David Heinemeier Hansson

December 18, 2023

Patek levels of finishing

We’re in the final phase of getting the first ONCE product out the door. As with any new development, there are a million little details we need to nail for a successful launch that’s up to our standards. That’s usually where the temptation to cut corners on internal quality beckons, but we’ve handcuffed ourselves to the virtue of beautiful code by committing to shipping the code with purchase. It’s working!

Not just because I don’t want other people to see any dirty hacks or dusty corners. This is a positive vision. We’re shipping the code because I want to show everyone that an extremely high level of care for the internals is not in opposition to the demands of commercial deadlines. In fact, I’d go so far as to say such case is in service of said deadlines.

In racing, like other communities of competence, you’ll often hear the saying: Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast. This is that, but for making software. Building for quality, building for readability, and sweating the details is a slow, smooth process. One that gets you to release quicker than the frantic thrashing you hear about from stereotypical crunch sessions.

So I’ve been sweating those details a lot with ONCE #1. Regularly reading through the entire 7,412 lines of code to polish spacing, pick slightly better model names, and correct cohesion issues. And every time I do, I usually also find other small quality issues that’ll lead to a better product which fewer people will have issues with.

The metaphor for this we’ve been using internally is taken from watch making. We want ONCE #1 to have Patek levels of finishing, because we’re shipping this product with an exhibition case back. Get that knurling right!

Can you tell I’m pleased with where we are? I’m pleased. Very pleased. So pleased that I’m planning to do a series of code walkthroughs with early customers of ONCE #1. Since they’ll get the code for private perusal with purchase, we can walk and talk through the whole thing together. It’s going to be fun.

If you’d like to know when ONCE #1 is launched, signup to be notified on https://once.com. It’s almost time.

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.