Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Where's the Earth-shattering kaboom?

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.

16 comments:

Jack Ratcliff said...

Hey Stan,

I look forward to reading what you post and good luck with everything!

Jack

Gregg Eldred said...

Stan:

This may not be what you are looking for, but it may help:

http://www.gapingvoid.com/Moveable_Type/archives/001207.html

This could be a method of "publishing" it on the cheap, a PDF download.Have no idea how you make people pay for it, though. But at least you can get your stuff out to tease us.

HTH.

Gregg

Ben Poole said...

And I make three! Very interested...

Thomas "Duffbert" Duff said...

Oohh, oohh... I wanna review that one! :-)

Ashish Sidapara said...

i look forward to reading your posts.

cheers !!
Ashish

Jennifer W. said...

Seems a lot more than three, Stan. :o) Good luck with everything and I hope you do get back to the classroom! Looking forward to reading more..

Jess said...

Wow Stan... awesome announcement! You should always do what makes you happy. I can't wait to find out what the product is, and trust me, I'll be the first to buy the book! I wonder how much a signed copy will be worth? ;-)

Stan Rogers said...

Jess, I've found over the years that things I've signed have actually decreased in value, and often end up costing everybody a lot more than they had planned to spend ;o)

Three is still a valid order-of-magnitude estimate, Jennifer. I'll be okay until the 31st person leaves a comment.

And of course you'll get the book for review, Tom. You're the keystone of my whole marketing plan.

Thanks, all, for the encouragement. I'm sure there'll be days ahead when I'll need to come back here for a reminder.

Kathy Creaner said...

Good luck Stan. Looking forward to seeing this evolve.

Ben Dubuc said...

Hi Stan.

I feel your pain. I was feeling the same way, and still is with my new job. It's freaking hard to find the job you really want...

I have little projects too, but having a family (and sleep problems) takes a lot of energy that I just can't put on my personnal projects.

I am guessing our projects are very similar... If you need a hand, let me know. Can't put lots of hours, but now that I'm working from home, I have plenty of travelling time available!!!

As my good old friend Jon Bon Jovi said: "Keep the faith".

Take care,
Ben
dubuc_benoit@hotmail.com

Joe Litton said...

Yo Stan, Hey some of us don't make it by every day, but I'm certain there are many more like me who do the blog reading about once a week. Anxious to read whatever you post/write/sell ...I always enjoy it and usually end up actually thinking afterwards!

Best wishes sir!

Anonymous said...

Hi Stan,

Looking forward to the book etc. I for one will buy it. You have been a great help to me in answering my questions on the Notes forum etc.
Keep us posted

Cheers

Devin Olson said...

Buenos dias, mi amigo.

I REALLY wish you the best of luck on this. Consider the mental "good vibes" sent.

As for the mercenary part, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be paid for your skills. Giving stuff away is nice and has it's own set of rewards, but being able to pay off the mortgage early is pretty nice too. When you finish the book, I'll be happy to purchase a copy (heck, I bought Rocky's / Brian's).

Oh and BTW, I've discovered that listening to Neil Young while writing seems to help the "words flow".

-Devin.

Bernard Devlin said...

Well, Stan I too would snap up any book you wrote that distilled your understanding on Notes and Domino. As far as I can see from many of your published remarks, there is almost no-one else who obviously gets Notes and Domino like you do (maybe there are people hidden inside IBM or some other large company, but we don't see them publicising their knowledge).

Senthil Kumar said...

I have been reading most of your answers in LDD forum. Whatever i key in as search in LDD "Stan Rogers" will be there..

You, Nathan,Alan and of course Ed are really great inspirers of Lotus Tech. I initially thot you are a IBMer and then realised that you are not.

Am a Notes/Domino developer for almost 7 years now and still feel there is a lot to learn in this sexy platform.

And today the announcement of "Hannover". Wow its really exciting to see the screen shot in Ed's blog and iam immensely happy for the whole day. I was eagerly waiting for your thoughts too..

As with lot of other people me too eagerly waiting for your book on Notes/Domino. Waiting for that day. Till then cheers :)

-Senthil

Martin Perrie said...

I look forward to reading your book, Stan. I think there is real gap to be filled with something like "Advanced Domino Development" (perhaps "intermediate" would be better suited to me).

I always thought Jake should write a book - his articles on Codestore are well written and useful. But, as he said, it's difficult to justify the time and effort required.

So good luck with yours. I echo Senthil - if I see "Stan Rogers" on an LDD search that's where I look first. I am sure your book will be excellent!