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b00st.com Data Reporting

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PSA: We're doubling the fee-free tier to $1000 bucks in ad spend, since we broke the data pipeline for a few days.

You probably noticed that your daily reports stopped being delivered for about seven business days. This was the fault of human error for which this author takes full responsibility. I introduced a bug in our backend client that delivers those reports and it took a nearly a week to hunt it down, resolve the problem, and deliver you your hyper-simple daily reports.

ℹ Pro subscription clients still received their upgraded data reports but without the daily email updates that all tiers see.

The remainder of this piece will detail what we did, are doing, what happened, and a little bit of background in application software development, as it applies here.

What we're doing in remediation

Firstly, we deeply appreciate your business -- hence the doubling of the free tier this month to $1000 in ad spend. Hopefully that acts as a motivator for our clients to continue rocking paid cross-platform advertising campaigns though b00st.com.

We're a small, but nimble team. We plan, document, and build in ways that allow us to serve clients high-quality service with little resources. While working to enhance the b00st.com data pipeline we typed a bug which was not caught via our automated testing and deployment suites. Normally, bugs like this get squashed prior to making it into clients' hands.

This is certainly not the time to brag but we religiously test our software. Typically our client users don't experience show-stopping bugs because of this test coverage process. That said, some tests, such as those on live ad data, are near-impossible to get right. In this case, we got it wrong.

✅ And in case you're interested, Xinxin (Ella) Li wrote a very nice piece on testing Python code. Ella interned for the firm during the fall & winter quarter. She's knocking out her masters from the Financial Mathematics department at the University of Chicago.

Adding additional backend tests

Without diving into technical details, we've added some tests for the client backend responsible for sending you your daily email reports. In the future, we should catch an issue like this before it is deployed (and affects you). That's our testing and integration pipeline at work, in the aim of keeping your b00st.com service consistent.

CICD, what?

Good application software typically uses CICD, or Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment, widely implemented across the b00st.com tech stack. In simple terms, CICD is a process that requires all tests, builds, and other critical infrastructure to pass and verify on any code changes before deploying. It's the backbone of quality software. Furthermore, we go so far as to host canary and feature deployments -- so that any code changes are well-tested on non-production code. In other words, we thoroughly test even the smallest of changes on several versions of live software before it is in your hands.

Backend, tests, and deployments oh my!

In software development we have specific engineering principles that tend to help maximize quality of service (users interacting with software). Because so much of the world is run or enabled by software today, you may have heard a few phrases before, such as backend, frontend, testing, and deployment.

So what do all these things mean?

Backend & Frontend

In software application engineering we focus on two primary areas, frontend and backend. You interact with frontends -- like the b00st.com site, the Real Easy Ads button, and logging in and out, all separate "frontend" applications. Usually, a backend accompanies one or all of these frontend applications, acting as the "brain" that actually accomplishes whatever tasks the client user has requested.

Software Tests

Tests are similar to what you all hated about math class. Remember algebra? You probably saw something like y=3x+4y=3x + 4 and were asked a question such as "What is xx if y=2y=2?" In software, we program these types of question/answers in the form of tests. For example, your client report language is tested to ensure it contains things like "CPC" and "CPM".

In case you're interested let's solve the arithmetic problem from above. Remember y=2y=2.

2=3x+42 = 3x + 4

24=3x2 - 4 = 3x

2/3=x-2 / 3 = x

Let's test this by plugging in 2/3-2/3 for xx to find yy:

y=3(2/3)+4y = 3 * (-2/3) + 4

y=2+4=2y = -2 + 4 = 2

👀 Notice that we got the value of 22 for the given value of yy, 22. Test passed ✅.

Deployments

Deployments are actual live versions of software, which you interact with in production, a phrase we engineers and tech people use to describe the actual software product you use. In short, software firms like ours typically separate versions of software so that your experience remains stable and consistent.

So what went wrong?

Specifically, we upgraded an internal library in the b00st.com client backend and did not have a test suite to catch a small, but documented library change. This impacted our client reports and caused them to silently fail each morning when requests to send them were issued.

Features on the way

We're always upgrading things internally and usually you don't see them. But we've got many coming upgrades for b00st.com coming down the pipe. Let's review a few.

Data visualization

As you probably know, most firms you use have some type of "dashboard" -- a place to login and interact with the app, see data, or update things. But with b00st.com we built it for extreme simplicity in mind. Ultimatley, we choose to distill only those data you need and nothing more.

But we're listening to you and are soon providing a way for you to view your campaigns, data, and download all that. Afterall, it's your data.

Full ad-platform previews

Your b00st.com ads button will soon show your uploaded images, videos, and copy in a rendered preview of an ad.

As you know, we don't allow copy manipulation because we run ads with copy specifically tested for music such that your assets, your music, and your brand are the focus. This is important in avoiding "bullshit" clicks, that you pay for with ad budget. If you want click-bait, head over to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or CNN.

Partnerships across music tech

We're working with some of the most awesome firms and products across the web to bring b00st.com into your platforms and tools of choice.

Over the next three quarters you'll see b00st.com ads implemented inside of the best in breed tech products for musicians, artists, and their teams.

Better docs and community

A major upgrade to our FAQ/docs is underway. You'll soon be able to comment, ask questions, and learn about b00st.com, digital ads in music, and the business of music all from the same place.

Upgraded ACH and wire payments

Pro subscribers will see upgraded wire and ACH payment over the coming weeks. This should make it easier to transfer, pay for, and run ads, at lower costs.

Many of our Pro subscribers are labels, management companies, and agencies. Ensuring the lowest cost of action is critical for their clients, the artist.

Data, bugs, and upgrades

Software products are dynamic, living engineering organisms. Ours is always changing and we seek to constantly make things better. That is good for you, but even we screw up and break things while implementing upgrades.

We've got lots of changes coming our way. If you'd like a feature of your own, have a fantastic idea, or are enraged with how something works, we'd love to hear your feedback.

Provide us feedback here.

And as usual, stay classy b00sties 😎