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Profile Image Aytekin Tank is founder of JotForm. He currently leads the JotForm development team. He loves to hear from JotForm users. Feel free to shoot him an email at aytekin at jotform.com.


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Re-inventing A Product That was Already Great

May 15, 2010
We released the new version of JotForm recently. There has been mixed emotions among users. Some were not happy with the change. Their concern was totally understandable. Why mess with a product that’s already great? Why should they need to re-learn a tool they were so used to? Some users literally have hundreds of forms. They have invested great deal of time on this tool. A user who has over 400 forms asked me why change something that was already great. Why mess with something that is not broken? I think that’s an important question. I’d like to address this question in this post.

Creative Destruction

I believe that we should always re-invent ourselves. Nature is a great example on this. After a long and harsh winter, nature revitalizes itself in spring. Destruction of the old also brings new opportunities for the new. Our old product had become rock solid. We promptly fixed every single bug that was reported. Believe me when you have 250,000 users they will keep finding bugs for many years. We optimized speed. We addressed every possible confusion or concern. Everything worked like a clock. I don’t even remember when we had a down time last time. I am pretty sure we did not have any down time in the last 6 months.
 
The biggest problem with a solid product is that you cannot change it any more. It is optimized to the point of no further growth. We learned a lot in the last three years from our users. We saw how they were using our product and what more we can do for them. Our company has grown. We have new developers who are incredibly talented. We are full of new ideas and great deal of experience. We grew ambitious. So, we decided to rewrite JotForm from scratch. It certainly wasn’t an easy task. It took us a year and half. We re-designed and re-architected everything. We laid grounds for further growth. In fact, I don’t consider the new version complete. We have many more exciting new developments on the way. It will probably take us another year to complete our ambitious goals.

Re-learning is Good

After a period of frustration many users grew to like the new version. In fact, I am one of them. In the back of my mind I was worried that we might be making things worse. The old version was working so smoothly and this new version was like a helpless baby. It couldn’t do anything right. It cried all the time and pooped bugs constantly. One day while we were still in private beta mode, I started to like the new product. The new version was beautiful and had so many great new things. I couldn’t even look at the old version any more. I grew to like the new product. Well, the new version is still constantly pooping bugs and making us work long hours, but it is worth it because it is this gorgeous baby with incredible potential.

When you use a tool daily and know it well you love it and you think you can’t do without it. If someone  comes up to you and tells you “hey, look at this great new tool”, you will probably not like the advice. You will resist to it. It is very natural. But the reality is that if the tool is really better than the old one you will be better off in the long term. You will probably be able to do your tasks faster and accomplish things that were not possible before.

New form builder toolbar is a good example for that. During user testing we see that people do not notice or use the toolbar at first. But once they figure it out they develop their forms much more quickly and efficiently.


I am aware that we still have long way to go before JotForm 3.0 is golden. Please feel free to share your opinion with us. We appreciate all the feedback.


5 Comments...


   
Albo P. Fossa (May 15, 2010 at 02:09 PM)

I think I like the new version. But as you might deduce from my having placed a question in the forum, I need extensive documentation for the new version!

For those of us who grab the full html and shake the bejeebers out of it, to style it to our own websites, the stretch limits will be important to know!

E.g., *must* we link to *your* style sheet? *Must* we use your field *ids AND classes AND names*? Are your *label* ids important (I doubt it, but...)?

Please reveal!

(Also, test your website in Webkit on MacOSX: needs help!)


   
loswl (May 15, 2010 at 10:22 PM)

For now, I will stick to the old version because the new form does not send notification to the email I set. The only way I get notified is if I use the jotform iphone app. The old jotform does what it says on the can.


   
aytekin (May 17, 2010 at 06:39 AM)

Albo: No, you are not required to use anything other than the form field names. Everything else can be customized using the full form source code option:

On the Form Builder:
1. Open "Setup & Share" tab on toolbar,
2. Click on "Share Form"
3. Click on "Advanced Options"
4. Get "Full Source Code"


loswl: If you can send us an email with the link for the form that has this problem we can look into this.


   
paulairvin (June 21, 2010 at 01:44 PM)

I never saw the old version. I can say that I love this version! Great job!


   
ywammadison (June 25, 2010 at 08:44 PM)

The new version is amazing. It addressed all the inconveniences with the old version, made it much more user-friendly, and simply runs better. The "quick fields" are wonderful! Now I just need to phase out our "old" forms to have the sweet new fields you've provided. Thanks again for the work going into this and for making it free!


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