What a year, huh?

2023 has been a significant year that deserves some reflection. I've had the opportunity to work on challenging problems with incredible people, which has made this a perfect year.

As a product manager, I have been involved in shipping various exciting things in 2023. These include Conformance and Code Owners, the Azure DevOps Extension, multiple changes in deployment promotion and instant rollback flows, and a massive change in our infrastructure (this infrastructure change has allowed us to achieve hardware differentiation and improve build performance, among other benefits).

Previously on...

In March 2022, I began working as a Product Manager at Vercel, which was and remains to be an awesome experience. I have been a massive fan of their work and mission for a long time. In fact, my first application while finishing college back in 2017 was to Zeit.

The first year in my new role was fantastic. I focused exclusively on the build and deploy pipeline, and we made significant progress. We achieved a 50% performance improvement in the average build time and released numerous new features.

Act I: New Year, New Scope

At the beginning of 2023, my responsibilities expanded. I not only worked on the build and deploy pipeline but also took on the Vercel CLI and all the entry points for customers to create and interact with deployments in their development process.

The year started strong with a focus on the deployment process. The CLI team and I aimed to improve it for all Vercel users. Meanwhile, in the build and deploy side, we made a substantial infrastructure change to enhance flexibility, performance, and future control.

These efforts led to the release of a new deployment summary, which helps developers understand their build outputs and infrastructure defined by their framework.

We also promoted Instant Rollback to general availability and made initial improvements to streamline development workflows. This allowed customers to have feature parity between the CLI and the dashboard for redeploying and promoting deployments. Additional options, such as skipping the ignore build step during redeployment, were also introduced.

As a cherry on top, we implemented a development experience improvement that allows customers to share preview URLs while their deployments are still building, making the process of sharing new changes more agile.

Act II: A New Challenge

During this time, another exciting product was being developed in parallel: Vercel Spaces.

Given my background in Systems Engineering and my interest in helping people write high-quality code, this was a dream come true for me.

We started with a private beta, iterated, and reevaluated our goals. The journey was full of learnings on how to deliver the most value and have a significant impact on people with large codebases and big teams, enabling them to maintain healthier and performant codebases.

Meanwhile, I was still taking care of the infrastructure side and improving the development workflow to ensure a seamless and configuration-less integration of Vercel into existing customers' workflows. This is when we shipped the first version of the Azure DevOps extension, introduced Git LFS support, made multiple improvements in queuing and error messaging, and, as usual, continued to enhance performance.

Act III: Iteration will solve it all

I found myself working across a broad range of products and problem domains, including infrastructure, static analysis, runs analysis, and streamlining the development workflow to require minimal configuration.

The biggest revelation I had was that it was all about iteration and enabling our customers to iterate faster. This new perspective unified all the areas I was working on: faster builds, healthier code, and fewer workarounds.

With this expanded view, I took on the role of being the product person responsible for an entire division, with the vision of making iteration faster. This new perspective helped shape and ship various initiatives, such as Conformance and Code Owners. Most importantly, it helped prioritize and make trade-offs to avoid spreading ourselves too thin and focus on the most impactful work.

Act IV: December of Ship

As the end of the year approached, everything started falling into place, providing a satisfying close to the year.

The infrastructure changes we made allowed us to offer hardware differentiation across plans, improve performance for customers, and even provide the option to purchase extra hardware for those who need it.

We successfully launched Conformance and Code Owners, enabling our enterprise customers to develop in a healthier and safer environment. These tools help them make changes with confidence without breaking things.

Significant changes were also made to the Vercel development cycle. Customers now have more granular control over when to build, deploy, and promote. It is now possible to pin deployments during rollbacks and create new deployments based on git references, providing significant development experience improvements.

Looking ahead...

The main takeaway from 2023 is that building great products takes time, and there are no shortcuts. Sometimes, you have to wait for all the pieces to come together. If your vision is right, they will eventually align. It's important not to stress or lose sight of your immediate future while waiting for this alignment.

That said, it is also crucial to maintain a consistent shipping cadence and iteration speed. Just because things take time doesn't mean you should hide away for months and reappear with a finished product.

For me, my focus now is on closing out Q4, iterating on the released products, and I've also developed an interest in the Interactive Compute side of things after working extensively with Build Time Compute.