What’s happened since the relaunch

In the few weeks since we relaunched Simplenote, usage has been skyrocketing. We’ve enjoyed some great press coverage across the web, along with strong user ratings and top 5 rankings.

A few problems remain, and we’re working hard to fix them. In particular, some people have reported unexplained note deletions, particularly from the Mac app. We’ve submitted possible fixes, and we’re preparing a solution that recovers these notes. This’ll be ready soon, and we’ll update this post when it’s ready.

Meanwhile, it’s taking a bit longer than we hoped to release the new Simplenote web app to everyone. We’re continuing to identify and fix some pesky layout issues with different browser versions.

Thanks to everyone who has helped spread the word about Simplenote. We’ll keep working to clean up these remaining issues, and then take a look at some of the top feature requests we’re seeing.

Update: A Simplenote Mac update is now live. Please update to this version. If you were affected by unexplained note deletions, and you’d like to access a backup of your account, you can sign in here and choose Download .zip from your account menu. All your notes (including those deleted in the past month) will start downloading as a .zip file. This is a manual process for now. We’re also working on a way to restore the affected notes automatically.

Simplenote relaunch

Earlier this year we announced some big changes were coming to Simplenote. Since then, we’ve been quietly working on new versions of the app together with server improvements that make it even faster and more reliable.

New versions

We’ve been beta testing new versions of Simplenote for Mac, Android, and iOS 7. They look a lot different: cleaner, simpler, and more lightweight. Our approach was to return to first principles and build anew.

A side effect is that some less frequently used features won’t be available, at least at first. Some people will cheer. Others, like those who adore sorting notes by reverse chronological creation date, may mourn. More details are coming soon.

Server improvements

Simplenote is now running on Automattic’s own servers with better tools to help identify and resolve problems. This lets our Systems team take care of Simplenote servers with the same resources available to sites on WordPress.com (like TechCrunch). Less downtime, better security.

Better syncing

Simplenote is powered by Simperium, a service for syncing data that we’ve been continuing to improve behind the scenes. Simplenote Mac and Simplenote iOS 7 take advantage of a major Simperium update to further improve the speed and reliability of your note syncing.

Meanwhile, a new Simperium library for Android will make its debut alongside Simplenote Android. For any developers in the crowd, this combo allows seamless, iCloud-style syncing across device types — from Core Data on iOS/OSX to sqlite on Android and back again with a minimum amount of fuss.

Changes to Simplenote Premium

Did you know about Simplenote Premium? Probably not. We’ve never focused on encouraging people to upgrade. We’re pausing premium upgrades for now while we figure out the best way to offer more features to power users. If you’re already a premium user, you’ll get a free extension in the meantime.

Timeline

This is happening in the coming weeks. We’re excited to start sharing more. Stay classy, stay simple.

Simplenote supercharged

Simplenote has a new home! Our company, Simperium, has been acquired by Automattic, makers of WordPress.com. We think this’ll be great for everyone, especially you, our beloved fans.

You know how sometimes, the services you love just disappear when they’re bought by someone else? Or they wither and die a slow and painful death? Not the case here. We made sure of that.

The founder of Automattic, Matt Mullenweg, has been a long-time Simplenote fan. We first met him in 2010 before we joined Y Combinator, and we’ve kept in touch since. Fred and I will never forget the surprise Matt casually unleashed shortly after we decided to join forces. “Hey, by the way…we also bought simplenote.com from the people who were squatting it.” How’s that for a vote of confidence? We finally own simplenote.com!

In joining Automattic, we’re working with more resources and a growing, complementary team. Our plan is to supercharge Simplenote with a lot more attention in the months and years to come: native apps for more platforms, ongoing improvements, and more work on Simperium, our service for keeping your data in sync. Of course, Simplenote will stay simple. We know how important that is to you. It’s what kept it in the top apps of 2012, and it’s important to the team here as well.

Simplenote is in good hands. Our new family, now over 140 people strong and distributed around the world, lives and breathes all things internet. They get this stuff. We get this stuff. We build and use a wide variety of online tools every day to stay in sync with each other as a company.

If you get this stuff too, and you’d like to help make Simplenote more amazing from wherever you happen to be in the world (I’m writing this from a beach in the Cook Islands), work with us. We need more smart, friendly people who deeply appreciate simplicity and a mobile lifestyle.

Want more perspective on what all this means? Check out the Simperium blog. And if you have any questions or concerns, our fancy new WordPress-hosted site (which you’re presently reading) will happily accept them as comments below.

Mike (@mikejohnstn) and Fred (@fredrocious)

The Year Ahead

Twenty-twelve has been an exciting year: we’ve been focused on building a system called Simperium that not only increases the speed and reliability of Simplenote, but enables other applications to have the same effortless synchronization and online/offline capabilities.

The Nitty-Gritty

The legacy version of Simplenote’s API is hosted on Google App Engine. Many of the apps that sync with Simplenote, including some of our favorites like Notational Velocity and nvALT, still use this legacy API.

Our newer Simperium service uses Amazon Web Services (AWS), and is built to be much more resilient to failure. DashNote and ResophNotes are on this new API already. We know that many of you rely on Simplenote to run your lives, so even a few minutes of downtime is a major pain. We’re committed to dealing more gracefully with unexpected failures, bugs, limitations, and communicating better with you when there is a problem.

Holiday Bonus

We’ve given all premium subscribers two months free to thank you for being early adopters and sticking with us through some tough times in the last year. We’re also going to be working with all our developers to get their apps on the new API so we can officially deprecate our older, less scalable systems by the end of 2013.

Finally, we’re going to loop back on some of the most popular user requests, including an Android app, Mac app, and native support for Markdown while of course preserving the simplicity you’ve come to expect.

We hope that you, too, are using this holiday season to relax and recharge for a full 2013, and here’s to many more (simple) notes in our future together.

Service problems this week

First of all, we’re very sorry about the current issues and we’re working to fix them. All premium users will get time credited to their accounts.

Our primary syncing systems are hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Earlier this week, AWS experienced significant downtime that caused Simplenote syncing to fail. The AWS downtime also affected sites like Reddit, Airbnb, and Foursquare.

We have a separate system for syncing notes with third-party apps (like Notational Velocity) that is currently hosted on Google App Engine (GAE). About three weeks ago, we started experiencing significant latency when writing changes to this system, resulting in delayed syncing ranging from a few minutes to a few hours. Our efforts to fix this on our own weren’t successful, so we turned to the GAE team for advice.

They recommended we immediately migrate our third-party syncing to a newer version of their platform. On Wednesday night, we decided to do this. It went less smoothly than we hoped. We did not properly take into account some consequences of the migration, but we corrected this last night.

This morning, GAE is experiencing a global outage and we are waiting to hear more news on that front. Our official iOS apps and all third-party apps that have upgraded to our latest API (like ResophNotes and DashNote) should be working since they don’t rely on GAE. Our web app is still hosted on GAE, so it will be down until their service is restored.

We’re a small team working hard to get things stable again. We’ll work on a process to remove duplicate notes that have appeared in some users’ accounts. When the dust has settled, we’ll write a more detailed post-mortem about our plans for improvement and how we’ll better handle situations like this in the future.

Today’s interruption of services

Earlier today, the Simplenote web app stopped displaying notes for many people, and syncing with devices was temporarily disabled. The cause of this interruption was a problem with our servers that we’ve since fixed. All services are beginning to come online now.

We’re taking steps to prevent these kinds of interruptions in the future, and we apologize for the inconvenience.

Major performance update released

A few weeks ago, Simplenote 3.2 for iOS was released to the App Store. This was a huge update focused on performance and stability. If you’ve already updated, you should notice that your changes move between different versions of the app much more quickly now.

The latest version is also much better at handling lots of notes. As a growing number of users pass the 1000 note threshold, this new version will accommodate them easily.

If you’re having any trouble with the update, please contact us at support@simplenoteapp.com and we’ll work hard to help you.

Here’s a complete list of changes: 

3.2.0: 
  • improved overall performance and stability 
  • improved startup speed 
  • improved support for lots of notes 
  • improved sync speed and reliability (iOS + web app) 
  • added support for syncing emoji characters 
  • show total number of notes next to All Notes in tag list 
  • fixed problem where tag list numbers might not be accurate 
  • tag editing can now be done from inside the main tag list 
  • added support for linking to Simplenote from other apps 
  • fixed crashes that could happen when notes update 
  • fixed text occasionally being hidden behind iPad keyboard 
  • fixed problem where ads could turn back on after renewing subscription 
  • fixed some inconsistencies with sorting notes 
  • increased size of Extra Large font option
3.2.1: 
  • improved search performance when you have lots of notes 
  • fixed problems with sharing via email address tags 
  • fixed note publishing 
  • fixed in-app premium upgrades 
  • fixed problems with tags that have symbols 
  • fixed problems with renaming tags 
  • fixed ads sometimes turning back on for paid users 
  • fixed empty tag creation when note is created from Instapaper 
  • fixed some passcode lock problems on iPad 
  • fixed tag autocomplete popover on iPad 
  • fixed new inline tags not syncing 
  • fixed login problems for certain complex passwords 
  • fixed searching so it searches for multiple terms separately 

 

 

Performance, stability and reliability

We’ve been hard at work testing Simplenote 3.2, an update that is aimed at improving overall performance, stability and reliability. It has no new features. Instead, it’s intended to solidify the features that are already there, and it should be ready fairly soon.

Thanks to the many people who have contacted us with their kind words, suggestions, and bug reports. We’re excited to share this update with you.

Simplenote for iOS temporarily unavailable

We released a small update today that was causing problems for some people, so we pulled it before many people downloaded it. A new update has been submitted.

Alas, Simplenote for iOS won’t be available for download in the meantime, but hopefully not for long.

If you were among the small number of people who downloaded the update before it was pulled, and you’re experiencing a crash, please get in touch with us at support@simplenoteapp.com. Only premium users and those who have been using Simplenote since iOS version 3.x could be affected, and only if they happened to download the update during the hour or so that it was available.

Maintenance release for iOS 5

Simplenote 3.1.8 for iOS has just been approved and will be available in the App Store shortly. Changes include:

- fixed wrong tag sometimes being added to notes 
- fixed some iOS 5 incompatibilities 
- fixed crash when using settings 
- fixed sync sometimes not happening after first login

We’re also continuing our work on a bigger update that greatly improves syncing and overall performance. It’s currently being tested.