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.

What we’ve been up to

For those who use the Simplenote web app, did you notice you can now delete your tags? Just click the trash can icon next to a tag in your tag list, and it’ll be removed entirely.

A Simplenote iOS update also hit the App Store awhile back with a variety of fixes.

Most importantly, we’ve been hard at work on a big improvement to the way syncing works. This is a huge undertaking. Our goal is to make syncing even faster and more reliable since we believe it’s Simplenote’s core strength.

We look forward to sharing the changes with you when they’re ready.

Temporarily absent from the App Store

Today we briefly released an update to Simplenote for iOS that introduced a bug. Under some circumstances, your notes could become invisible. Not actually gone, just seemingly gone.

We decided to pull the update from the App Store, which means new users can’t download it either. We’ve already fixed the problem and are now awaiting App Store approval. If all goes well, Simplenote will return to the App Store by this Friday.

If you were unfortunate enough to snag the update before we took it down, you can avoid the bug by not creating new notes while viewing a particular tag. Closing Simplenote from the task manager and reopening it will make all notes visible again.

We’re very sorry for the inconvenience in the meantime.

Numerous web app improvements

We’ve been making a lot of improvements to the Simplenote web app in recent months. Have you spotted them all? Here are the highlights:

Tabs. You can now use the Tab key to indent your selection or the current line. If you don’t want this feature, you can disable it in Settings.

Preview lines. You can choose how many preview lines are shown in the note list.

Markdown. For those who want to format their notes using Markdown syntax, you can now enable support for this in the new Note Info dialog. Doing so allows you to toggle between editing and previewing your note. When you publish a Markdown note, the publishing link sends people to a nicely rendered version that stays in sync with your updates.

Sharing. There’s now a sharing menu in the web app where you can easily publish a note. To let other people edit a note with you, you can add their email addresses as tags.

Better links. When you click on a shared note link in a notification email, you’re brought to that note inside your account (if you’re already signed in). The links are now shortened using our simp.ly domain.

Printing. For old school people who like paper.

Import and export. We believe data should flow freely. You can now import and export notes using a variety of formats. This feature, which can be accessed from your account menu, is still in beta (its interface will be improved in the future).

Fixed overzealous warnings. There was a problem where you might be warned about changes not being saved even if you hadn’t made any changes. Also, some browsers were displaying an unnecessary security warning. Both of these have been fixed.

Session recovery. If you become signed out of your account for some reason, the app will now prompt you to sign in again. This solves a potential case where unsaved data could have been lost under some circumstances.

Word count. Displayed in the new Note Info dialog. Also shows character count.

Untagged notes. For those who just have to tag everything, searching for tag:untagged will now display all your untagged notes so you can tag them to your heart’s content.

Haven’t tried the web app in awhile? You can sign in here.

Introducing Listary

Listary is the latest app to work with your Simplenote account. Built by Portmanteau for iPhone and iPod touch, it’s all about lists. It makes it really easy to create list items, cross them off, and reorder them. Since it uses Simplenote, you can also access your lists using our web app or any other apps that work with Simplenote.

You’ll find more information on their website, or you can download it now from iTunes.