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Ted Leung on the air: Open Source, Java, Python, and ...
Tue, 23 Dec 2003
Developers and customers: its about closing the feedback loop
Dan Steinberg had a provocatively titled post on java.net today. He took exception some comments on Kathy Sierra's java.net post about the interaction of developers with customers.

It seems to me that its part of the culture of companies to keep their developers as far away from customers as possible. I think that this is a mistake. Before XML4J went open source, the code was hosted at IBM's alphaWorks site. You could get a binary download, as well as the source code. The development team was front line tech support. We answered questions in the forums and via e-mail. It was a precursor to what we'd experience when we went open source. And we got some very valuable feedback from our users/customers about things that were working and things that weren't. We learned what people were trying to do and developed features to facilitate that. It was really important.

Also during this time, I was asked by my upper management to go to a customer site with someone from IBM's services group. That's right, IBM actually sent a development engineer to a customer site to learn about what they were doing and how they were trying to deploy our technology. I don't know how pervasive this practice was in the rest of the company, but it was a great experience for me. I got unfiltered data on what people were trying to do.

Dan took exception to the part of the comments about Marketing and PRD's. There's a nice theory that says that Marketing knows the customer and what they want and that they pass that information directy to the developers with no loss of information. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to happen very often. More often than not, the feedback loop is open, and that's disastrous

This is one of the potential benefits of open source development -- you have the possiblity of a close customer/developer relationship, which can be a very postitive thing. Of course, this doesn't require open source -- I just exchanged a series of e-mails with Brent Simmons the developer of NetNewsWire and I was very pleased that he was receptive to my feedback.

Build it, get feedback, repeat.

[23:33] | [computers/open_source] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
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I work at the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF).
The opinions expressed here are entirely my own, not those of my employer.

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