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Published at Sun Nov 05 2023 in
Rows HQ

2023 W44 - Initiative, Initiative, Initiative

blog - surprise

Every week I post about one thing that happened at Rows. We're building in public!


Last Monday I had a surprise. An engineer came back from the weekend and showed us a feature he built as "an extra". This was not a priority for the quarter, but it was definitely something we wanted a lot, and needed!

rows - sumup barOur new quick sum-up bar! You can click any number to copy it to the clipboard. It also works in shared spreadsheets (in live mode). What's best, this feature is the first step into our longer term upgrade to Local Computation.

Usually, an unexpected feature contribution raises a few explicit and implicit questions:

  • "What do you think, is this good? Should we ship it?"

  • "Beware, we found x, y, z points of improvement."

  • "Should we ask X for their opinion?"

  • "What do we do next? We think we should .."

Questions are natural, there's always the temptation to "manage" the shit out of something new and exciting. I think you shouldn't do it though. By default you should let builders run with it. "If you're happy with it, ship it!".

  • Just ship it. If the feature works, put it out. Barring any fundamental UX violation, users are much better off having it than not. In this case, the feature was already working, and whatever the improvement opportunities we might find, can be dealt with later.

  • Management should happen *after* go-live. Build -> Demo -> Ship -> Iterate. Don't creep in more details or review it with every function and team. If the feature has quality, put it out. If there's a team that's in charge of this section of the product, they can later take control, prioritize their time and improve on it. In any case, don't delay shipping.

  • Give weighted feedback. When the discussion turns to details, I offer my feedback as a ranked list, in particular I will stress out that my comments are (or aren't) essential to go live. In this case, nothing was.

Engineers doing extra features isn't a rare occurrence at Rows.

  • Just last week we made the full spreadsheet - editor and all - work inside 3rd-party platforms. We will show that soon enough, but imagine an Embed of the whole platform inside a broader web filesystem. That too was a +1 that the team made.

  • Many other features were created or improved like that, such as Grid components, Conditional Formatting or our AI Integration and AI Analyst✨.

So happy with this outcome. Set the engineering teams free! Let them ship!

See you next week!

- Humberto

Oh, one more thing.. We just shipped drag-to-import. Throw a csv or xlsx file at our editor, and it'll chomp it!