I'm tired. Damned tired.
Like a lot of people working in a corporate environment with a mature Notes infrastructure (or, I suppose, a mature infrastructure on any platform) I spend the vast majority of my time fixing things. Not REALLY fixing, though -- no, that would involve creating an internally-billable "project" -- just putting bubblegum patches on the most obviously broken bits. That and changing keyword field values, which is something that really ought to be an end-user activity. My working life is ... well, let's just say "less than satisfying" and leave it at that, shall we?
A little while back I mentioned that what I really want to do is teach other people the things I've learned (and that I continue to learn), and give them the skills they'll need to tackle the hard problems on their own. Unfortunately, I don't have the means right now to put myself backinto the classroom, not am I likely to acquire those means working where I am right now. That means I need to make a couple of changes to the way I've been living my life.
First, I've got to become a little bit more, um, mercenary. For just about as long as I've been involved in the Domino community, I've put nearly as much effort into helping other developers as I've put into doing my own work. Besides my obvious presence in the LDD fora, there have been piles of emails, and several people have taken to telephoning me for answers. I can't do that anymore. In a perfect world, if making a living weren't an issue, I could afford to indulge my altruism, but this isn't a perfect world.
That isn't to say that I'm going to disappear altogether. If anything, I want to increase my visibility. The big change is that I'll be considering what's in it for me. We're talking about ruthless self-marketing here. Which bring us to the question, "marketing what, exactly?"
Well, I've got a few projects that have been cooking for a while, and several of them are at the "reducing the sauce" stage. Among these are a series of templates aimed squarely at the Domino Utility Server Express, which I plan to offer and support as low-cost shrinkwrapped products (well, electronically shrinkwrapped, et least). Not that I'd turn away larger customers or anything (unless they're already customers of my employer, in which case I'd be contractually obliged to say no for the moment). These represent some of the most sophisticated work I have ever done on the platform, but at the same time they have been projects I've had to take on for the sake of the challenge alone. I've never been able to sell them internally, and I can blame that on over-compartmentalized budgets. (The same problem I've had trying to sell Ben's Midas solutions. Everybody wants the capabilities, but nobody wants to be the sponsor that ends up paying for it.) By distributing the cost of developing and maintaining these applications over a broader customer base, I hope to be able to move Utility Express into areas that have so far been the province of expensive dedicated client-server solutions (like Microsoft Project Professional/Project Server) and more expensive custom development at costs that will make Domino a first choice on a tight budget.
Then there's the book. I've found myself answering the same questions over and over again over the years, and I've come to the conclusion that there are a lot of people out there who just don't get it. And "getting it" is the hardest part of Domino development. People know what they want to do with Domino, they just don't know how to translate that into forms, views, agents and resources. I know as well as you do that there are a boatload of excellent resources out there to learn from if you're willing to take the time to learn. I also know, from the email "consultancy", that there are a lot of good web developers and designers who have come to Domino from other platforms and really don't have the time to accomodate a steep learning curve before producing results. By the same token, there are a goodly number of excellent Notes developers who don't really know where to start when they have to bring their applications to the web. I hope to change all of that.
Now, getting all of this going has been a bit of a challenge. Not so much the writing or the development (although they've had their own problems), but the business aspect. That comes as a consequence of the various financial triels and travails I've told you about before. Once I've got the eyes dotted and the tees crossed, I'll start introducing things here. For the benefit of the community, I'll be going over some of the technical problems I've faced and the ways I've gotten around them. And I'll be excerpting bits of the book as well.
I hope that the three of you still trying to read this will join me on my new adventure.