We Are Putting UX First

Tuesday, October 8, 2019
Nick Bolton
Nick Bolton
Founder CEO & Interim-CTO of Symless (Synergy team)

Important policy changes affecting this article

Since writing this article, our upgrade policy has changed.

  • Synergy 2 customers will receive a free upgrade to Synergy 3.
  • Customers who purchased through affiliates (including Linus Tech Tips and Linus Media Group) will receive a free upgrade to Synergy 3.
  • Business customers with a valid plan will get access to Synergy 3 for the duration of their plan.
  • All other customers will receive a free time-limited upgrade to Synergy 3.

If you have any questions regarding this policy change, please contact us.

Original article

We are now well into the early design and implementation stages of the next major version of Synergy. I want to give our users a brief explanation about why this time we decided to build it starting with the User Experience (UX).

It would be wrong to cast the whole Synergy 2 team as not caring about the user. However, there is no doubt that we didn’t know how to care about the User Experience (UX). I had assembled a very talented back-end team, but without a UX Designer in place, there was nobody to bridge the gap between the user and the product. How could we possibly have a hope of designing the right UX?

We neglected UX Design, and the resulting user interface (UI) was therefore poor. It was nowhere near powerful or configurable enough, and it wasn’t built with the right technology; hiring front-end developers with C++ experience doesn't make sense these days. That’s why we're moving on to more flexible technologies.

“We must design for the way people behave, not for how we would wish them to behave.”
— Donald A. Norman

This time we are using a radically different design philosophy compared to before. The first hire on the new development team was Simon, a UX Designer; this is key to building a product that works best for our customers. We have already started implementing the perfect blend of manual and automatic configuration to suit the variety of environments that our users operate in. From full scale air-gapped military flight simulators to the usual developer desktop, we are covering all the bases this time and Symless is going to create the best keyboard and mouse sharing product ever made.

User Experience vs Design
You can always design with the best intentions;
Lesson 1: Listen to users

Our second hire was Jamie, a C++ Back-end Developer, and we are now hiring our next team member; a Node & React Front-end Developer. The new user interface (UI) will be built using Electron and will only be run when needed; since the UI is not always running, we are free to use a more powerful and flexible technology. With Electron, we can be more agile. The long-running core and back-end code will still be C++, so we can get the best CPU and memory performance overall.

Once the next major version is ready for public use (we anticipate around 2022/2023), it will be released to general sale. All Synergy 2 customers will be upgraded for free, all lifetime customers (anyone who purchased before November 2017) will also benefit from the free upgrade, and of course, anyone who purchased early access will get it. This free upgrade covers over 85% of our current customer base.

Synergy 2 is no longer in development, but we are still developing Synergy 1 and we will be adding only new features to the next major version. After we release the next major version, we intend on maintaining Synergy 1 for a further two years to provide critical fixes and security updates.

We plan to release a super-early-alpha of the next major version as soon as ready in 2021. We’ll be sharing information about how to get access to the upcoming alpha soon. We expect to spend at least three years developing the final version. We don’t want make the same mistake again of releasing before it’s ready.

Want to build the next generation of Synergy products? Symless is hiring!

October 8, 2019
Nick Bolton
 (revised on 

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