Deceptively Simple

It takes nature 3000 years to form solid granite, but I do it in a day just like there is nothing to it. That’s what I am thinking while using my chisel to break apart pizza I just baked. How did I go wrong? 5 simple ingredients, but I still managed to screw it up.

I thought I did everything right. Let dough rise for 24 hours. Punch it down, let it rise again. Bake it on stone on 500. It looked great… But I might as well eat that baking stone. There was no difference between it and my pizza. Even my dog didn’t want to come near it.

And this brings me neatly into why simple things are deceptively simple. Dealing with simple things is like dealing with used car dealers. On the face of it you’ve got great deal on car grandma used to drive once a week to church, but what you actually got is drag racing car driven 100,000 miles by substance abusing drunken teenager and then rolled back to 7,000 miles…

In simple things every single detail matters much, much more. Every single ratio, every single interaction is that much more important. And that is what makes them deceptively simple. Appearances lower your guard and you stop paying attention to every little detail. You rush through it, when you should be taking it slowly. You stop paying attention to what you are actually doing. How hard could it be, right?

It’s like with my pizza dough, I did one little thing wrong without even thinking about it. Or, like making that easy, simple code change that brings down production at plant in China. Or why you can’t buy good bread on every single corner.

Whenever something appears simple be on lookout. Pay attention to details. Pay attention to every single interaction. That is what is required to do simple things right.

And simple things take longer to do too. Friend of mine posted Tweet quote couple of days ago from Mark Twain that says:

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

Works well for applications too:

“I didn’t have time to write simple application so I wrote complex one instead”…

So what went wrong with my pizza dough? Once I started stretching it into final shape, I did not have enough dough to stretch it to size I wanted by hand. I had brilliant idea to use rolling pin to help me out. It helped… It also knocked out all air bubbles, compressed the dough and made it rock hard…

 

We’ve been around for more than 10 years but I like to go with the date domain was registered which was way back on March 19th 1999.

We’ve started in ’99 with the MDIExtender product for VB5 and VB6 which was not huge success, but has helped us learn the ropes so to speak. Today we have WinForms, WPF and tomorrow Silverlight product range and really fantastic growth.

I like to thank our customers for that. Thank you for using our products and spreading the word. Thank you. We’ll do our best to help you and support you along the way.

When you need components to make your applications look professional and amazing give us a try!

 

I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time and with the announcement on feature set for Silverlight 3 it seems that there is a critical mass of functionality there to make me ask who needs WPF? It seems to me that Silverlight 3 and probably 4 will have much more appeal than WPF for lot of developers.

Why do I think that? Well with Silverlight 3.0 you get out-of browser support which means that your apps can run as native stand-alone applications. You get auto-update support, online offline support etc.

But that’s not where the meat is. The Silverlight runs on Mac and PC (future on Linux too). It does not require .NET Framework to be installed at all. It will have hardware supported acceleration for graphics and it is about 4.5 MB in size.

.NET Framework 3.5 is whooping 231.5 MB, it runs only on Windows XP and later only. No Mac, no Linux. Deployment is not nearly as easy as Silverlight.

Sure, WPF is much more powerful, but for lot of developers simpler, smaller Silverlight might have more appeal and it runs easily in browsers.

The saving grace for WPF right now is that Visual Studio 2010 is using it which is big… We at DevComponents support WPF as well so that’s big too 😉

We really like WPF, but I am wondering at which point Silverlight will displace WPF… Or perhaps at which point these two will merge, which is what I think we will end up with.

What do you think?

 

More Work More Potential

Economic potential of your product is in direct relation to the amount of work you put into creating it.

It might seems obvious when stated like that, but its not. I’ve seen people put 3 or 4 weeks of development time into the product and expect it to sell. Nope, it won’t. It will tank.

There are rare concepts that have worked without much work put in. Like Million Dollar Web Page. However, that works once in a blue moon and for the first person that does it. Clones tank. If you can pull it off, my hat tip to you.

If you have an idea for product or service that takes couple of weeks of work to implement, it is not worth much. The barrier for entry is so low that even if you manage to start selling it, army of clones will be on your heals and your head start is that same couple of weeks it took you to implement it. Actual worth of that product to your customers is likely very low thus you can only sell it cheap, if at all.

I am not only referring to actual software development time here. This includes everything from marketing, usability design to software development. For example, making something super easy to use takes much more time than making something average or hard to use. Just try doing it… Marketing something so well that it quickly spreads and reaches lots of people is not result of couple of weeks of effort either.

However, it does not mean that your multi-year development effort and 200,000 LOC software product will sell. Large projects and long development times carry their own risks. They may have potential, yes, but…

Unless what you are making is something people are willing to pull out the wallet for it will fail. Easy check for that is to look around and see whether someone else is selling the same thing. If you can’t find anyone selling that, very likely there is no market for it.

So next time you have that million dollar idea, do quick check on how long it will take to implement it. If it is couple of weeks, likely its not worth it.

 

New version of DotNetBar for Windows Forms is out with over 35 new features and enhancements.

I’ve covered most important ones already but here is recap:

If you want to create Professional Windows Forms Applications give DotNetBar a try. It has total of 46 controls that will make your apps look incredible.

If you are already using DotNetBar, thank you very much for being a customer and for recommending DotNetBar.

 

95% of all business advice is worthless the minute you hear it. True, there are timeless business lessons out-there, but most of the stuff that you can read today you can safely ignore.

Why? All advice is given from the perspective and unique conditions at that point in time of the person that is dispensing it.

Take for example today’s post by David @ 37 Signals on how the web lost faith in charging money for stuff. The 37 Signals belief is that you must charge for apps, and if you don’t, then that’s just plain not right way to build business. But, this advice is specific to 37 Signals and their unique conditions. It is specific to their current belief system that says that you must charge for stuff to have successful business.

But…

What if founders of YouTube decided to charge for YouTube service instead of making it free? Would it gain such popularity to end up being sold for $1.65 billion to Google? I doubt it.

What about Hotmail which Microsoft acquired for $400 million? If it weren’t free would it be so popular and have $400 million valuation? I doubt it.

Would 37 Signals have same level of success without open-source, free Rails which they used as fantastic marketing vehicle? I doubt it.

There is place for everything. There is place for free, there is place for paid and there is place for open source. What you use depends on your conditions, your business and what’s going on at that point in time in marketplace.

That’s why say that that 95% of all business advice is worthless. It is good food for thought, but not worth much more. It is too specific to the unique conditions of the person dispensing it… Come up with your own stuff and do it your own way and then you’ll succeed.

 

Follow me on Twitter

I’ve been posting there since July so if you are on Twitter follow me at: http://twitter.com/DenisBasaric

Twitter is micro-blogging service with 140 character limit per post. Good for small updates and concise thoughts.

See you there.

 

I mentioned in my previous post on new IP Address Input control that it supports free-text entry. We have also added free-text entry support to our other input controls IntegerInput, DoubleInput and DateTimeInput.

ButtonFreeText property is there so you can hide/show free text button , change its image etc. Using FreeTextEntryMode property you can toggle the free-text entry mode from code. You can also set AutoOffFreeTextEntry property to false to turn-off free-text entry automatically when input field loses focus.

The support for custom parsing of entered values is there as well. You handle the ConvertFreeTextEntry event, parse the ValueEntered, set the ControlValue to the typed value you want control to use, set IsValueConverted=true to indicate that you parsed it and that’s all.

We provide some simple parsing in DateTimeInput so in free text entry mode you can type: today, now, tomorrow or yesterday and control will fill in desired date and time.

DotNetBar for WinForms 7.9 is just around corner…

 

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