Setting Priorities

Joel Spolsky writes about developing software products and setting priorities for features. First advice: “If you ever find yourself implementing a feature simply because it has been promised to one customer, RED DANGER LIGHTS should be going off in your head. If you’re doing things for one customer, you’ve either got a loose cannon sales person, or you’re slipping dangerously down the slope towards consultingware. And there’s nothing wrong with consultingware; it’s a very comfortable slope to slip down, but it’s just not as profitable as shrinkwrap software.”

Flash and Web Apps

Alex Bosworth asks if Flash is the missing piece for web applications:

‘m not talking about the interface, but about the underlying data power afforded by Flash. The ability to make persistent socket connections alone has huge implications for rich app development. Flash also has more access to the multimedia parts of your computer, enabling things like Google Video. Also the browser side caching story with the limitations of cookies is pretty nuts in the days of 500 gig hard-drives.

The big development with the new Flash release is that Macromedia is starting to realize in a round about way that people aren’t willing to give up html for Flash: Flash can now seamlessly communicate with Javascript.

This means you could do something like a voice chat web application with an html+css interface. Or GMail could avoid refreshing every 15 min and just get the email when it’s sent. Or Google Reader could store blog entries in the Flash cache and avoid being so horribly slow. (Maybe even work offline?)

XBox 360

The New York Times writes about “a game console for the rest of us.”

n the coming weeks, Microsoft plans to introduce a marketing campaign to expand the appeal of the new Xbox 360 game console beyond the young men who are the Xbox’s biggest fans.

Brochures going out to major retailers like Best Buy prominently describe the 360’s ability to double as a DVD player, play music from an MP3 player through a television’s speakers and even display digital photos on a TV. Its game functions, while impressive, are now only part of the message.

The point, said Bill Nielsen, who oversees marketing for the Xbox 360, is to help a game player convince the women in the family that “this is for you, too, not just for me to play Madden,’ ” referring to the John Madden football game.