After many years at Microsoft, I've gotten used to a certain rhythm of shipping. It takes place over a period of months (and sadly, sometimes years) but the process is generally pretty similar. When shipping large client releases of software, where the cost of getting a fix out to all of your customers is high if you make a mistake somewhere along the way, you need to spend a lot of time in the planning stage and even more time in the stabilization, integration and testing phases of the product. Sometimes that last phase can last a year all by itself. Then it takes a few months for all of the CDs/DVDs to be made and shipped out to the store. By the time it hits the streets, you are often months into the next project.
Even when I was writing my shareware utilities like DragStrip, there was a lot of work involved in releasing an update, even to the internet. Installers, upgrade testing from all of the previous releases, documentation updates, email to users about the changes, etc.
The wonderful world of web services is very different. The distance from a development build to a shipped release is often as little as synchronizing some code to some servers and updating a database. Boom, you've gone from working for a few people to having your entire user base up and running on the latest version. You still need to go through the integration and validation periods but they are much shorter because the cost of getting a fix out is much MUCH smaller and, in all of the cases I'm working on, the code base is miniscule compared to things like, well, Windows.
This is not news to anyone who has worked on websites and web services before. The really cool thing for me at DeepRockDrive now, though, is the fact that the software we're building is not just live on the net, but it is LIVE, as in Live on Stage. I'm working on updates for our interactive show experience which users can tune in tomorrow at 5:00 to see. Take all of the excitement of shipping new code, and add in the excitement of a live show where, honestly, anything can happen. This week, it is updates to our in show set list voting mechanism where the fans get to vote on what the next song they want to hear next and then the band actually plays the top vote getter. At last week's show, we had some "challenges" with this so this week, its a big update to help it perform better. We can do all the stress testing we want on it, but we won't know for sure until the crowds come in and start voting. It's LIVE!
I have to say it is incredibly cool to have a challenge like this. We have some work we need to get done before the show, and we can't slip because, as they say, the show must go on. It creates a whole new kind of urgency in development and it is really nice to be able to get stuff out to our customers like this.
So if you haven't already, head over to DeepRockDrive and create an account. Then tomorrow, join us for The Objex at 5:00 PM PST. And while you're there, vote on my latest petition for National Geographic Live to come to DeepRockDrive.
Why? Because it's LIVE!