In the past months we’ve been working extremely hard to develop our Blockport 1.0 Beta. Now it is time to open up and tell you more about our first product release starting 29th of March.
In this update we would like to explain exactly which features are included in the Beta (and which are not). Secondly, we share our Beta scaling approach with you: Controlled Beta user on-boarding balanced with our goals of: (i) monitoring and maintaining stability; (ii) continuously validating and improving our product and; (iii) managing support processing times.
Finally, we would like to share why we decided to build our new platform on a microservices architecture.
From private beta to public Beta
On the 29th of March 2018 we will start with our Beta. This will initially be a private Beta, which means that we will start off with a limited amount of users for testing purposes. The private Beta period could run anywhere between 2 weeks and 2 months. As long as we believe is needed to ensure a stable, and above all, secure product.
Following the private Beta we will kick-off with our public Beta period. Controlled (but fast) scaling of users based on the order of our waiting-list. The application form for signing up for our Blockport 1.0 Beta also opens on the 29th of March and can be found on our brand new website that will be online next week.
During the Beta period our customer and technical support will be on high alert. All support related questions and issues can be submitted via a support ticket on our new website. If you have any questions regarding our support, please ask our support staff in the new Blockport Support Telegram channel.
What is included in our private Beta?
As we are a European startup that operates from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, we will start with offering our users a Fiat Gateway with Euro trading pairs. This will enable all EEA (European Economic Area) countries to use the Blockport Beta. The EEA constitutes a total of 39 countries from the EU, also including Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
The Blockport 1.0 Beta allows you to deposit Euros with SEPA (EEA), iDEAL (the Netherlands) and SOFORT (Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, Spain & France). We would love to offer our product to crypto traders everywhere, meaning that we are continuously looking to expand our deposit options with other currencies and methods as we speak.
Instant deposits with Bunq
Additionally, we can confirm that, since we work with the mobile first Dutch bank Bunq, everyone that resides in an EEA country can create a free Bunq bank account on their iOS and Android phone. This enables you to do near-instant deposits with iDEAL to us!
The Beta will only support market orders, which means that you buy or sell cryptocurrency based on market prices. We will introduce stop/limit orders in future releases.
Mobile & Desktop
After the launch of our Alpha stage prototype we collected an enormous amount of feedback from our community and decided to go mobile first. Although, our focus is now mobile first, we will still develop a desktop version of the Beta and subsequent versions that will soon follow. Additionally, we used your feedback to completely redesign the trading platform’s dashboard.
The start of our Beta implies that we need to scale up our support. We need to be able to answer all your questions as quickly as possible and as well as we can. Therefore, we are building a dedicated support team that will start during the Beta to handle all issues or questions. In parallel, we will use your questions and feedback as input to build up an extensive open knowledge-base for our community.
Moreover, we decided that in Q2 2018, the knowledge-base will grow into our community platform which will be connected with the social trading features. We see this as a natural progression and have therefore decided to push the release of our community platform further forward on our roadmap. Expect to see the introduction of exciting new social trading features combined with our community platform in the next months!
Usability and design vision
One of our key focus points is to develop a great user experience (UX). Our new lead UI/UX designer Jasper Jansz is mainly responsible for delivering the Blockport UX. We are strong proponents of simple and clean design and therefore pride ourselves on a design approach that is unobtrusive in its usability and functional in its form.
Simple. Less is more.
Unobtrusive. Blockport should feel as an extension of yourself; never block your intuition.
Functional. Design is not only about what it looks like, but how it works.
In line with this vision, we have applied a modular/masonry design approach. See the screenshot below. The benefits of this approach are that additional layers or ‘modules’ can easily be added later, whilst different facets and components can easily be moved around or adjusted. Above all, this approach enables us to consistently apply the same design style to every page, adding a distinct element of uniformity to our platform.
Building a microservices infrastructure
We strive to be one of the most user friendly crypto exchanges, and being reliable plays a big role in achieving that goal. To ensure we can stay user friendly while adding features, improve on existing ones, and upgrade our system while staying reliable, we decided to implement microservices from the get go.
What and why
Microservices are essentially a company-wide strategy revolving around the development process. Usually when you build a system as a monolith, you choose to implement a certain set of features in a certain language or so-called framework and start building. Then, when your user base grows and your team does too, you will add features and improvements at a higher pace. From here on out, features you implement are ‘added weight’ and new people in your team are part of the force pulling that weight.
Releasing features can become more complex in a monolithic architecture due to more ‘tight coupling’ in a monolithic system. Scaling the infrastructure can eventually become an outright pain. Microservices solves this by splitting up your system into multiple simple services. Every service gets its own complete lifecycle, allowing our team to choose the best tool for the job every single time.
The ability to scale, deploy, improve, fix and replace components independently makes microservices a good fit for Blockport. We want to scale our system to extend beyond the vision we started with and offer more and better features at a high pace, while improving our system in a more seamless and secure way than what is sometimes the standard in crypto world.
What this means for our users
Microservices allow us to scale intelligently and fast. In the future, we can improve and tune our system and infrastructure with more freedom than a monolithic architecture would ever allow.
However, microservices come at a price.
The operational overhead of having several codebases in different programming languages and frameworks, and the necessity to have all the skills to handle the infrastructure required by our services in our team (which by the way, with the help of Squads, is now over 20 developers!), has led us to decide that we need a tight grip on the way we run Blockport. We choose the long term over the short, the smart decision over the easy one, and reliability over quick delivery.
Beta and beyond
It will definitely be a very exciting (and busy) period for us in the next Quarter of 2018. Releasing the Blockport 1.0 Beta is an important milestone for our entire team! We will be updating you regularly on the Beta progress and are extremely interested in your feedback. Next week we would like to highlight more detailed information and kick-off the private Beta launch! If you have any questions or suggestions, please reach out to us via Telegram!