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July 04, 2008

A tale of tight turnaround

Just a quick post... I've been (and am still) on vacation this week (not doing anything very exciting, mostly cutting hedges and other miscellaneous garden work), but I queued up a few posts in order to keep things moving along while I was offline. One of the posts I put together was regarding the API to Project Draw, and it turned into quite an interesting chain of events. Here's a quick timeline, to explain what happened and when:

Monday June 23 - I spend some time looking at Project Draw's API, and draft an introductory post. I send it across to David Falck, from the Autodesk Labs team, for his information and mention in the email that a "deleteAllSessions" method would be useful, to avoid potential problems with sessions left hanging. I then queue up the post for publishing the following week, on Monday June 30. Later that day, David acknowledges the feedback on the API and says he'll look into implementing it.

Thursday June 26 - David emails me, letting me know the "deleteAllSessions" API call has been implemented in Project Draw 0.75.

Monday June 30 - my post goes live on Through the Interface. Within a few hours, the announcement for Project Draw 0.75 goes out. The addition of the API I'd requested invalidates a minor amount of the content of my post, which was based on 0.74 (but hey - at least it was accurate for a few hours, right? ;-).

The story this timeline tells is simple: the Autodesk Labs team is extremely responsive when presented with feedback on technology hosted on the their site. Getting onboard early with a project on Labs gives you the opportunity to steer the technology to meet your specific needs. And it can happen very quickly, if the stars are aligned.

One small word of caution: projects hosted on Labs are not guaranteed to become fully-fledged products or services. It's our way of connecting early with customers and developers to validate ideas: while some turn out to hit a sweet-spot in the market, others may be ahead of their time or may simply not be what's needed (and hence may evolve quite differently from the original plan). This should be kept in mind when deciding when and how heavily to invest in a particular technology... for instance: I would have no qualms about implementing a system based on Autodesk Freewheel (as it has successfully made the transition out of the Lab), but I would be cautious about depending on features only made available through Project Freewheel.

As long as you keep this in mind, evaluating and providing feedback on Autodesk Labs technologies can be extremely rewarding: you get the opportunity to work with very talented people on cutting edge technologies, steering them to meet your business needs.

Right - I'd better get back on with my vacation... I'm just heading off with the family to Prague for the weekend to play in Autodesk Europe's annual football (meaning soccer) tournament. This year I'm part of a divisional team - largely made up of members of the DevTech team - and I'm very much looking forward to it!

Oh, and a happy July 4th to those of you who celebrate it but are still trawling blog posts. :-)

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