We’re back in compose!

On the surface, the biggest ‘missing piece’ of ActiveInbox 7 for the last 6 months has been the ability to mark a freshly composed email as a task. That’s now fixed.

We’ve slightly altered the look of Waiting On to be more intuitive for its main goal: to track something you need a reply for, so your brain saves its energy for better things than worrying.

Admittedly it’s taken a while

You read correctly: ‘6 months’.

A quick recap: in March Gmail announced their own first major upgrade for nearly a decade. We scrambled, with barely any sleep, to build something that’ll work for it. That was v7.

Then, because I’d got my mind back into ActiveInbox’s codebase, I added a task to our backlog: “Refactor ActiveInbox’s data system to be maintainable for the next few years [1d]”. See that ‘1d’? That means it was expected to take 1 day.

It’s been… Six. Months. Of almost as late night a finish as that first horrid scrambling month. I can honestly say I haven’t worked this hard for years. Punishing crunch-work is not really what we’re about as a company, but we wanted to get this to you!

I owe a huge thank you to all beta testers, but especially to Dusan, Dale, Mr Gross, Mr Corl, Mr Konstanski, BobG, Marcus, Johan and Stratos; for whom I’ve been in nearly daily contact via Skype for months.

And to Remi, who has been there right alongside me slinging new code, and Lisa who has kept everyone in the community supported even while us developers were buried in a dark cave.

There WAS, however, a silver lining…

We didn’t stop there…

ActiveInbox has never, ever, been faster.

Our new data system includes caching. It stores emails/tasks in your browser for much much faster loading (after the first time!).

And, I performance analysed everything I could, repeatedly, and shaved off milliseconds everywhere. I got a bit obsessed. I hope you *don’t* notice, simply because it just works instantly 🙂

Get a relationship safety net

We added a ‘History’ button when you’re writing an email, so you don’t miss any tasks you promised the recipient, and you can incorporate earlier conversations.

Finish things straight from the inbox

We’ve restored this old feature that was missing from ActiveInbox 7.0.

Tired of re-reading long conversations?

We’ve made Sub Tasks and Notes a lot cleaner to use. I’m not entirely sure why we previously buried it into the subject line, but we were trying to be too clever. It turns out, simple predictability is far more useable.

Blow away distractions with Do Not Disturb

My favourite pair of new features, a little glossy gift: you can hide the inbox, and fade out much of Gmail, to give you a really easy way to focus on just blasting through your tasks.

We’re rolling this out over the next week

Did I mention it’s a huge rewrite? I can’t remember the exact count, but I think we’ve changed 20,000 lines of code, and deleted a lot more.

It’s been in beta for at least 3 months, but I’m still super cautious about opening it to everyone.

So, day by day we’ll be turning it on for more people. If anything goes wrong, we can also turn it back off for you. (Yes, I am paranoid!).

Categorised in:

This post was written by AndyM

  • Angus

    Thanks Andy, Lisa and everybody.

    I think the latest version is fantastic. It’s always been good and I always tend to think that there can only ever be marginal improvements but I’m always proved wrong.

    Thanks again for all the hard work, weathering the frustrations and being patient.

    • Thank you so much Angus, there’s definitely been a few dark days in the last few months and words like yours have always been genuinely rejuvenating.

  • Will Dolezal

    Exciting! Especially on the speed aspect!

    • I 100% agree, going back to ActiveInbox 7.0 really just showed lots of little places with… awkward… little… pauses… so… small… you… barely… notice… but… they’re… there 🙂

  • Martin

    Very encouraging to hear! I can honestly say I have not stuck with an email program as long as I’ve stuck with ActiveInbox and will continue to do so when I see this kind of support!

    • Thank you Martin – I’m always honoured by the fact a substantial core of our users – and most of our beta testers (who often brave some pretty bad days) – have been with us since the beginning in 2007 (or maybe even 2006 – long enough ago that it’s blurry!), and I hope we can keep you happy for at least that long.

  • John Ortner

    Well done Andy. Been with ActiveInbox for 5-6 years now and loving it. The program is such a important and “trusted” part of my productivity system; it just ticks all boxes. Just signed up for 2 more years. Keep up the great work

    • Ah, thank you John (I love that there are so many people in the community whose names I immediately recognise – yours is one of them!).

  • David Shalev

    Congrats Andy!!!! Very happy for you, and for all of us users! I am currently on the beta. Will that upgrade to 7.1 or should I first delete the beta?

    • Hey David – I suggest staying with the beta tbh, if you want to keep slightly ahead of the curve for the next few weeks. You’re certainly not missing out on the beta!

  • So looking forward to this as I always do!
    You folks are the best!!

    • Thanks 🙂 We filled up the ‘first 100 users’ bucket in under 2 mins, so assuming no one starts screaming at us in the next few hours, I’ll start opening it up at a faster rate this evening.

      • YAY! Thanks for all of your hard work!

  • familyman114

    Thanks (as always) for your efforts Andy! I’ve been with ActiveInbox so long I can’t remember e-mail without it! Keep up the great work. -Rob Harrington

  • mlindorff

    Looking forward to these changes … seriously. I am willing to take the risk — though I don’t consider it as big a risk as Andy might be worried about — if there is a way to expedite enrollment in the 7.1 version. That and count me in for future Beta testing — semi-retired I have the time.

  • mz

    Andy,

    This all looks great – thanks for the hard work.

    However, I’m a bit puzzled. I was updated to version 7.1.1 today. I refreshed by Gmail tab several times, but am not seeing any of the features! No options to create a task on compose, no ability to edit or finish tasks from the Inbox, no Focus mode. Is there something on the server-side that you’re rolling out separately that I need to wait for?

    • Hey mz – you’ll have to ignore version numbers for a few weeks! As you correctly guessed, it’s server controlled. Within the main package you’ve installed, there actually exist 3 different variants of ActiveInbox (6, 7.0, 7.1), and that’s controlled from the server.

      Of course, if you want to fast track there’s always the beta channel 🙂

  • Colin Fee

    Hi Andy, Lisa and team,

    Great news. I’ve watching from the sidelines as you’ve made progress on this and, working in a large agile IT shop, I can sympathise with you as you’ve striven to get this completed. As a long time user I’m looking forward to the fruits of your labour. And there might even be a few slices of humble pie consumed in some quarters.

    • Ha ha, well, there’s never need for humble pie. Any criticism that comes our way is most likely well deserved for _something_ 😉 But it feels like have having a head wind for the last few months we’re finally looking forward to some good sailing.

  • Terry Harker

    Andy, the update looks good. However I am having problems with the fault “Oops… the system encountered a problem (#001) – Retrying in 1s…” Could this have something to do with the update or will it be unrelated? I assume I have the latest update.

    • Hey Terry – I think that’ll be a coincidence (did refreshing Gmail help?). If not, I’m very happy to talk about it – please just email me via support@activeinboxhq.com.

  • Shyam Shenthar

    Great show Andy, been a great believer in ActiveInbox for as long as I can remember now 🙂

  • Duncan Courtney

    Hi Andy – just want to join others in congratulating you on managing this crisis, and I’m looking forward to using the new features. Have a break! Then can we think about integrations? Do you remember Kanbanchi? Seriously, though, many thanks 🙂

    • Hey Duncan,

      A break! I really thought I needed one, but at the moment I’ve slightly surprised myself that I’m buzzing from getting it released to people. Maybe next week 😉

      As for integrations… it’s DEFINITELY something I personally want to explore, so yes !

  • Otto Gross

    Hey Andy, good job and very well appreciated. Like the look and the features 🙂 Many thanks again.

  • Marcela Alberti

    When should I see this update in my gmail? Anything I have to do?

    • Hey Marcela – there’s nothing to do, and I’m trying to get it to everyone by Friday! We hit a bit of a bump today, when 3 people (out of 1,500) had teething problems, so I’ve slowed down slightly, but I’ll speed up again tomorrow.

  • johnwoltman

    Is there an ETA on 7.1 for Firefox?

    • Hi John,

      Not an ETA per se, but we have been testing it, so it’s not far away. I just need to get Chrome running cleanly first.

      • John Woltman

        I’ll gladly be a guinea pig for Firefox if you need it 😀

  • I’m glad to see further improvements to an awesome product. Are we still going to get a FireFox plugin? I like to use Chrome (or Vivaldi) for my work email and FireFox for my personal email on the same computer.

    • Hi Daniel – we’ve been testing it on Firefox, so it’s definitely coming, but we’re trying to get Chrome smooth as butter first 🙂

  • DavidPhuah

    Love it guys – its what makes Gmail on the Desktop the most pleasant experience.

  • Candy Villalta

    Thank you for everything you do Andy. I am so impressed by you and your team. Thank you for always keeping me in track and ahead of the game.

    • Well if it’s CandyV! How lovely to see your name pop up too – thank you 🙂

  • BradCouper

    It is a wonderful thing Andy! Being able to add the follow up reminders and notes on `compose’ brings me a whole lot of calm…..

    Thanks to you and the team for sticking at it!

    • Thanks Brad, and thank you for being with us for so long 🙂

  • Antonis Mygiakis

    Well done Andy! I love this latest version. Fast and smooth!
    I am running off to renew my subscription!

  • Ian Gadd

    Just loaded the beta and it’s amazing!

    The Do Not Disturb function is a great addition. I’ve been using Inbox When Ready religiously for a while but it was conflicting with AIB 7 so I’d deliberately holding off upgrading AIB. One thing, though: Inbox When Ready allows you just to toggle off the inbox for as long as you need it, not by a time limit. I keep my inbox hidden *by default* so that I’m not distracted by new emails when I open up Gmail for the first time in the day. I’ll just keep selecting ’24 hours’ for Do Not Disturb, but just a straight toggle would be brilliant.

    • Thanks so much Ian. I’ve added your request to our ideas list (it should be easy, but the list itself is predictably huge, so I can’t put an exact time on it!).

  • George Freebersyser

    Keep up the great work! The extra effort is appreciated!

  • Still waiting for it to roll out to me. The anticipation is killing me! LOL
    I keep checking.

    • Hi moonrise, sorry to be frustrating… a (mercifully) small number of people uncovered bugs, so we paused the roll out on Thursday evening. But I boosted its power to detect issues over the weekend, so I’m confident to restart roll out again tomorrow.

      • No worries, Andy. I guessed something like that might have happened. Still looking forward to it and I’ll be excited.

        Diane

  • Lawrence Lam

    I am on latest v7.1.2 (Chrome). I cannot locate these features:

    – The feature in your demo which says “I need a reply: in 3 days” above.
    – The HISTORY button.
    – The DO NOT DISTURB button.

    Also, the WAITING UNTIL button is missing from the composer when I am composing a new email. It only shows up when I am replying an existing email.

    Please tell me where I can find them.

    • Hi Lawrence,

      It definitely sounds like it’s not even trying to load into the compose view, which is possibly a preference, or possibly a bug… either way, happy to jump on a Skype call. Can you message Lisa to arrange, via support@activeinboxhq.com?

      • Lawrence Lam

        I am not seeing the new features I mentioned above using two different computers in two different offices. Am I missing something? Andy, can you please send me the full screen screenshots showing where the above features are located? Perhaps I am looking into the wrong place. Email: mrlawrencelam at gmail com

        • Hi Lawrence – honestly, it’ll super quick to just resolve this via a call (I reckon <4 mins!). Anything else will be taking potshots of hope!

          I've asked Lisa to reach out to you.

          • mz

            Andy,

            I have the same issue – the new version functionality never has been loading. I’m on AIB 7.1.3. I assume the server-side rollout is totally done, so it should be working for everyone? If you do a fix with Lawrence, please let me know so I can check mine again.

        • Lisa Reynolds

          Hi Lawrence

          I’ll email you.

          Lisa

          • Lawrence Lam

            Already emailed you my Skype username.

  • Hi Andy,

    Heartily second the opinions of many on this chat re being a lo-o-ong time user and very happy with AIB.

    I’m still on 7.0.69 though. Do I need to do anything to move to 7.1?

    Thanks,

    Vivek

  • Just received this – LOVE IT! So fast, Andy. Great job! Intuitive and speedy and so so user friendly.
    Thank you sir and team!

  • nickden01

    This upgrade is why I am proud to subscribe to ActiveInbox. You just keep innovating, keep fixing and keep ending up giving me new and improved functions that I actually need. I will never stop missing the sub-folder functionality (i.e. the ability to see active tasks within a task’s subfolders), but that is a relatively minor issue. I rely on your product to do my work, and that is perhaps the greatest compliment.

  • Ankit

    When can we have the Firefox version? Feeling handicapped without it 🙁