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Product News posts:

Scheduled Maintenance Saturday December 10th, 10am – 12pm EST

On Saturday December 10th, 2011, we plan to take Harvest offline beginning at 10am EST and ending before 12pm EST for some billing system upgrades. (What time is that for you?) We spend a lot of time dealing with customer billing issues. Time we could be spending making Harvest more awesome. So we have revamped the entire billing system so we can spend our time more efficiently.

We do hope the downtime will be less than the stated two hours. Please follow @harvest on Twitter and Harvest Status for real time updates from the team during this work. Thanks for your patience!

Changes to the Harvest Forum and How To Make Feature Requests

We’ve been taking a behind-the-scenes look at the way we handle customer service interactions at Harvest, and we’re currently looking a bit deeper at how we receive feature requests. Earlier this year, we launched Help 2.0, aimed to improve the way you find answers to your questions (and the response has been great).  We’ve also been hard at work on continually improving how we deal with bug reports — in terms of getting them reported and dealt with quickly.

Now we’re turning our focus to feature requests – we get dozens of them each week. These requests come in through various channels, like Twitter, over the phone, by email, and through the Harvest ForumWe take feature requests very seriously and strive to keep an accurate count of how many people have asked for something, what exactly their use case is, and how we can get in touch with them (so that we can ask further questions as we begin to develop a feature, and to let folks know when their request has been realized as a brand new, working feature).

Continue reading…

Support Availability over Thanksgiving

This coming weekend is set to be a weekend full of Tryptophan and Tofurkey, football and amazing bargains.

We here at Harvest have a lot to be thankful for this year: amazing customers, each other, and our loving families. This weekend, we’re going to be tracking some time against the “Family” project, on the “Over-eating” and “Sleeping it off” tasks. Support will be available by email only on Thursday, November 24th and Friday, November 25th. We may be a little slower than typical getting back to you, but you can definitely expect a reply within 24 hours. If you have a question or concern, please write to us at support [at] harvestapp.com or by completing the online help request form.

Harvest will return to normal hours on Monday, November 28th. We hope that you have a great weekend!

Harvest Ending Support for Internet Explorer 7

We’re announcing a change to our browser support policy. Starting January 2, Harvest will no longer support Internet Explorer 7. If you are still using IE7, please install a modern web browser to use with Harvest (such as Chrome or Firefox). You have a month and a half to upgrade, but we hope you’ll do it today (it’s free! it’s easy!).

We believe this change will benefit all of our customers. IE7 was released five years ago and is two major releases behind the latest version of Internet Explorer. IE7 offers limited (at best) support for many of the modern web browser features that applications like Harvest rely on. Right now, we’re employing hacks and crutches to make IE7 usable for only a small percentage of our customers, and removing these will improve the speed and performance of Harvest for everyone.

IE7 is a terrible browser for the modern web and it’s holding all of us back. Every hour spent hacking a fix is an hour that could have been spent building something awesome.

Harvest’s New PDF Engine

Update: We’ve now added a Snail-mail Friendly option to move the client address to the left for the envelope window. You can find this option, hide columns, and company logo in a new Appearance tab on the Invoices and Estimates configure pages.

Today we’re announcing a significant upgrade to our invoicing and estimate platforms: a new rendering engine for the PDFs you send to your clients.

The new engine, which is built with wkhtmltopdf and Liquid-based templates, renders PDFs based on HTML and CSS. This is really exciting, because it allows us to use more flexible and simple code to create them. This means we can have the exact same code for invoice and estimate PDFs as we have in the app, which means they now have the same design and options.

What’s New

Implementing this allowed us to make some other features available on Invoices and Estimates:

  • PDFs now have the page number at the bottom (and an option to translate).
  • You can now hide the type, quantity, and/or unit prices columns.
  • If you have a company logo uploaded, but still want your invoice to say “Invoice” on the page, you now have this option. You can turn it on where you uploaded your company logo in the configure section, and then change the title in translations (i.e. – you’d rather have “Tax Invoice”). The same applies for estimates.
  • We’ve added quick access to your Web Invoices and Web Estimates.
  • The new PDF engine is also able to render many more languages. See an example of some languages below:

The biggest win is that we now have the flexibility we need for adding features to our invoices and estimates in the future. Any change will automatically work in the app and as a PDF.

We hope this new PDF engine makes your Harvest experience even better.

Harvest is Hiring – Spread the Word

Dear Harvest customers and fans,

This quarter, the Harvest Team has spent 3,214 hours on new features, system improvements and customer support. We launched two major features, with three more coming this month. We have also carried out several infrastructure upgrades to make Harvest even faster and more reliable.

But we want to do more. We want to make Harvest an even more useful and powerful service for your business. To do that, we need peoplesmart, talented, humble, and hard-working folks to join a small team that makes a world-class business application. More specifically, we’re looking for two Rails Developers (junior or seasoned), a Ruby Systems Dev, and an Account Manager.

We need your help to spread the word. If you know of any talented folks that fit the bill, please let them know that Harvest is hiring. You can also help by passing the word to your friends and colleagues on Twitter or Facebook. Please help us build our team, and we will make Harvest even better for your business!

Thank you,
Shawn, Harvest Co-Founder

How Harvest Is Made

You may not realize it, but almost every day there are improvements being made to Harvest while our customers are using it. Transparency is a core value here at Harvest, and I’d like to take you through a little of how we work behind the scenes, in a series of slightly technical posts.

The new Harvest Status page

We’ve just released the beta version of a tool we will be using to promote transparency between Harvest operations and our customers: the new Harvest Status Page. Bookmark this tool to keep track of how Harvest is performing at any time.

Balancing priorities

I’ll briefly walk you through the software release process we follow, and in a subsequent post I’ll talk in more detail about the tools and methods we use. If you are familiar with DevOps and the concept of continuous deployment you’ll recognize these in our workflow.

Context determines your opinion on software deployment. Our customers naturally prioritize software stability and the addition of new features as quickly as possible. Customer acquisition, avoiding outages, using cool new technology, and striving for elegant robust code are a few other priorities held by my Harvest coworkers. A natural tension can exist between these priorities. How does Harvest balance this and retain our core focus on a good customer experience?

The simplest answer is: We take small steps quickly through collaboration.

Release cycle and deployments

What may be of most interest to customers is how we deploy new code to Harvest. Harvest changes almost every day, usually multiple times per day. In the time it took me to write this blog post, two different developers deployed five production releases of Harvest. Some might be concerned that a process like this promotes poor quality software. In reality, like many other companies, we have found that this iterative, constant change promotes high quality software, exposes and resolves unexpected issues quickly and allows a distributed team to work on different features concurrently. This means, in a nutshell, that when developers deem code ready to go to production, it goes to production. No artificial release schedule governs Harvest software rollout. There is also no manager whose job it is to ensure our software quality because that is the common responsibility of every person committing code at Harvest.

100% bug-free software is an unrealistic goal, but we strive for a bare minimum of issues by having structure in place to address problems quickly and efficiently:

  • All significant code changes are peer reviewed before deployment. In the next post, I’ll talk about how we do this.
  • Every developer, designer and sysadmin at Harvest is able to (and does) deploy production code.
  • Mondays tend to be the busiest traffic day of the week at Harvest, so we rarely release big new features on Mondays. Same goes for late on Fridays, when bugs could linger over a weekend.
  • We have an internal QA process and production-similar staging environments, where we perform extensive testing when required.

Some deployments warrant special care, such as releases which involve database migrations changing large datasets. Certain database operations could produce a poor customer experience while deployments roll out. We have in the past, and will continue to deploy these releases at times of lowest customer impact, although Harvest’s global customer base reduces this window constantly. We have a maintenance mode which we can employ to take Harvest offline briefly if we need to.

If you have seen Harvest in maintenance mode and we didn’t notify you, our customer, prior to this deployment, we made a mistake and you can be sure that the team is working on the problem with urgency. It happens, but we think Harvest’s uptime speaks to how infrequently this occurs.

Obviously, when it comes to software which has a third party review process, or runs on customer desktops, such as our iPhone App and the upcoming Mac App, our process to roll out change is a little different to the core Harvest software that runs on our own servers.

If this post was too technical (or not technical enough), the one thing I hope you will take away from this is: Harvest software changes all the time in small increments. This concept of continuous deployment isn’t new or revolutionary and it may not work well for every company, but it allows us to strike a balance between stability and agility and keep forward momentum as we build a fairly complex suite of software.

Next week I’ll touch on the tools we use to review code, communicate as a team and keep on top of our infrastructure performance. If there is something you’d like me to specifically discuss, let me know in the comments or directly at warwick@getharvest.com.

OAuth 2.0 for the Harvest API, Plus a New SDK

At Harvest, we have a ton of pride in our smart and creative users. The ideas you bring to life on top of our Harvest API are always surprising and inspiring. OAuth 2.0 and our new JavaScript SDK are two great tools coming into beta today, and we can’t wait to see what you do with them!

OAuth 2.0 is an industry standard for API authorization, used by Facebook, Google and others. With OAuth 2.0 you won’t need to store the passwords of Harvest users to build an integration. That means more security for Harvest users, and less liability for integration authors. You can learn more about the specifics of OAuth 2.0 and our implementation in the updated API authentication docs.

Our new JavaScript SDK is inspired by the ease of using Facebook Connect. Build integrations in pure client-side JavaScript, without thinking about Cross-domain requests and the details of OAuth 2.0. We’re already using it to add timers to our bug tracking and support tools. It’s a great way to bring Harvest to your other web apps.

  • Add timers to your bug tracking software in only HTML and JavaScript.
  • Import open invoice amounts from Harvest without using server-side programming.
  • Pull reporting into JavaScript to generate custom visualizations and charts.

Again, the best place to learn more is our new JavaScript SDK documentation.

Getting Started

If you’re a user or partner interested in working with our new API authentication and SDK options, make a request for OAuth credentials on this form, or drop us a line at api@getharvest.com for more information. While in beta, we’re going to issue credentials manually, and that form is the quickest way to get set up. you can sign up for OAuth credentials right from within your account. Go to Manage > Account Settings and click the OAuth2 Tokens button to get started. If you’re not a code-slingin’ type of person, just know that we’re giving developers the best tools available for the next generation of Harvest integrations.

Your comments and feedback about these API additions are important – please do get in touch!

Timesheet Update: Start Your Week on Saturday, Sunday or Monday

Today, we’re excited to announce the release of one of our most highly-requested features – the ability to start the week on Saturday, Sunday or Monday.

Harvest timesheets have always started on Monday. However, many companies begin their timesheets on Saturday or Sunday, and they approve time weekly based on that start day. It’s been a goal of ours for a while to have Harvest accomodate this worklflow, but we knew that this was a much bigger update than it seemed. Shifting the start day affects all the time a company has entered in Harvest, making it critical that this feature be implemented with the utmost care. With this in mind, we’ve taken every precaution to make sure that a complicated behind-the-scenes switch seems like a simple and seamless one from the Harvest UI.

If your company starts its week on Saturday or Sunday, simply head to Manage > Account Settings and update the Start Week On preference. Harvest Timesheets and Reports will be updated to start the week on the selected day, and timesheets will be approved based on that week.

We hope customizing the start of the workweek makes your Harvest experience even better, and as always, send us your feedback!

Bring Your Base Sales to Harvest

Base (formerly PipeJump) is a small business CRM software package for managing contacts and sales. They recently launched an integration with Harvest, allowing project creation from your “won” deals. With this integration, managing the flow from contact to sales to tracking your project in Harvest is seamless.

See the integration in action, thanks to this screencast provided by Base:

Don’t forget, integrations with Harvest are just an API call away. Do let us know if you are planning an integration, or even if you are just dreaming of one!