Tip for Developer Tools Startups

January 30, 2021

I recently had a really annoying experience with a startup in the developer tools space. I’ve been looking for a better CI platform for a while now (I’ve used Codeship, CircleCI, Travis, and Jenkins) and I found a promising CI platform that relied significantly on open source repositories as plugins to run its build pipelines. Many of these repositories are owned under the company’s own Github organization. Onboarding a few repositories of mine during an initial trial period, I found that there was a major missing feature in one of these plugins which would block me as well as other users from using this CI system effectively. I even found an open Github issue from another user a year earlier that reported the same missing feature. I then went into the plugin, learned the architecture, wrote a patch, added tests and documentation, and submitted five pull requests to fix this missing feature.

I’ve been waiting for three weeks for the company to merge or at least comment on these pull requests. In the meantime, my two week trial period ended which means I can’t even test changes to my pull requests. I therefore have significant doubts whether I should be using this company’s products.

Here’s a tip for dev tools startups: your customers and yourself are likely Github users, and if your customers contribute free feedback or features to your company through Github, you had better be responsive.