The Shiny Frog team had quite the busy 2022. We’ve been hard at work on Bear 2, which is shaping up to be our largest release ever. We made a ton of progress across the many components of this release, started alpha testing the Mac version, and we have a company meetup coming at the end of January in Dublin, Ireland.
For this year-in-review, we’d like to include the perspective of our team members, then look ahead to what’s in store for 2023.
Bear 2 progress update
In short, we hit some great milestones over the past year and are starting to wrap up development. We finished the new Editor for Bear 2, which was completely rewritten from pixel to bit in order to support lots of new features including Markdown hiding, tables, nested styles, and folding.
We made enough progress that Bear 2 for Mac started testing in the fall. Feedback has been fantastic, and now we’re working on polishing up some of the final features, including the surprise new Backlinks released just before the holidays.
We wanted to see how the team felt about 2022, yet keep this section simple and interesting, so there were only three questions:
- What’s been the biggest challenge at work this year?
- What’s a new tool you’ve discovered that’s helped or changed the way you work?
- What’s your favorite movie, book, or game this year?
Here are abridged responses from those who got their answers in on time. 😉
My biggest challenge was switching from a night work schedule at my previous job to a morning schedule. I am an incredibly poor sleeper, so I countered this by watching art restoration videos that are so relaxing….I fall asleep every time.
My new tools this year are Grammarly and WordTune. Together, they save me 4+ years of an English language degree. 😉 The pressure of being the one to type 80% of all social content really takes a toll. It’s a life sentence in my personal gallows to post a BearTip with a misspelling or reply wrong on Twitter. We are not without flaws, and mine is that I type with blind faith that I’m right.
My favorite book this year was Stolen Tongues by Felix Blackwell. It’s a scary book about a couple who head up to a mountain cabin to celebrate their engagement and, well… let’s say a monster brings some torment to the party. I also loved Resident Evil: Village!
The sheer scope of making a really good Markdown editor was my challenge this year. While Markdown is nice for manually adding structure to text files, it wasn’t designed for integrated editing. Seemingly simple actions, like selecting a section of text and making it bold, are very complex to program when you want to make a good editor that considers all the edge cases.
To help us test the new Editor in Bear 2, we developed a module called ‘Chaos Monkey.’ It is a tool that writes random snippets of Markdown and runs random commands, all while verifying the internal state of the editor. As it can do thousands of actions per second, it usually doesn’t take too long for it to find bugs in our code.
While I mostly read science fiction and thrillers, the book I enjoyed the most was Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. It is a poignant comedy about a failed robbery that brings eight strangers together. Fredrik is a master of bringing depth to his characters in a very lighthearted manner.
Giada Di Somma
Join a new small team is always a challenge! Adapting yourself to a new environment, new colleagues, and a totally new way of working always requires a lot of effort and stepping out of your comfort zone. Plus, I learned that my spoken English is not always good enough to let me express myself freely, especially in the little things like jokes and small talks. So this will be for sure my challenge and goal to achieve for 2023! 💪
Something that helped me very much was doing meditation with a VR game called Maloka. 🧘♀️ I know, I know, it’s not closely related to the working routine, but I found it working very well when I need to stop and re-focus. The experience is so immersive and I’ve always felt restored after using it, ready to come back to work with fresh ideas!
I read a lot of books, and one of my favorites this year is Circe by Madeline Miller. It narrates the story of Circe, a minor goddess in ancient Greek mythology. I loved how Miller writes about Circe’s emotions, desires, frustrations, and loves. From a femminine perspective, it’s very interesting see how Miller imagines Circe’s evolution from an underestimate child into a mature woman who is perfectly aware of herself.
The biggest challenge for me is to be super organized. Thankfully I discovered Things 3 from Cultured Code, which helped me so much with organizing my work. I particularly love the project feature and the little circle they have indicating how much percentage I’ve done for a project. It took me a while to get used to the system since I used to only use Bear for todo list. But when all my tasks are allocated in the right spot in Things, my organization level goes through the roof.
My favorite games I played this year are It Takes Two—the best couch co-op game!—and Stardew Valley. I never thought a farmer can also fight monsters in caves and date five people in the village at the same time. 😄
The biggest challenge for me this year was tackling the project of revamping our documentation for Bear 2. There are a lot of docs that need updating and consolidating, and of course plenty new docs to create.
To that end, I have basically rediscovered MindNode from IdeasOnCanvas. Mapping out the topics to cover in this visual format has proved uniquely useful to track all the docs I need to touch.
As for my favorite games this year, I continued to spend plenty of time with (and sometimes without) friends in Destiny 2. Those dungeons and raids are still my favorite thing in gaming. Of course, like many others, Elden Ring and God of War: Ragnarok topped my list too.
It’s not easy to pinpoint a single challenge from this year, but I can explain a big one: the new core of the search system inside Bear’s notes.
You see, notes in Bear are not only text—they include images, files, and now tables in Bear 2.0. I needed to create an entirely new, custom search mechanism that could looking beyond text and inside those images, PDFs, and tables. Thankfully, we’re really happy with how it turned out.
My favorite new tool this year is Tower, a visual interface to git, which is the code version control system we use at Shiny Frog. Before Tower, I always used the macOS terminal to interface with our repositories. Tower is a faster, more relaxing way to get the current state of the project at one glance, especially now that we have a lot of private submodules in it.
On the TV, book, and games side, I watched a lot of series this year. I think the one that surprised me the most (probably because nobody seems to talk about it) is His Dark Materials; I still have to see season 3, so no spoilers!
I have to say that I’m actually afraid of starting new books, probably because of my aphantasia; I rarely enjoy them, especially the very descriptive ones. But I do read a lot of comics. This year I’ve discovered Scott Snyder, and I’ve probably read all the independent stories he wrote. The series that I liked the most is American Vampire—a fascinating take on the vampire universe. Also, the first five issues are co-authored with Stephen King! Finally, from Scott Snyder, I found “Clear” visually stunning!
On the game side, this year was all about dwarfs! I highly recommend Deep Rock Galactic—a multiplayer dwarf mining game in space with one of the best communities I’ve ever seen—and Dwarf Fortress, a free life simulation of a colony of dwarves that just got a Steam version with a brand new UI.
Looking forward to 2023
Looking to the year ahead, there are a few large priorities on our immediate todo list:
- Our company meetup at the end of this month
- Finalize backlinks and the overall Mac version
- Finalize the iOS version
- Test the iOS version and sync internally
- Release a private iOS beta
- Gather feedback and make adjustments
- Probably a public beta
- Hit the big red 2.0 launch button
We also have post-launch plans that we can share once we get farther into this year, but the current list will keep us plenty busy for now.
That’s it for now, so thanks for checking in with us. We’re really excited about Bear 2 and are working hard to get it into your paws. Stay tuned.