Something New.

I’ve worked on Flow, Seamless, and Five Details (in one form or another) for the better part of the last 6 years. Today, I turn 22.

People who make things often refer to their products as their “children”, but the above numbers imply a different sort of relationship. Flow (et al.) aren’t my children — they’re my siblings. I grew up with them.

While I did nurture them as a parent would, their growth was more a reflection of my own than planned progress. I suspect those of you who have followed Flow and myself from our early days know this well, and are happy with how Flow has grown up. I know I am.

And that’s really the crux of it. Flow has grown up. It’s reliable, fast, and beautiful. I smile when I use it because it plays the role I created it for perfectly. Seamless launched to fill a niche I care deeply about, and has done so flawlessly and quickly with poise and grace. And Extendmac has morphed into Five Details — a brand that is wholly and beautifully consistent in its deference to product.

I am proud of the work I’ve done on Flow, Seamless, and Five Details. I am also satisfied with the former two, which is how I know it’s time for something new.

I realized all of this earlier in the year, and thought about beginning work on something very new at Five Details. Simultaneously, I realized that my ambitions had also grown enormously: the things I want to build require far more resources than would be practical at Five Details in the short-term.

It was with this in mind that I joined Facebook in early May. Few companies (if any) have the sort of stunning impact Facebook has (and will have…), nor the engineering and design talent Facebook has uniquely attracted over the past few years. Most importantly, Facebook is a company that entrepreneurs like myself can thrive at because of its incredible culture. It’s really quite extraordinary, and I couldn’t be more excited about what we’re building.

As my adventure at Facebook begins, it is with a teary eye and proud smile that my adventure at Five Details ends. Though I have decided to keep Five Details independent, no further development is planned. Flow and Seamless will continue to be available on the App Store for the foreseeable future, as they’re products that I love and use daily.

Thank you so much, and until next time,
-B.

Flow 1.7: Rethinking Transfer Decisions

The Context

Historically, working on Flow has largely meant working on Flow’s connection engine — the heart that powers Flow’s connections.

2011 was the year I got really serious about a lot of things, but chief among them was Flow’s connection engine. Namely, I tore it out, lit it on fire, and had a bonfire as I decided to build a beautiful, modern replacement. That bet paid off, big time. A couple months of polish later — as 2012 rolled around — it was time to start the next phase of Flow’s development.

It was time to start working on Flow itself. Not the connections, which are now stable, robust, and the fastest in the world — but the app itself. So began a journey of polishing and rolling, as John Gruber calls it.

Meet Flow 1.7

This update isn’t just an ordinary update; changes of this magnitude are ordinarily reserved for major (paid) upgrades. Here’s the crucial change (from the release notes):

Completely re-engineered transfer decision logic. Transfers are now incredibly resilient, using the first available connection rather than depending on one in particular. This resiliency dramatically lowers transfer latency, noticeably speeding up transfers.

With this new transfer decision logic, Flow breaks away from the pack, and really starts doing things differently. Most file-transfer clients have an preference that look something like this:

The trouble was, if you let too many transfers happen at once (each transfer requiring its own connection), at some point you’d exceed the server’s limit, and the transfer would fail. What’s worse: the server’s limit was variable, so it depended on the available resources and bandwidth in both directions. This was a real mess, and if you’ve ever had a transfer fail, that was probably why.

Screw that. We can do better. With Flow 1.7, no such trouble exists anymore. Go ahead and push that concurrency limit. You won’t see a single error.

And that’s cool, but it has an even more awesome consequence: resiliency breeds speed. Tranfser latency, or the time between one transfer finishing and another beginning, is dramatically reduced.

Availability

Flow 1.7 is available immediately. If you’re a direct-download user, select “Check for Updates…” from the “Flow” menu. If you’re a Mac App Store user, click here to update to Flow 1.7.

Of course, if you’re new to Flow, you can grab the Mac’s best FTP+SFTP client on the Mac App Store:

Flow 1.6 Now Available

I’m happy to announce that Flow 1.6 is now available for direct-download users, and will be coming soon to Mac App Store users.

Flow 1.6 arrives with an entirely new user interface for selecting SSH keys to authenticate an SFTP connection:

This new release also allows you to specify an SSH key for use with a particular bookmark, which is a dramatic improvement over the prior workflow. Of course, this release also includes a number of bug fixes and improvements. Read the full release notes for more details.

If you’re a direct-download user (that is, you purchased Flow from the Five Details website), you can download the update right now. You can also update directly from Flow, by selecting “Check for Updates…” from the “Flow” menu.

If you purchased Flow on the App Store: hold tight! Flow 1.6 is waiting for review by Apple, and should be available on the store shortly.

Flow on Sale for $5.99 on Mac App Store

For a very short time, Flow is on sale on the Mac App Store to allow existing users to take advantage of all the Mac App Store has to offer.

While we will continue to support traditionally licensed users until Flow 2 is released, many users enjoy the convenience and tight integration with Lion that the Mac App Store uniquely offers.

Flow will go back to its normal $29.99 price on Wednesday (November 23rd), so if you’d like to own Flow on the App Store, grab it now for just $5.99!


Flow 1.5, with SFTP, Now Available

I’m thrilled to announce that Flow 1.5, with a killer new SFTP implementation, is now available for download!

Let me be clear about this release: this is a big deal. It took us over 5 months to ship this release, and we worked our tails off to do it on that timeline. And that’s because unlike other almost every other SFTP client on the planet, we wrote our own SSH and SFTP implementations. From scratch.

And like the FTP implementation we shipped in Flow 1.4 (also from scratch), it’s beautiful. It’s absurdly elegant. I have little doubt that these are the best designed file-transfer implementations on the planet — and I can say that without a hint of cockiness, because I know all the sweat and tears (literally) that went into Flow’s heart, ConnectionEngine. We learned a lot, and I mean that euphemistically. It’s been an experience, to say the least.

But building things like this is who we are. And it was worth it…because as you’ll see when you start using Flow 1.5, SFTP simply flies. It’s rock-solid, and boy is it fast. In fact — and we surprised even ourselves with this one — it’s faster than even FTP (still widely used for its speed advantages) in nearly all major transfer operations. Whoa. That’s simply unheard of.

So without further adieu, I give you Flow 1.5: the most beautiful, elegant, and fast FTP+SFTP client on the planet.

Take it for a spin.

Updates on Flow 1.5, OS X Lion, and iOS 5

It’s been about two months since we’ve given an update, so let’s shed some light on what is and has been going on behind the scenes at Five Details.

Flow 1.5 with SFTP

Shipping the next version of Flow with SFTP support is our biggest priority right now. Internally, we’re progressing very nicely.

As part of the new ConnectionEngine that began shipping in Flow 1.4, what we’re designing and engineering is, to our knowledge, the most elegant and thoughtful implementation of SFTP (and consequently, SSH) on the planet. We’re enormously proud of the results we’ve seen so far and can’t wait to get this release into your hands. It’s going to be worth the wait.

While we’re not ready to accept beta testers for Flow 1.5 yet, the announcement will come first via Twitter, so be sure to follow @fivedetails!

WWDC, OS X Lion, and iOS 5

We were really pleased to attend Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference this year. While the contents of the sessions are confidential, I can say this: the futures of iOS and Mac OS X are very bright, and iCloud is an enormously big deal.

We’re still thinking about how the new technologies and clarified direction will impact Flow, but we know this: we intend to take full advantage of all of it.

In the meantime, it’s worth noting that the latest current version of Flow (v1.4.7) fully supports Mac OS X Lion. Likewise, the latest version of Seamless (v1.1.1) fully supports iOS 5.

Updates on the Seamless and Flow Launch; BeoSound 8 Winner Announced

Come tomorrow, two weeks will have passed since we launched our new company, simultaneously introducing Seamless and offering a major update to Flow.


Seamless Highlights

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of phenomenal feedback about Seamless. It turns out that we’re not the only ones who love to take their music, to go:

  • "Completely bewitched by @fivedetails Seamless app. It’s just a magical little thing.” -Ben Hammersley
  • "Thank you so much for taking a problem as old as iPod and replacing it with an experience like Seamless." -@skywinston
  • "Can’t say enough about Seamless! Breakfast, to yardwork, to daddy duty, my music goes where I do." -Joshua Nichols
  • "…where have you been all my (iPhone’d) life? Wow." -Leo M.
  • "…feels like stepping into the future. Truly magical." -Kevin Clark
  • "An app that I didn’t know I needed, but now I have to have it." -Evan Walsh, App Store Review

It’s not just users, either. Seamless has been featured all around the web, on sites like Engadget, Wired, Lifehacker, Macworld, and Gizmodo.

We’ve got updates in the pipeline for both the iOS and Mac apps that fix the remainder of the known issues.

Love Seamless? Leave a review on the App Store, and you’ll make our day.


Winner of Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 8 Contest Announced

Maureen Boyle (@CatMorland) was announced as the winner of Seamless’ Tweetblast contest for the best iPhone speaker-dock on the planet — the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 8 — this morning, via twitter.

We’re thrilled to give such phenomenal speakers away — and we know Maureen is going to find herself simply incapable of not rockin’ out with Seamless. Prior to winning the BeoSound 8, Seamless reminded her of the late (but forever amazing) Douglas Adams, who said:

…to be able to move from total ignorance of something to total desire for it, and then actually to own the thing…

What an honor. Thank you, Maureen.


Flow Highlights

As of Flow 1.4.2, which was introduced last Thursday, there are no remaining known bugs with FTP. So if you use FTP and haven’t updated yet, do yourself a favor and grab 1.4. It’s faster, more stable, and more elegant than ever.

As promised, with FTP beginning to stabilize, SFTP is up next. We expect the improvements in both speed and stability to be as dramatic as they are with 1.4’s FTP implementation.

Rock on.

Meet Seamless

  

It’s 9AM, and you’re at home getting dressed to go to work. You’ve got iTunes open, and “Back in Black” is playing. You’re totally into it, rocking out with your air-guitar, but you’ve got to go to work now. So you obviously want to keep listening to it on your way.

You pause iTunes, open iPod.app on your iPhone, find “Back in Black”, and start playing it.

We’ve all been there, so you know why this sucks: you’ve interrupted the song!

The groove! The beat! You just killed it.

Meet Seamless. When you’re ready to transition music from iTunes to iPod, tap Seamless on your phone, and boom. The music fades out on the Mac, and fades in on the phone.

Groove: preserved.

Beat: better than ever.

Rock on.


Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 8 Giveaway

Music can only be as good as the speakers playing it. To celebrate the launch of Seamless, we’re giving away something really special: The Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 8 Speaker-dock. This isn’t just the best speaker-dock for your iPhone/iPod touch/iPad on the planet — it’s a fantastic set of speakers, full stop.

It retails for $1,000…and it’s worth every penny. We’re giving it away — for free. Find out how to win.


It’s All About The Music

We love music. You love music, too. Everybody does. And that’s because music is the beat of life. It runs deep with us, as people.

You know that feeling you get you’re really into a song? When you’re drumming in the air — and it just totally consumes you. It resonates with you. 

That.

We built Seamless out of respect and in honor of that feeling. So this isn’t just a product to us. It’s our way of making the world more musical.

Flow 1.4: Heart Surgery for the Future

We’re thrilled to announce that Flow 1.4 is available for download

Here’s what’s new:

  • [New] Secrets you’ll find out about if you keep reading…that result in 2x to 3x faster transfers, in some cases.
  • [New] You can now stop transfers.
  • [New] You can now set permissions on folders recursively.
  • [New] Redesigned transcript view, which makes it far easier for you to help us figure out what’s going on internally.
  • [New] Redesigned transfers view.
  • [Fixed] Issue where some transfers could be “Pending” forever.
  • [Fixed] Issue where connections would “reset” to the root of the directory hierarchy after a period of idle time.
  • [Fixed] Many, many improvements to the editor.
  • [Changed] Various user-interface and experience improvements.
  • [Changed] Flow now requires Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard in preparation for the App Store.
  • [Changed] Support for “Local” connections removed.
  • [Changed] Support for SFTP, Amazon S3, WebDAV, and MobileMe iDisk connections temporarily removed.

Yep! That’s all folks, thanks for your patience, we really think you’re gonna lo–– Okay. Fine; let’s talk about that last change. 

The features we’ve added are cool, yeah. But still, you might be wondering why it took us more than 6 months to remove 4 out of the 5 supported connection protocols from Flow.

We have been working on a brand new product that also shipped todayand on the process of rebooting this entire company. And that explains why it’s taken us so long to get this far. But…it doesn’t explain why we’ve, in some senses, moved backwards.

The truth is, this story isn’t bullshit. Our standards are higher than ever before, and when we looked at Flow –– as it stood previously –– we only had one thing to say: "It’s not good enough."

Was it the interface? Uh, no. Flow has the simplest, most intuitive, most gorgeous UI of any file-transfer client on the planet. It won a design award, for science’s sake. It wasn’t the interface.

Was it the features? You mean like our URL integration, which was not only invented by us, but still blows all other clients out of the water? Or how about our droplets, which are so small, so svelte, that they don’t even open Flow to zip your files across the ‘net? No, it wasn’t the features.

It was Flow’s heart. The beast within Flow that controlled and executed the connections themselves. The connection engine. The problem? It wasn’t stable enough, and it wasn’t built for the future. 

So we fixed it. And by “fixed,” I mean rewrote. From scratch. Entirely. 

It’s called ConnectionEngine, and it’s beautiful. It’s unimaginably elegant. It’s so meticulously designed that we’re almost overcome with guilt about not open-sourcing it.1 It’s like what Jony Ive said about the MacBook Pro’s unibody design

In many ways it’s more beautiful internally than it is externally. I think that testifies to just how much we care.

Of course, as a brand new (and crucial) component of Flow, it won’t be perfect from the start. So that’s why we’re starting out with FTP-only support. We’re going to make each protocol available –– one by one –– only when we’re satisfied with the existing protocols. 

So that’s the story. Flow has a new heart, and will grow far stronger than ever before with it. Take it for a test drive if you use FTP, and please give us feedback.

Almost. Sorry, we’re still ragingly proud capitalists.