Posted by campbell
on July 9, 2003 at 10:20 AM PDT
When the only feedback you receive from customers comes in the form of bug reports, it's kind of like your boss walking into your office 20 times a day just to yell at you. Positive feedback makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and it also gives us an idea of how developers are using our technologies.
I grew up in a small town in upstate New York called Red Hook. In that small town is our little old family cabin, known as "The Camp". That little cabin overlooks a small pond, and floating in the middle of that small pond this holiday weekend was a whole slew of old friends and family. And amongst the slew was a satisfied Java developer (and I'm not referring to myself). Go figure.
Let's refer to this developer as Jolene. After all, she's doing top-secret research at MERL (Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs) in Cambridge, and we wouldn't want to blow her cover. Anyway, as we floated in the lake and soaked up the sunburn, Jolene gave me a general description of the research she was working on at MERL. Cool stuff, but I was curious about the underlying technology. (Back at Georgia Tech, I found that most researchers were not fans of the Java platform, which pained me to no end, so I was wondering if that was the same everywhere.) Well, Jolene told me they were making heavy use of JMF, JAI, Java 2D, and plenty more. Although she couldn't delve into the details, she explained how each technology played a role in their project. She didn't have any complaints about these technologies, but she had concerns about deployment, so I described how Java WebStart might make her life easier. She was excited about the possibilities.
"Fantastic!", I thought. This was just the kind of customer interaction we (at Sun) wish we could have on a more frequent basis. And there we were, in the middle of nowhere, having this conversation. (Just then, a couple other friends realized we were talking about Java on vacation, and gave us a well-formed cannonball off the raft, effectively throwing water on the conversation. They were right, of course; beer, hot dogs, and lounging take precedent when you're on holiday.)
The point of the story, if there is one, is that we only hear about what our customers are working on (and what they think of our technologies) when things go wrong. All the little shops in my hometown proudly display all the letters of commendation they've received over the years. It's pretty rare that we receive such a letter at our offices at Sun. (When we do, they go straight to the hallway wall; it's kind of like putting a good report card on the refrigerator.)
This isn't surprising, though. It's great to have so many Java developers out there, keeping us on our toes, posting their concerns on JavaLobby, always motivating us to push the envelope with Java technologies. Wouldn't it be strange if Tom Tomorrow or Garry Trudeau all of a sudden penned a strip praising George W. Bush?
Okay, maybe that's a bad example. But I know for a fact that there are thousands of satisfied Java developers/users out there. We'd really like to hear from you... Everyone could use a little confidence boost every now and then, right? Send us mail and let us know how you're using our products, what you like about them, what you don't like... Or just say hello.
In my ears: Led Zeppelin, "How The West Was Won"