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Where in the world is FogBugz 4? (Mouth Wide Open)

I 100% disagree with your policy on not setting release dates. The entire point of engineering is to innovate, to make better - we've had 3.0 for a long time now and while it more or less works, it falls short in a NUMBER of areas. This would be acceptable if I saw an effort on your part to innovate in response to the needs of your users.  I don't. Last time I talked to you, your biggest concern was porting FogbUGZ to Unix (seeing as how this is web-based... WHO CARES?) Did that even happen? It was a year ago..

As far as your blog - let me address each of your points on your blog http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/MouthWideShut.html:

Competition:
------------------------------
If you don't publish your features, sure - you're competition won't know what's on the horizon. BUT NEITHER WILL YOUR CUSTOMERS! Or your potential customers. This makes no sense. What if there's a feature I really need, that you're about to release in a month? If you don't tell me that you're going to do that, two things could happen:

Your existing companies will leave - how long are we supposed to go without an upgrade?

New, potential customers won't buy - how many times do you eval a software that has 8/10 of what you need? What do you do? You try to see if they're going to implemente the 2/10 in the near future.

Underpromise and overdeliver
--------------------------------
Yea, but the problem here is, you're not promising ANYTHING. And a big part of delivery is expectations. In fact, 40%-50% of successfuly softare development is playing the expectations game with your customers - as well all have become painfully aware. It's ridiculous not to set expectations for fear of not meeting them. If you want to underpromse and overdeliver, publish a constrained feature set and a release date that has slack - but underpromising doesn't mean not promising anything at all!

Flexibility
------------------------
Saying that you don't want to annouce a release date because you need the flexibility to miss dates or features is like saying that you don't want to tell your boss when his report will be done because you want the flexibility to be late.

What you DO do, is you tell your boss you'll have it to him 4 days after you think you will. THAT gives you flexibility. You don't tell him that it's bee a surprise!

Simplicity
---------------------------
Um.... aren't we software developers? I think the policy of, Only Promise What's On The Roadmap is pretty simple, too... don't you think? I mean, we can architect relational databases in third normal form, write complex object oriented applications, and manage defects and bug requests - but employees can't read from the Roadmap memo? I dunno about that.

Anyhow, seeing as how you partly upsell your contract on the promise for a "free upgrade" when 4.0 comes out, I think some idea as to when 4.0 is coming out and what's going to be in it is in order. You have not whispered a word in almost a year, and frankly, I get the feeling Joel is on a beach somewhere sipping a Pina Colada.

Let me put it this way. Do what other companies do, man... release a tentative release date, with a tentative feature list - set the expectation that it may change. At least then we, your user base, feel as though we're with a growing product, and that our needs are being heard in a constant attempt to stay on pace.

Cuz otherwise, I'm about 2 days from going to OnTime (they have releases a bit more often than NEVER).

By the way - this really is a very good piece of software - just so you know.

Andrew Ryan
Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Andrew,

Thanks for your constructive comments.  I understand your frustration with our policy of not announcing release dates or future features. 

I assure you every request on this board goes straight into FogBugz, and with the next version of FogBugz that actually happens in one click (see discuss.joelonsoftware.com the new discussion forums being powered by the next version of FogBugz).  Neither Joel, nor the rest of the Fog Creek Crew is sitting on a beach sipping pina coladas, not at least until you have all the latest awesome stuff that 4.0 has to offer.  Right now, we're hard at work fine tuning all those features that we've added to the next version and getting the next release ready.  Once they are all ready for shipping, we'll be sure to shout out with our mouth's wide open about all the awesome features in the next version.

If you are unsure of whether to purchase a support contract for upgrade purposes, then I encourage you to wait until the opportunity for upgrading comes, and at that time you can purchase (which will backdate until when your contract elapsed).  (Also, the unix port did happen and has been for sale for quite some time now... almost a year.)

Thanks for the compliments on the software and we're glad you are using it.  We appreciate having you as one of our customers and will evaluate our policy in light of your comments.

Michael H. Pryor
Fog Creek Software
Wednesday, September 08, 2004

I find it particularly funny that Andrew doesn't ask for any features in particular, just a general rant on wanting a new version. Why throw a fit if the current version "really is a very good piece of software"?

The company I work for adheres to the same policy of MouthWideShut. This is probably true of most companies who have actually been burned by even one of the conditions described in the article.

HeyCoolAid!
Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Those new discussion forums look great!

Jon Newton
Thursday, September 09, 2004

Andrew said: "You have not whispered a word in almost a year, and frankly, I get the feeling Joel is on a beach somewhere sipping a Pina Colada."


I say: Well, if Joel is on a beach somewhere sipping a Pina Colada, then he must be doing something right!!!

Mark S
Thursday, September 09, 2004

To answer each of your points:

1) Implicit in my "rant" is a call for:
  a) At least a tentative list of the new features for the software, so I can understand where FogBUGZ is heading
  b) At least a tentative delivery deadline

2) Just because it's a really good piece of software DOESN'T mean it can't be made better, and doesn't mean there are issues that don't need to be addresses

3) If Joel's on a beach sipping Pina Colada, more power to HIM (he's definitely doing something right for himself), but it doesn't help me so much.

If everyone on the forum is content to be in the dark about new features and at least SOME broad idea (like, 2004 Q4, 2005 Q1) of when it might come out, then that's fine - but I need this information to plan out what we're going to be doing.

Andrew Ryan
Friday, September 10, 2004

I tend to still mostly agree with Joel on this one, and since I'm working on a product that I hope to have a long life and a number of major revs, I'd like to do what's best down the road.

In my 15+ years in this industry, I've seen how releasing information to the customer indeed does become a "promise", and just as Joel points out, people do let their expectations get out of hand sometimes. You talk about trying to convey to the customers that things are fluid, that they should understand that the date is only an estimate and that the feature list may change... That stuff doesn't float in the real world. You may be logical and understand that, but most people on the buying side of software don't see it that way.

It's also leads to hounding of the the company for the release, which has turned into hounding of the project managers, engineers, and QA within the company and I know that all of that pressure hasn't helped innovation and quality in the least.

You said, "while it more or less works, it falls short in a NUMBER of areas." You didn't say why you feel this way. Was FogBUGZ not a good match for your needs from the get go? Are you now hoping that the next release will meet your needs, otherwise you'll have regretted your decision?

I eval'd the software for 45 days and felt that it would meet our needs very well. Sure we had a few things we wish were different, but nothing major. Overall, it's worked out great and has solved our problems. I expect it will for some time to come. A new version doesn't much matter to me, since 3.0 solves our problem, so I'm not compelled to worry about it. Are most customers buying products that lack a NUMBER of important features and then anxiously awaiting the next version? Or did they buy a product and then quickly outgrow it? I tend to think that's not the case.

People who buy software that meets 80% of their needs and hopes that the company will deliver on the other 20% in the next version are asking for trouble.

> "The entire point of engineering is to innovate, to make better"

Innovation is important, but not the only goal of engineering. Other goals include quality, profit, meeting customers expectations in usable ways, ... It's well known that adding "pressure" usually results in less innovation, quality, usability... The primary "pressure" in developers lives comes from the schedule. Usually this results in management feeling that they have to "promise" to customers a certain feature set within a certain time. Usually, sales puts a lot of pressure on managementn to get it out sooner, because they're goal is to grab the cash ASAP. So the dates tend to be aggressive, dont' allow any margin for error, and... well... Go read Peopleware and Deathmarch for the details.

When 4.0 is released, we'll find out if they've innovated and if they've listened to customers.

> Cuz otherwise, I'm about 2 days from going to OnTime
> (they have releases a bit more often than NEVER).

Let us know how it goes.

Mark S
Sunday, September 12, 2004

Andrew - do you own and use a copy of fogbugz right now?

If yes, then why did you buy it when it had some many problems?

I would never buy software assuming that the next version will take care of all my big issues... thats just betting on the future.  I'd buy something else instead.

Jon Newton
Monday, September 13, 2004

FogBugz is <strike>great for the price</strike> just plain great. There is nothing it doesn't currently do that is a showstopper for me or I wouldn't have bought it to begin with. Could it use a few time-savers here and there? Sure. But since we're coders, we can add the ones we've just *got to have* on our own. I did just that here and it tool me about 2 hours:
http://www.xml-blog.com/archives/000278.html

The nice thing about asp is you can just open up notepad and integrate new features.

Christian Romney
Thursday, September 16, 2004

Like allways, both sides have a point.
But I agree with Andrew that paying for a supportcontract, where one of the major features is to get all the patches and upgrades, and then getting nothing except a reminder to renew the contract after a year, is making me not feel good.
Stating that you plan to release at least one new release in one year, isn't promising to much.
Also when the contents of the new release is fixed and final testing starts, making it public, doesn't harm FogBugz.
We are seriousely thinking of abandonning FogBugz.
Not because it's a bad product, but because we need to know if it will meet our needs in the future as well.
With the current policy, we don't know what and we don't know when. And looking back on the past year, there was NOTHING !!!!
That's not acceptable.

Adrie Bouwmeester
Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Ordinarily, I would agree with the last comment. Ordinarily. But in this instance, I'd direct you to the entire philosophy behind FogBugz. Simplicity. Does Fogbugz have every whiz-bang feature that, say, Mercury Interactive's tool does? NO! And thank God for that! the idea behind painless bug tracking is that there aren't 80 tabs wirth of *shit* to fill in. When you have so much clutter, so many features, etc it raises the acceptance barrier of the tool. Oh sure, you could mandate personnel to fill in every single field, but when you have to force people to use a tool it's a sign that there has to be a better way. FogBugz does everything a bug tracking software should do to be viable for real-world teams. It's web based, it has notifications, it's ridiculously simple to install and use and it stores your data reliably using just about any DB you can think of. As a bonus, it can be integrated with CVS or VSS and is easily extensible. Also, to say there has been nothing in a year is not true. Version 3.1.9 which contained fixes came out. So, an upgrade with more features, no. Have they maintained Fogbugz? Absolutely. I've even emailed the folks at FogCreek when I wanted to move FB to a new machine and they responded right away. That's what I pay support for - responsiveness and bug fixes. The new versions are icing on the cake. The point is this - if you bought FogBugz looking for the most full-featured web-based bug tracking system on the planet you missed the point of its elegant simplicity altogether.

Christian Romney
Wednesday, September 29, 2004

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