Archive for August 2002

2002/08/05 05 Aug

Science fiction writer Bruce Sterling on open source: "'Don't like it? Hey, just reconfigure it yourself, don't bother me!' It's the Hippie Squat Model of software architecture. 'If I want to paint the doors and floors bright blue and put the toilet right into the kitchen, why not?' It's very offensive to user sensibilities and it is as ugly as a sack full of penguin guts."

We sent off our first batch of affiliate payment checks. Yes, people are making money linking to Joel on Software.

I hadn't even noticed it, but CityDesk got mentioned in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago.

2002/08/13 13 Aug

Daily Builds

I've been preaching the value of daily builds for a while now. Of course, they prevent any one developer from screwing up the rest of the team by checking in something which breaks the build, which makes them crucial for teams with more than about 1 person. Even on teams of 1, daily builds give you a way to track down weird bugs that seemed to have slipped in a while ago by binary searching through the historical builds. (What the heck?! It never did that before! Did it?) And more crucially, by giving you a canonical way to build "the final bits" from raw checkouts, you can be confident that you never forget some crucial step when you release a new version.

Last week Robert French emailed me to ask if there are any good tools for making daily builds on Windows. We've been using a product called FinalBuilder since last December, and in fact it is so good that in addition to daily builds we've pretty much started using it instead of scripts for routine system administration stuff for us (like moving files around for backup purposes, etc.) I highly recommend it.

Vincent Parrett over at Atozed Software has agreed to sell FinalBuilder exclusively to Joel on Software readers at $100 off (it's $199 instead of $299), but only until August 31st so hurry up and get some.

2002/08/15 15 Aug

Over the last couple of days I've been implementing a new & improved online trial for our bug tracking system, FogBUGZ.

Rather than post CityDesk news here, where it will surely bore those few remaining non-CityDesk-users to tears, I'm starting a new CityDesk News site.

2002/08/19 19 Aug

CNet catches up: "Microsoft's public handling of .Net could stand as a case study in what not to do in a high-profile marketing campaign." I wrote about this two years ago in an oft-misinterpreted article. My beef was that .NET was just marketing gone crazy, it wasn't a criticism of any particular piece of technology that got the .NET moniker stuck on it. And I also claimed that .NET was not revolutionary, but rather a new name for things that were under development anyway, although in retrospect I'm pretty impressed by just what a big step forward the languages and development tools took.

Jakob Nielsen, nattering nabob of negativity, writes: "Tiny text tyrannizes users..." (hear, hear!)

CityDesk News: "What Jakob is really complaining about is that Windows versions of IE do not give the user the ability to change the font size when the designer has specified an exact pixel size using CSS."

CityDesk Demo

Christian made an awesome CityDesk demo for us using Flash in exchange for an Aeron chair. Tell me what you think.

2002/08/25 25 Aug

The Mozilla folks are doing their post-mortems.

Peter Trudelle: "At the time Netscape created mozilla.org and open sourced its codebase (3/31/98), we were not aware of any models on how to do large-scale UI design and development in open source.  Netscape itself had a history of strong, innovative UI design, but had been steadily cutting back, with some budget decisions being made by managers who privately considered UI design little more than eye candy sprinkled on at the end of a release."

Matthew Thomas responds: "Why my behavior tends to suck."

It's very frustrating doing any kind of design work, architectural or UI, with a dispersed group of volunteers. Things which Matthew could have persuaded someone in person at a whiteboard in five minutes took hours of typing into Bugzilla, accompanied by no end of useless interjections from the world at large who made most UI bug reports look like slashdot threads with the filter set to -1.

There just isn't enough bandwidth to do good design when a team is geographically dispersed. I'm not saying it can't be done at all, but the results are vastly better when the entire team is physically in the same location. I'm convinced of this, and will never agree to do software development with a dispersed team.

2002/08/30 30 Aug

If you want a platform to be successful, you need massive adoption, and that means you need developers to develop for it. The best way to kill a platform is to make it hard for developers to build on it. Most of the time, this happens because platform companies either don't know that they have a platform (they think it's an application) or they get greedy (they want all the revenue for themselves.)

Platforms

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