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June 29

The evolution of our online app - Didacte turns 5!

Didacte has several thousand users, which is the result of continuous growth since its creation. This growth is due mainly to the constant evolution of the product and its positioning in the market.

Let's take a little trip down memory lane together! Let's go back to the beginning of the project and compare the application we know today to its original idea.

Where did the idea to create Didacte come from? What has changed since its first draft?

Léo and Louis-Michel share their opinion and their experience concerning the evolution of our online app!

Léo Renaud-Allaire is one of the founders of Didacte and the Product Manager. He is responsible for documenting and guiding changes and new features in the application to facilitate the development team’s work.

Louis-Michel Couture is the Lead Developer and Product Owner at Didacte. He is responsible for making decisions about the technologies used and supporting the rest of the team in designing and revising the code.



In what context did the idea of ​​developing a training platform come about?

(Léo) From what I remember, the idea was born while having a coffee with François Levasseur at the Nektar café on Saint-Joseph, in Quebec. François was then president of Kronos Technologies and was looking for an efficient way to offer training to Kronos customers on their software solutions.

The idea of ​​building a web application to meet this need quickly evolved into something a little more fleshed out, which could meet other online training scenarios.

We started working on a prototype in the summer of 2014, part-time. But it still took several months before arriving with an interesting MVP. The first transactions made on Didacte took place in March 2015, then it never really stopped!

What has changed the most between the current version of Didacte and its original version?

(Louis-Michel) I would tend to say the number of features and the visual appearance! More than 5 years is the equivalent of eternity for a web application. 

Over the years, Didacte has gone from being a simple training creation tool with only quiz, video and text type lessons to a complete and versatile LMS. I searched the Github archives to show you what it looked like a long time ago!

2014

Here is the oldest look I found from Didacte. We see the profile of a user:


Here is the course interface (with test content 🙈). We can wee our very first logo!


2015

Here is the first course selling interface:


Here is the course creation interface. There were no tabs at the time; everything was on the same page!


Here are the options that were available in the administration:


2016

Here are the options available in the admin a year later, and we see that they have already changed a lot!


It was really from the end of 2016 that Didacte began to look like what it is today, both in the strategic vision and in the interface!

If you could go back, what would you have done differently in terms of development?

(Louis-Michel) On an entrepreneurial level, we should’ve better chosen our personalized development. Over the years, we have agreed to develop certain features requested by specific customers, for which they paid part of the development cost.

These features were not aligned with our business objectives a few times, but we chose to develop them anyway. This situation gave us additional complexity in the application: a code legacy that is difficult and complex to maintain and, in the end, a monetary gain that was not worth it.

We learned a lesson: keep it authentic with our vision of the application, even if the monetary incentive may seem attractive.

In terms of development, more specifically, there are two things that we have learned over the years.

First, make updates as they become available.

It's much easier to do several minor updates separately than to wait a long time and do several at the same time. Postponing updates increases the risk of incompatibility between all new versions, the mental load required to review all the code and the risk of breaking the app.

Second, break up feature additions into smaller chunks and deploy them often.

When you develop a new feature for the app that affects several components, it can be tempting to say to yourself: "We're going to upload it once it's finished.” It's never that easy. 

Development time begins to stretch, and we quickly find ourselves with two versions of the application that must be kept in sync, adding extra effort.

What elements have most influenced the vision of the application and its evolution over time?

(Leo) We have always tried to use an approach where we take the best from the online training world and mix that with web products’ best practices.

A good part of the team already had a history of web application development; we were not in too much of a new territory.

Afterwards, the market has changed a lot in recent years. You don't have to go rewind so far to go back to the days when online training was something relatively marginal.

User expectations are not the same, and customers who approach us are generally much more informed than 5 years ago. The following steps are going to be exciting!

Didacte