The group of developers using .Text, customizing it, etc. is a pretty small and tight-knit community. I have learned a lot recently. It has been exciting to be involved with the goings-on (solutions to stop comment spam, etc) and the evident pleas to Scott Watermasysk for help. While I have been waiting patiently for the official release of Telligent’s Community Server, I have been a little worried that it will be “too much“. Hell, I just want a blog - one that is easy to customize, with an easy to “plug-in” add-ons as they become available. There have been some questions and answers provided over the last 24 hours. Thankfully, RoudyBob has provided a synopsis of the events that have transpired.
One of the items pointed to was a review of CS Beta 3 by Lamont Harrington. In it, there was one point that kind of hit home for me: “that there will be those out there who will opt for the ‘out-of-the-box’ experience”. Rob Howard later replied that they were trying to bring it all together “without all the overhead of a shrink wrapped product“ and that building a product is hard work. I agree.
When building and releasing my Digger Solutions products, Intranet Open Source and Newsletter Open Source, my aim was to provide a platform for developers to use, customize, and build upon for their own projects. We’ve discovered over the years that while developers are a good portion of the group downloading and using the product, the largest portion by far are those who are simply looking for an “install and go” solution. I was really kind of floored by this - it was nothing like what I naively expected! Many times the individual who downloads and installs the thing is a marketing person who has no technology background at all!
I’ve learned that anything that you provide to the community must be easy to install, easy to customize (as in having web-interface for doing so - they don’t want to hear anything about editing a config file), easy to use, and have more features built-in than you could have ever imagined. It must also provide an easy way to “plug-in“ new functionality. No matter what your intended audience, the product will find its way into the hands of non-technical end-users who have a need for what you’ve built. My newest upgrades and projects in the works are gaining a lot of ground toward those goals, but I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn. In the end, there is no way of doing it right without building it as a “shrink wrapped product”. Because people will look at it like it is a “shrink wrapped product” and it better have all the features of one and behave like one or they will move on to something else.