I would start with 4.
The product can already do wonders, but it’s really hard to get people onboard. They quickly face quite a lot of complexity.
It could be improvements that seem silly at first, and yet would smoothen the adoption of any user, like :
handle left menu complexity : definitely. Ex: a way to easily pick icons for the side menu, or be able to have a color background on the side menu, or put folders in bold/bigger, or lighten the font of non-used items (by user !), or whatever makes it not look like a list of 40 items (very hard to apprehend)
descriptions : definitely. To be able to write a quick process / guideline on how each view is supposed to be used or maintained
having a start screen / dashboard which show all the views we’ve already consulted, ranked by usage, or whatever makes it easier to return to the 90% of things we always use, but not via favorites which just make the side menu / list on the left even longer (and/or maybe with manual picks by the power user)
— this could be by app, so instead of facing a database when we click on the app name in the side menu, we face a final-user-friendly screen, and there is just a little button somewhere to manage the database
permissions but on the view or folder level, for the power user to unhide complexity progressively, along the final user journey
maybe add a “global favorites” kind of menu/bar, for instance at the top of screen (which could collapse/uncollapse), so that the power user can show immediate value for any user by proposing the most useful resources accessible in one click
hide all the power user features for some users, like being able to filter views etc.
These are really just random ideas, probably not very good, but definitely onboarding other users remains a challenge, and the tool is already quite powerful, so I would start with that.
As a freelancer, I don’t need teams, collaboration, scale, permissions, etc. I need the basic use cases (Item 2).
One of the things I am loving about Fibery is that I can use it as a one-person shop - I can turn off all those fields that have no meaning to me (Assignee! Created By! Etc!). It’s not constantly asking me to invite people or forcing me into a team situation.
I just want to organize my work - I have “many lines in the water” in this modern gig economy, and it’s hard to manage all of them. Fibery is the first tool I’ve tried that lets me do that in a way that makes sense - for example, I need to do marketing for both my artistic practice and my Etsy shop. So I can have a Marketing space and manage my efforts there across all my businesses/concerns. I haven’t found another tool that lets me set things up this way.
Sure, I would like to see a few more things - reminders, better timeline, etc - but Fibery’s biggest selling point for me is that it does not make assumptions about how I want to organize my work. That’s brilliant.
Yes - I still think that “polish” and “ease of use” might be the main issues for Fibery’s market penetration - but these hopefully will get addressed, eventually. Fibery already has a steep enough learning curve, without issues like these making it harder.
A good example of what I mean by “lack of polish” is the seeming randomness of how keyboard navigation is handled in different areas. There are (still) at least half a dozen places in the Fibery UI where keyboard navigation seems broken/inconsistent/illogical/frustrating… If I was not a patient person, this would have driven me off long ago, just because it’s so grating - it’s a big cognitive load that impedes quicker learning of the whole system. There are quite a lot of “keyboard first” users like myself in the world!
This is an amazing goal. It is also a very, very ambitious and long-term one. Low-hanging fruit is arguably a better focus if there is a compelling case that it will drive adoption which would bring in more money which gives you more time/resources to focus on this genuinely difficult and long-term goal.
This is an interesting one because I’m pretty sure you define it in semi-specific but not fully articulated ways. You say “all-in-one tool for whole product company”, but what functions/app types exactly? I don’t think you mean to replicate e.g. Figma, right? Or ConvertKit or other email/marketing solutions? Or website platforms/CMSs? There are probably dozens of tools that I am fairly sure you don’t intend to handle “good enough” to fill the need for a typical product company. You may well have articulated more specifically what those areas of functionality are that you do focus on (“work management” is the best I have seen, still quite vague, and also seems arguably narrower than some of the things you want to implement). But I think it’s worth pointing out that exactly what falls into this category, what tools are necessary/important, varies by company, and also perhaps worse, the needed level of “good” to be “enough” is different per-company! This makes it rather a “fuzzy” and thus challenging thing to do. I guess you aim for the 80% case of covering 80% of some potential users in some chosen company category(ies), but still it all feels a bit nebulous to me. Feature creep waiting to happen.
Being able to focus on 3 is actually pretty good! Impressive with the current team size, especially. And of course increasing the team will not necessarily (or perhaps likely) increase your capacity in the near-term, at least in my experience. You would hire say 2-3 new developers, increasing your dev team by, what, 20%? Maybe 4-6 months from now they are able to contribute all at the same level as developers, right? And then maybe you can handle 4-5 areas at once. Growing the team is a tough challenge in itself.
100% this. Heck, 200%! I believe this is one of the major differences between Fibery and other, more successful tools (Airtable, ClickUp, Notion…). Fibery for the most part does not have a really low bar to some immediate sense of utility, except for a minority of people, IMO. For many other tools like those I mentioned, the initial experience is easy enough, it’s quick enough to get to a place where the tool is providing real value, and that makes it “sticky” enough that people keep using it. Even if they’re initially only using it for one thing, it does that thing well enough, and then they have time and incentive to discover the other things it does well, even if they take more effort.
This is I think what Notion did really well. Doing complex stuff in Notion is actually genuinely terrible, but the easy stuff is really easy (and pretty!), and that’s what hooks people. Their model is almost entirely based around hooking people for solo use first (hence the generous free tier) and then people wanting to bring that into the workplace because they already like and are experienced with it. And hey, it’s the “easiest way to do internal wiki” and it’s cheap, so why not? And that’s how they got 10s of millions of users and some increasingly big customers.
I agree, but also just want to point out that it depends on what customers you’re targeting. Enterprise is where the real money is, without needing massive customer volume. Some businesses can successfully just go straight for Enterprise, and in those cases it may be the best business call. I’m not sure if Fibery has that luxury (and that of course has not been its approach thus far). So I would agree that this makes it sensible to delay entity-level permissions longer and focus on the less challenging market to crack (IMO). But it’s an important point that this feature does arguably have a higher potential real-dollar value due to the customers it might attract.
Dev Time vs. Impact
What I also keep coming back to is the sense that a lot of the stuff in 3 and 4 may be simpler/easier and potentially faster to develop (fewer unknowns vs. 1, less breadth than 2, less challenging problems than 5), thus possibly gaining tangible, meaningful benefits for the highly critical new user case with less dev time/effort than making similar levels of “meaningful progress” in other areas. Of course I’m not sure if my assumptions here are true, so please give me a reality check if necessary @mdubakov ! But I base this belief partly on the approach of tackling what seem like genuinely “low hanging fruit” problems, things like Space Descriptions and other non-admin Space View stuff, or some of what I already referenced above, which really do not seem so hard to do. Again I am a non-dev, and of course I have no idea of Fibery’s architecture, so I could be way off base here. But if I’m right, then this should be a major factor in the consideration, IMO: how easily/quickly/“cheaply” you can make some beneficial changes in each domain.
Finally, I think this comment sums up a lot of what I fear is the adoption challenge for many new Fibery users:
I think that applies to much more than just the specific keyboard user case here. The “lack of polish” has a significant effect on “cognitive load”, it makes Fibery “feel” less good to work with, plain and simple. Ironically it is the “feel” of both Obsidian and Notion that has convinced me to leave them both behind in favor of Fibery more recently, but I am an unusual case.
Having said all that, I’ll just reiterate: making dev priority choices is hard, there is no real “right” answer, etc. And also yes I love many of the things Fibery has chosen to implement, some of which I might have chosen against at the time, but am still glad are there now (panels nav might be one of those, really loving it now, not perfect, but definitely a big improvement over what was).
I have some more specific thoughts on the whole Notifications feature area that I’ll post separately and link here, I think.
This is a great point. Of late I don’t have time to document specific issues as I used to, that takes a lot of time and often they are ignored in here - sorry, but I just think things like New UI for Expanded “Open as View” has limited width? or Board > Columns > Reported object count is incorrect should at least get a response from the team, but those appear to be bugs nobody will address since they are sitting there dormant for months, which demotivates me to spend time like I used to mentioning them in here…but I experience daily a myriad of keyboard issues and funny formatting, and I too like @Matt_Blais am keyboard first! Some of this stuff is also already documented in here but not addressed as well, such as
there is no response to that, and daily when I create an entity inline, I have to reach for the mouse, when I create the entity with the cmd + K dialog, I don’t have to!
And as far as a general response to @mdubakov and the list of missing things in Fibery, @Oshyan you are making great points and although my voice around here is sometimes not appreciated, I don’t think Fibery could do anything more useful to increase market adoption than implement the work management stuff such as you suggest below:
In addition to issues with comments, notifications, lack of mobile platform, and other basic stuff on most competitors, the lack of an easy way to get reminded of what tasks are on your plate is a biggie. I truly believe that people WILL come to Fibery if it polishes some of this stuff, because you will instantly have comments, for example, that will beat everybody else’s. In no apps I’m aware of can you reference another entity inside a comment, which is a game changer when trying to get accountability in a team. But until we get things like the ability to just “heart” or “star” a comment to show that you read it - which is standard in just about every app I’ve seen - or other basics like threaded comments so you can respond to a certain comment, commenting in Fibery will seem awkward and unpolished to anybody trying to adopt it. Which gets back to this very, very true statement that I urge the Fibery team to think about with some foresight because you might not have people mentioning this in a way you can measure.
And I deeply believe, based on my experience, my team’s, and those who I have recommended Fibery to, that what @Oshyan is saying here below is more true than you can imagine, and in my opinion holding Fibery back more than anything:
I just wanted to add to this thread one last example of how Fibery gets lost to the larger market. This was before you joined @Oshyan so not sure you saw this, but there was a big review of Fibery on KeepProductive.com by Francesco D’Alessio in early 2020. Francesco is one of the most influential writers/bloggers around productivity software. Here it is:
I actually personally corresponded with him at the time, promoting Fibery - although I think he was going to review it anyway. But I wanted to share some of the emails we traded (I hope this is ok with Francesco should he ever come around and look at this community )
He also ranked Fibery #2 in this article from early 2020 in hottest apps, alongside stalwarts like Notion and Superhuman.
There are things here I wanted to mention for the context of why I wanted to post this:
I think it’s very interesting to read how more of a “generalist,” granted a very influential one like Francesco, characterizes Fibery - the comparisons to Coda, etc.
I also wanted to point out that Francesco seemed to have a good head of steam about Fibery, reviewing it at the same time as Roam, then wanting to do a comparison with AirTable, but he has not mentioned it since! He even gave Marvin an initial review, then a showdown video vs. ClickUp. So that makes me wonder why he lost interest…if you look at his channel on Youtube, over 250k followers, he repeatedly returns to apps he looks at initially for updates later, but has not come back to Fibery in over 2 years. So to your point, Keep Productive is a forum where Fibery could be continuing to have a presence, and thus keep the market aware of it, but somehow it dropped out of the radar there…
Hope this is interesting content to support some of what you’re talking about @Oshyan !
Yeah, I’m pretty familiar with Francesco and Keep Productive. Quite honestly, while I found his content valuable for a while, I eventually realized it’s often quite shallow except on the few apps he determines are his favorites, or perhaps just get him the most clicks, which would be a bit of a self-fulfilling thing, hah (i.e. Notion, Craft, ToDoist). Maybe that’s inevitable, but I was more interested in someone with a truly broad and “unbiased” perspective. Kind of how I fancy myself. Even though I’m a big Fibery fan (and user) I’m still pretty critical of it. And I regularly look at other apps with a genuine interest in how they stand out, are they better not just for my use cases but those of others, etc.
Anyway, I was going to go into my thoughts on Keep Productive a bit more, but it’s not really useful. My own feelings on that are largely irrelevant to your very valid core point. You are right that Francesco, as a still-fairly-popular productivity YouTuber, not ever returning to talk about Fibery (so far) is definitely another important indicator that Fibery is for some reason not being considered as much as it “should”. It doesn’t tell us why, sadly (maybe someone should ask him!), but it’s definitely more evidence of it being true.
Unfortunately too, Francesco’s video is the most popular Fibery video on YouTube by a long shot! The next most popular is one from Fibery team itself, with half the views. And judging by the very few Likes and, well, the content of that video, I suspect the view count might even be that high for not particularly favorable reasons.
So yeah, we know there’s a problem, Fibery team knows it too, of course. Is the lack of “work management features” a core part of the problem? Perhaps yes, but it’s really hard to say how much of a part it plays. Judging by Francesco’s fairly blasé reaction to Fibery’s multiple features that Notion did not have at the time (Notion being an app he was hyped about then and, despite “leaving” at some point in the last year, he continues to post about more regularly than almost any other app), I think there is something else more powerful going on…
But as far a what Fibery team can actually do to affect the problem, fixing the work management stuff might well make an outsized impact. There are plenty of other things outside of their control, or that least have been quite difficult to make progress on (i.e. marketing, referencing the numerous marketing efforts and partners they have tried in the past 2 years).
I have probably said this already recently, but from my perspective as a PKM/project management tool enthusiast, seldom have I seen a greater misalignment between the capabilities, quality, and innovation of a tool, and its real visibility in the broader market. Which is a real shame.
I like such discussions
The Fibery traction problem is not a product problem mainly, but a positioning/niche problem. Usually a successful product does at least one thing exceptionally well. Let’s take some Fibery competitors:
Notion. Very cool block-based wiki that lead to many popular use cases. Databases were added latter and were quite pivotal for Notion success, but wiki is still the strongest use case.
ClickUp. Task management works really well in it. Much better than in any direct competitor (maybe Asana is comparable).
Coda. Very powerful interactive documents. Coda has moderate success IMHO, so it will be interesting to see how they will penetrate the market.
Airtable. Powerful database-specific cases. If you need to collect/handle data then Airtable works better than all the tools above.
Fibery. ? I think current Fibery power is in connections (connected databases, connections between databases and text). We try to connect many processes together. However, it will be hard for us to compete in a general market, so we are trying to focus on product companies. This demands a good marketing effort to clearly set Fibery value for product companies and get enough leads to grow. We do have a good solution with a very strong retention, but growth is harder. We still did not find a scalable channel to increase leads quantity.
So no, I don’t think any feature or even area done right will significantly increase Fibery growth. It’s a gradual process of polishing, implementing top requests from our target customers, improving getting started, etc.
I agree with your evaluation that no update is likely to significantly increase Fibery’s growth.
However, I do believe that once Fibery is mature and polished, a repositioning (+ maybe rebranding) could really significantly increase revenue by not just gradually increasing market share, but entering or even creating a new market and aggressively (heavy and correct marketing) pulling customers out of various markets.
You might focus on product companies for now, but the potential is SO much bigger in my opinion. But one step at a time
I agree with the sentiment that some more polish won’t lead to significant growth. But I also agree that enough polish and marketing will make the difference in growth.
I don’t think Notion’s success started with the blocks but before that. It was (alongside Slite) the only really simple, elegant collaborative wiki. The databases came later, yes. But it was just simple enough to allow us and others to switch from Confluence, Sharepoint and Google Docs. That’s what it replaced for us and our clients.
I spend hours per day in Notion and it was the next generation to Atlassian and co. Fibery is in a tricky spot because it is the next generation to JIRA, Trello and Asana, but also needs to compete with Notion and co. I now spend hours per day in Fibery thanks to our client. I love it, they love it too. The way I can connect and structure a product from roadmap to dev tasks to feedback etc is great (rollups on rollups kills Notion). But it’s still death by many (not a million) bee stings. It’s hard to convince new users unless they come from Sharepoint, Atlassian and co.
While I don’t need the fancy wiki of Notion, the lack of nesting pages with blocks is making things cumbersome.
I can replace JIRA, but the truly powerful templates stuff is still limited. For example:
Capabilities break down into Features (check)
Features break down into Release Items (check)
Release Items can be Bugfixes or a Functionality (check) and are attributed to Releases
Release Items can have Tasks, which are attributed to Sprints (check)
Sprints lead to Releases (check)
I cannot assign Tasks to teams (e.g. backend, frontend)
I cannot see all Features that have Tasks open for the current Release (I can see the tasks on Sprints)
I cannot see easily which Tasks slipped (in another Sprint that doesn’t belong to a Release)
I cannot set the load of an Assignee in a Sprint (it’s always assumed 100%) and then I cannot see the total throughput available in a Sprint
The views are good as a starting point, but certain functionality is still limited. Like advanced (SQL style join filters). I’d think the Graph API might support it. Can I use that in a view?
There are rollups that need to be carried through and formulae that only can result in text (e.g. latest sprint in a list of relations) and not in objects. etc.
Donny get me wrong, I love y’all and what you do to bits. I fully believe in your vision and the work done with your team is amazing.
But I think it’s still a matter of getting functionality, polish and then marketing refined and it’ll click.
As they say, change comes gradually, then suddenly.
I’m rooting here (and always happy to share feedback)
It seems like there are happy users already on board! Here’s what I would do if I was on the Fibery team:
Interview the customers with large, happy teams using the tool. Part talking heads, but a lot of “here’s what we do and how we do it” inside of Fibery (probably a good amount of blurring of confidential info, but well worth it to see that business is being managed inside Fibery.
Build great “first run” experiences for each of these successful uses cases so that new teams doing similar businesses can get up and running in just a handful of clicks. Example: inventory management, asset tracking, content management calendar, etc.
Focus on integrations more. I am not sure there is enough of a spotlight on this (I could be wrong).
Use some sort of social media content scheduling tool (built in Fibery?) to do a sort of HypeFury style posting of content. Don’t post each piece once. Post it every month - especially on platforms like Twitter, IG, etc. where your content pieces only get a short time to live.
Yes, this seems likely correct to me as well. Small wonder that I agree with a successful startup founder. Then again isn’t the fact that Fibery does not do one thing exceptionally well actually both a positioning and product problem?
Interesting. I’m not sure the rest of your post necessarily supports this though. Your approach is basically to try to do most things that “product companies” (where is this vague term actually defined? ) need to do, and do most of them “well enough” that the collective result is “exceptional” in its own way, right? That seems like an extremely difficult and vague problem to solve in a way that is compelling enough in an obvious way to companies using existing solutions such that they switch.
My perspective is that a narrower focus or “wedge” may be a better or even necessary way to approach this. “Product companies” is not really a good wedge IMO. Oh dear, I am starting to depart from agreeing with successful product founder and I feel (genuine!) trepidation that I might look a fool. But so be it.
How do you evaluate when this has happened? How do you get there without better growth? How long can a company go with MRR < Burn Rate?
Yes, exactly. It made it really easy (and aesthetic+fun) to do something that many companies need.
They do this already quite a bit. They have a whole category on their website for it.
Thing about such cases/stories is they focus on the “won” cases, not the lost cases, which are almost certainly far more important. It’s IMO less important to know why someone chose you than why someone did not.
Don’t they already have this with Templates though? Maybe needs a bit more work, but basically there. And they are even part of new workspace creation/onboarding. It ties in to a further idea/suggestion I have about onboarding though:
This should basically just be part of the onboarding flow alongside template selection (the prompt about what kind of business/user you are), e.g. “Do you have existing data to import? Try one of our awesome integrations (clickable list) or import your CSV here → [button]”.
I do agree with this and I actually think it’s already a Fibery superpower that is not talked about or demonstrated enough. Few other tools have integrations with anywhere near the comprehensiveness and power of Fibery which can essentially replicate the data model of many other apps.
Anyway, it is hard not to be an armchair product manager. It’s kind of fun. But really there are no easy answers. As soon as you start to dig in to any obvious product niche or potential wedge, you generally find lots of products dedicated to that thing, and some doing it probably quite well, while the many others in the space fail to gain much traction, and Fibery might well just end up as one of the “also-rans” there too… But maybe, just maybe there is some clever wedge not yet realized…
Even though there are some dissenting voices here, I continue to agree with you @Oshyan that the lack of polish, in particular around the Work Mgmt Features highlighted in this post, is a very likely reason a lot of users stop by Fibery and move on…and agreed you need to know more about them, the ones who don’t select Fibery. We’re only speculating that the lack of Polish is why a lot of people aren’t here, but I deep down believe it must be a reason because Fibery is so great at so much else. I think @Matt_Blais is on-board with some of what you and I are saying as well when recently he pointed out a lot of the keyboard annoyances, none of which I’ve seen addressed in a long time. This type of stuff, along with how comments and notifications work, can make Fibery look like it’s still in Alpha - I get that response when I demo it to people or try to suggest it. Most everybody is expecting some more sophistication on Comments and Notifications, which are two key pieces in just about any app that manages any kind of work. And I will also add that my team actually is a product team, and we have the biggest issue with Fibery in how cumbersome comments and notifications are. Like being able to just “heart” a comment to show you read it.
I will say here that re: integrations, the fact that most aren’t two-way makes them harder for me to use.
This discussions is getting into too many directions and it is hard to reply and keep context.
Ultimately, any good tool is about good use cases.
If you can have your desired use case in a tool, then you may start using it.
Then you may find some rough edges in your use case and give feedback to a vendor.
We try to map feedback to use cases. Some use cases are relevant for our vision, some are not.
I want to describe some ideas behind our thinking process and how we choose features to focus on.
Let’s take a use case that all of you know.
Example. “I want to have my company hiring process in Fibery”
What features you need to have it in Fibery:
A database with fields to store candidate data
Form view to accept candidates
Board View (or Table View) to see candidates
Email integration to communicate with candidates from Fibery and keep all communication in a single place
Notitications when something important happens with a candidate (new reply, state changed, etc).
Comments to discuss candidates and make decisions
Maybe an integration with Calendly to setup meetings faster
These are just relatively major features that enable this use case.
Can you have it without some of them? Yes, but it will be far from ideal without some features.
For example, you can add candidates manually without form and use your usual email client to communicate, but only store candidates in database and move them from state to state in a Board view. It will work, but manual effort is huge and eventually you will abandon the solution.
Do we want to support this use case in Fibery?
Yes, we do. Any company (including product company) has a hiring process, and a candidate tracking is good case to add into an all-in-one tool.
But right now we miss
Essentially, you can’t have this use case in Fibery in a good shape right now. We will release Form Views soon, so there will be slightly less pain with this use case, but a proper Email Integration is still must have to make this case sexy. So, if we want to really focus on this use case, what is the next feature to implement? Better notifications and comments? No. It will be Email integration for sure.
While notifications and comments might be non-ideal, they most likely will work fine for this use case as is.
Use case polishing
When the use case really works and we have real users for it, then we can start collecting feedback and polish the use case. For example, when Form View and Email Integration is there, we might receive feedback about communicating with candidate in other media, like in WhatsUp or LinkedIn. Or we may receive feedback about reminders to not forget to reply to candidate, etc.
When you provide feedback, we almost always want to know the context and use cases. However, this is rarely happens. Usually feedback is very generic, like “I want reminders for my tasks”.
Maybe this person uses Fibery as a personal task tracking tool (and we don’t care about this use case)
but maybe this person uses Fibery to run software development process (and we do care about this use case).
Right now we have no clear evidence that lack of work management features is what impedes Fibery adoption.
From top 20 most popular requested features only two are relevant (Watch entity and Dependency tracking)
We have relatively many requests about our major use cases (for example, better Timeline to handle roadmaps, Form View to collect issues/bugs/requests/…, views sharing to communicate with external people, permissions to manage access better). It means that some of Fibery major use cases are still not complete.
Getting started process is rough (for the first creator it might be OK, but for team it is relatively hard).
Some areas indeed are not polished and feel rough (Whiteboard, Entity View, Table View, Notifications, Comments, …)
As you see, near future prioritization is hard We know the end game and it is huge, but there are many roads to it.
When you request something, I beg you to share the context and describe the use case as well. It will help us to make better decisions!
Some feature requests are not related to a particular use case.
For example, “Forms.”
What’s the use case?
There are too many to mention.
We want to survey our community.
We want our suppliers to submit invoices.
We want to accept job applications.
We want to enforce required fields when team members creates a new task entities.
On and on…
The use cases are so vast and wide that it almost seems meaningless to mention a particular use case.
When solving any issue I’m trying to solve, I want to option to use a form to give others controlled input into our internal Fibery environment, without granting them any access to data. The use cases are as wide and vast as you can imagine.
Another example, “Chat capability inside Fibery to replace Slack.”
What’s the use case?
The feature is so foundational to work that labelling it with a use case seems meaningless. What would I say? “I want to be able to direct message a team member when I have a question.”
Take another feature request, “In built reminders.”
What’s the use case?
It doesn’t relate to a particular use case.
Another feature request, “The ability to create main menu tabs across the top of an entity to better organize fields.”
What’s the use case?
It doesn’t seem to relate to a particular use case. But as a feature, I think it would be transformational to so many setups that have a large number of fields.