Friday, December 16, 2005

Avoiding the temptation to gold plate

Developers are notorious for wanting to build every feature possible into their software, particularly features that people don't want or need, but that seem cool to the developer. I am trying very hard to avoid this particular temptation, even as my list of tickets grows. Initially I'm trying to focus on building the main components of the core system, and avoid things that I don't view as essential. Of course there are some things that I think need to be in the software that probably don't *have* to be there. One example is the community ranking system I am incorporating in. The system doesn't have to have it, but in the end, for the site to be successful we need as much community participation as we can possibly get, so I feel like that subsystem needs to be there even to launch an alpha test.

It's interesting because as I initially started building this system, I didn't think it would take this long. If I were going to build a site like digg or reddit I could've had the system done in a matter of days rather than weeks. However my main goal with this system is to build something that will ultimately be more useful than either, and doing that has been both interesting and challenging. To change a phrase from the Princess Bride. Our ranking system will be terribly useful, I think everyone will do it this way in the future.

We are nearing the time where I will be ready for some alpha testers, and my key focus will be how the social algorithm works. Is it useful? Are the news items important and relevant? There are a million digg and reddit clones popping up, but I'm aiming for Zifus to be an evolutionary step beyond those system. Hopefully with the help of the community we'll be able to build a system that bring useful and relevant information to your fingertips.

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