The Devver Blog

A Boulder startup improving the way developers work.

What's your CPD?

A little under two weeks ago, we had the opportunity to give a quick presentation/demo of Devver to our fellow TechStars and a few investors.

We worked on the presentation/demo a fair amount. We tweaked the slides to convey both our current focus as well as our broader vision. We created an entire fake website to show how Devver would look to our users. We crunched some numbers so we could impress everyone with the time savings of using Devver. And we practiced, over and over again, what we would say so our message would come across clearly and powerfully.

And what did people take away from the whole thing? Dots. Freaking dots.

“These must have been some nice-looking dots!” you say. Oh, no. We’re not talking Apple-esque, shiny, colorful, Web 2.0 dots. We’re talking plain-old-ASCII-period-character-displayed-on-the-command-line dots.

So what made these dots so memorable?

You see, one part of our demo was showing how Devver can significantly speed up unit testing. For those of you that don’t know, developers write unit tests to automatically check their code for bugs. Just think of them as a custom diagnostic suite that programmers write and run – a lot.

According to our survey, most Ruby developers run their unit tests using a command line tool called Rake, which (and this is key) prints out a dot every time a test is completed. Here is Rake running a very small test suite for Flexmock

$ rake
(in /Users/ben/code/gridtest/trunk/oss/flexmock/trunk)
Loaded suite
/opt/local/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/rake-0.8.1/lib/rake/rake_test_loader
Started
...................................................................
...................................................................
...................................................................
...................................................................
.........................................................
Finished in 0.405401 seconds.

325 tests, 526 assertions, 0 failures, 0 errors

Our demo was simply two terminal windows. In one, we showed how things work today: we ran Rake on a single laptop on a big, slow suite of tests. Because it was running on just one machine, each test took awhile, so the dots printed … very … slowly.

In the second terminal window, we ran the exact same tests on Devver. Since Devver runs the tests on a ton of machines simultaneously, the tests execute very quickly and therefore the dots printed very, very quickly (in fact, Devver ran the test suite around 75% faster).

Afterward, I talked to a lot of people who said things like “I finally get what you guys are doing” or “Now I see why your system could save time” or my personal favorite, “I don’t understand unit testing, but I could tellsomething good was happening – those dots were moving really fast!”

People liked the dots so much that now there is a running joke is that Devver is just a company that makes dots print on the terminal – we exist to decrease companies’ “cost per dot”, or CPD.

The lesson for us is that while it’s important to explain our vision to users and investors, sometimes simply showing them the most basic thing is what really leaves an impression. As we refine our presentation, we’ll make sure to keep those dots.

Written by Ben

July 9, 2008 at 11:33 am

Posted in Devver

7 Responses

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  1. Travelfli is actually working on a metric by which we can measure OUR value to users in dots. It seemed to be a compelling metric for you guys so we're stealing it. "Dear investor, please refer to our CPD. You can see that it is through the roof and far surpasses all of our competition"

    krista51951

    July 9, 2008 at 12:06 pm

  2. The best part of CPD, is that if everyone standardizes on CPD you can compare things across entirely different markets… Your facebook app CPD is good, but it has nothing on Walmart's CPD, thats a lot of dots… ha

    danmayer

    July 9, 2008 at 1:14 pm

  3. Our Ignighter users are demanding faster dots. Can we have a sit down?

    adam38631

    July 9, 2008 at 3:04 pm

  4. Nice sounds like we might actually be talking about EC2 scaling for an app of yours soon… hehe

    danmayer

    July 9, 2008 at 3:30 pm

  5. haha that app is suffering from incredibly slow dots. It needs some devver magic

    adam38631

    July 9, 2008 at 3:33 pm

  6. Devver dot speed also makes for a great spur of the moment excuse: http://ignighter.com/blog/2008/07/10/ignighter-gu

    adam38631

    July 10, 2008 at 9:00 am

  7. Haha I love it.

    bhb

    July 11, 2008 at 3:52 am


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