Over the weekend I had a POSITIVE EXPERIENCE AS A PROGRAMMER. So positive that it put me in a chipper mood all weekend- so chipper in fact that several days later I’m still using words like “chipper.” What could have happened to make me so happy? Someone told me that I had a bug in my code.
Last year I released the open source application LaunchLater. You might have heard me blog/tweet/facebook/yell about it. It has collected over 3800 downloads as of the time of this writing, though I haven’t received a lot of feedback.
The feedback I have received has come in a handful of forms. First there has been the immediate feedback of friends and coworkers who have used it. That has been infinitely helpful. Second, I gave a talk on it at a local .Net User Group meeting last fall and got some wonderful questions and suggestions. Third, every few weeks or so a blogger or tech site picks up on LaunchLater and decides to put up a post about it. Sometimes they will leave comments open and I get to see what people are saying about my software on their site. That has actually led to a couple of current features in the app.
But the feedback I had never received until last Friday was direct feedback from a stranger right on the Codeplex page itself, under the Discussions tab. A gentleman left me a message to say that so far the app is useless to him, due to a bug that prevents it from launching. He provided me an error message that had some vague details, and he informed me of his OS and architecture type. This was a WONDERFUL start. I wrote back, thanking him for notifying me, and asking him for more info from his Event Log. He got the info to me in a timely fashion, and by Saturday I had patched the code and provided him with a custom build. Through further communication he confirmed for me that the bug was squashed, so I released LaunchLater 2.1 to the public!
He further explained why he is using LaunchLater, so that he can more precisely control the execution of the XBMC software on his media center PC. I’ve never heard from anyone else using the app for that purpose so it was great to hear that my software helped him engineer a better user experience.
The full conversation is open for all to read on the site here.
I have no way to know right now how many others, of those 3800+ downloads, were users who experienced the same issue as this gentleman and simply uninstalled the app and didn’t say a word to me about it. Maybe none of them, who knows. But since this one user let me know about it, no one else will experience this bug.
The moral of this story is: when you have feedback for an open source developer, give it to them! You just might make them so happy that they blog about it!