Product & Company

Our commitment to performance and reliability

3 minute read24 August 2020

We pride ourselves on the user experience of Dovetail. It's a value we uphold in every decision we make and it's one of the many reasons why our customers choose us.

We know user experience isn't just visual and interface design – it extends to usability, support, performance, reliability, and much more. Performance, in particular, is a critical part of user experience and shouldn't be an afterthought. We always consider if what we're dreaming is possible, given our technical architecture.

We've recently received some feedback that the performance, speed, and reliability of Dovetail has degraded, and that it's affecting the experience of how some customers analyze, collaborate, and share their work. We hear you, and this isn't the experience we want for anyone using Dovetail – so this is an update to let you know what we've done about it and what we will continue to do.

Improving performance

In the last few weeks, we've shipped several incremental changes to improve the performance and reliability of video playback and transcripts in Dovetail. We've more than halved the response time of critical interactions, including highlighting and tagging.

We've invested in performance monitoring and detection to identify and take proactive measures before affecting customers. We've also defined metrics and benchmarks for performance to hold ourselves accountable as we continue to innovate and ship new features.

Behind Dovetail is a highly relational data model that allows relationships to be created between disparate pieces of data down to the word level, search across your entire data set in seconds, and allows you to work in real-time with other members of your team. As we add new features and richer relationships between data, we need to continually monitor and sometimes rearchitect portions of our data storage to maintain the level of performance and security we're striving for. We'll rinse and repeat until we get it right.

Unfortunately, there are no silver bullets for improving performance. As a small but growing startup, we've released over 80 features in just a few years. We've focused on building a sustainable business that allows us to continue to invest in improving the impact that research has in organizations worldwide – but engineering speed and product velocity can come at a cost. Degradations in performance are the consequence of many small changes that individually have minimal impact, but cumulatively over time can add up.

In the coming weeks and months, you'll notice Dovetail's speed and responsiveness improve as we identify opportunities and make changes accordingly.

Growing our engineering team

In concert with a focus on improving performance, we are continuing to hire top engineering talent. We've been onboarding new engineers who are as passionate and excited about research as we are. It's been incredible to see the impact they're already having on some of the most difficult technical elements of the product. We're excited to have a full-time technical recruiter join us who's focus will be growing our engineering team to help us realize our ambitious vision of building the best product for researchers.

If you, or anyone you know, is interested in shaping a technically challenging product that is revolutionizing how organizations make customer-informed decisions, please apply.

Growing our engineering team will allow us to parallelize more work, continue to execute on feature requests and product innovations like video highlights and transcription, while progressing the important unseen work that keeps Dovetail reliable, fast, and secure.

Looking forward

We're wholeheartedly committed to building the best product for researchers. Your feedback over the years has helped shaped Dovetail to where it is now, and we couldn't have done it without you.

Please continue to share your feedback on your experience using Dovetail – we read everything that you send us, and we value it immensely. You can get in touch, click the Feedback button in Dovetail, or join our Slack community and directly chat with us.

About the contributors
Bradley Ayers
CTO and co-founder, Dovetail
Tech obsessed Queenslander.
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