Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Whatever the future may bring... will be outdated soon

Had an interesting request from a customer recently:
Ensure that the product will continue to support different form-factors and whatever the future may bring.
How can I answer that with anything else than a very bold "Of course!"?

Whatever the future may bring has been pretty much my domain lately. I knew that moving from Professional Services to Product Management would bring a rather large set of changes. For instance, I can't really complain about feature X not being in the product, since it is my job to decide what goes in the product. Another interesting change is that now everyone thinks I need their advice :)

Anyway, the future proofing of anything we do is not a small challenge, and it applies to everything we do today. For instance, my LinkedIn profile stated:
With 10+ years of experience, of which 8+ as a consultant
Though it might sound interesting, it had been written in 2004, making it quite out-of-date for something that contains numbers (I updated it now), which in turn made me rewrite my SDLTridionWorld profile to let you do the math instead.

So here we are, trying to decide how to future-proof a product, and we can't even write text that won't be obsolete next year. I was privileged to have seen Mike Walsh present at Innovate last year, and one slide that made an impression on me was this one. Yes it does, unfortunately it's a one-way communication channel.

So, how do I prepare for "whatever the future may bring"?

I guess this is one of the advantages of having a relatively light foot-print in our content delivery stack. You want 2001-style XML flat file publishing? You got it. 1999 style JSP with embedded code? You got it. Even (God almighty protect us all) VBScript ASP pages? You got it. What about MVC? You got that too. What about Service-based? Yup, got it (with OData no less).

So, what's next?

I have my own ideas about what's next, and we're working hard to 1) validate those ideas and 2) build it into the product, but can't share that just yet (another one of those things that change with being in Product Management - don't talk about what you can't commit to). Keeping in line with what we built up to today, it will be something that you can extend the hell out of, and will have lots of functionality you will not discover until 3 years later... (WAI anyone?) And maybe, just maybe, we can finally drop Classic ASP support ;-)

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