I was in a fascinating seminar by Barney Boisvert about programming with "progressive enhancement". It's something I've thought about on the edges of my mind, but Barney (who is funny and really tall) put it so clearly that I could not help but blog about it. To get us in the right frame of mind, let's check in on project launch meeting at CF Webtools. Our new client, Joe Dreamer, has brought his latest idea to the table. He wants to build a special "Barbie's Facebook" - a social networking site where young girls can register their Barbie dolls and flesh out their lives in the virtual world. NOTE: This funny example came out of the Muse' head. I know of no such project (but now that I think about it....). Anyway, let's check in on our project launch meeting.Read More
A misconception about technical folks is that they are fully left-brained and incapable of true creativity. Anyone on the inner circle of geekdome knows this is not the case, but folks on the outside looking in often only see the engineering skills - attention to detail and minutia, obsession with systems and process, and a penchant for pocket protectors. Of course in the last 10 years you can add flip flops, body piercings and a sort of pigeon English consisting of acronyms, techno-babble and quips from Monty Python and the Princess Bride. That should tell you something in itself. There's more to IT folks than numbers and obscure discussions about the best Star Trek Movie (Khaaaan!!!!). That got me thinking.Read More
Anyone who has worked as a web developer knows how difficult it is to describe what you do to a novice. My wife, who actually handles benefits and management tasks for CF Webtools, still can't really come up with an adequate description. It's not enough to say that we "build web sites". That is certainly true, but it lumps us in with pure design shops and marketing companies. We are certainly not a marketing company, and although design is part of what we do, it is only the tip of the iceberg. I sometimes say that we are a "software company" that specializes in "web based" or "browser based" applications. That kind of sums up what we do but it doesn't say much about the kind of company we are.
I like to describe CF Webtools as a "mentoring company". By that I mean that we focus on mentoring our developers to enhance their growth and potential. Of late I have begin to try and qualify this statement and boil it down to some principles that thrive in our workplace. Please note - I am quite serious about the thoughts I am sharing here, but this post could be concieved of as a commercial of sorts - so read on at your peril. Here's what I have come up with so far.Read More
CF Webtools still does quite bit of work for small to medium size businesses. Unlike large companies where the point of contact is usually a CTO or a project manager, you often talk to the owner or main stakeholder in a small company. These owners are often visionary entrepreneurs with a knack for marketing. That seems to be what it takes to build a company - especially one that is based on a product for sale. Now let me say at the outset that I greatly admire these risk taking geniuses. Such men and women often go through 3 or 4 business failures before they succeed. I call them "Big Idea" people and their confidence and self-assurance are remarkable. They can see past the details and envision the final chapter in the long road to business success. Working with such folks can be frustrating however.Read More
It happens to us all the time - perhaps every few weeks. A new customer comes knocking and they have an existing application that needs help or support. Sometimes the system has simply outgrown the current developer or the skill set of a contractor and it needs a team. Other times the application has evolved over time and has reached it's peak for performance and is beginning to degrade. Sometimes a rift has developed between the site owner and the previous developer or company. Whatever the reason, taking over third party code can be a daunting task. I have a few tips on how to make the transition more smooth.Read More
Every parent has had an experience like the following. When my daughter was two and a half I bought her a toy for Christmas. I don't even remember the toy - but it was a brainy toy designed to stimulate her growing little mind. Since our child was brilliant (see jasminekruger.com for proof) we knew she would take to it right away. It was expensive, but we only wanted the best for our daughter. The Toy was big. I'm not sure how big. I only know the box was big enough for her to fit inside. Christmas morning Finally arrived....
Reoccurring Revenue is the Holy Grail of development. Every development shop wants to find those customers who produce work for them (and hence revenue) time and again. These so called "maintenance" customers or "ongoing development" customers go by another less flattering name - the "cash cow". You can look a bit further into the future if you have customers who will regularly provide you with projects or maintenance level work. Developing a pool of these customers is an excellent way to grow your business. In fact, some applications that you build for customers are so complex they engender a form of vendor lock.
I am often tasked with helping a customer decide on the domain name for a brand new site. This is a daunting task because people have very specific ideas it - even if they are not enthused about anything else regarding the site. The choice is an important one. Your domain name is sort of like the headline on a newspaper article. It should reflect something regarding the content and nature of your site. Here are my tips for choosing a domain name.Read More