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Feature Spotlight: Document Pack

The appFiles Team in Colorado

We traveled far and wide to discover ways to help you become more efficient

It has been a very exciting year for all of us here at appFiles and we hope it has been a great year for you too! With the season’s celebrations at the door we want to take this opportunity to wish you happiness and prosperity in the year to come.

A great part of our excitement is making appFiles a better, more useful tool for everyone, and we always depend on our users to help us do that. Based on all the feedback that we received during 2010 we were able to better understand the needs

of our users, as well as plan which features will be the most beneficial to add and improve.

We confirmed that document management is a fundamental need for our users, and that the tools available today fall far short of meeting those needs. I remember a time when it was easy to simply pick up a customer’s file, leaf through its contents and pick what I wanted, photocopy it and drop it in

the mail. But today, with email replacing FedEx and faxing this has become nearly impossible to do.

We believe that having the ability to easily share and manage paperwork is vital to a business running smoothly and the new Document Pack feature allows you to do just that. Pick one or more documents, add a cover page, include a header or footer on every page if needed (very useful when submitting documents that have a unified account number or ID) and email it, all in one easy step.

When you are looking at an appFile you will find the Document Pack Tool as the first link at the top of the right hand column.

Also look for the “Add New Version” button when you are viewing your documents. We wanted to make it easy to keep track of the real world changes a document goes through during its life cycle. With this feature, it’s simple to upload or scan your document after its been changed, maintaining the most current version in front for everyone to see, but at the same time, keeping older versions available for historic reference.

So, in the season best geared to giving thanks, we want to thank you, our users. Without your invaluable feedback we wouldn’t be where we are today, and we wouldn’t be so excited about the year to come.

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The Infrastructure behind appFiles

DatacenterWhen we started the design of appFiles we knew we wanted to produce a robust application that could withstand great amounts of traffic and deliver the best possible user experience. We had the opportunity to draw from our previous experience with our other software products, particularly E-Tempest, which is a computation intensive software that receives considerable daily usage with a current uptime of 100% over the past 5 years.

We also know that based on everyone’s reactions, appFiles is a software that is capable of explosive growth. We wanted to make sure that we could support that growth without the need for a major re-design of the infrastructure. Yes, we have heard what the “experts” say about scaling your software, “Don’t worry about scalability until you have lots of users and it becomes a real problem.” In other words what they are all saying is that, “Scaling problems are good problems to have.”

However the trust of our customers means everything to us and we have a reputation to maintain. We are very proud that our other software products have not suffered downtime nor even significant slowdowns. So if there was anything that we could do now to help prepare appFiles for the future we felt it was our obligation to do so. Fortunately the answer came to us in the form of a very interesting infrastructure design that allows us to keep the system simple at a small level and scale easily when the need arises.

appFiles runs on a distributed network of servers that work together, each performing a specialized function within the appFiles software. This enables us to be redundant as well as scale different parts of the system independently as their loads increase.

When a user first connects to their appFiles account their request is routed to one of our application servers which in turn validates their login credentials then connects to the database and file servers which hold their specific account’s information. By using this architecture, we guarantee that any group of accounts can be sliced and made to work entirely independent from all others, thus keeping the load on any single server manageable and easy to control.

To maintain the many database, file and application servers, we developed our own IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that keeps track of all changes made with each new revision to the software. These changes are then applied to the appropriate servers and accounts when new versions of the application are made live. We spent over 40,000 hours writing this Integrated Development Environment to ensure that it could handle both the load of many users and servers as well as the demands of developing the many different apps that will be built to extend the base functionality appFiles for different industries.

We know that there may come a day when our design needs to be reviewed and new decisions need to be made, but we also know that our current infrastructure is flexible and will give us the best opportunity to scale as necessary enabling us to keep our commitment to each of our customers.

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appFiles is going to TechStars For A Day!

TechStars LogoWe received great news today, the people over at TechStars sent us an invitation to their TechStars For A Day event.

It’s a one day mini-camp that allows applicants to the TechStars program to get a feel for what it’s going to be like in the summer, to chat with the TechStars people and the mentors and to meet other applicants.

We are very excited about this opportunity to showcase appFiles and get opinions from some of the most knowledgeable people in the industry, after all, you don’t get to talk to them every day in some random coffee shop when you live in Florida.

If you want to learn more about the program, visit their website.

Also, and very recommended, is the video series The Founders, that follows three companies in their TechStars adventure last summer (2009). Watching these videos gave us a great overview of what happens in Boulder, and made us wish we could be a part of it this year.

See you in Boulder!

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