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Products, process, prototypes and codenames · 5 October 04

We are building . . . something. We don’t really aim to be cryptic, but we don’t really want to talk about it as much as show it. And it’s not really ready to be shown, so all we can do is lightly titillate.

We’ve got our prototype working to the point that the idea is starting to be clear enough to show someone. So far Erik has done most of the coding with some help from Robot Co-op drop ins Doug Beaver and Todd Gehman. Jason from 37signals stopped in and helped us with some design. We are building on Ruby on Rails, and so far its getting nothing but accolades in the office.

We’ve got a lightweight XP process going with one week iterations. Task cards and data schemas are taped to the walls.

It’s great motivation to see progress on the product.

Oh yeah, and it’s got a codename! At Microsoft everything has a codename. They use the names of bars around ski lodges, types of butterflies, methods of killing with instruments at hand. Everyone battles for the “coolest codename”. But there is nothing worse than watching a team struggle to get a codename - the search team I worked on struggled for over a year - perhaps not the biggest difficulty they faced but likely symptomatic of those bigger challenges.

So here’s the first tentative step, introducing the product formally codenamed: “Snuzzle”. A long line of other pony names await!

We aren’t really sure how long it will take. We are sure we don’t know if it will work. We are aiming to have fun building it, speeding our way toward a trial, and trying to fail (or succeed) as fast as we can. That’s when the learning really starts. We hope it will be fun and useful. Our favorite things on the internet have these qualities in abundance: fun to use and useful, to, uh, use.

Posted by Josh Petersen | Thoughts |

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  1. [blockquote]
    Jason from 37signals stopped in and helped us with some design.

    Being able to have throw away lines like that is how you know you’re living right. I’m jealous. :)
    kellan    Oct 5, 7:33pm    #
  2. As long as we’re name dropping, I should mention that once, Kellan from laughingmeme.org dropped by and hung out with us for a bit, and that was pretty cool. :)
    Erik Benson    Oct 5, 11:46pm    #
  3. That’s insanely great. Josh, I think I understand where the inspiration for your codename scheme came, if your house is anything like mine. I can’t wait for “Moondancer” and “Sprinkles.”
    Carrick    Oct 6, 8:21pm    #
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