June 18, 2009

After WatirCraft

As I've announced elsewhere earlier this month, Pete Dignan and I are shutting down WatirCraft LLC. We've each decided to go our separate ways. For several months now Pete has been focussing his attentions on his other business, ProtoTest. Next month, I will begin a full-time position at Convio as a QA engineer.

Both of us will probably continue to be involved with the Watir. Prototest has projects that are using Watir and the WatirCraft framework, and Convio has recently standardized on using Watir internally.

WatirCraft funded my work with Watir last year. There is certainly more work that needs to be done, but it will happen, as it had before, as a result of volunteer labor. I'm not sure how much time I will have for this going forward, but we have a lot of contributors and volunteers, so I have confidence that Watir will continue as an active project regardless of my own involvement.

The watircraft framework is a bit more up in the air. The original idea was to build a pretty good framework as open-source and then offer additional products and services that built on that. A lot of people like what we've developed so far, but it clearly could use more work. I'm not sure what is actually going to happen. I think its a good start and would certainly use it as a basis for any Watir test suites that I develop personally (e.g. at Convio). Convio also has been mostly using the Rasta framework, so I am looking at integrating that with the watircraft framework. Needless to say, the watircraft framework is open-source and hosted on github, so anyone is free to fork it and add features.

We set up Watirbuild.com to host continuous integration of the Watir project. This was originally set up by WatirCraft, but i'm now paying for the hosting of this site personally, as part of my personal commitment to the Watir project.

WatirCraft also developed Watir-based training. Over the past couple of months, I've taught this a couple of times, and have had good feedback from it. Both Pete and I have retained the rights to deliver training based on these materials, but I don't have any immediate plans, nor as far as I'm aware does Pete.

I'm trying to take a break from Watir right now -- from development of the driver and frameworks, from training and consulting. This is hard because there is so much momentum, and it pains me to risk losing that. We're ready to make a new release of Watir shortly. I have a roadmap for the watircraft framework based on all the feedback we've gotten. And I have leads for consulting. But I can only do so much, and I fear that too much of what I have been doing has been done out of inertia or a sense of obligation.

What I really want to do right now is write about Watir: why it has been important to me, the vision I've had for it, and the challenges that lie ahead. Stay tuned.

Posted by bret at 02:47 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2009

Books for Startups

Over the past year, I've been working on a startup software business. We're in the process of shutting it down now, actually, but that's a different story. During the past year, I've learned a lot about startups and business models. Two books have been particularly helpful to me in understanding the challenge of a startup and helping me focus on what's important.

Art of the Start, by Guy Kawasaki. The first few chapters are available for free download, and may be all that you need. This is a great book to help you with your business plan -- or better yet -- with your pitch. I went back to this book several times.

Founders at Work, by Jessica Livingston. Fascinating stories of the early days of technology startups. Based on interviews, there are stories both new companies and old. In several accounts, inside information is revealed about startups you've already read about. Learn about how Jobs ripped off Wozniak in Apple's early days, and how Wozniak feels about it now.

I strongly recommend these books for any one involved in a software startup.

Posted by bret at 04:05 PM | Comments (1)