Dropbox is a service that allows users to store files on the cloud and on personal computers, simultaneously. The files automatically synchronise and update allowing the Dropbox folder to act as a shared folder between computers. Dropbox was originally released publicly in 2008. In January of 2015 Dropbox was valued at $10 billion (USD). This week we will be focusing on how Dropbox follows the web 2.0 design pattern, The Perpetual Beta, which is when online services release regular updates and patches instead of big changes at longer intervals.
One of the key characteristics of a Perpetual Beta is releasing early and often. This means that developers should be consistently releasing updates and features as soon as they have been completed instead of releasing one huge collection of fixes every few months (or years). Dropbox publishes their release notes, which clearly reflect the ‘Perpetual Beta’ characteristic.
A perfect example of this can be seen in October 2014 where Dropbox released 6 patches from minor performance enhancements to major compatibility updates for OSX. This characteristic allows Dropbox to keep up with its competitors and remain as a viable option for cloud based storage.
Another characteristic of the Perpetual Beta is to use dynamic tools and languages. While Dropbox has changed its back-end infrastructure it has always used simple and dynamic languages. Initially, Dropbox was primarily written in Python. Python is a great language for web services because it is easy to learn and has a multitude of compatible frameworks designed specifically for web (e.g. Django). Despite all of its advantages Dropbox realised that if they migrated performance critical back-ends to new infrastructure developed with Go they could drastically increase execution speed. Showing their commitment to this characteristic Dropbox had almost completed the migration from python by July 2014.
This migration brings us to the last practice we will be discussing today, engaging users as co-developers. Dropbox did not re-develop the entire back-end of their infrastructure and then release it. They did it slowly, replacing one section at a time and looking at how the change impacted the user base. This enables users to slowly (but thoroughly) test the impact which the changes have on the service.
With their consistent updates, easy to use design and a user base which boasts more than 175 million, Dropbox is poised to remain competitive even with Google launching Google drive and Microsoft launching One Drive. Dropbox has shown that through releasing often, using dynamic languages and engaging their users as co-developers they can continue to grow as a company and as a service.
Django. (2015). Overview. Retrieved from django project:
Dropbox. (2015). Release Notes. Retrieved from Dropbox:
GoLang. (2015). Try Go. Retrieved from golang:
Hoff, T. (2011, March 14). 6 Lessons From Dropbox – One Million Files Saved Every 15 Minutes. Retrieved from High Scalability:
Lee, P. (2014, July 1). Open Sourcing Our Go Libraries. Retrieved from Dropbox Tech Blog:
Mitroff, S. (2014, Feburary 19). OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box: Which cloud storage service is right for you? Retrieved from Cnet:
p, C. (2013, July 10). Dropbox now boasting 175 million users, wants to synchronize your app data. Retrieved from Phone arena:
Suba, R. (2015, January 20). Dropbox market value estimate tops $10 bn after getting $250 mn funding from BlackRock. Retrieved from Tech Times: