Archive for March 2007

Office Space Calculations 02 Mar

It's hard to believe that Fog Creek needs more office space already... it's been less than a year since we finished expanding to take over the whole 18th floor here at 535 Eighth. This summer, unfortunately, with all the summer interns, we're going to have some people doubling up in offices, and by May 2008 our lease here will have run out.

In calculating how much space we're going to need, I'm using this formula.

  • Offices: Most full time employees get 70 or 100 sqft. For summer interns, we're planning three interns per large office, 150 sqft.
  • Reception area: 250 sqft.
  • Bookshelves and mailing station: 75-100 sqft.
  • Supply room: 100-200sqft.
  • Server closet: 65 sqft.
  • Lunch room: 30 sqft per employee.
  • Kitchen: 200 sqft
  • Conference room / Lounge: 250 sqft.
  • Shower: 75 sqft

You take the total that gives you and add 30% for circulation (hallways and passageways) which gets you something often called the carpetable square footage. It would be really nice if office space listings were given in carpetable square feet, because that's what the tenant cares about, but the landlords instead make up some kind of number that includes:

  • building mechanicals
  • elevator shafts
  • exterior walls
  • common bathrooms
  • a percentage of the building's common areas including the lobby, loading dock, superintendent's office that you can't go in, roof deck that you can't get out on, and the building owner's house in Queens which if you tried to go near a goon would shoot you in the knees (despite his very fetching daughter trying to seduce you from her bedroom window).

Theoretically the building has something called a loss factor which converts between how much space you have to rent and how much actual room you get for offices and espresso stations, but in reality, this just gets you in the ballpark, and every space is different (long narrow spaces need more circulation space) so there's no alternative to having your architect take the floor plans and actually figure out how many offices will fit in there.

The other problem we're going to have is that we can assume that we'll be growing during the course of the typical 5-10 year lease, and we certainly can't afford to rent enough space for our 2017 needs right now. The brokers we spoke to suggested three ways to solve this problem:

  • Move frequently. Works best rents are going up, because you can get out of your lease early or sublet your old space. Increases the costs of construction and is a pain in the butt.
  • Get space + an option to expand. Landlords might be able to give you an option to expand at a particular date in the future in their building.
  • Get too much space and immediately sublet some of it. Landlords don't love this because they don't like their tenants competing against them to rent out space in their own building... the tenants are usually desperate to sublet their extra space and will always undercut the landlord.

We're also toying with a fourth idea: getting too much space and renting it out in small chunks to software startups that need an office or two while they're bootstrapping, and who would appreciate a working environment designed for programmers rather than a coffee shop or one of those coworking places. The trouble is that it would end up costing something on the order of $1500 a month for a private, Fog Creek-quality office, which might be out of the range of bootstrapped startups.

Wanted: Tech Writer 13 Mar

We're looking for a tech writer to update Mike Gunderloy's book Painless Project Management with FogBugz to cover the new features in FogBugz 6.0.

More than just a manual, this book is a great introduction to software project management. Greg Wilson, writing in Dr. Dobb's Journal, said, "I think we'll all be better off if this book will become the standard against which other end-user documentation will be measured."

Mike Gunderloy is busy with other projects, so we need someone to revise the chapters and add about 40% more content to cover new features in FogBugz 6. As the UI of FogBugz has undergone a major refresh, all the screenshots will have to be reshot.

If you're interested in this project drop me an email describing your specific qualifications, and attach a writing sample. Update, 3/20/2007: It turns out Mike will have time to do the second edition, so we're not looking for a writer any more.

FogBugz auf Deutsch 13 Mar

Thanks to Branimir, Stefan, and Michael, FogBugz 5.0.31 is now shipping, our first multi-lingual version, supporting English and German!

Rather than have a different edition of FogBugz, the default edition now just supports both languages. Each user can choose their own language, or, by default, we just look at your browser's language setting.

To ensure that every string is localizable, our developers translate everything to Pig Latin first before handing it off to the German translators.

We have sales and support set up in Munich (call +49 89 14338776 from 9AM to 5PM CEST), and we're set up to respond in German or English to email sent to customer-service at fogcreek.com.

Office search continues 26 Mar

We've looked at about ten potential office spaces and found three or four that might meet our needs.

The biggest problem is that our desire to have (a) private offices with (b) lots of daylight is very hard to accomodate in New York City.

Let's say you have a building with a square floorplan:

The central part of the building is used for elevators, bathrooms, pipes, staircases, etc. This is called the core:

Offices go between the windows and the core. Now, you can have two rows of private offices with a corridor in between. The outer offices have direct windows. If you use glass walls, the inner offices still get plenty of daylight.

The trouble is, if you go any deeper than two offices, the innermost offices won't have daylight at all.

An office is about 10-12 feet deep; a corridor is 4-6 feet. That means that if the distance from the outside window to the core is more than, say, 30 feet, you either have to waste space or give someone a dark office.

Some of that interior space can be used for conference rooms, kitchens, and other areas where people don't spend too much time, but realistically, I'm discovering that if the distance from the outer wall to the inner core is more than 30 feet, it's wasted space.

Manhattan streets are exactly 264 feet apart. Those big office buildings you see that take up an entire city block might have floorplans that are 200 x 200 feet. Even taking the core into account, you can wind up with a depth of 60 or 70 feet. If you're building a sea of cubicles, this is very efficient. If you want 100% private offices, this doesn't work well at all.

The smaller office buildings that don't take up a whole block are likely to be hemmed in by their neighbors, so they don't even have windows on all sides. In this case the builder will often try to put the core on the windowless side, which results in even greater depths.

Wall Street firms need big trading floors. The ideal trading floor is a huge square, the bigger the better, without a single column. This motivates developers around here to brag about the size of their "floorplates" and to optimize buildings for huge, unobstructed floorplates, which is exactly the opposite of what software developers want.

Localizing the job board 26 Mar

The job board, jobs.joelonsoftware.com, has been rather successful. For the next upgrade, I was thinking about setting up a separate job board specifically focused on jobs in India, since there are so many Joel on Software readers there and I've only seen three jobs (in Bangalore) posted.

What should I do to localize the job board for India? Should I use jobs.joelonsoftware.in or .co.in? Or neither? How much should I charge? Right now the site only accepts credit cards... is there another payment method that would work better for India? Should I allow US employers willing to sponsor H1B visas? Or just jobs actually in India? What other changes should I consider to make a more suitable product for the Indian market?

Post your suggestions here.

Job listings for India 27 Mar

OK, it's live! I've put up a new version of the job board specifically for jobs in India, jobs.joelonsoftware.co.in.

To help fill it up, posting a job is only $50—about 2200 rupees.

Unlike the huge boards, Monsterindia, Naukri.com, etc., a job posted to Joel on Software will get far fewer resumes, but they will be of much higher quality, and as usual, we'll return your money if you're not completely satisfied.

Scoble Show 30 Mar

It's Friday, and you weren't going to get anything done anyway, so go watch Robert Scoble interview me for The Scoble Show. The full version is just over an hour. There's also a 6 minute edited version.

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