Glory and DaNger

But the bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it. - Thucydides

I’ve had that quote on my wall on a Tiger Woods poster for the last three years. I’m not even a huge Tiger Woods fan. I am just such a huge fan of the quote that I want it up somewhere in the room. “Glory and danger alike”—I can’t help but think of GotDotNet when that phrase comes up (yes, that was intentional capitalization on the title of this blog entry). Maybe that’s why I jumped at the chance to work on it. I think there was a rumor internally that GotDotNet was on the "green mile", walking its last moments to oblivion. Y’know, wake up one morning and it just gone, like Matt Damon at the end of “Good Will Hunting” (did I just mix movie metaphors?). Well, bottom line is this: GotDotNet is not going down without a fight and I plan to be a major part of that fight….

Well, my first two weeks at the helm of the GDN ship have been a combination of exciting and turbulent. The excitement has been around the opportunity to work with my new team, which includes Betsy Aoki and Korby Parnell, both of whom have a tremendous enthusiasm for what can be accomplished with GotDotNet. We had a four-hour session last week where we got a conference room and shared what we thought GDN could and should be. It was exciting to hear both of their ideas, especially since they come from such different worlds and backgrounds. Betsy has pretty much been the face of GDN for a while now and hears all the praise/anger that you guys funnel to the GDN feedback alias (she’s heard more nasty stuff than I did when I was a telemarketer in college). She’s a ferocious defender of the customers that she has connected with (especially the nice ones, so be nice). After years of being told to focus on the enterprise developer, she puts me in my place whenever I drift back to that level of myopia about GDN overall and reminds me of all the different types of developers that use (and yes love) GotDotNet. She’s a defender of the up-and-coming developer using GDN as a learning tool the way Keith Pleas has been my conscience for VB (to the smart-aleck C# dev out there, no, that’s not necessarily the same thingJ). Korby comes to us from the source code control team in the Developer Division and has some excellent ideas about collaborative development. He’s extremely entrepreneurial (a man after my own heart) and I am excited to see him cut loose and really feel the pulse of the customer and convert it into something actionable. In fact, for those of you who have opinions on user samples, contact Korby and let him know your thoughts. I was at a meeting with Chris Sells last week and when I mentioned we were taking on GDN and user samples, he immediately stopped me and made me listen to his three ideas (I’m glad we stopped—they were good ideasJ). The possibilities are limitless, right? We just need to prioritize and crank ‘em out.

Ah, but then, of course, there is the turbulence. And by turbulence, I mean the current state of Workspaces. We had several bug fixes (yes, Workspaces has its issues and we are trying to alleviate them as best as we can in the short term), OS patches, and some required upgrades to maintain internal compliance. In the test environment, all was well and we assumed a smooth upgrade. Unfortunately, that was not the case in production and there have been challenges in even rolling back. Have you ever been in a situation where you are caught between here and there? As an ex-baseball player, the analogy is when you are caught in a rundown between 3rd and Home. Things don’t look good and you feel “hung out to dry” by the situation, but you can’t call time out and think about it.

So, suffice it to say, this hasn’t been a good week for us and Thursday night, we just had to do a full reset at a late hour in Redmond (which, unfortunately is a normal hour in China and created some issues for my former p&p colleagues that were doing a session out there). The errors are a challenge to reproduce (there are times when I have zero issues and then other times where I am completely powerless), so it makes fixing them even harder. We thought we were through the worst of it, but we continue to have errors and work on it. Betsy has been a trooper on this, working hard with the team to make the fixes as quickly as possible, but sometimes it’s just impossible to track. For those of you who use GDN (including those that use it for Enterprise Library), I am truly sorry. I know how important this is to you guys and I apologize, but there’s little more I can do at this point other than say that we are working on it and we are trying to do what’s right for the long term of the site. To draw on the baseball analogy, we are running towards Home knowing that if we make it, we score one for the team…

Going back to the excitement, I can also say that we are planning to make the GDN experience a better one than it is right now. We know the #1 priority is on reliability + stability (I love the words of Craig Andera on the topic and I consider them a mantra) and we also know that once we entrench ourselves there are many exciting things we can do to bring the original spirit of the site back. I know that is small consolation given your needs and I wish I could promise you a great solution tomorrow, but we have to face facts and the fact is that we inherited code that wasn’t built to scale. This will take time and, with your patience, I really think there’s plenty of Thucydides’ glory in it for all of us in the .NET developer community.

{REM – Up}