This post is one of a few to come: My thoughts on this year’s GeeUp conference.
Joel Bradbury gave a great talk about add-on development & support, sharing his experience moving to a rapid, iterative development approach. He began by astutely noting that the things we find hardest at work are also those we tend to ignore and put off. Yet this avoidance tends to only compound the difficulty.
His solution is to do the hard stuff first, and often. The theory behind it is sound: the more you do something, the better you get at it. Before you know it, that which was once hard is now easy, perhaps even routine.
Joel applied this philosophy to the release cycle of his add-ons, committing to do at least one release per week. While the first few weeks/months proved challenging, he soon was able to not only achieve a release a week, but sometimes more. Now the anguish of pushing a release has been reduced to an inconsequential step along the way, and the generated momentum has freed his time & attention for bug fixes, feature requests, and new product development.
Joel also addressed the concept of paid/unpaid support. This has been a hot topic among EE’s developer community of late. He decided to approach the problem from the other end: rather than focusing on how to support those finding difficulty in using his software, he now offers paid installations of his add-ons. It's a pre-emptive support model that not only helps his customers, but his bottom line. Everyone wins.