Archive for March 2006

A lot of travelling 05 Mar

Somewhere in the world, there's a conference organizing school, and they must teach you there that all conferences have to be held during March. This month I'll be in California more than New York:

First stop: O'Reilly ETech in San Diego, where I'll give a quick status report on the state of affairs in UI design. At another session, I'll give some tips on usability testing.

Then to Austin for SXSW where I'm on some kind of panel entitled Sink or Swim: The Five Most Important Startup Decisions. Here's a good startup decision: work on your products instead of hanging out at "interactive festivals" in Texas.

Next, it's back to California for SDWest 2006 where Tyler and I will take questions at a screening of Aardvark'd and, hopefully, bring home some lucite beverages.

After a few minutes at home, I'll be appearing at Eclipsecon (Is Java the new Cobol?) and visiting Y Combinator.

Usability in One Easy Step 07 Mar

“Bad usability in the design of aircraft controls can result in what is cheerfully referred to as CFIT: Controlled Flight Into Terrain.

“The usability of your product may not be quite as critical. If you're lucky, the mistakes you make in usability design will merely cause people to lose limbs, or, heck, even just thumbs. No biggie!”

Read on: Usability in One Easy Step

(You may recognize this article as an extensively rewritten version of beginning of my book UI for Programmers. Indeed, I'm in the process of expanding and revising most of that book, and that's what you're reading here.)

Software Development Productivity Awards 16 Mar

Fog Creek Copilot won the Software Development 16th Annual Productivity Award in the "Utilities" category. All credit for this cool award goes to the interns who developed it in one summer: Tyler, Ben, Michael, and Yaron!

FogBugz 4.0 won the Productivity Award in the "Defect Tracking, Change, and Configuration Management" category. Congratulations to the whole FogBugz team!

Productivity Awards are sort of like runners-up for the Jolt Awards... there are three Productivity winners in each category but only one Jolt. In the Utilities category, the Jolt went to TechSmith for Camtasia, the demo-making software we use and love here at Fog Creek (check out the flash demo of FogBugz we made with Camtasia last year).

Software Development magazine, which gives the awards each year, started out as Computer Language, and now they just announced that they are merging with Dr. Dobbs Journal and taking over the Dr. Dobbs name. Eric Sink's blog post about the eventual death of developer magazines seems prescient.

What's the Joel Reddit? 20 Mar

The new reddit site at is joel.reddit.coma place for you, my readers, to post links to sites and articles on the web that you found interesting.

In addition to posting and browsing links, you can vote them up or down. The newest links with the highest vote show up on the main "hot" page. There is also a "new" page which lists all the newly-posted links, and some other nifty features which I'm sure you'll discover soon enough.

What's the point?

The main idea is to share interesting links from around the Internet with other Joel on Software readers and with me. Anything is fair game... post whatever you want, but use your voting power to vote for things you found interesting (and vote down spam, duplicates, and boring things). If all goes well, a bunch of interesting stuff will float to the top.

Check out my thing!

Every day I get at least a half dozen emails of the form, "check out my thing!" with a URL for some startup or widget or interesting article that someone wrote. I love 'em but I don't always have time to read them and it's vanishingly unlikely that I will ever link to them, because that's not really what this site is all about. Well, the Joel reddit will solve this problem. If you wrote something interesting that you want to publicize, just put it up on the reddit. If it really is interesting, other people will vote it up and it will get noticed. If it isn't interesting, go work on making it more interesting and post it again.

OK, Stop Asking Question and post some interesting links!

Special thanks to Alexis, Steve, and all the kind folks at for setting this up, and special thanks to Alexis for drawing "Blowhard Pundit Joel," with microphone and podium, to match their cool reddit alien mascot.

Best Software Writing - Volume II 31 Mar

Last year, working with Apress, I put together a book called The Best Software Writing I full of great articles about software development from around the web. I was hoping to encourage better writing about software, as I wrote in the introduction:

The software development world desperately needs better writing. If I have to read another 2000 page book about some class library written by 16 separate people in broken ESL, I’m going to flip out. If I see another hardback book about object oriented models written with dense faux-academic pretentiousness, I’m not going to shelve it any more in the Fog Creek library: it’s going right in the recycle bin. If I have to read another spirited attack on Microsoft’s buggy code by an enthusiastic nine year old Trekkie on Slashdot, I might just poke my eyes out with a sharpened pencil. Stop it, stop it, stop it!

Anyway, that book was a big hit so I think it's time for volume II.

Here's how it works. Nominate your favorite articles by posting links using the discussion group. All nominations must include the nominator's full name and correct email address or they will not be considered.

Check out some of the articles that are already there and add your comments. Nominations will be accepted until April 15th.

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