The Curse of Perfection
December 12, 2004

Nine days ago I put out what I thought was the final beta, 1.0b15. I got some immediate feedback that led to a quick “a” release (1.0b15a), and then a day later a “b” release (1.0b15b). The first release was the result of a bug that hadn’t been caught, and the second was to see if increasing an ftp timeout value would solve a customer’s problem (it did).

As I started to work on the final release, I got terribly sick. Headache, fever, chills - I felt so bad that nothing could make my head feel even the littlest bit better, not aspirin, not ibufprofen, not paracetemol, not even some left-over codeine from a recent broken rib garnered while mountain biking. And as I sat in front of my computer, I just couldn’t focus on the things that I needed to do to get the final release ready - things like database changes on the web site, an automatic license key generator, or upgrading the web site to the new design we have waiting in the wings. No, all I could focus on were the list of 100+ things that are on the version 1.1 and 1.2 and 2.0 todo lists, and worrying whether I could really go 1.0 final without some or all of them implemented.

Then I got an email from a user who had two problems that I’d never anticipated: first, he had a + sign in his ftp password, and second he had images named things like “my&mygrrrlll.jpg". Uh oh. Barely able to keep my head upright, I sat at my computer and did enough testing to know that I had to fix these two problems. And as my eyes rolled glazedly over the 1.1 todo list, I saw something that really had to be in 1.0, not in 1.1. I groaned so loudly that Rachel looked over at me in a panic because groans like that in the past have meant things like I’ve lost a file or crashed a disk. I reassured her that neither was the case this time, but that it really wasn’t a good time to be sick. And oh by the way, my new deadline was still before Christmas, but no longer very far before Christmas.

Which brings me back to deadlines, and perfection.

I have this terrible habit of wanting things to be right, really right, and that has the awful side-affect of pushing out deadlines, and pushing out deadlines, and well…pushing out deadlines. Which is why it is now almost a year since I started this application, and it’s still in “beta".

I could make excuses such as I have a family to take care of, with two young, active boys who need lots of attention. Or we’re supposed to be here in England taking time off to see family and friends, and do some traveling. But it isn’t any of those things. No, the only thing standing between me and a final release are my own standards.

Now to be fair, the program has evolved by leaps and bounds in the past four months. The first real beta release, 1.0b8 in late July (just before we went on summer vacation), had the basic bones of the latest version, but the polish and functionality are much much higher in today’s release. And the big reason is user feedback. I read and respond to all emails, and the support forum, and lots of suggestions have made their way back into the product, and if not into the product, then onto the future release todo lists. And if you’ve been a part of that, I thank you.

But the day of reckoning is here, the final version just has to go out the door before Christmas (if only so that I can take a couple of weeks away from programming without feeling guilty - the first break in almost four months). And as a result, there are a few things that I’ve had to move to a 1.1 release - for example better iPhoto support, and better ftp setup assistance. So if either of those is on your “must have” list, or if any of the other 100+ items on our future release todo lists are on your “must have” list, then I’m sorry. But I’m hoping you’ll still buy (and just as importantly use) this upcoming 1.0 release, because only with your financial support can there be a 1.1 and a 1.2 and a 2.0.

See you in a week!

And in the meantime, don’t forget to take advantage of our $10 off special offer, because when 1.0 goes final, the discount disappears.

With kindest regards,

- Frank

Posted by: Frank @ 1:49 am — Filed under:

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