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


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 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


Product Name

Platform & Purpose


Scott Kane


Windows Desktop: Theatre Audio Software

Steve Chorlerton


Windows (Server & Desktop): SMS TXT messaging

Sohail Somani

Tarek Demiati

Master Time Tracker


Steve McLeod

Poker Sidekick

Mac (OS X?): Poker statistics tracking

Susan Pichotta

Alta Web Works

Website for new venture

Benji Smith

Website: Stock market analytics

Patrick McKenzie

Firefox Widget Creator

Steve Bushman

Bracken Mosbacker & Ben Jenkins’

Tower Prints

Website (Ruby on Rails): T-Shirt Store



Website (Ruby on Rails): Goal Setting

Philip Flores


Windows (Desktop): misvCRM


Richie Hindle


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

Simon Shutter

Schemax Calendar

Calendar Client (Outlook / Google)

Colin M

Music Tools

Web (Silverlight)

Rafael Chaves

TextUML Toolkit

(multi-platform IDE for UML)

(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… add one }
  • Bracken Mosbacker 4th June 2008, 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)

  • Susan Pichotta 4th June 2008, 2:42 pm


    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. 🙂

  • mike 4th June 2008, 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!

  • Phillip Flores 4th June 2008, 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


  • mike 4th June 2008, 3:33 pm


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

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

  • Simon Shutter 4th June 2008, 11:58 pm

    Mike, pls add me…. tx

    Author : Simon Shutter
    Product Name : Schemax Calendar
    Platform & Purpose : Calendar client (Outlook/Google)
    Website :

    Project Blog :

  • Richie Hindle 5th June 2008, 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


  • Rafael Chaves 5th June 2008, 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



  • Rafael Chaves 5th June 2008, 2:02 am

    BTW, thanks for organizing this!

  • ColinM 5th June 2008, 6:43 am

    Hi Mike,
    Another latecomer to add 🙂

    Author: ColinM
    Product: Music Tools
    Platform: Silverlight

  • mike 5th June 2008, 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!

  • Tarek Demiati 9th June 2008, 11:42 am

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

    Platform = Windows Desktop Application

  • Rasmus 9th June 2008, 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:


  • mike 9th June 2008, 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,


  • sandrar 10th September 2009, 1:36 pm

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

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