Checkly Inc.

Checkly Inc.

Active Reliability for Modern DevOps Teams. Monitor and Test your API & site transactions from a single, simple dashboard ... more
Berlin, Utrecht, Boston
Tools by Checkly Inc.

Decisions 12

Tim Nolet

Founder, Engineer & Dishwasher at Checkly

Heroku Docker GitHub Node.js hapi Vue.js AWS Lambda Amazon S3 PostgreSQL Knex.js Checkly is a fairly young company and we're still working hard to find the correct mix of product features, price and audience.

We are focussed on tech B2B, but I always wanted to serve solo developers too. So I decided to make a $7 plan.

Why $7? Simply put, it seems to be a sweet spot for tech companies: Heroku, Docker, Github, Appoptics (Librato) all offer $7 plans. They must have done a ton of research into this, so why not piggy back that and try it out.

Enough biz talk, onto tech. The challenges were:

  • Slice of a portion of the functionality so a $7 plan is still profitable. We call this the "plan limits"
  • Update API and back end services to handle and enforce plan limits.
  • Update the UI to kindly state plan limits are in effect on some part of the UI.
  • Update the pricing page to reflect all changes.
  • Keep the actual processing backend, storage and API's as untouched as possible.

In essence, we went from strictly volume based pricing to value based pricing. Here come the technical steps & decisions we made to get there.

  1. We updated our PostgreSQL schema so plans now have an array of "features". These are string constants that represent feature toggles.
  2. The Vue.js frontend reads these from the vuex store on login.
  3. Based on these values, the UI has simple v-if statements to either just show the feature or show a friendly "please upgrade" button.
  4. The hapi API has a hook on each relevant API endpoint that checks whether a user's plan has the feature enabled, or not.

Side note: We offer 10 SMS messages per month on the developer plan. However, we were not actually counting how many people were sending. We had to update our alerting daemon (that runs on Heroku and triggers SMS messages via AWS SNS) to actually bump a counter.

What we build is basically feature-toggling based on plan features. It is very extensible for future additions. Our scheduling and storage backend that actually runs users' monitoring requests (AWS Lambda) and stores the results (S3 and Postgres) has no knowledge of all of this and remained unchanged.

Hope this helps anyone building out their SaaS and is in a similar situation.

20 1.4M

Tim Nolet

Founder, Engineer & Dishwasher at Checkly

When adding a new feature to Checkly rearchitecting some older piece, I tend to pick Heroku for rolling it out. But not always, because sometimes I pick AWS Lambda . The short story:

  • Developer Experience trumps everything.
  • AWS Lambda is cheap. Up to a limit though. This impact not only your wallet.
  • If you need geographic spread, AWS is lonely at the top.
The setup

Recently, I was doing a brainstorm at a startup here in Berlin on the future of their infrastructure. They were ready to move on from their initial, almost 100% Ec2 + Chef based setup. Everything was on the table. But we crossed out a lot quite quickly:

  • Pure, uncut, self hosted Kubernetes β€” way too much complexity
  • Managed Kubernetes in various flavors β€” still too much complexity
  • Zeit β€” Maybe, but no Docker support
  • Elastic Beanstalk β€” Maybe, bit old but does the job
  • Heroku
  • Lambda

It became clear a mix of PaaS and FaaS was the way to go. What a surprise! That is exactly what I use for Checkly! But when do you pick which model?

I chopped that question up into the following categories:

  • Developer Experience / DX πŸ€“
  • Ops Experience / OX πŸ‚ (?)
  • Cost πŸ’΅
  • Lock in πŸ”

Read the full post linked below for all details

13 23.5K

Tim Nolet

Founder, Engineer & Dishwasher at Checkly

Vue.js JavaScript vuex

If you run a SaaS, you probably want to show your users when they are almost running out of widgets. Or that they can get some cool feature on a more expensive plan.

Or, in other words, how can you be nice and commercial in dealing with plan limits?

We use Vue.js with Vuex for our front end, but the patterns and code examples here can be applied to any other SPA framework.

We implemented some very specific data structures in Vuex to make it easy for components to check what a user's status is with regard to plan limits and usage. This centralizes and encapsulates the knowledge about typical SaaS things in one place and leverages Vue's component system nicely. Read more in the dedicated blog post.

13 18.9K

Tim Nolet

Founder, Engineer & Dishwasher at Checkly

Vue.js Intercom JavaScript Node.js vuex Vue Router

My SaaS recently switched to Intercom for all customer support and communication. To get the most out of Intercom, you need to integrate it with your app. This means instrumenting some code and tweaking some bits of your app's navigation. Checkly is a 100% Vue.js app, so in this post we'll look at the following:

  • Identifying a user with some handy attributes
  • Getting page views right with Vue Router
  • Sending events with Vuex
  • Some nice things you can now do in Intercom

After finishing this integration, you can actively segment your customers into trial, lapsed, active etc. etc.

11 52K

Followers 5

Hannes Lenke
Giovanni Rago
Tim Nolet
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