At Runway, we’re still hard at work for at least a couple more days — as you likely are too or else you probably wouldn’t be reading a post on a tech blog — which means we can’t quite do a full review of the entire year. Something really, really cool could happen on December 29th and it’d be lost to the ages.
But 2023 is just close enough to being over for us to take a trip down memory lane (or memory taxiway?) to look back at the features we shipped and some of the things we did as a team in 2023.
Thank you so much for being a Runway user, potential user, booster, or friend. In the spirit of the season, we even thank you if you consider us your enemy. Whatever brings you to this post, we hope your own 2023 has also been a good one!
What did we ship this year?
Some big features, a lot of enhancements, and numerous new automations & integrations. Here are the big highlights:
Runway for free
We kicked off the year with the announcement of our free forever plan. The goal: better mobile release management for all. With our free plan, teams get access to all of the Runway fundamentals that make shipping apps less of an event — from a robust set of core automations and integrations, to the entirety of the comprehensive Runway dashboard.
Next up we shipped this free, standalone tool that auto generates complete, end-to-end build-and-deploy workflows for Android and iOS. If you don’t yet have a CI/CD pipeline for your app — or want to replace an existing flaky one — run the Quickstart CI/CD wizard to get up and running in minutes. Under the hood, Runway assembles all the necessary steps, configs, and secrets (and stores those securely!), then generates CI-native config files to merge straight into your repo or take with you wherever you like.
We also launched our own pre-release build distribution platform, Build Distro, which lets any mobile team untangle their rats' nest of builds and get different build flavors into the right hands, without all the confusion. Share one-offs & early test builds more easily, install app builds with less hassle (and more context), and make it impossible to ship the wrong build to prod.
And in November we shipped Rollbacks, which allows you to instantly roll back to a previous stable version of your app if a critical issue is discovered in prod. In the background, for each and every release cycle, Runway automatically re-signs the previous stable, live build and preps it for release — including submission for review as soon as possible (iOS only) — to get all possible sources of delay out of the way. Then, if something goes terribly wrong in production with the release you were just working on, you have the rollback build ready and waiting for a single-click release.
A long list of new automations and other improvements
We also released a steady stream of new automations and other enhancements throughout the year. Some highlights:
iOS device and provisioning profile management
Let Runway keep your team’s devices updated in the Apple Developer portal as folks come and go, and automatically generate and re-generate relevant provisioning profiles along the way.
Cherry-pick into your release branches
Streamline the process of getting fixes into a release, by automatically cherry-picking specific work that your team flags from the working branch into the appropriate release branch (or branches).
Upload to TestFlight & Play Console
Select which CI workflows to upload from, point Runway to any specific artifact files to upload (tokenized patterns accepted), and choose particular destinations to upload to. Runway will automatically perform the uploads on each workflow run, retrying failed uploads if needed and optionally notifying your team about the outcome of every upload.
Submit and release on green
Runway will automatically submit or release just as soon as all preceding steps are in a good (green) state. Or, if you couple this new option with target dates, Runway can submit/release automatically at the scheduled time or, if not all steps are ready, any time afterwards once all steps are green.
Choose the corresponding option in settings for the back merge automation and Runway will perform immediate backmerges as each item of late-arriving work lands on your active release branch.
Better controls for feature flags
Clicking into a specific feature flag opens up a new drawer with further details, surfacing properties like target delivery rules and audiences. From here, you can also toggle the feature flag on and off to quickly update its status without leaving Runway.
Customizable release pilot rotations
We know folks are relying on Runway’s release pilot rotation to share release responsibilities across their team, so we’ve made it easier to manage and understand exactly who’s on duty, and when. In addition to adding and removing team members from the list of pilot-eligible users, you can now order and reorder the list to configure the exact rotation you want to run.
Automatic cherry-picks during release creation for quick hotfixes
In addition to existing options to automatically cut a branch from your last release tag and immediately bump version on that branch, you can now also select all the necessary fixes from your development branch, and Runway will cherry-pick them over into the hotfix — all in a single step.
Auto-generated release summaries
Runway will generate release summaries and optionally send them out via email after each release, automatically keeping the wider org and external stakeholders in the loop. You can customize these summaries to suit your team’s needs, with a range of dynamic tokens that Runway will populate based on actual data from the release.
Customizable rollouts / blackout days
Depending when you first kick off a phased rollout, it could be that a big step-change in user adoption will happen on a day – or at a time – when your team might not be quite as ready to quickly address any issues that arise. Now, you can avoid this by configuring blackout days and times during which Runway will temporarily pause your rollouts.
More options for tailoring your team’s release workflows
We added more ways to further customize release steps. First, for non-blocking steps, you can hide those steps completely from release timelines if they’re not at all relevant for your team. And, you can choose the non-blocking steps that apply to each release type, allowing you to adjust your team’s workflow for normal releases vs hotfixes.
Customizable, templated string definitions
Customize the strings for all artifacts that are generated by Runway’s automations.
We also shipped nine new integrations:
- Amazon Appstore (Distribution)
- Firebase App Distribution (Distribution)
- monday.com (Issue Tracking)
- tvOS (Platform)
- Google Analytics (Observability & Analytics)
- Azure Repos (VCS)
- Embrace (Stability Monitoring)
- Microsoft Teams (Communication)
- LaunchDarkly (Feature Flags)
See them all on our Integrations page.
This year wasn’t just about features, it was also about people. Without people our features would go unused and also unbuilt.
2023 was the first post-pandemic year that saw many conferences get back into the swing of things. Over the last year we joined the mobile community from all over the world at:
- AppDevCon (Amsterdam)
- Deep Dish Swift (Chicago)
- Chain React (Portland, Oregon)
- droidcon SF
- droidcon Berlin
- SwiftTO (Toronto)
- droidcon NYC
- NSSpain (Logroño)
- droidcon London
- Swiftable (Buenos Aires)
We met with just over a thousand people and gave out just as many t-shirts, almost 500 of our signature, miniature lego airplanes, and countless stickers, pilot wing pins, and Biscoff cookies. These conferences were a great experience for us, and we’re really looking forward to joining more in 2024.
We also hosted four happy hours for mobile folks in different cities, began sponsoring San Francisco’s biggest Swift meetup (more such meetup sponsorships to come!), and held a week-long employee offsite in beautiful Mexico City.
2023 was a great year for Runway. We hope it was also a good one for you and your team. Looking forward to an even greater year in 2024. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!