Damon Cooper's BLOG
Viewing By Day : March 28, 2005 / Main
March 28, 2005
CFMX 7 Engineering Innovation
With CFMX 7 out the door, it's time again to survey the landscape, and while simultaneously helping make sure customers are successful with CFMX 7, look up to the horizon and the next major release.

We did some great things with CFMX 7, and it'll be a tough act to follow, for sure, but we have an amazing group of people ready and rarin' to go.

I believe strongly that we need to be very customer focused in whatever we build, with about 75% of what goes into a release being based on direct customer feedback, and, say, 25% based on engineering-directed items and team-driven innovation.

The Event Gateways, dynamic FlashPaper generation, Rich Forms, CFDOCUMENT syntax and other stuff are examples of the later, and are an important part of a groundbreaking release. For example, while nobody told us, "Hey, you need to make sure you have dynamic FlashPaper in there!", these are the the types of features that capture the imagination, make you pause for minute and go..."wait a minute...you mean I can do X in two lines of code??"

Where does this stuff come from anyway? Here's my off-the-cuff answer, take it for what it's worth (maybe nothing)...

1) Skunkworks. Stuff we're not really supposed to be working on, ending up with a prototype of proof of concept. Usually fueled by beer or spirits (good or bad...you decide).

2) Fallout from other feature discussion/whiteboard session/work. While working on Big Feature A, we realized in a moment of enlightenment, that not only could we end up with a very sweet architecture, but it would allow us to do Big Feature B, C, D and E later on. (Hey, doesn't someone have a skunkworks project going on around "D" now? Could we pull it in?), etc. The last part is usually fueled by beer.

3) Common problems and issues we see at the uber-level (as a product team, one of the benefits is to be able to see the actual curvature of the customer world and see these uber-trends, problems, etc). Typically a "Whoa" moment happens and multiple team members see it at the same time. The team is such a cohesive unit, we are all aware subconsciously of many of these items, and they can pop up at the right second from multiple people on the team. Spooky to see. Usually fueled by beer.

4) Informal conversations. Can happen in the hallway, and lunch time, over beers (see a trend here?), on the way to the bathroom (these are usually to-the-point), while on a chairlift while skiing, whatever. Get smart people who are tuned into customers and who get-things-done together with a whiteboard nearby, and watch what happens.

5) Someone's "Super-Sweet-If-We-Could-Do-It-One-Day" wish-list items. Everyone's got 'em. Some logical, some edging towards the fringes, but everyone's got ‘em, and when there's a vision for it, a passion for it, customer validation on it, etc, it can get done.

6) Other places/ways I'm sure I'm forgetting.

The innovation itself is an amazing process to be a part of, as most you know from your own incredible innovations with CF, and we're ready to roll once again.

Damon