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What customer asks for != what customer wants

... and a good example of that is Joel's recent complaints about not having a linker in VS.Net.

Actually what Joel is complaining about is that .Net apps are harder to install and he's worried about DLL version incompatabilities.  Joel's thinking, "I've always solved this problem by linking everything into a monolithic binary!  I don't care that it takes hours to download over a 56K modem.  Everyone has broadband anyways and they can't be bothered with a 20 meg download.  I don't care that my app eats megabytes of RAM.  I don't care that it's not easily bugfixed or security patched.  All I care about is that it's easy to install and that it works right out of the box, doshgarnit!"

Microsoft's over here trying to convince Joel ... "hey, just distribute the CLR on the same CD as your app, or download it from the web.  One click installation, no problem!" 

Response?  "A linker! why can't I have my LINKER?!?!"

Sorry, Joel, Microsoft can't satisfy everybody especially when they have a preconcieved solution to a problem ...

Alyosha`
Friday, February 20, 2004

How is the problem of drop dead simple
install being solved? That's the requirement,
not a preconceived solution.

son of parnas
Friday, February 20, 2004

You're missing the point.

Joel is arguing that a linker is a requirement.  But it's not.  It's a solution.

The requirement is drop-dead easy installation.

Now, granted that MSFT could make it a lot easier to bundle the CLR with an app ... but that's not a problem related to not having a linker ...

Alyosha`
Friday, February 20, 2004

I think Joel's chief "requirement" is a smaller download package, not a linker itself.  Unfortunately, the 25MB size of the Framework Redistributable will make it a PITA for users with 56K modems to download.

I think .Net is great, but it does have its tradeoffs.  If "easy distribution over 56K modems" is high on your list of priorities, then .Net probably isn't the best choice for now.  That will become less of a problem over time as the installed base of the CLR increase.

Robert Jacobson
Friday, February 20, 2004

I work for a co. that sells apps to non-developer end users. 

There's a TON of people out there running 56K modems and Pentium 300s.

Dan Brown
Friday, February 20, 2004

I didn't miss the point. Has there been another
suggestion other than a linker that fits
the requirements? If not then we can talk
about just the linker without loss of clarity.

son of parnas
Friday, February 20, 2004

SoP, your right, but so is Joel in his most recent post. THe microsoftie tried to persuade him why a linker is a bad idea rather than what they are doing to get the CLR out to everyone.

I believe the answer is/was to put the CLR out with XP and Office. I'd feel more comfortable writing apps on dotnet (esp VB.net) if MS would release an application that used it for something. I'm not asking for Word to be rewritten, but add some feature that requires the runtime and it will be everywhere sooner.

pdq
Friday, February 20, 2004

Oh, and you better be right when don't listen to the customer and give them something that really is better than what they've asked for.

Unjustified arrogance tends to be punished by the market eventually.

pdq
Friday, February 20, 2004

Quoth the Joel ... "What I need is probably five or six MB, at most".

So a 25 MB download may lengthen the process a bit, but not by an order of magnitude.  And they were going to need the runtime at some point anyways ...

So Joel doesn't like manifests.  Says he, they are "manifestly complicated".  Well, linkers are pretty complicated (UNRESOLVED SYMBOL!?  WHAT UNRESOLVED SYMBOL?!  OH, AND THIS IS A DLL IMPORT LIB?  YOU MEAN I'M NOT ACTUALLY LINKING ANYTHING?) but given that I've worked with them for a decade I've lost most of my fear of them.  So I say, buck up and learn something for a change.

Please sir, can I have an easy-to-use configurable downloader/updater of the .Net components I use?

Alyosha`
Friday, February 20, 2004

Once again, I'm drooling over Delphi (and RealBasic) 's ability to create a stanadlone EXE.  Easy to install. No versioning issues (in most cases). Small download size. (Fairly small in RB's case , at 1.5 MB+, tiny in Delhi's case:  40K and up)

The real Entrepreneur
Friday, February 20, 2004

Microsoft's answer to the dll hell problem is .net.  Bill G talked about how he wanted "zero impact installs" so that people could try software and undo the install if they didn't like it, without  impacting the o/s.

But it's like saying "oh, you want a 2'x2'x2' hole in your backyard, to plant a small tree?". I can do that in 30 seconds. But, you'll have to install BackHoe 2.0 in your backyard first.  Everybody's going to have a Backhoe in thier backyard soon, so just go ahead and install one now.

I read a great thread on some backup software (the Partition Magic folks' new backup prog).  Someone was screaming about the software and then realized that it was DOT NET that was the problem. He installed it and it screwed up his computer (or so he thinks, anway). Bottom line is that b/c the prog was developed in .net he may never use that program. AND he's giving it a bad rap on the net.

Users don't care about the technology...unless it screws up thier computer.

The real Entrepreneur
Friday, February 20, 2004

"He installed it and it screwed up his computer (or so he thinks, anway). Bottom line is that b/c the prog was developed in .net he may never use that program. AND he's giving it a bad rap on the net."

Well, that doesn't really mean much. There are 4 bazillion post a day that blame all kinds of software, patches and operating systems for their woes. This is just one of a million.

Mark Hoffman
Friday, February 20, 2004

Besides, it's just the same crap that all the old DOS gurus kept throwing at Windows for the first 10 years of its existence. "GUIs are evil! Windows is bloated! Nobody needs multitasking! Why can't I have a simple DOS program that fits on a single floppy? Have you seen how big Hello World is in Windows? OMFG!"

This is just another big technology transition, and such things take time -- they always have. You may not want to jump on the train right now depending on your customer base, but you can't expect the train to wait for you. Does anyone still mourn over lost customers who wouldn't upgrade to Windows back in the 90s?

Chris Nahr
Saturday, February 21, 2004

look, you do not need to publicise your download executable size only after they used their credit card.


Saturday, February 21, 2004

Not if 50% of your sales come from trials that converted to sales.

Also, some people will still still balk, even after they have paid. 

I had a customer who's son *thought* our CD had a virus on it.  They refused to use it.  (I double checked and there was no virus on it).

My point is that you have to make things as EASY for the customer as possible. That's what customers (including me!) want and need. That's what they'll pay for.

The real Entrepreneur
Saturday, February 21, 2004

What a customer wants
What a customer needs
Whatever makes me happy and sets you free
And I'm thanking you for knowin' exactly
What a customer wants
What a customer needs
Whatever keeps me in your arms
And I'm thanking you for giving it to me

What I want
is whatcha got
And whatcha got
is what I want

Christina
Saturday, February 21, 2004

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