The 30 day "release or die trying" challenge (day 0)

by Mike on June 3, 2008

Sprinters

Fellow Micro-ISV owner Patrick McKenzie (the MicroISV on a Shoestring guy) has issued a challenge to design, build, test, release and market a new commercial product within 30 days.

If you work in software or know anything about software development schedules or the process of software engineering or project management you’ll appreciate that for even a product update, a 30 day schedule is a very ambitious timeframe, especially if your goal is to develop a full commercial software product or service in June for release to paying customers in July.

Over the past week, quite a few of my fellow ISV owners have decided to join Patrick’s hellish quest to turn “June” into do-or-die-trying month. It’s not as if I’ve got a lot of free time with existing product maintenance releases in progress and other planned work, but as it turns out I do have this one idea…

The Idea

My goal is to develop a software service which allows software developers to easily monitor their desktop software by providing online logging for error reports, anonymous usage statistics in order to track software usage patterns as well as issue alerts (email, SMS) and custom reports based on data returned by a software developer’s own programs integrated with this service. This service is an extension of technology that my own Micro ISV already uses to monitor and collect error reports but will do so in a more usable and easily integrated fashion; allowing users to “log in” and view their software statistics and error reports in the same way in which website owners can view their website statistics online.

The benefits to the software developer are enormous. This is a turn-key solution to proactive error reporting, software usage mapping (logging usage “hits” from around the world), custom data collection and alerts (e.g. send an email to developer@mycompany.com whenever a high priority error is received). From experience, proactively fixing bugs based on detailed error reports directly from my own software products has brought big benefits. Every week I check my own online logs for the top three error or bug reports – and fix them. I also use my own existing online tracking database for my larger Enterprise level commercial software to track software usage and get feedback on who is evaluating the software and also where and when it is used (for those who are interested, this is by sending a HTTP POST at startup).

I do have a very slight head start on this project, and I’m going to need it. The technology already has one major commissioned customer (another software company) as well as expressions of interest from many others. I plan to make the entry level version of this software service completely FREE, and offer the paid for features at a competitive price just enough to cover the running costs of the service and to invest the profits directly back into the service in order to grow it.

The Technology

A lot of the original thought for this has already been documented, and the first (rather expensive!) server on which this service will be offered has been purchased, together with the domain name. Unfortunately not a single line of code has been written and I’m using ASP.NET 3.5 – a technology more or less completely new to me. I’m a veteran .NET 2.0 developer and I hope to explore the new features of the 3.5 framework as well as learn a whole new development paradigm (that of website active server pages). This might give me an advantage, although my website design skills leave a lot to be desired so I may have to hire help to get some graphics made. Any recommendations?

The Progress

  • Product Idea – Done
  • Product Name – Done
  • Website Domains – Done
  • Website Hosting – Done
  • Functional Design – Done

and to do:

  • Technical Design – Nope 
  • Technical Coding – Nope
  • Technical Implementation – Nope
  • Technical Testing (in-house alpha stage) – Nope
  • Website Design – Nope
  • Beta Testing – Nope
  • Marketing Plan Implemented – Nope

Time Left – 30 days.

The Other Projects

Author

Product Name

Platform & Purpose

Website

Scott Kane

MixAction

Windows Desktop: Theatre Audio Software

http://www.davidscottkane.com/

Steve Chorlerton

SMSRelay

Windows (Server & Desktop): SMS TXT messaging

http://tektalkin.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default/-/stevechol%20SMSRelay

Sohail Somani

-

-

http://uint32t.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default/-/30day

Tarek Demiati

Master Time Tracker

Windows?

http://mentalprocreation.wordpress.com/

Steve McLeod

Poker Sidekick

Mac (OS X?): Poker statistics tracking

http://keepsoftwaresimple.blogspot.com/

Susan Pichotta

Alta Web Works

Website for new venture

http://altawebworks.com/blog/

Benji Smith

-

Website: Stock market analytics

http://benjismith.net/

Patrick McKenzie

-

Firefox Widget Creator

http://kalzumeus.com/2008/06/01/day-1/

Steve Bushman

-

-

http://themisvcrisis.wordpress.com/category/30day/

Bracken Mosbacker & Ben Jenkins’

Tower Prints

Website (Ruby on Rails): T-Shirt Store

http://towerprints.com/blog/

Sherrie

-

-

http://ldow.blogspot.com/2008/05/getting-ready-to-get-started.html

-

Runimal

Website (Ruby on Rails): Goal Setting

http://runimal.wordpress.com/2008/05/28/runimalcom/

Philip Flores

misvCRM

Windows (Desktop): misvCRM

http://www.misvcrm/blog/

Richie Hindle

ClickStop

Windows (Desktop): Let small kids use your PC without wrecking it

http://entrian.com/blog/

Simon Shutter

Schemax Calendar

Calendar Client (Outlook / Google)

http://blog.schemax.com/category/30days

Colin M

Music Tools

Web (Silverlight)

http://www.fret1.com/blog

Rafael Chaves

TextUML Toolkit

(multi-platform IDE for UML)

http://abstratt.com/blog

 
(If you’re on the 30 day challenge and I missed you from the list, leave a comment below and I’ll add you)

How can I follow the project’s progress?

You can follow my progress by:

You can use RSS to subscribe to the automatic feed for any of these blogs (as well as this one) or subscribe to this feed (), which is an aggregation of all the above feeds into one.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Bracken Mosbacker June 4, 2008 at 2:40 pm

Hey, do you think you could also add my partner because there are two of us working on this, so ‘Bracken Mosbacker & Ben Jenkins’ (for the tower prints one)
Thanks.

Reply

Susan Pichotta June 4, 2008 at 2:42 pm

Mike,

Your new product sounds interesting. I’m not surprised that you’ve pre-sold one already. Sounds ambitious for 30 days, but don’t they all? ;)

I love the graph you put in there listing all the participants with their websites, very nice!

I’m looking forward to our interesting month. :)

Reply

mike June 4, 2008 at 2:57 pm

Hi Bracken, I’ve added your full name and your partner. My wife really loved your idea, she was going on about doing something like a t-shirt printing business. I’m really keen to see how you’re getting along!

Susan, yes – we’re all ambitious – you included! Good luck with your Wordpress blog by the way!

This is going to be a VERY interesting month!

Reply

Phillip Flores June 4, 2008 at 3:07 pm

Hi Mike,

Just a short note to request that my 30-day challenge be added to your list. Details are:

Product Name: misvCRM
Platform and Purpose: Windows Desktop, misv CRM
Website: http://www.misvcrm.com/blog/

Thanks.

Reply

mike June 4, 2008 at 3:33 pm

Philip,

I’ve added you, and your product idea looks brilliant!

Maybe there is some mileage in integrating with your product in the future? :)

Reply

Simon Shutter June 4, 2008 at 11:58 pm

Mike, pls add me…. tx

Author : Simon Shutter
Product Name : Schemax Calendar
Platform & Purpose : Calendar client (Outlook/Google)
Website : http://calendar.schemax.com

Project Blog :http://blog.schemax.com/category/30days

Reply

Richie Hindle June 5, 2008 at 12:59 am

Hi Mike – Nice idea! I’ve worked on crash-logging functionality myself, and it’s both a time-sink and a distraction from your “real” work. If someone could take that off my hands, *and* increase the likelihood of my receiving meaningful data, that would be very welcome!

Could I also request that you add me to your 30-day challenge list?

Author: Richie Hindle
Product Name: ClickStop
Platform & Purpose: Windows; Let small kids use your PC without wrecking it
Website: http://entrian.com/blog/

Thanks!

Reply

Rafael Chaves June 5, 2008 at 2:01 am

Mike, could you please add me to the list?

Author: Rafael Chaves
Product Name: TextUML Toolkit
Platform & Purpose: (multi-platform) IDE for UML that uses a textual notation
Website: http://abstratt.com/blog/

Cheers,

Rafael

Reply

Rafael Chaves June 5, 2008 at 2:02 am

BTW, thanks for organizing this!

Reply

ColinM June 5, 2008 at 6:43 am

Hi Mike,
Another latecomer to add :)

Author: ColinM
Product: Music Tools
Platform: Silverlight
Website: http://www.Fret1.com/blog

Reply

mike June 5, 2008 at 1:07 pm

Rafael Chaves and Colin M have been added.

Don’t forget that you need to post on your blogs under a new 30day category and let everyone know what your filtered feed is (so that it can be added by Sohail Somani (see the link to his blog above) to the global RSS aggregated feed.

28 days to go for me, and I’m starting to wonder how on earth this is going to get done!

Reply

Tarek Demiati June 9, 2008 at 11:42 am

Mike : I’m working on (just another) Time Tracking & Billing application.

Platform = Windows Desktop Application

Reply

Rasmus June 9, 2008 at 9:14 pm

Well.. Why use 30 days. I had a week to spend, so I implemented a web application in a week (planning, implementing and deploying) using the web framework Ruby on Rails.

Read more about this here:
http://techblog.41concepts.com/2008/06/09/building-a-ruby-on-rails-application-in-a-week/

Cheers
Rasmus

Reply

mike June 9, 2008 at 10:24 pm

Hi Rasmus,

Very nice site. Finished in a week is about very good going, but certainly around the right ballpark :) In the kindest possible way; all these 30 day challenges are far more involved than creating a straightforward rails site. Have a look at some of the blogs of the 30 day challenge and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

A week isn’t long enough to do an adequate job on market research, ecommerce integration, beta testing or marketing, although any developer can throw a proof of concept together pretty quickly (My challenge is based on a prototype system that I’ve already written in-house using PHP and MySQL).

All the best,

Mike

Reply

sandrar September 10, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

Reply

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