Using Twitter on Day One

01 April 2009

Unless you're lucky and have a real life, you'll know by now that we released v2009 vol 1 in the last 24 hours. Twice.

Twitter bird I won't go into the details of why we took down 9.1.1 after only a couple of hours and then released 9.1.2 after a couple more (needless to say my car is going to be detailed using a toothbrush every week for the next few months), but instead reflect on the use of Twitter during this time.

Yesterday afternoon, my time (Mountain), we evangelists were twittering in real time about the preparations for the release. @RoryBecker created a hash tag, #AreWeThereYet, so that we could easily aggregate the news about the release. Slowly the level of excitement grew until I announced that it was ready. Almost immediately, people started downloading.

Once the showstopper bug was found, the install was pulled, and Twitter came into its own again. I was awakened this morning by a DM from a customer (I've set it up so that DMs auto-send a text to my cell phone, and it was on the nightstand). @garyshort and @olivers were already twittering, reassuring everyone who was asking that a new install would soon be ready. I joined in (@jmbucknall) and soon enough the new install was uploaded.

The point here is that, providing you were following any one of us (or @devexpress) on Twitter, you would have learned immediately that the new install was ready and could be downloaded. To me, this new way of learning about what's happening in real time is exciting. It's not like posting messages to the forums or publishing posts here: it's much more immediate. You're not left in the dark ("What the heck are DevExpress doing?"), but instead can see through our tweets that we're working hard on fulfilling our side of the bargain. It's two-way communication between you and us.

Incredibly, also, the level of discourse stayed high and people were cracking jokes (the #AreWeThereYet tag grew from a joke I made that customers waiting for the install were like the kids in the back seat: "dad, are we there yet?"). I think that if customers couldn't see what was going on and not getting reassurances in real time from real people, there would have been a great deal more frustration shown than there was. (And, believe me, I can see why people would be frustrated. I can only add "Me too!")

So, if you're not already a Twitter user, try it out. To encourage you to follow us, we're giving away gift cards and other swag periodically, so see you online!

(While I'm at it: don’t forget to vote for your favorite DevExpress tool or component.)

6 comment(s)
Ray Navasarkian (DevExpress)

You have to kill the image of Laptop Birdie - it's a little too weird :-)

1 April, 2009
Boris Bosnjak

Ummm...  Postings to a forum message to which I've "subscribed" gives me instant updates, and allows me to give feedback ("two-way communication" if you will)...  Or am I missing a fad? :-)

1 April, 2009
Aaron Smith

Boris - The problem with a forum is the time it takes to go there to post the reply. With many of the twitter apps, you can see all of it in real time, respond right away, and not have to open a browser.

Plus. There is a lot more going on as well. We can ask quick questions and get fairly quick responses that set us on our way.

1 April, 2009
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Ray: I thought it was the new corporate logo... Or at least the new mascot.

Cheers, Julian

1 April, 2009
drew..

hey Julian, i reserve the right to admonish you later, but you finally gave me the  push to hook into twitter.. i hope i don't get lost in tweetville.. @drew_curry if you are bored ;)

1 April, 2009
Steve Sharkey

I really don't feel I have the time to twitter as well as having a life but then I was largely unaffected by the problems as I make it a bit of a policy to wait at least one full day before downloading the latest version - the number of times I've seen an immediate retraction has proved the wisdom of this move...

It seems that when releaseing new versions of things we have a common pattern (I'm not singling out DX here):

1. Pre-Beta/Alpha (turns out to be better than anticipated)

2. Beta 1 (larger number of downloads and people start to use more of the functionality bugs start to surface)

3. Beta 2 (most bugs fixed, occaisionally new ones introduced)

4. Beta 3 (remaining bugs are becomming less and less consequential - quality are happy)

<up until this point quality procedures are in place>

<"noise" from users/customers comes in 3 forms: "I need what is in this release NOW", "I've found another little bug/interesting 'feature'..." and "why didn't x make it into theis release" - the pressure builds rapidly to "get it out there">

5. Release! Only some small thing gets overlooked as the pressure that has built has rushed the last step of the process - all the built in quality and good work is over looked and people focus on what went wrong.

It is quite a natural pattern - so what I'd like to say is I'll be downloading later today and thank you to all the "guinea pigs" who discovered these issues on my behalf and a BIG thank you to DX for another excellent release - particularly for the "brave" nature of listening to customers with this release and not feeling you have to include X new features in every release - on the otherhand if we can just get mailmerge into a "completer" RichEdit control for the next release........

2 April, 2009

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