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Happy New Year, everybody! What better way to kick off 2022 than with a new Marketplace Partner Spotlight ✨ This month, we're getting to know Daniel Franz, co-founder of Fine Software. Fine Software is still relatively new to the Marketplace, but the company was founded by Atlassian (and Atlassian Marketplace) veterans. It's no wonder they're already off to a great start with their popular Jira app, JXL.
Here's more about JXL and Fine Software from Dan:
Atlassian: How was your company started?
Dan: In 2020 my co-founder Hannes and I each had big plans to do all sorts of exciting things but instead we were in lockdown in Australia and Europe due to the rising COVID pandemic. So why not found a startup and create a Jira app, something we had planned for a while? We both have a history of building businesses in the past (Hannes co-founded the Portfolio/Roadmaps for Jira plugin that Atlassian acquired) and a passion for well-designed software. The beta of our app JXL for Jira already went really encouraging, and shortly after we received some seed funding from Atlassian Ventures.
A: What's your role at your company?
D: I am Co-Founder and Co-CEO, together with Hannes. He is the architecture and engineering mastermind and I take care of all things product strategy and design.
A: What's your favorite thing about working there? What’s your favorite team ritual?
D: We’re a nimble, focussed and fun team, always proud of what we ship to customers. Our passion is to craft beautiful software that really helps people to get their jobs done and we don’t compromise on quality or take technical shortcuts. There’s near-perfectionist attention to detail, a drive for clean code, purposeful software architecture and experience design. And it’s awesome to see all this paying off so quickly.
There’s also zero corporate nonsense, hidden politics, and unnecessary meetings here. The only regular meeting we have is our daily remote “sit-down”, where we plan, debate and make decisions. It’s always a good use of our time because product, design and engineering have mutual appreciation and actual knowledge about the others’ functions. I think that’s vital and it’s just a great environment to build stuff.
A: How does your team come up with ideas for new apps?
D: Hannes and I are Atlassian alumni. We draw on 15 years of combined experience leading teams there. Hannes in engineering in Jira and Atlassian Cloud Frontend Platforms and I in Jira Platform product management. So we start out with deep knowledge of Jira, its customers, and what they like and dislike about it.
In addition to that we have had the blessing of attracting really awesome customers very early on. We enjoy working closely with them and we had rather big ones providing us with invaluable feedback and feature suggestions straight away. I think they see the potential of our setup, the quality of our app, and just enjoy building it together with us.
A: Think back to when you were developing your flagship app, JXL. Did you see yourself here now? What do you think has been the secret to your success so far?
D: I don’t have to think back too far. We just launched it eight months ago and at this stage our focus is exclusively on JXL. There are various native capability gaps in Jira for ecosystem vendors to help out and our strategy was essentially to create a plugin that really is more of a platform. An operating system on top of which we can solve as many pain points and ship as many features as possible. JXL is a bold venture to make the world's most used project management software more accessible to everyone.
We are growing rapidly and I think that’s because we’re offering a great product that saves people heaps of clicks and hours. But every launch also needs an initial push and for JXL that was probably a TechCrunch article on us and our aspirations. That exposure resulted in lots of trial sign-ups, and once our app is installed, most customers never want to go back to working without it.
A: Tell us about JXL. Why do customers love it?
D: I think it extends Jira in some really fundamental ways. JXL combines the awesome power of Jira with the familiarity and convenience of spreadsheets. You can manage your issues by creating and inline-editing them in highly customizable table views, you can mark, copy and paste fields, individually or in bulk, all standard and custom fields supported, you can organise issues in custom hierarchies, and much more.
Tables are just a really great pattern to track and manage stuff. We often hear people praise JXL’s intuitive UX and that “it just works”. And if they ever need to look anything up, our thorough documentation also has them covered. JXL is built cloud first, from the ground up in a modern stack that guarantees top scalability and speed, it effortlessly loads thousands and thousands of issues. Customers also love its security, their Jira data is always protected because it never leaves their site. Reactions range from “where has this been all these years” to “I never knew I needed this”. We have received some really rewarding and stellar reviews for it.
A: Do you have any new apps or projects you want us to know about?
D: It’s all about JXL. Now that we have the foundational framework in place we’re on track to make it the swiss army knife of Jira issue management. We have the big goal of making it a staple in every serious Jira site. Upcoming features include issue grouping and sum-ups, ranking, conditional formatting, formulas, more granular sheet permissions, and much more. I’d encourage everyone to check it out on the Atlassian Marketplace and work with us to prioritise these items.
JXL is available for Cloud, Data Center and Server deployments, it works with all Jira products and in Cloud in both company-managed and team-managed projects. It’s completely free for up to 10 Cloud users and competitively priced for larger teams.