Talk is Cheap - Buzzwords wont Help You Deliver an Application

14 August 2007

So...You are ready to write a software solution for Windows or the Web...

You've got some money to spend on third-party tools...

You have narrowed your choices down to about 10 different vendors...

How do you decide which product to buy and with whom to do business both in the near and long term?

This simple question was something I asked myself a long time ago when, like you, I had numerous choices available to me in the marketplace and I had to write an application that met and exceeded the expectations of my customers.

Where do you go? Who do you believe? What metrics do you use to make the appropriate decision?

FWIW, here are my 2 cents about the evaluation process and things you ought to consider when selecting a third-party tool vendor.

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Marketing Buzzwords Will Not Help You

Let's be honest, every vendor thinks their products are the best - most capable - and deliver the biggest bang for the buck. Every vendor will plaster you with marketing speak all geared to articulating their belief in themselves and their commitment to you.  Developer Express is no different in this regard...you will find www.devexpress.com and our advertisements filled with countless buzzwords all focused on convincing you to do business with us.

Cutting through the buzzwords is the first step in one's evaluation process. Some of the poor choices I made ages ago in choosing third-party tools was belief in a vendor's buzzwords and hype rather than my own due diligence.

On our website, you will find numerous instances where we state this very thing - that you ought to "Download and Compare" before you decide. For instance, we just released the ASPxGridView - what we believe is a top-notch asp.net grid control. In the introduction of the product's feature set on our website, we state the following:

"Fact is that no amount of marketing can hide the limitations of a product and as such, the best way to determine whether a given product addresses your business needs and those of your customers is to try it. If you currently own a competing ASP.NET grid and data editors library or if you are in the evaluation process, we invite you to download and evaluate the ASPxGridView Suite - and decide for yourself."

Product Comparisons and Reviews are only Guides

The story goes something like this...Joe across the street has used a product and is in absolute love with it. It dices...it chops...it shreds...It does everything you could expect. He cannot recommend it enough to you and everyone in your neighborhood. You like Joe and know he is a truthful person and so based upon his advice, you decide to take the plunge and buy this great product. To your surprise, however, you learn that Joe is not the greatest judge of what is good nor is he in the same industry as yourself...

Whether it's buying knives from late night television or software components and third-party tools, references and comparisons to the merits of a given product are only guides. The rubber meets the road only when you and your team download and compare a product and put it through its paces in your own environment and for your own customers.

To illustrate this point, let's get back to the ASPxGridView - we recently published a comparison showing page and dataset load performance of our grid control. Based on our results, the numbers lead me to believe that our grid control (this also applies to the XtraGrid Suite for Windows Forms) is quite fast and this performance allows me (if I ever decide to leave the tools business and start writing applications again) to exploit the capabilities of an advanced grid control fully. This means that I don't have to write an application that is focused on restricting the amount of data that is pushed to the client and in so doing, limiting the power inherent in the grid control (for data analysis).

Does our comparison mean that you cannot achieve similar performance benefits with other products? Of course not - fact is that you can.  You can write code...you can tinker and invest time...you can do what we've done and re-create our implementation. Bottom-line is that you have to download and compare and then decide whether a product can deliver on its promises to you and your customers.

We See the World from Our Own Perspective

I don't like sushi. Julian likes sushi. I don't like to wear jackets. Julian likes to wear jackets. When it comes to food and dress code, I think Julian makes consistently wrong decisions. This goes for you and I - odds are rather high that we do not eat the same food, dress the same way, like the same cars, etc. Just because something floats my boat, does not mean it will float yours.

And so it goes with software tools...what makes sense to us may not make sense to you.

Returning to the ASPxGridView example - in our marketing we've spent a good deal of time focusing on performance against large datasets. You may have a fundamental disagreement with us on how much data you will ever load into a visual control for any purpose. You may never have a need for analytics against large datasets...heck, your dataset may never grow to those numbers to begin with.

Perhaps what excites you about a grid control is its memory footprint or the ease with which you can work with it at design time. Whatever your perspective, we know that it will never be exactly like ours and you ought never take our examples of use scenarios as biblical prophecies.

What we suggest - What we ask is

Download - Compare - Decide (tm)

Then and only then will you be able to deliver your very best.

Happy Coding

Ray

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