Every business, and YouTube channel for that matter, has its own set of obstacles and frustrations. For us, one of the biggest inhibitors of our progress is, unfortunately, having to deal with the monolithic companies that we also 100% rely on to exist.
TubeBuddy is considered a “3rd Party Application”. YouTube is the first party, you are the second party and we’re the third party. There are some amazing things about having a 3rd party app - for example, we get to tap into YouTube’s existing website, infrastructure and user base. It makes the process of getting a product up and running much easier.
The major downside of being a 3rd party app is your reliance on other companies - in our case, Google and YouTube. It’s sad to say that more than half our time these days is dealing with some sort of compliance or review or website change versus actually building great new tools and features in TubeBuddy for our community.
This letter is less of a complaint and more of an apology for not being able to pump out new features like we used to. Here are some of the things that we are constantly dealing with that eat up our time when we’re rather be building awesome new stuff:
Studio Beta / Site Changes
Since TubeBuddy is tightly integrated into YouTube’s website, any little change they make has potential to completely break the product. For example, let’s say they change what the ‘Upload’ button looks like in the header. If our main menu was referencing that old upload button, our menu might not show up at all now (and we get flooded with support complaints). And that’s just a small button. When YouTube introduced Creator Studio Beta, it meant essentially EVERY TubeBuddy tool would be broken/obsolete unless we updated them to work in the new pages. We actually had to hire 2 new developers dedicated solely to migrating TubeBuddy to Creator Studio because it was such a big task (which is 95% done more than a year later).
When you build a product for YouTube and integrate with their API (Application Programming Interface), you are given a daily “quota”. Which means how many times you can pull data from YouTube per day. With a product like TubeBuddy with millions of customers, this can quickly become a problem. If we use all of our quota in a given day, we are completely locked out from accessing it again until midnight Pacific time. This has happened a handful of times and it basically cripples the entire product. There is a process to request additional daily quota which we’ve gone through a couple times but it can take months to actually have it go through and it’s not a very transparent process. So we are constantly trying to find ways to reduce quota and in fact had to recently introduce some restrictions such as free users only being able to use Keyword Explorer 50 times per day.
YouTube is very protective of their data and rightfully so. Any product that accesses data through their API must follow specific rules and go through a ‘Compliance Audit’. There are certain tools and features we’ve had to completely remove from TubeBuddy (such as Animated GIF Creator) because we didn’t realize it violated the Terms of Service. This is an ongoing, never-ending time-suck but understand that security and safety is important to Google/YouTube and we do all we can to make sure we’re always in compliance.
Publishing updates to TubeBuddy on the Chrome store used to be instantaneous. If there was a bug, we could quickly publish a fix and everyone would get it. As of recently, the review process had started taking 1 week or more. So, if there is a major bug (because of a change in YouTube’s website for example), our entire product could be down for 7+ days. We are praying to the computer Gods that it doesn’t happen or that the Chrome Store review process gets streamlined. In our case, we do have hope of an increased review time based on some changes to TubeBuddy that we’re implementing soon.
When you publish a browser extension on Firefox, there is an insanely strict set of rules and protocols that you must follow. There have been many times when we felt like we might have to abandon Firefox but fought through the pain and made it out the other side. The good news is that these changes help ensure that the product is as secure as possible.
To sum it up, the trade off of being a 3rd party app is that we are constantly having to go through review processes and updates and spending the majority of our time maintaining and updating code rather than building new features. But please know that we spend every possible moment building new great stuff when we can.
Speaking of which… we hope you are loving the new SEO Studio which was recently launched and if you have a Legend level license, you’re going to LOVE an amazing new feature that should be available by the end of this month or early March.
Now… I better get going and deal with some compliance or review crap somewhere :)