google is genius and everyone else is stupid

So Google is coming out with a social network like thingy. This will be one of trillions of new products Google has added in the last few years.

What I find interesting about all these new products is that they pretty much all have one thing in common. They’re money losers. Even gmail doesn’t make money. That of course is the genius. By building lots of apps they get people scared. Google is entering my market.. ahhhhhhhhhh.

The distraction factor is huge. The more time and resources companies spend on fighting Google on these fake fronts is less time and resources on the only one that matters, search. Search is where it’s at, search is so much bigger than these other markets it’s not even close. No social network, no matter how big or how cool will ever rival the revenue generating power that search does.

Even initiatives like Google Docs are little more than an effort to distract Microsoft. Few companies larger than a few people could use Docs, it’s simply to limiting. A 500K limit? Most organizations have millions of documents in Word larger than that. The browser tools are simply not there yet to attack Microsoft in any serious way on the Office front, yet Google has succeeded in making people think that this is a real threat to MS. (MS still made 5 times as much money as Google last year and nearly 7x more profit you know)

So hats off to Google, it’s a well designed campaign that seems to be working very well.

new testimonial attitude custom painting

After trying out 30+ helpdesk type programs, I came across HelpSpot. Am I ever glad I did! This program blows away the competition.

I was looking for a very configurable program, that would not only be used for a helpdesk, but also could be used as an estimate request type of program.

HelpSpot definitely fits my needs. Included is a lot of features that you dont find in other programs. One of my favorite features is that I have the program configured so the automation rules actually email customers after a set amount of days. Ive gotten quite a few jobs from just the program doing these automated emails. A great way to drum up business! Another great feature is that I was able to make use of the filters to sort them in specific categories so I can quickly find jobs in , jobs on the way, jobs recently shipped along with other filters I use.

For the 6 months previous to using Helpspot, I had been using another program that did the job, but that program didnt have the capabilities to come even close to what HelpSpot has. I had 2000+ requests on my previous program, so you can see the need to upgrade for a true professional program!

After downloading, and setting up the HelpSpot trial version, I knew this was it! Even though you get a 45 day trial, I ended up signing up for 2 users the same day I downloaded. Ive been using it since June of 07 and the program has run flawlessly! The support is also second to none.

Ian has done a tremendous job with this program! Version 2 has some excellent upgraded features that I didnt even think I would use, but found out that they actually helped make the emails and estimates flow even more.

If you are in the need of a great helpdesk program, look no farther than UserScapes HelpSpot!

Scott Farrell
Attitude Custom Painting

request push api example 1 fogbugz

One of the interesting and likely overlooked new features in

HelpSpot version 2 is the Request Push API. I talked a bit about it the other day, but it’s kind of an abstract thing and so I wanted to be sure to get a few sample implementations out as soon as possible.

The Request Push API allows staff to easily push requests out of HelpSpot and to other systems. There are a lot of potential uses for this, but the obvious one for software folks is pushing requests to a bug tracker. I know many pure software shops use bug trackers as help desk tools, but this isn’t a viable solution for many companies with more formal help desks (where “normal” people don’t want to see anything about bugs). Before now with pretty much all help desk tools the staff was forced to convey bugs reported by customers by using the bug tracker (nobody likes that, not help desk staff or developers) or communicating it outside of either system via email, etc.

Request Push changes this equation by keeping that communication between the systems and within the help desk software. The help desk staff simply click a button, add a comment and the request goes off to the bug tracker, in this case FogBugz. The API logs the bug with FogBugz and also keeps track of the returned case ID. This allows help desk staff to check on the progress of a bug from within HelpSpot right from the request which reported the bug. This is great if you need to get back to a customer later on the status.

If you’re interested in what this looks like you can check out the screenshots on the FogBugz sample API page.

FogBugz seemed a logical choice for the first implementation as I know a fair number of HelpSpot customers use it and their new API makes it easy to do. This is just a very basic example, I’m sure some customers will expand on it to do some really amazing things.

I’ll probably do 3-4 more samples for the major bug trackers. Unfortunately many don’t have API’s or at least not nice clean documented ones so we’ll see how it goes.

helpspot version 2 now available

We’re pleased to announce the release of HelpSpot version 2. This version is packed with features and enhancements that will enable your team, and your support operation, to be more productive and proactive while still maintaining a customer-focus. Major features include:

  • Full HTML email support
  • Batch response/request editing
  • 6 new Custom Field types
  • Improved integration of Custom Fields and Categories
  • Robust web-services API
  • Expanded Live Lookup
  • Merge Request capability
  • 5 new reports–including 3 new portal reports

For more detailed information on these, and other features, visit the What’s New page on our site.

helpspot version 2 released

It’s been a long road, but I’m happy to announce that HelpSpot v2 is finally out!!

I really appreciate the fantastic beta team and all the customers who contributed feature ideas over the past year. Almost all of the new features in v2 are a direct result of customer feedback. One of the things that’s really paid off for HelpSpot is finding and nurturing a great group of customers. I truly believe HelpSpot has the best customers and it makes it a pleasure to work with them day to day and to develop HelpSpot for them.

I’m fairly exhausted, it will be nice to get back to blogging and generally take a few breaths. I know this coming week will be crazy with everyone upgrading, but things should calm down after that.

There are many powerful new features in this release. The two I’m most excited about are support for HTML emails (this was a real bear to do!) and the new API’s. The API’s are really going to add a lot of flexibility to HelpSpot. The next thing I need to work on is coming up with some good example implementations. First on my list is building out samples for the new Request Push API, which allows requests to be pushed to other systems. This is going to be great for integrating HelpSpot with bug trackers.

Going forward I’ll be moving to a different release cycle than in the past. The rest of the v2 releases (probably just 1-2) will be mostly bug fix with the major versions containing new features. I’ve already started planning and have some mockups for version 3 which will be an exciting release as well. In a lot of ways I feel v2 is the release that finally brings HelpSpot to the base level I envisioned over 2 years ago now. Version 3 is where I’ll be able to build upon that base.

Thanks again to everyone out there who’s had a hand in HelpSpot’s success. The support for myself and the product has been amazing. From the largest customers to people who just read the blog or occasionally link over. It all adds up and is something I value and do not take for granted.

OK, now back to work!

testuff feedback

Eli did a post recently about wanting to write me and some other folks for some feedback. He hasn’t written yet, but here’s some feedback anyway 🙂

Eli’s product is called, what it appears to do is record your software testers so that bugs can be recreated easily and in general track the testing process.

In no particular order here’s some feedback Eli:

  • Stop thinking about version 2. You need to sell version 1 before version 2 is worth doing. Not to say that you shouldn’t be improving v1, but you should be spending nearly equal time on marketing at this point. For reference, HelpSpot version 2 is coming out this month (very soon actually), that’s 2 years to the month of the v1 release.

  • Your site makes it appear that the bugs are logged with you , though I found one random note that suggests it actually integrates with commercial bug trackers. This is a huge point, nobody wants to log bugs with you. You should prominently display the names of the bug trackers you support all over the place. That way when I come to your site I can see my bug trackers name and know you support it right away and that this improves my existing bug tracker not replaces it.

  • “Test your app in four easy steps” pictures are confusing. Rather than using the actual interface pictures I’d do a stylized representation so that people get the idea without being burdened by the actual interface of the app.

  • SaaS should not be in your H1 header at the top of the homepage. In fact I wouldn’t use that word anywhere, nobody cares. Use “On Demand” or “Hosted” or something like that which conveys the message more clearly.

  • You’re selling something people aren’t looking for. Nobody is searching for “video recording of testers finding bugs”. That’s a hard spot, I suggest you work on talking about bug tracking more and showing how this improves bug tracking. You need to have people start finding you and they won’t with your homepage about SaaS and video bugs.

  • This is not good on the download page: “The Testuff client has been tested on Windows XP, however it is supposed to run fine on Windows 2000 and Windows Vista”. You need to say that better, or simply state that Testuff is tested and supported on Windows XP and leave it at that. It’s also a bit confusing which parts are online and why I’m downloading something. Clearing that up a bit would be useful.

That’s enough for now I suppose. Good luck!

checking out twitter

I’m giving twitter a go. Since I don’t have as much blogging time as I’d like I thought doing some quick tweets might be a good alternative. I can’t promise I’m going to stay with it, but if you want to follow along my account is

I thought about cross posting them here, but I think it might be annoying. Also I don’t really want the blog to just be a series of daily posts containing my tweets. Thoughts?

interesting link to helpspot

I love when customers link to HelpSpot, you don’t get a better reference than that. I’m honored that many of our customers choose to do so, however, I was bowled over by the link from the guys a Sitesquad. It’s really above and beyond. I also think it’s an interesting business move, laying out the tools like that. Very interesting, and something I need to give some more thought to.