In this post I’d like to give you an update on what is coming in Release 2 and how we’re going to be rolling things out. The work that goes into the development of IMAutomator can be broadly split into two parts. Firstly there is the new feature development so that includes building new tools, adding new features, improving the way the site works and so on. The second half is site support – this means adding sites to the system for the tools to submit to. A submission tool without sites to work with is quite useless.
Work that goes on behind the scenes
Over the last few months a huge amount of time has been taken up with development work that affects our back end code – mainly the submission engine, but also our backup system and various other things. You could say we were the victim of our own success as the number of members seemed to just creep up steadily without being noticed until suddenly everything started to grind to a halt. The submission engine in particular simply could not keep up with the increased work load. Problems like these take up time that you guys don’t see because the work done is behind the scenes.
Since releasing the new engine, we’ve been able to get on track with our Release 2 work. There are two new tools coming – the Article Submitter, which is almost ready for testing, and also a directory submitter but we’re also hitting a bottleneck with site support, particular with the bookmark submitter.
How site support works in IMAutomator
For a site to work with IMAutomator we have to effectively reverse-engineer the submission process so that it can be done automatically by our software and this is not always an easy task. When we first began development we quickly found that many bookmarking sites were based on a template software such as Pligg and Scuttle and for sites based on one of these templates – they nearly all work in the same way or a very similar way. Obviously it’s quicker to add these sites than custom-built ones so we have focused on those. But because it’s very easy to setup one of these sites quickly, people often setup a bookmarking site and then leave it and eventually the domain expires and it is gone. This is the problem we have been facing over the last year – nearly 300 sites added in all and today as I write this post, only 30 remain live in the system, and some of those are PR0 which is not particularly helpful.
We’ve been trying to find ways to outsource the site support work so that more time can be freed in-house to concentrate on the rest of the development but there has been no luck with that so far so it still has to be done in-house. However, the template sites are really starting to prove to be more trouble than they are worth so the longer term plan is to spend the time working on mainstream sites with a much higher PR. A site that has been around for years is hopefully not so likely to disappear a couple of months after we add it.
What we’re aiming to provide
The social bookmarker is our primary tool, so we want that to be the strongest. Our aim is to have at least 50 solid sites in there, mostly PR3-7. Currently the RSS tool needs work – there’s only a handful of sites and some are not working well but we’ve not spent the time on it yet as it not used very much. This is almost certainly due to the fact that many people will only have a single feed to promote but also due to lack of training – if you don’t understand the benefit then you won’t use the tool.
This brings me to another point – training. We’re slowly building out our training page into a more comprehensive resource, but this is a lower priority than development work and site support. The idea is to not only offer comprehensive training on each individual tool, but to also fill in the rest of the details such as – understanding how these backlinks actually help you get traffic, learning to do your SEO properly, and so on. Eventually we want to build our training section into a full-blown resource that will rival many paid products out there.
Going back to the tools, we suspect that after the social bookmarking, the article submitter will be the most popular tool. These two tools can be used in an on-going manner – as long as you have new content, you can bookmark it and build articles with it. The RSS and Directory tools are more one-off tools so will get less use so these will be lower priority on our todo list.
Roll-Out plan for Release 2
The article submitter is ready for testing but we have just a single site in the system right now. We’ll add a few more, and put it into testing in the next couple of days with a handful of sites. While that is being tested, we’ll add some more bookmarking sites. Once these are in testing, we’ll incorporate the directory submitter, again with just a few sites to begin with. After that, we’ll do some much needed work on the RSS submitter and then add as many sites as possible for all of the tools – focusing mainly on bookmark and article sites.
Our target for launch is January 31st. If all we had to do was the development work then that would be no problem but the issue is site support. We don’t want to launch (the price increases with Release 2) if we only have a handful of sites working with each tool as that will not provide enough value for money. On the other hand, Release 2 has been in the works for so long that we really don’t want it to slip into February either.
So the plan is to get the development done and do enough site support to test the new tools and ensure they are working properly and then to concentrate 100% on site support right through to the end of January and into February. As with Release 1, 100 new places will be available and these will be locked in at the Release 2 price. However, the launch does not mean the end of Release 2 – it just means that we bring on more members to use it. From February onwards we’ll be doing more site support work before anything else.
Our aim for the next couple of months is something like this:
- 50+ Bookmarking sites
- 40+ Article Sites
- 20+ RSS Sites
- 20+ Directory Sites
I hope you’ve all enjoyed this insight into the development process, we’ll keep you posted on the developments over the next few weeks.