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DNSimple Team Retreat in Avignon, August 2015

Simone Carletti's profile picture Simone Carletti on

Three times a year, the DNSimple team gets together in the same location to have fun, discuss upcoming projects and plan the future of the company. At the end of August we all met in Avignon, France and spent a week at a gîte, along with our families.

Quoting Anthony's words:

These weeklong retreats are one of my favorite parts of the business because it is an opportunity to see everyone on the team face-to-face and share more than a few laughs.

The retreat in Avignon was the 5th DNSimple meetup. It all started on April 2014 with the first meetup in Pomas, at Anthony's house. In August 2014 we met in Hawaii, December 2014 was Madrid, and in May 2015 we visited our American team members in Chicago. The Hawaii and Avignon meetups were special (hence the word retreat) as they were specifically organized to welcome families and kids.

The team with families and kids in Avignon

Team meetups are the foundation of how DNSimple operates remotely. At first glance it may seems a contradiction, however it's not. As a fully distributed team, these meetups represent an important time to bond in a way that isn't possible just in Slack, and so it is a very important part of making the company work. Whether your team is fully remote, partially remote, or even in the same office, a team retreat is a really fun way to bond and get focused as a team so you can meet your goals together.

One of the biggest challenges of working together remotely is building emotional connections with the rest of the team. During these meetups we spend time working together but we perhaps more importantly, we spend time joking and laughing together. During the week, we typically focus on bigger strategic ideas instead of just implementation details. And we have one event each year, like the one in Avignon, where families are there with us as well, which brings a completely different dynamic.

So what did we actually get done in Avignon? We went over the company's finances, we reviewed where we stand on projects scheduled for the last two quarters of 2015, we planned out the next quarters, we went over various policies such as security, customer support, and system operations. We also played quite a bit of foosball, swam in the pool, visited the Pont du Gard and the Haribo Museum, went to the local markets and had a bunch of amazing meals together. We even had a "Best Ballad" face-off which included some pretty terrible (and funny) singing.

Sebastian, Simone and Javier ready for the swimming pool

On the product side, we also planned the major features for the next quarter. Here's a few insights:

  • At DNSimple we care about security and we do our best to keep your account protected. As the number of security breaches on the Internet continues to rise, in Avignon we took the time to review our existing security policies and implement new encryption mechanism to secure your account. We recently introduced a new 2FA mechanism to encourage broader adoption of 2FA practices, we moved all our static sites (including this blog) to HTTPS and we reset old weakly-encrypted passwords for expired accounts (in the early days we did not use Bcrypt as we do today). We follow blogs like breach retrospective trying to learn where we can improve our system.
  • The DNS and domain API has always been one of the core features of DNSimple. In Avignon we agreed on the general roadmap of the new API v2 and we determined which features we'd like to have. I'm really excited about our plans and I can't wait to unveal the changes. For now I can say that API v2 will come with OAuth to allow third party integrations to our DNSimple platform, will include support for the majority of the features we released in the last year such as Secondary DNS and we will likely provide extra official clients in addition to the historical Ruby client… speaking of which, our Ruby client was completely rewritten this year and it's now released under the dnsimple gem; if you are still using the [] you should definitely upgrade!
  • How DNS works was a phenomenal, unexpected, viral success. In DNSimple we liked it so much that the servers became our official mascots. We even printed stickers and t-shirts.

    New DNSimple t-shirts and stickers

    A few things happened in Avignon. First, we decided to give away free stickers to the first 100 people who requested them via the website. We added a form in the latest episode… stickers went out of stock in a couple of days. For those who requested the stickers, we started to deliver them this week. Someone has already received them.

    DNSimple bonus stickers

    By popular demand, we planned and released a bonus episode about Glue Records

    How DNS works - Bonus Episode

    Last but not least, I can say that HOW DNS Works will likely not be the only cartoon in our catalogue. We already have another idea in mind… stay tuned!

The meetup also had an impact on a number of smaller ideas and project regarding SSL certificates, new TLDs, documentation, sponshorships and communication. One visibile change is already live: we now have a brand new about page.

As a team member, I can't wait for the next DNSimple meetup. As a customer and developer, I'm looking forward to seeing some of (or all?) these projects coming true.

The DNSimple team in Avignon

– The DNSimple team

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Simone Carletti

Italian software developer, a PADI scuba instructor and a former professional sommelier. I make awesome code and troll Anthony for fun and profit.

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