A complaint I've heard a lot is that we have promised any number of grand new plans (Pollock/Widgetry being one example), many of them have taken too long to deliver - or worse, have simply failed to materialize.
Ironically enough, given that we are supposed to be the experts in Smalltalk development, we've historically followed a very "heavy" development process, and allowed projects to drive forward without incremental deliveries along the way. What that's done is make for disappointing deliveries on any number of levels - projects that never ship, or that ship slowly and incompletely.
We recognized that this had become a problem, and we've been changing our internal development process to be more lightweight and - dare I say it - agile. Along the way we've modified our product roadmap accordingly. After I announced that we would be supporting Seaside yesterday, I received a number of emails that could be summarized as follows:
"Oh great, another new direction you won't deliver on"
As painful as that was to receive, it's a message I understand. We have spent too many years telling you how great Pollock was going to be, and too many years neglecting obvious flaws elsewhere in the product. One change in the roadmap you may have noticed is that it's smaller. There's a reason for that: I'd rather promise things I know we can deliver than push out a huge list of things we can't.
What does that mean you'll see from us in the short term? We are releasing ObjectStudio 8 in August. At the same time, we will release a service pack for VisualWorks. That will probably be a download of updated parcels (and new Mac VMs - yes, those are still being pounded into shape). I'll be getting some scheduling information on the major areas of interest:
- Improved Tools
over the next few days, and we will then have a better idea as to when we can push out the next major release after ObjectStudio 8. Between now and then, additional service packs are quite likely, and in line with the idea of incremental development and delivery. I'll also have more details on those admittedly vague "major areas" - for example, "Improved Tools" will get more details.
What won't you see from us? You won't see grandiose visions of "the next big thing" promised for delivery N years from now. You'll see incremental, step-wise improvements - which means that you can expect initial support for Seaside in months, with incremental improvements in that direction on an ongoing basis. The same will hold for the rest of the roadmap - you'll see incremental improvements delivered on a regular, ongoing basis - and I expect you to hold us to that.
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