Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Demo Gods

Tonight, I gave the first public demo of Groupthink Projects at a Seattle Tech Startups meeting, along with three other startup companies. Overall, it went pretty well. The first half of my talk was about mistakes I've made and what I'm learning from them, and the second half was about Groupthink Projects itself, featuring a few screenshots that I took earlier today and ending with a live demo. And, of course, as seems to happen in all live demos, something went wrong.

I had planned to show two things in the live demo -- asynchronous updating when you make multiple changes in quick succession, and the first-time experience for new users.

The first thing I was showing, asynchronous updating, went fine. But, the point I was trying to make -- that you can keep working while it's updating the server -- was considerably less obvious when I wasn't running my server in debug mode, which is easily ten times slower. So, the busy icons I was trying to point out appeared and disappeared so quickly they were hard to spot. Hopefully, everybody got the point -- no delays.

The second thing I was showing was the first-time experience. When a new user visits Groupthink Projects, they immediately get a new project -- no questions, no sign up, no nothing. They can just start immediately. To demonstrate this, I opened a new Incognito window in Google Chrome -- this ensures that I don't have any cookies and the browser will look like a completely new user to my server. Then, I opened the site and I got a new project. So far, so good. Unfortunately, when I tried to click to type, nothing happened. I refreshed, same thing. So, I moved on, and signed in (which is all you have to do to register) and got the appropriate "Welcome" message, with the project now being owned by my new user. But, I still couldn't make any changes to the project.

Someone in the audience joked that I had forgotten "Pray to the demo gods" on my to do list for the presentation, which I had shown earlier. I didn't have a better explanation.

Later, while someone else was presenting, I went to look at what was going on. It was amazingly simple. Rather than loading jQuery from my own server, I'm getting it from Google Code. It's faster and it saves bandwidth. Unfortunately, I didn't have a net connection, so everything from my local server loaded, but jQuery didn't. No jQuery means no client functionality. The first project I showed worked fine because I had opened that window while I still had a net connection. I'll be fixing the code tomorrow to load jQuery from the local server when running off the development server.

Still flatline on tasks today. Some of the bugs I fixed earlier in the day were progress for some of them, but, to be fair, I didn't really complete any tasks.


Brian said...

What is that image you have at the end of this post? Is that a burndown chart generated from GroupThink?

Roy Leban said...

@Brian: Well, it's almost (but not quite) a burndown chart, but it's not from Groupthink Projects, which doesn't currently do either dates or charting (and I'm not sure it ever will -- it depends on user needs).

I generate these charts in Excel rather than using some online tool because I want them static once I create them.

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