive culture found within the ruby community, and love learning and relaxing with everyone at these events. We even sent Joe and Tammer down to Florida for a week to work on a 3-2-1 launch project with the polite folks at Hashrocket.

Our open source plugin work continued to get a lot of love in 2008 - we continued to maintain and release new versions of Shoulda - and we introduced Factory Bot and Paperclip. It’s great to see this combination of tools getting so much adoption and appreciation from the ruby community (and even more great to continue to see a generally positive - bordering on zealous - attitude toward software testing coming out of that community).

The product development, community involvement and open source work is a great source of pride and fun for us, but the core of our business and most of our focus continues to go to our client work. We’d like to thank all of our clients from 2008 for giving us the opportunity to work with them - and we look forward to continue delivering great web applications for our clients during 2009.

In terms of employee head count, we intentionally slowed down during 2008 (we went from 4 to 8 in 2006 and from 8 to 16 in 2007), and we’ll end the year at a comfortable size of 12. As business owners running a service business, we know that our biggest asset is our own employees - and we’d like to thank the entire thoughtbot team for working hard this year, and growing with us. We think 2009 is going to be even more exciting, and you’re a big part of why that continues to be possible.