Wednesday, January 31, 2024

I don't want to be interesting

Do Interesting: Notice. Collect. Share - by Russell Davies

This is a great book. I heartily recommend it. However, I don't think it's interesting.

I don't think it's interesting because I don't like that word. 

"Interesting" is vague.

"Interesting" is meaningless.

"Interesting" is a word people use when they don't know what else to say.

Try it. Next time someone tells you about something "interesting", ask them what made it interesting or why they thought it was interesting.

Or consider when someone tells you they "have something 'interesting' to tell you." Is it really interesting? Or is it gossip? Or is it something they don't have a better description for?

"Interesting" is unspecific and unconsidered. Not the book, the concept.

 That's not what I want to be, or do, or be thought of.

Here are some much better adjectives (in no particular order):


Don't those sound more appealing?

It's the first three items on that list (challenging, inspiring, thought-provoking) that I think apply to that book, too.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Lessons from mobile notifications applied to IDE Extensions

TLDR: If you want to prompt "the user" to do something, let them get value from what you provide first.

Dog with pleading eyes

Photo by Jennifer Latuperisa-Andresen on Unsplash

Mobile apps want ratings and reviews. These are also valuable for open-source projects. This applies in a marketplace/store or as libraries/bundles/packages for download.

Increasingly, in the open-source world, the issue of sustainability is also a consideration.

Among other things that contribute to sustainability is financial support.

I use a variety of approaches across my open-source projects to try and encourage such compensation via Google Sponsors.

It doesn't make a massive impact on my finances but it has been enough to make a difference and was also the only way I could afford an unexpected tax bill when I was out of work during the pandemic!
Regardless of the amount or duration, I will always be grateful to those who have (and still are) sponsoring me. Thank YOU!

Yes, I ignore the amount and duration. All my sponsors get access to the same benefits, be it a one-off amount of $1 or recurring amounts of much more. (I previously did more analysis of these differing durations and amounts.)

Anyway, one of the approaches I use to encourage people to consider becoming a sponsor is a message displayed in the output window asking them. (If they do, I also tell them how to make such a message not appear.--No phoning home. No personal data is collected. 😉)

This approach isn't appreciated by everyone but seems to be very effective, as I have more people sponsoring me than most other people I'm aware of who casually contribute to open-source projects.

My approach to monetizing my projects is very much inspired by donationware, and most software made available in this way doesn't hold back from asking for donations. 

I had been following this approach but wondered if a different technique might be more effective.

In the latest update to my C# Inline Color Vizualizer extension, I changed the behavior determining how visible the encouragement to become a sponsor is.

Instead of always displaying the message to the user, it loads it in the background but only actively shows it once it is at least 7 days since it was first used and it has been used to annotate at least 100 files. The goal is to let the person become familiar with seeing the benefits of using the tool before asking anything of them. The theory is that they will then be more inclined to respond to the message.

I must have said and heard the same advice applied to mobile notifications hundreds of times but had somehow overlooked its wider application.

If you're not familiar with the extension, it adds examples of the. Like this. Why not give it a try?

Partial screenshot of the VS editor showing what the specified color looks like.

I plan to add similar changes of behavior to my other Visual Studio extensions as is appropriate to the way they work and what they do. I'll share details here if it proves effective or I learn anything insightful.

It's not only about the money I get. I like that this encourages more people to think about the sustainability of their tools. I think such messages do this, and the fact that most of my sponsors aren't sponsoring other people (yet) makes me hope that I'm just the first of many or that they find other ways to support the software they use (if not rely on.)

Sunday, January 14, 2024