Strategic Reassessment

5/31/2005 7:02:24 AM

Strategic Reassessment

Slate magazine has a article “My Days are Numbered,” which describes a Japanese number puzzle, sudoku, sweeping Britian (and poised to conquer the US). I download a trial computer program from sudoku.com. I spent a few hours playing it, although it’s about half as addictive as Tetris; the games take longer to play.

The owner expects to make a million dollars from his $15 computer game and book sales in the next year. What bothers me is that his software doesn’t look particularly difficult to write. I could probably whip an equivalent in a few days and bite off some of revenue stream… Tempting…

I trying to solve a hard software problem over a few years and ship a major application—something that looks and feels and has the richness of a Microsoft desktop application.

I am in the midst of a strategic reassessment, where I am considering spinning off various components of my major application and releasing them as they ready, and, then, fusing them back together at some later point into one whole, when I am able to deliver the final product. My application is really like a fusion of several different small applications.   

I don’t really have a business if I am only developing software. I am just longing to sell something. The upside of selling early is that I make an early income and, also, get valuable customer feedback. The downside is increasing complexity of development and longer time to market for the final product.

I have been building a desktop application framework, based on the MVC paradigm with an efficient but universal document data structures and intended to provide a look and feel and a level of richness found in Microsoft Office applications. The application framework would embody 90% of shared code. I use a zero-cost model for features, where consumers of the frameworks do not have to worry about interactions between features and cross-cutting infrastructure code such as persistence, undo, cut/paste, and so on. This way I could write a second and third application quickly, even while the first application took forever. I could also simultaneously improve all applications by enhancing the framework itself.

I have also been building a companion symbolic AI framework intended to produce startingly and unprecedented application intelligence and provide a unique competitive advantage. ( I already have had a couple people, who have approached me about potentially licensing my AI technology. )

Eric Sink advised in one “Business of Software” series article that entrepreneurs should “fail fast”… My philosophy was to “not fail”—meaning that cumulative work I put into this enterprise should be fully reusable and retargetable into a second idea, if my original idea fails.  In other words, my framework is more general purpose than the original idea, but, in order for this strategy to work, the framework itself must converge to a highly functional and extensible application.

This framework is a real test of my beliefs on software development and addresses the inefficiencies and lack of reuse that I noted about Microsoft development. Although I admit, that Microsoft is held to a higher bar of standards that all other software companies with burdens of compatibility, internationalization, and customer requirements.

Over time any framework becomes less relevant. I have some concern about how much my framework will be obsoleted by Avalon. On the other hand, I should be able to easily port my framework on top of Avalon, if need be. Avalon is more of a presentation framework than an application framework, and I am not sure it will deliver everything I need in my document layout in terms of performance, memory usage, extensibility and functionality. If I can draw to a low-level device context in the same way that I do in GDI/GDI+, then it should be fine. I am still skeptical about building trees of elements and suffering through retained mode for an advanced document-based application.

I sometimes wonder if new applications can one-up Microsoft Office by building on top of Avalon. Microsoft Word, for example, probably won’t have access to the Avalon’s advanced typography, animations, transforms, 3D effects, or hardware acceleration in its document rendering. Office, which has, for years, pioneered user interface advances in Windows, could quickly become stale-looking.

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My name is Wesner Moise. I am a software entrepreneur developing revolutionary AI desktop applications. I worked as a software engineer in Microsoft Excel group for six years during the 1990s. I worked on PivotTables and wrote the most lines of code in Excel 97-- about 10 times the median developer. I have a Harvard BA in applied math/computer science and a UCLA MBA in technology entrepreneurship. I am a member of the Triple Nine Society, a 99.9 percentile high-IQ society.

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