Interview: The Development of Automate Schedule

Buckle up, folks, for a lively tale about the inception of the inimitable application- and platform-agnostic job scheduling tool, Automate Schedule. Jared Dahl was part of the team that developed Automate Schedule, and in this interview he reflects on how the idea for the product was born and the value he believes it brings to customers.

When Did the Idea For a Cross-Platform Enterprise Job Scheduler Come About?

The idea for Automate Schedule dates back to 2004. We were doing early version control and looking out into the space to see if there was a market for a platform-agnostic job scheduling tool.  We had a product called Robot CLIENT that would execute tasks on a Windows PC and it supported some UNIX variants. 

As PCs became more and more powerful, the concept of enterprise job scheduling began to move away from the mainframe and IBM i. Organizations began to realize that they could run their schedules from cheaper hardware, essentially. You see a lot of that now, actually: you use expensive hardware to run the business, but you don’t want to put other software on that hardware that requires expensive processor cycles and disc space. IT teams want to offload that software onto cheaper platforms. So in 2009 we went full steam ahead, dedicating much of our development team to Automate Schedule for a year. We also brought on some contractors in 2010 who provided incredible web expertise.

Ultimately, this was really the time to develop this product because it was the rise of PC hardware being seen as acceptable as a platform for corporate stuff. People began to understand that the platform was sturdy enough to handle an enterprise workload. 

What's Your Favorite Feature of Automate Schedule?

My favorite feature of Automate Schedule is the user interface because that’s what I worked on. To any user of the software, the user interface is the product. It’s their first look, taste, and touch of the product and it represents the product in their mind. It’s not abstracted: users can point, click, and see the immediate results of automating their workflows from an easy-to-use interface.

You can learn more about Jared’s best reasons for a web browser user interface and why that’s the preferred method for developing software products.

What Do You Think Is the Most Critical Feature of Automate Schedule?

The differentiating feature of Automate Scheduleis our scheduler. Our limitless scheduling options let you schedule any sequence of jobs that you can imagine.  We’re always adding new features to help you build the most flexible job scheduler possible. We want you to be able to build a job scheduler where things run on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday—but not Thursday. If our scheduling options can’t meet your specific needs, we offer what I call the “features of last resort”—things like date lists.  If you can’t model it using anything else, the date list will let you select when and how a job runs. 

What Do You Hope Customers Get Out of Automate Schedule?

Ultimately, you want people to use the stuff you build. I imagine it’s the same satisfaction engineers get out of building a bridge. You’re getting people to work,; you’re helping goods be delivered on time. With an enterprise scheduling tool, people are spending less time messing around with their infrastructure and more time just getting their work done. That’s really gratifying to me. That’s when we feel like we’ve succeeded: when people are more efficient at what their true tasks and goals are—when they no longer have to worry about extra tasks that can be easily automated. In this way, Automate Schedule is the infrastructure piece, just like the bridge. It provides businesses with the central structure that they can rely on the help things move back and forth across the enterprise seamlessly. 


Thank you, Jared, for your perspective on the rise of Automate Schedule. For more from Jared, check out the video series “No-Stress Job Scheduling”:

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