Building Ovvio: Our Fundamentals
Ovvio is all about working together effortlessly and efficiently. In this piece, we break down how we managed to build a secure and fast collaborative work management solution, aimed for professional services firms.
Before starting Ovvio, we did a lot of research. To deepen our understanding about the problems that professional services firms face, we interviewed hundreds of professionals, and discovered, to our surprise, that many employees use their physical notebook a lot to manage their everyday workload.
After digging into the "why", we discovered that a piece of paper coupled with a pen is probably the fastest way to write. A notebook will never show you a popup and will never break your mental focus. This is how we envision Ovvio, and why we're using the physical notebook as our benchmark for writing efficiency.
Building a solution for seamless collaboration
To reach a similar level of seamlessness, we needed to build a robust collaboration engine designed specifically for our user's needs. It's been in active development for over 3 years now, and was developed with the help of multiple companies who acted as testers and worked with the product in various stages.
Our collaboration engine is basically a fully automatic version control system similar conceptually to Git, except commits and merges are fully automatic and never need any human intervention. To achieve the real-time effect, the system saves (commits) your work several times per second, and publishes it with everyone who has permission to access the data.
Unlike our competitors, our collaboration engine has a few unique features, designed specifically to make the lives of professionals easier.
1. Refining our approach for top speed
The first versions of Ovvio didn't use our current collaboration technology, and instead used common, off-the-shelf, technologies. This approach failed to provide the level of refinement and efficiency we envisioned for Ovvio.
It turns out, our users generate an unusually large amount of notes and tasks. A single workspace will regularly have thousands of interconnected notes and tasks. Our heavier users can easily reach 20+ active workspaces, thanks to the Matrix Organizational Structure, the structure that most professional services firms inhabit.
Ovvio is designed from the ground up for speed. Every interaction is completed within milliseconds, without waiting for our servers to respond.
Filtering and searching happen instantly because our users keep a full copy of their data on their computers (it's their data after all). This allows us to provide both incredible speed, and keep these tools fully operational while offline.
Read our in-depth post about Ovvio Filters here >
2. Truly Offline First
Let's go through a day in the life of our user.
Imagine, you have a meeting with a client at their office. Your colleague arrives there a few minutes before. This meeting is important - you need to concentrate and get everything right as it'll potentially have a big effect on the project. During the meeting, you take the meeting minutes in Ovvio, and share your note in this client's workspace where your colleague can also access it.
The meeting ends well, you part from your colleague, and both of you commute separately to meet your next clients. Both you and your colleague want to take advantage of the commute time, and go over the note to make sure you didn't miss anything. In fact, both of you have just remembered different tasks about it that you forgot to write down.
While commuting internet connection is poor, but Ovvio makes this a breeze. The entire product is available and is completely functional offline. Both you and your colleague open Ovvio, find the note, and freely edit it offline.
Once both of you get back online, your changes will automatically sync, and both tasks will correctly be merged into the note.
This isn't a feature that needs to be explicitly enabled like in some other collaboration products. Full offline editing is available for all of Ovvio, including creating and editing notes and tasks, tagging, and even creating new workspaces. Ovvio is truly offline-first.
3. Always Saved, 3x Backup
Our customers are unique in that they're constantly running, working way too many hours, and actually charge by the hour. This makes every second count. Not only that, our users deal with very important data. Meeting minutes are like a mini-contracts between you and your client, and they must never be lost.
Ovvio completely frees our customers from thinking about data backups. Every change a user makes is immediately saved to their computer. Whenever internet connection is available, Ovvio makes multiple backups of these changes on three different physical data centers in your company's private Ovvio cloud.
These backups include the full edit history of the entire workspace. Ovvio then actively ensures the backups' integrity, and automatically corrects any errors in the data without any human interaction.
This may sound like a lot of data to move around, but luckily Ovvio has a way around it. By transparently applying delta compression, and applying probabilistic synchronization techniques, Ovvio can easily handle thousands of notes and tasks across tens of workspaces per user.
From a CISO's perspective, the data is fully available on each employee's computer, and fully backed up to their private Ovvio cloud.
We will happily deploy a customer's private cloud at a specific geographic region (to comply with local regulation, for example), or use a multi-continent deployment for maximum reliability and availability.