I’ve been rather quiet lately on this weblog — mainly because we’ve been working so hard at Fog Creek getting ready for the beta of CityDesk, our flagship product. But I’d like to spend some time now talking about the design and development of CityDesk, because it’s a great case study for the kind of software development practices that I’ve been advocating here for more than a year. Over the next few columns, I’ll focus on “The Story of CityDesk,” with a look at some of the behind-the-scenes, day-to-day stories of a real software development project.
We’re launching the beta on October 15th — just three days away! This is officially On Time. We made a schedule for shipping CityDesk way back in June. We figured out estimates for all the remaining tasks and bug fixes, added them up, and got October 15th.
Every couple of weeks, we checked through our task list, revised estimates, and so forth. We’ve found a lot of bugs over that time and added a lot of small features, but we’ve also killed a lot of features that we just won’t have time for. And lo and behold, now we are almost completely done. Most of what we’re doing these days is getting set up to run the beta. Michael added a dialog box to CityDesk for sending feedback. He also wrote some very spiffy code that catches any unhandled exception on any copy of CityDesk running anywhere in the world, prevents the app from crashing, and pushes the exception info up to our FogBUGZ bug tracking database here in New York City. I’ve been fixing bugs, writing the help file, and writing some pages for our corporate web site that will explain what CityDesk is and why you would buy it.