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Features, CD 3, and Discombobulating . . .

FogCreek is in a very precarious position. I think that they need to realize, just like any solution provider, that customers don't know what they want. Not until they see it, and use it. And then they think, "Yeah, this is it. I would have never been about to put this into words."

Instead, FC, has been pressured by "Developers" to make a lot of decisions that aren't best for the product.

I believe that, sooner or later, they will be forced to go the way of the "big iron" content providers. Imagine demanding to be able to name your own html files with Vignette or even a blogging tool.

The users would be laughed to scorn.

Yet they did this with FogCreek, and boom, FC provided the feature.

I say: you handle the organization, and prevent the developers from getting too much control. The system publishes how and where it wants. You get to determine the directory, and that's it.

There are a lot of other decision, such as the losing battle to provide a "crippleware" solution. No more 500-file limit. That was a good one to listen to, but it took too much complaining before it happened. Some customers were already gone.

And now I read how much time and effort Joel spends making sure your can import 2 gig video files into CD, when there are hundreds of little missing features that need immediate attention.

Joel said that the version 2.0 of CD is when he wanted to make noise about the product.

I guess he is thinking of 3.0 now. Unfortunately, FC must now decide if it's worth it to spend 100% more resources to add 10% more features--and that's what it looks like from here on out.

The v.1 system takes one programmer three months.

The v.2 system takes three programmers six months.

The v.3 system could take x programmers a year.

But the users notice the same increase in functionality every time.

Until you have Windows, Photoshop, etc, that take from 200-2000 programmers 1-3 years per release. And yet what can version 7.0 of PS that v. 6 couldn't? Mainly they need to test that, in implementing new functionality, they didn't break the old stuff.

Or XP: now it's harder to pirate and you can put monitors on top of each other instead of next to each other. No real new benefits, despite all those developers working.

I think it's somehow tragic. Such a brilliant mind as Joel's obviously is doesn't have all the answers for his system. The more complex things get, the less that can be expected of only one person. I wish we could hear more about what is going on inside FogCreek, but I wish that FC wouldn't listen quite so much to their users (like me!).

It's nice to get hints of signs of life, but it would be good to know the ETA.

The devotion lavished on this project by its "converts" is amazing. And they will stay forever. But there could be so much synergy going on that seems to just . . . not happen.

Like. . . publishing feature lists and bug lists. Getting as much feedback as possible during the design process. Releasing public betas. Getting people excited. Declaring vaporware.

Even if FC revealed all their plans and secret formulas, it's just as unlikely the MS or anybody would take even the smallest notice--and they could clone/reverse engineer the whole thing anyway if they wanted in what, a month?

A project for 50 developers for a month.

I hate to say this, but we are your customers, FC. And this is usually our only interface. And, like the engaged who doesn't hear from her fiance for six months, at some point, the relationship is over.

Ryan O.
Sunday, December 21, 2003

Amen

Jorgen Brenting
Sunday, December 21, 2003

Ryan's article is probably represents less than a 10th of the nervewracking decisions Fog has been making and they will have to live with the results, including delivering in 2003.

What's fun is that the Fog folks has told us a lot about their strategy for building software (e.g. "We're not going to tell you; easy to switch to; hard to switch from;") and given us two places to discuss it in public.

I personally fear that V3 will go over my head, that, I won't be enough of a developer to take advantage of it. But, I suspect that won't be the case and I'll like it.

tk
Sunday, December 21, 2003

I don't know why you think having control over your URLs is a ridiculous feature.

I find it ridiculous that CMSes like Vignette *don't* give you that control. I hate massive, meaningless URLs that can't be read out to someone over the phone or handwritten on a scrap of paper.

The intranet document management system my company uses has URLs that regularly wrap over 3 or 4 lines when emailed! Some email systems have hard line limits, so you then have to piece them back together using copy and paste before you can visit the page.

URLs have some significance for search engines, so if you want to really optimise your pages for search rankings, that's one piece of the puzzle you've given up.

Darren Collins
Sunday, December 21, 2003

Darren is right about the naming of files. The "fog00000...etc" was a pain in the ***. But apart from that I think Ryan have a point or two. Why on Earth haven't Fog Creek been more open? I simply just don't get it. Joel coming out once every three or four month answering (or not answering) three or four random questions before he disappears for another Quarter. Personally I don't care if CD 3 is out this year or sometime next year – really. But some form of openness would be very welcome indeed.

Jorgen Brenting
Sunday, December 21, 2003

This is some the related Fog philosophy. Y'all have probably read it already and don't necessarily like it all. I'm as impatient and second-guessing as anyone but I think Fog has explained their methods as well or better than anyone.

This is why "mums" the word:
Should you hold off until you've got something ready to go
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/MouthWideShut.html

This give me confidence they track bugs:
Without an organized database listing all known bugs in the code, you are simply going to ship low quality code
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000029.html

This tells me they won't fix everything:
Fixing bugs is only important when the value of having the bug fixed exceeds the cost of the fixing it
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000014.html

This is why they doesn't cruise the corner every day:
Human Task Switches Considered Harmful
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000022.html

This causes them to lose sleep and make serious scope decisions:
How do you pick a ship date?
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/PickingShipDate.html

It's going to take a long time:
Good Software Takes Ten Years. Get Used To It.
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000017.html

tk
Sunday, December 21, 2003

Yes tk, you are a true believer. And it all looks nice on print.

Jorgen Brenting
Monday, December 22, 2003

What I believe is that Fog is sleeping in the bed they made for themselves, will live with the consequences, and won't please everyone in the process.

tk
Monday, December 22, 2003

First off: I do not work for Fog Creek, I don't follow Joel's every word as if it were gospel and I don't think CD2 is the end-all in content management systems.

But I do find it funny that somebody would extrapolate a dangerous position for somebody else from a personal feeling of abandonement.

Unless you're currently pointing a loaded gun at Joel's head, I just don't see how your unease puts Fog Creek into a bad position.

The Cardinal Rule for every software purchase is this: Never buy a product for what it might once be able to do. Always base your purchase decision on whether you can live with its current features and limitations. Never try to force a solution to your immediate concerns into a product cycle by presenting it as a "make or break feature". I, for once, can live with CD2's present limitations for another year or two. (Yes, even with the Unicode crap.)

Just because your preferred features haven't necessarily made it into the product within the last weeks doesn't put Fog Creek in any kind of a disadvantage.

If you can't live with the software's current limitations, you should possibly look at other options and migration paths.

geraldH
Monday, December 22, 2003

A possible solution?:

http://www.clickz.com/em_mkt/enl_strat/article.php/1586851

?

R. C.
Monday, December 22, 2003

Why is all this CityDesk 3 Blues so reminiscent of Velvet Underground's 'Waiting for my man' ?

Here he comes, he's all dressed in black
PR shoes and a big straw hat
He's never early, he's always late
First thing you have to learn is you always gotta wait
I'm waiting for my man






Ruud van Soest
Monday, December 22, 2003

Oh pardon me sir, I'm just amused about the way we, including myself, simply can't wait till we get v3, checking for updates all the time, at times getting sour at FC, and knowing how good we will feel when "the Man" arrives with CD3. It's just a metaphor, no offense meant (I'm from Amsterdam, we are just not as sensitive about these things). Meanwhile, less than 9 days to go...

Ruud van Soest
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

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