Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Feedback changes

I probably should not write this first paragraph publicly. The beta list has been awash lately with phrases like, "I really like this new spirit of openness," "thanks for keeping us informed" and even "thanks for listening, the changes are much better than your original proposal."

And then comes the announcement that the current feedback system is being replaced and will no longer be searchable. We can no longer see other people's reports.

Within seconds, I hit the bookmark to my watchlist, so I could pdf my outstanding reports.
But they had already gone.

That's what really irritates me. The sudden withdrawal of the data I keep around to remind me of workarounds to bugs I or others have already found.

If RS need a better project management system, it hardly comes as a surprise.

If they want to use its built-in bug-tracking, I hope and expect it will work better for them.

If they have decided to use a hosted system rather than host their own copy, who am I to argue.

And if they don't want to waste resources creating non-standard versions of FogBugz, nobody will suggest they look like a company with engineers to spare.

Other people complain that thousands of customers are being asked to waste their time to save a bit of centralized time at RS. This may be true but it may well be worthwhile.

It's the lack of notice that leads to the conspiracy theories.

What could be a possible motive for withdrawing the old data?

  • RS don't want the world at large to be able to see how many bugs they have?

What could be a possible motive for giving no notice?
  • To make it more difficult for some third-party to compile a website (wiki?) listing outstanding bugs?

It may well be that neither of these is the case.

It may well be that RS's normal policy of secrecy has engendered an attitude where, when considering a change, nobody even thinks to ask until the last minute, "How should we communicate with our customers to cause least upset?"

Personally, I really hope FogBugz works well for RS and I'll live with whatever decisions they make about customer access.

If I find a bug that doesn't affect me personally, it's quite likely I will assume somebody else has reported it.

If somebody else posts a bug to a mailing list or forum that does affect me, it's quite likely I will assume they may not have reported it and will paste a copy of it (altered as required to fit my personal prejudices) straight into the feedback system.

I'm sure somebody else will provide hosting for a public bug-list out of RS's control.
If so, I will do my best to contribute.

And just for the record, my business doesn't rely on RB at all.

So if I see RS getting heavy-handed with anyone that tries to maintain a public bug-list, I will just decide that RS is not a company with whom I need a business relationship any more.

It's a real shame I am even beginning to feel that way. My goodwill towards RS has been sky-high lately because stuff seemed to be moving in the right direction.

If I had had a few days notice that my watchlist was going to disappear, I would be slightly irritated but would now be posting "give it a while to see how it works" messages in reply to the current storm of complaints.


Danny said...

I just resigned from the beta team and have pretty much given up using realbasic.
Since moving to cocoa and .net I have seen how limited rb is. In fact I would go as far as to say the only thing it is good for is maintainting 1 code base for cross platform products.
I hope RS digs itself out of the hole it seems to be getting in and creates a product that I can use once again. Unfortunately, I just dont see that happening.

Bob Keeney said...

I think you should leave the conspiracy theories at the door. The old bug system still had open bugs from the 5.5 (and earlier) days! There was no way they were going to be able to clean it up and not piss people off. There are so many non-relevant bugs in the database that searching for anything in particular was a nightmare (in my opinion).

The new bug tracking system allows them to make a clean start. From what I've heard, FogBugz is one of the best and it has some extremely nice features that will help RS out in nailing down IDE bugs.

I do, however, agree that not being able to search the bug database is a bad idea. I would recommend that there be a public and private section with the public section being searchable. This would help restore some faith.

I would also have kept the old bug database around so people can still search and possibly vote on bugs though it sounds more and more like RS never paid attention to the feedback votes anyway.

Anyway, my 2 cents on it.

Anonymous said...

Just so you know RS is completely re-branding RB, right down to the icon.
I can't post this on the forums as it would reveal my identity but I feel some people should know.

Aaron Ballman said...

@Anonymous -- LOL, that is the most ridiculous fear mongering I've seen yet. You can't post it to the forums for fear of being called to task on it, is more likely.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

@Aaron Ballman - Not fear mongering, I want the re-brand.

Steve Garman said...

I'm a lot happier now because I've got my old watchlist back and RS are at least trying to address people's concerns about searching for workarounds.
I think wer're back into "thanks for listening" territory.
I'll probably blog about this later.