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Experimenting in Innovation: Cartegraph Labs

It’s said that youth is wasted on the young. As I stare into the mirror counting the last few non-white hairs in my beard, I can certainly relate to that. Summers that stretched on as a child, now pass in the blink of an eye. I’ve read this acceleration of time is simply a trick of the brain. As you get older, there are less mile markers in life—less firsts, fewer truly memorable events—and that makes it appear as if time has passed faster.

Sometimes I feel the same way about building software. Time is rushing past, and we have so many great features and enhancements to create, that we just keep producing. Every two weeks, we add new features. Every three months, we have a milestone release of the product. The most obvious and in-demand features get prioritized, while the dreams, the delights, the ideas that carry more risk—fight for air.

Cartegraph has tried to lead customers toward having higher expectations for software, whether that be quality, performance, mobility, or overall experience. We listen to our users and try to give them real solutions, rather than just a digital tool to replace analogue practices. Sometimes, you must take risks to do that best. You allow yourself to fail. You try something new, something different, and see what shakes out. We must find room to “make more memories.”

At the end of each milestone, our development team takes time to build something of their own choosing. Occasionally, these are directly related to Cartegraph products, but often not. This is an opportunity for the team to do something creative and wow the rest of the group. The projects vary greatly, and during this time it is okay to crash and burn—the important part is trying something new.

Sometimes these projects are so applicable and practical, they make it into our next release. Sometimes they fly so high, we wonder if we dare to implement them. It’s these ideas—the ones that skirt practicality and leverage bleeding edge technologies—that we have struggled to share with our users. These are features we’d like to let you try and tell us what you think, however, we are sensitive to the fact that you use our tools to get work done. Whatever we produce can’t make your job more challenging than it already is.

That is why we created Cartegraph Labs, a safe, non-invasive way for us to share new ways to work as well as interact with your data. These will be features that do things differently, that leverage the wealth of new services and technology that appear almost daily. They will explore new approaches and challenge your thinking. You can choose to use them or not—they will never get in your way.

Our hope is we produce awesome new ways to work that are embraced by our customers. When that happens, we will graduate Labs features to core features. I expect we won’t have a hit every time, and in those cases, we’ll go back to the drawing board. Either way, we’ll be looking for user feedback on these features with great anticipation. A new feature may be cool, but is it useful? Do you adopt it into your workflow? What does it do well, and where does it fail? Your feedback will help drive the future of our software.  

So, what comes next for Cartegraph Labs? As I write this, I don’t know. I look at the options in front of me, and there are some great opportunities—picking just one to work on will be the hardest task. Rest assured, we will keep finding new ways to leverage groundbreaking technologies and keep bringing you creative solutions.

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