October 24, 2013



We’re trying a new approach to finishing Tinderbox Six, the big new release of our Tool For Notes. In place of “testers”, we’re issuing a few backstage passes.

“Backstage Pass” is a better metaphor for artisanal software. We’re not coding to some management spec. We’re not just trying to please One Big Customer. We’re building the best software we can, and we’re finding ways to do stuff that hasn’t been done before. (The term “maximum viable product” could have been coined for Tinderbox.)

Some people are curious about the process. Some people are eager to make sure the new Tinderbox does what they need it to do. Some people have great design ideas and would love to see them implemented.

Obviously it’s not for everyone – and there’s not enough room backstage for everyone. And we need a marketing war chest for the Tinderbox Six launch. So, we’re selling tickets. Some tickets aren’t very expensive, others cost more; there will be some benefits for the more expensive tickets, but mostly it’s “pay what you can”, like an art museum. Or like Alinea and Next, restaurants where you buy tickets instead of making reservations..

We offered 24 tickets last Friday to a small list of long-time Tinderbox testers, to give them first shot. They snapped them all up, in just a few hours. That’s enormously gratifying.

We’ve set up a special discussion board and some Dropboxes and we’re working on more infrastructure and hunting for more space backstage. Just from the weekend discussion, we’ve addressed about twenty problems and scheduled half a dozen cool new features.

It’s not all kittens and skittles. We’re using Glassboard for discussion, in part because it’s got good mobile notification, but I’m not sure all those mobile updates are an entirely good thing. Discussing things like interface animation can be tricky; when someone says “this is really slow!” do they mean “it took 200ms” or “it took 5 minutes” or do they mean “this animation is lame?”

If all goes well, we’ll have a few more tickets next week. If you want to be sure you receive an invitation, Email me.