March 11, 2013
For the past year or so, we've been brainstorming, planning, coding, coding some more, discussing and recoding again and finally we're ready to soft launch a huge, major revision of [Crowdmap](https://crowdmap.com). We had a nebulous idea for a launch date at the beginning of the year, the API was mostly complete and the front end still had a lot of work to do wiring up the internals.
Every year, the [Ushahidi](http://ushahidi.com) team gets together to have a little face-to-face time, bond a bit, talk about our successes and failures. From a shipping perspective, the most valuable activity is setting out milestones for the year. In the past, they haven't always been sacred and we would ignore them, creating new ones out of thin air as priorities shifted. This year we have decided things are going to be different, milestones will be taken seriously and people will be held accountable when they aren't hit. This isn't to punish people who don't hit them, rather to start a dialog around our goals to make sure everyone is on the same page so we can ship products based on our own internal dates.
So, with the gorgeous backdrop of the sea in Lamu, Kenya, we set some very aggressive dates to ship the rewrite we had been working so hard on for a year. March 1, 2013 was the date we intended to let a few community members in to give their two cents, but once the date came, I realized we didn't have all of the pieces in place. This put us in a little bit of a (not too serious) pickle since [Uchaguzi](https://uchaguzi.co.ke), Ushahidi's Kenya citizen election monitoring project was about to kick off the next week. We wouldn't be able to make any announcements without drowning ourselves out with news about that deployment.
With our new resolve to stick to milestones, we got to experiment with communicating missed deadlines. The day of the missed milestone, [Erik Hersman](http://whiteafrican.com/), [Rob Baker](http://rrbaker.com/) and I scheduled a meeting a few days after the Uchaguzi deployment would be winding down. Over quite possibly the worst call quality I've experienced with a Skype call, we determined how would we be dealing with this and future milestones, leaning towards the "Fuck It, Ship It" methodology, shipping regardless of minor issues. In this case, we had a few very important issues that had to be worked out prior to shipping any product (servers spun up, authentication mechanism tweaks, etc). We landed on March 13 as our new soft launch date.
As I write this, [Evan Sims](http://evansims.com/) has been kicking butt getting our server switching, alpha/beta flags up and running, as well as locking down our dev/staging/production process. The flags will allow people to switch between Crowdmap Classic and the the newer version of Crowdmap. We are hustling to get some important tweaks finished so the experience for the first testers aren't totally buggy, like map collaboration, file uploads, etc. We also have [Brandon Rosage](http://brandonrosage.com/) polishing a lot of the user experience while he's busy with SXSW duties.
Our plan is to drop a teaser about Crowdmap on the [Ushahidi Blog](http://blog.ushahidi.com/) on Wednesday. I can probably speak for the team working on Crowdmap and say that we can't wait for these 12 hour work days this past month to finally pay off. Keep your fingers crossed for us!