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website development company in chicago(website development company in chicago)

author | Herb Caudill

Translator | Unhappy

Survive,Still death,this is a problem。Rewrite,Still don't rewrite,This is another problem that leads to survival or death.。

This is a very old suit:Should you override the application??Or this is“Any strategic mistake of any software company will commit”?perhaps,For a very mature code base,This is not a two choice questions.。

About 20 Ago,Joel Spolsky His article“Things You Should Never Do”Net-writer Netscape The behavior of the code library has been excluded。

(website development company in chicago)he thinks,Never rewrite functional applications,because:

  • The part of the application code library looks very roughly contains all kinds of boundary use cases and strange bug Related information,And this information is usually not easy.。
  • Rewinding the app is a very time consuming job,It not only can't let you improve existing products,And during this time,Competitors may take the opportunity to approach you。

For most people,Jole The point of view has become a certain creed。I also admit,At that time, I have also affected his point of view.。

In the next few years,I have heard some different point of view.。These views believe,In some cases,Rewinding applications is also meaningful。E.g:

  • sometimes,The legacy code library does confuse the confusion,Even the simplest change also needs to change the other parts of the code to change。
  • The initial technical selection may hinder your improvement system。
  • The initial technology may have been outdated,Recruiting high quality developers become difficult(Or high cost)。

Of course,The correct answer is,This depends to a large extent on the actual situation。Sometimes gradually reconstructing legacy code will more meaningful,Sometimes I throw away the old code and restart will make more meaningful。

But this is not the only choice。Let's take a look at the six stories below,See what lesson can be drawn from it。

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1. Netscape

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Netscape Navigator Be in the earliest 1994 Annual release,After the release of less than two years,Netscape company 30 Billion IPO Opened the Internet era。

Netscape The first real competitor is Microsoft 1996 Annual IE Browser。

(website development company in chicago)1998 Year,Netscape Still a leading browser,But just barely lead。Netscape The retail price is 49 Dollar,Microsoft free gift IE,And use it as the default browser and Windows Release together。

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Publish Netscape 4.0 Later,Netscape Company announced free to provide free 5.0 Version,And a company funded by the company Mozilla Open source community is responsible for development。

This is basically an unprecedented example at the time.,Netscape company won people's respect because of this bold move。However,The community has not really fulfilledpromise。Jamie Zawinski One of the earliest developers of the browser,He explained:

In fact,due to Mozilla The contributors of the project include approximately 100 Full-time Netscape Developers and approximate 30 External part-time developer,So this project is actually completely online.。

The conclusion of the team is,External developers are not interested in this open source project,Because the existing code library is too chaos:

Code is too complicated,Too rough,Milous modification,People can't even add new code,This is why we have to switch to the new code base。In theory,A clearest new code base is easier to let people understand,It is also easier for them to contribute code。

Start from the beginning

one year later,This group decided to give up 5.0 Version,And start from the beginning 6.0 Version。

After two years,Netscape 6.0 Finally released。But even after so long,It still does not prepare for the release。《New York Times》commentator David Pogue Say,It takes a minute to start.,Not only has a lot of memory,And some simple features of the previous generation browser。

But these are not the most important。exist Netscape Stagnation,IE Already grab all the remaining market share。

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1999 year,When rewriting work is still in progress,AOL by 100 The price of billion dollars acquired Netscape Company。

exist Netscape 6.0 After two years,AOL Internal Netscape The team was disbanded.。

Mozilla Continue 2002 Yearned Firefox Browser——This is another completely rewriting。but Firefox It is really trying to take some market share from Microsoft.。

But as a company,Net view is dead。It is embarrassing,exist 2012 Year AOL After reaching an agreement,Microsoft finally took away the remaining intellectual property of net views。

After winning this battle,Microsoft reduces inputs to browser technology。IE 6.0 At 2001 Annual release,Thereafter 5 No upgrade,Some people think that Microsoft is interested in doing it.,The purpose is to stop Web Platform development。

Learned lesson

people think that,In the long term,Rewriting is not necessarily a disaster,Because this project finally gave birth Gecko Engine and Firefox Browser。

But for many years,In the process of waiting for the new browser,because IE6 Endless monopoly,We have to endure Web Technology stagnation。Final end IE6 The era is not Firefox,But Google Chrome。

No matter how,The problem now is not to write Web Is there any benefit?,It is not a good decision from the company's perspective.。The fading of the net view is not entirely because of rewriting——The court believes that Microsoft has abused their monopoly status.。

But rewrite is still a contributor,The final result is to destroy a company worth hundreds of millions of dollars.,Thousands of people。so,I agree Joel the opinion of,The result of this rewriting is catastrophic。

2. Basecamp

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2000 Early,A named Chicago 37signals Web design company because of its founder Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson A batch of followers。

2004 year,They have developed a project management tool for internal use,And use it as a SaaS Service release,Named Basecamp。

that time,Subscribe software is still a very fresh thing。Project management tools are installed in the box,Four digits price tags,Also thick manual,All is about how to model key paths and build complex Gantt charts。

Basecamp Sold price is monthly 50 Dollar,Its interface is super simple,Very paying attention to communication effect,Give people a new feeling。

a few years later,Basecamp The user has reached 50 Ten thousand,There are checks in the month.,but Jason and David Start feeling anxious。

Years ago,I heard in the software industry meeting. David Tell this story。He said,He not only believes Joel Spolsky The rewriting software will destroy the company,And agile movement also inspired his own self-righteous:

I am completely attracted by the concept of excellence software.。Those code is unlimited,Legacy code is invaluable treasure。You can change anything,Any software,Any code can be rewritten。If the software is difficult to modify,That is your fault。You are a bad programmer,You must learn better。

However,In his so-called“Seven harvest years”Later,They caught in trouble——And all of this is not related to technical debt。

Gold handcuffs

(website development company in chicago)They began to find that their enthusiasm began to regain。They not only have no motivation to develop flagship products,Even if they don't use their own products。

They have a lot about how to get better ideas fundamentally,But because there are already thousands of users Basecamp Build their workflow,Every change they make will cause destructive impact on many people.。at this time,Give changing, impedably not a rough code base,But the user。

In order to make existing customers satisfied,They are equal to frozen products,Unable to attract new customers。This is not an imminent problem for the company.,But a long-term threat。

Part of the problem is,You can only hear their voice from existing customers.,But I can't hear anything from future customers.。

They began to realize,Their products become a set of golden handcuffs。

They start to rewrite Basecamp,A great result。They spent about one year,exist Basecamp 2 Post-release,The new registered users have turned back。

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They have done two interesting things,I think this is the reason they succeed.。

first,They have not tried to rebuild existing products,Because they have a new idea for the problem to be solved.。

They Basecamp 2 As a brand new product,And does not guarantee it to be compatible backwards Basecamp Classic。There are a lot of things to be new,Some things have been removed,There are still a lot of things that become completely different.。

(website development company in chicago)This decision gives them a certain degree of freedom。Freedom is a power,And powerful people will do more。

Eliminate the harm of old products

So what should other hundreds of thousands of existing users do??Because of moving their cheese,So they complained。

This will lead to the second interesting thing they do.,They did not eliminate old products。

David Poke,If you force users to pack away,Be committed“The most serious strategic mistake in history”:Because if so,These users will consider continuing to use your software or simply transfer to other places.。

Basecamp choose“Respect their legacy users”:They simplify the user's upgrade path,And don't ask them to leave Basecamp Classic。Not only that,They also promise will continue to support and maintain indefinitely Basecamp Classic。

What is even more surprised is,Four years later,They have been over again:They are 2015 Yearned Basecamp 3,This is also a rewrite version,Delete some old functions,Add some new features,And make a lot of changes。same as before,Old version of users can easily upgrade——But if they are willing,Can also continue to use Basecamp Classic or Basecamp 2,“The day until the end of the Internet”。

Learned lesson

in my opinion,This model is very inspirated。

(website development company in chicago)Every rewrite is re-examining Basecamp Design decision,And let them have the opportunity to build products to build before。

For users,Users who do not want to change can remain inactive.,And users who want to use new features can use a brand new、better one、Through careful products。

However, multiple versions of maintaining products indefinitely have no price.,As David Say that:

(website development company in chicago)This is definitely free。Why do you want it to be free??It is actually valuable,So of course not free,But this is worth it.。

3. Visual Studio and VS Code

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Microsoft development VS Code Is to attract developers on other platforms。

In a long time,Working in Microsoft's world is like a coin two sides。If you use Visual Studio,So is doing.NET Develop。in turn,If you do.NET Develop,That must be used Visual Studio。This divides the software community into two major mutual exclusive camps.,Not very beneficial to any party。

Attracting the cool talents outside the wall

(website development company in chicago)Even Steve Ballmer era,This situation has begun to change。still remember ASP.NET The team decided not to reinvent jQuery ?!

(website development company in chicago)Regardless of which aspect,Visual Studio Both a heavyweight product:Installing it may take more than half an hour。It must support various complex use cases that enterprise customers。therefore,If Microsoft is trying to attract other platforms by adding characteristics,Then Visual Studio As the starting point is meaningless。and,Develop Mac or Linux Version Visual Studio The idea is not practical。

(website development company in chicago)so,Microsoft starts from scratch,And not guaranteed backward compatibility。

In fact, it is not completely from scratch.:Microsoft has some ready-made things,for example Monaco editor。because VS Code Is an Node.js application(use Typescript Develop,operating Electronic superior),So they can use rich JavaScript ecosystem。

VS Code Is an open source、Lightweight、Fast and scalable editor,And it is surprised that,As a Microsoft product,It has become a preferred programming environment for many developers。

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These two products are still actively developing,And there is no indication that Microsoft will plan to stop Visual Studio Development。

Learned lesson

and Netscape Form a distinct contrast,Microsoft successfully surrounded VS Code Build an active open source community。

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Of course,Not every company will have a business model that can fully support its core products.。

but,If the open source is part of the company's development strategy,Then it is worth finding that the two cases have to find Microsoft to do what different things have contributed to the prosperity of the community.。

in addition,Microsoft is also VS Code Provide a reliable extension model,Community has been developed 10,000 Plug-in。

Over the past few years,Rational changes in things,Software development and prototype creation is easier than ever。

(website development company in chicago)Although people are desperate about the complexity of today's development tool set,But the truth is,JavaScript The ecosystem has developed into a long-awaited reuse in the past few years.、Modular open source music。From this regard,This is an unprecedented era of history.。

4. Gmail and Inbox

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Gmail of Inbox Initially Gmail Lite version UX Introduced,“Aim to pay attention to true important things”。It never has original Gmail Same function,But bundled、New features such as fixed email and message to be processed。

Some people, including me Inbox very interested。I always thought Inbox Yes Gmail Event will eventually become something,So endure it lacks Gmail Some functions,And expect to eventually Inbox Increase these features。

Two interfaces,A service

Inbox and Gmail Use the same backend。They essentially only different user interfaces,You can turn back and forth。This is both beneficial and bad:if Inbox Lack a function(For example, the holiday is automatically replied),You can return Gmail Do what you need to do。But it will feel a bit strange but I will feel a bit strange.。

However,After a period of time,Inbox Stop improvement,And very obvious,Google is no longer invested in any resource。really,After four years of launch,Google announced that it will be closed Inbox。

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I initially feel very annoyed,But I took a little time to study the latest version. Gmail Later,I have found Inbox Many of my favorite features have been transplanted into the original product:Intelligent reply、Hover operation、Inline accessories and images。Gmail Multi-inbox is also Inbox Bundled a good alternative。

But not everything is perfect:E.g,The message to be processed has become a key part of many people handling emails.,Inbox Disappearance let them feel at a loss。

(website development company in chicago)Learned lesson

Inbox Let Gmail Teams can do not interrupted workflow,New features for most users who do not switch views。

(website development company in chicago)However,Because the same backend is used,Gmail Set strict restrictions on their innovation capabilities。

Google once again accused because of closing a popular service。Of course,Turning off the product to Google, it is already a place to live.,What can we expect?!

In this case,Inbox Let us believe that we have seen it. Gmail the future of。This is definitely not a perfect exit,Many people have to reuse old products,And lost Inbox Innovation,This is very bad。

I think,if Gmail Shut down Inbox Before Inbox All features,People will not be less。

5. FogBugz and Trello

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(website development company in chicago)FogBugz Is a special interesting case,because it is Joel Spolsky The product:It shows us how the principle of never rewriting the software is reflected in the actual product.。

exist Jira and GitHub Issues Before the appearance,One is based on Web of bug Track products,Be called FogBugz。Itself 2000 Annual release,Yes Fog Creek Software company's first product。This company is Joel and Michael Pryor Co-founded,This product is also a flagship product in their more than ten years.。They originally only sold them as packages,Can be installed on the user's own server,But later launched a managed subscription version。

It began to become very popular,My company has also used it for many years.。at that time,It is a great product。

FogBugz Initially used ASP developing,operating Windows Server。Launched in Microsoft ASP.NET when,Joel Explain why he doesn't upgrade。

In order to make people be able to Linux Install on the server FogBugz,A intern has developed a call Thistle Compiler,Will ASP Turn into PHP。arrive 2006 year,Thistle Development becomes a private programming language,Be called Wasabi,You can compile the code into ASP、PHP And client JavaScript。

A turning point

(website development company in chicago)FogBugz exist 10 It has been developed into a ripe and stable product in the year.。

but FogBugz There is no world to ignite the world,Instead, it looks a bit old dragon clock.。although bug Tracking systems market still spread,but Atlassian of Jira——Compare FogBugz Evening introduction for a few years——Has been the first choice for large enterprise users。

(website development company in chicago)I'm right Fog Creek This turning point in the history of the company is very curious.。and Basecamp Same,They also have a profitable mature product。But it is no longer sexy,Maybe not very exciting。Whether it is good or bad,It reflects the changes in technology for many years and how to solve the idea of specific issues.。

Of course,One response method is like Basecamp Then:Fog Creek Can learn related bug Track all knowledge of the system to revisit FogBugz,Start from the beginning。

But I guess this idea is not going too far.……

recent,I saw 2009 An article,then Joel Be Inc MIM write monthly column。This column is called“Whether the slow growth is equal to slow death?”,It's different from him that the kind of confidence in the past.:A kind of intra province、Trial and suspect。Atlassian Rapid growth makes him worry——He wanted to know bug Track the system market,Eventually there will be only one product。

So he decided to do two things。first,Add all functions to FogBugz middle。

second,Establish an enterprise sales team。Joel Acknowing that this is not what he is good at,In fact, he hates to do this.。

I don't know how the two plans have。Joel The last time he mentioned on his blog FogBugz It is a small version of a small version after a few months.。

new Hope

Things are like this:

About Fog Creek Software company was established 10 Annual,I start thinking,If we want employees in the next 10 Maintain excitement and motivation in the year,Just do some new things。

therefore,They divided the team into two groups.,Each team has to come up with a new product creativity,And build an original type。

The idea of winning is inspired by the board。Watch is a physical tool,Used in software development,Convenient stickers are usually pasted on a whiteboard,And move these convenience stickers between different fields。

(website development company in chicago)Joel Describe it as a tool for managing higher level tasks。

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Development Trello in the process of,Fog Creek Developers have the opportunity to use new technologies to replace the old technology:

We start using the cutting-edge technology。usually,This means that it will be cut to his fingers.。Our developers are MongoDB、WebSockets、CoffeeScript and Node Blood full of blood,But at least they have fun very happy。If you can let them develop an exciting product,They will be very happy,It will also be full of their work.。

Trello Third-party plug-in,This increases the workload of the internal development team。

Of course,The programmers will see it immediately. Trello Practicality,But this tool does not have some software-developed things。soon,Trello It has become a general content management tool,Used to manage a weekly catering、Wedding activities and animal shelter,etc。

FogBugz Is a vertical product facing a specific nicker market,and Trello Is a horizontal product,Anyone can use it to do what they want.。Joel think,for FogBugz Convinced,At this critical moment,“Horizontal development”is correct:

Developing a horizontal product that is useful for all walks of life is almost impossible。You can't charge too high cost,Because you have to compete with other horizontal products,These products can share the development costs through a large number of users。This is a high risk、High-reward,Not suitable for young startup companies。But Fog Creek Such a mature and stable company,This is a good idea。

In order to quickly attract more users,Trello Originally free,Later, I launched a paid.“Business”Version。

2014 year,Trello Demolition into a separate company。Three years later,have 1700 More than 10,000 users Trello by 4.25 The price of 100 million US dollars sells yourself.。Ironically, it is,Buyers are actually Fog Creek Enemy Atlassian。

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Fog Creek Continue to develop another new product,A collaborative programming environment,First called HyperDev,Later changed GoMix,Finally, it is renamed Glitch。

(website development company in chicago)at the same time,FogBugz Lost the brilliance of the past。2017 year,Some people think FogBugz This name is too flat.,So they strive to rename them as Manuscript。one year later,Fog Creek Will Manuscript Sold to a family called DevFactory Small company,This company retrieves the name again FogBugz。

exist CEO Anil Dash Under the leadership,Fog Creek Become a company that only provides a single product,And renamed Glitch。

Learned lesson

The key point of this story is,Fog Creek Caring for how to emphasize programmers bug Tracking system itself——Starting from their own programmers:

Creating a good working environment for programmers is our primary goal。We have a private office,Travel coordination,Weekly work 40 Hour,Buy lunch for employees、Human engineering chair and top computer。Our formula is:Great working conditions create great programmers,Great programmers make great software,Great software brings us profits!

This“formula”,We can make this all into a complete story.:Fog Creek Created a company for the happiness of the developer,This can be from the company's products and internet“operating system”Reflect。

I think,from Joel Tell Trello From the way of the origin story,The key points are not to find new business opportunities,And is looking for a kind of Fog Creek Method of employee is happy。Create a value 5 100 million US dollars is just a pleasant unexpected result。

(website development company in chicago)But I still can't help but FogBugz The end of the finale。I think how many people will be happy in the final stage of the product.。

obviously,Everyone has more important things to do:Stack Overflow、Trello and Glitch All FogBugz More useful、More valuable。Everyone's time is limited。therefore,I won't be because anyone is FogBugz I feel sorry for losing interest,because FogBugz have 20 Year history code library and competitive bark market。At least its faithful user finally found a place where it is safe.,Not enough“Sunset Xishan”Next!

But from emotional,I hope to have a better way.“commemorate”Create this product and use this product。

6. FreshBooks and BillSpring

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(website development company in chicago)2000 Early,Mike McDerment Have a small design company。He believes that accounting software is too complex,So use Word and Excel To manage bills。

(website development company in chicago)But one day,This way is no longer working.:

one day,I accidentally lost an important customer bill.,This makes me feel very collapsed.。I know that there must be a better way.,So I took some code for two weeks.,These code is FreshBooks The birth of the foundation。

Mike A designer,Not a programmer,But he and the two joint founders try to fight together a good tool,Some people are willing to spend monthly 10 Dollar uses it。He spent nearly four years to make his business to move from his parents' basement.。

Introduced in this product 10 Annual(This sounds are not a little familiar.?),FreshBooks Already earned a rich profit,have 1000 Merry users and 300 Multiple employees。

But there is a problem:I started employment“real”Programmer before,They already have one million lines“Current code written by the founder”。A external analyst reviews their code library,And draw conclusions:

(website development company in chicago)“Good news is,You have solved the most difficult problems。You already know how to create a company,Have a favorite product。Bad news is,The technology of these guys is too bad.”。

more importantly,They have some new ideas,But existing products cannot achieve these ideas:

We founded this company in more than ten years ago.。But the world has changed,We have learned how to develop products and provide services for those who work for themselves.。Professionals from independent entrepreneurs and their team are a huge and growing part of the labor army.……in order to FreshBooks Ability to keep up with the pace of the times,And can serve this group well in five years,We know that we need to take action。

McDerment Learn about how to have some traditional thinking from the head:

For software companies,Nothing can have a bigger risk than overwritten software.。You can even can't complete this project。This takes longer than you think.,More money。Can you do this?,But users may not like so。and,Establishing a new platform does not necessarily get a better product。The first principle of software development is not to reconstruct the software platform。

therefore,They did a few times,Trying to clean up the resilience without starting from the beginning,But they found“Change the tire on the car”Impossible。

The next thing that happens may be shocked to you

McDerment The final thinking thing is to launch a secret launch FreshBooks“Competitor”。

He has set up a call in Delaware BillSpring New company。New company has its own website、Brand and logo。In order to avoid the links of these two companies,He made an external lawyer drafted a new terms of service.。

Development team will Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden Co-written“Lean UX: Designing Great Products with Agile Teams”Development guide,Adopt agile practice,Such as Scrum Team and weerate iteration,And hold a review meeting with the real customer。

(website development company in chicago)McDerment tell them,To imagine yourself into a startup,And the risk investor who imagines it as a company。

“You have four and a half months。If you can enter the market,We will give you more money。otherwise,You will go out”。

(website development company in chicago)A few days before the deadline,The team finally delivered one MVP。They buy Google AdWords Demand to new website。the first year,They offer free accounts,Soon after, there is a real user.,They also started to improve their products through quick iterations.。

One year later,They started BillSpring User charge fee。Then an unexpected thing happened:

Someone called us,Say to cancel FreshBooks,And say to turn BillSpring。For us,This is a good day。

Soon after,They unveiled the mysterious veil:They let them BillSpring User knows,BillSpring Actually FreshBooks of,Let FreshBooks User knows,They will soon launch a new version。

gradually,“FreshBooks Class”Users are invited to try new products——They can also accept,If you prefer,They can always return to the original version。

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Learned lesson

FreshBooks Secret rewriting is not costly:McDerment It is estimated that they spend this project. 700 Ten thousand U.S. dollars。After more than ten years of independent growth,They raised 3000 10,000 US dollar risk investment,So they have sufficient funds。But it is not that every company has so much money.。

(website development company in chicago)《Forbes》estimate,FreshBooks exist 2013 Year's income 2000 Ten thousand U.S. dollars。2017 year,After the upgrade is completed,They earned 5000 Ten thousand U.S. dollars。They did not disclose how many growth came from new products.,But rewriting products don't seem to slow down the company's growth rate。

McDerment Say,They can now add new features more easily and more easily to the product.。more importantly,Now products can realize their new ideas for future。

However,In addition to their established goals,They found that this experience has also changed the company culture.。They pretend that the time for startups make their behavior more like a startup company。Their“Lean”Practice has expanded to the entire engineering team。User is closely involved in the development of new features。

FreshBooks Do your best to isolate your potentially negative effects from rewriting:Innovation under a temporary brand,Developers can completely rethink the problem,And bear greater risks。The worst result is that they will go to another dead end,But at least will cause any damage to existing brands in this process.。

I have some ideas

Traditional perspectives believe that you should try to avoid overwriting software,Instead, incremental improvements——Unless you can't do this because of some reason。

so far,I still agree with this point of view.。

but,This point of view assumes that our ultimate goal is to get the original product plus new features.。

But what if you want to delete some features??or,If you want to solve a problem with a completely different way??If you got a new idea by experiencing the product??

(website development company in chicago)I have drawn from these stories is:If you have already realized,There is a gap between the current product and the ideal product,So correct way is not to replace the old product with a new product,Instead, add new things to old products.——Don't discard the old things。

so,If you are considering whether you should overwrite the software,You should ask yourself:Should I make a competitor??If my product is FogBugz,So Trello What should it be like??if Visual Studio,那么 VS Code So?

如果你重读 Spolsky What should it be like? DHH 的文章,If you reread:已经创造出来的东西是有价值的。




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