From idea to reality

In Timeline on September 2, 2009 at 12:49 PM

Many times I’ve had ideas for programs to write: sometimes because I felt the need for a particular application and other times just because the programming task seemed challenging. Many of the ideas I’ve had never turned into more than incomplete drafts or half-broken programs. When I started The Timeline Project on of the goals was to actually finish this project and not stop halfway because of lack of motivation. Below I continue to list and discuss what I think are the most important reasons why I succeeded.

I made it public and real

Before I wrote a single line of code I registered the project on SourceForge. That forced me to write a description for the project: now the whole world, or at least all the SourceForge visitors, would know the purpose of my program. Since I decided to make this a free software project, everyone would also be able to see everything I did. Suddenly it was not just a couple of files sitting on my local harddrive. This was something real that I could tell people to have a look at.

I had guidance

I had no previous experience in neither running a free software project nor participating in one. I figured the best way to learn was to just to start a project. Without the guidance from Producing Open Source Software I don’t think I had been as successful. It was particularly useful for figuring out what documentation to write and what tools to use. (SourceForge also provided many of the tools mentioned in the book.)

I was not alone

Right from the beginning I involved another person in this project: my dad. Now everything I did in terms of coding and documenting also had to be comprehensible to someone else. This also made the project feel more real. Another benefit was that we could discuss problems and solutions with each other.

Other people got interested

Despite the reasons for success mentioned above my motivation still dropped at one point. Mostly because I felt the application would not be useful for me. That changed one day when an unexpected email reached my inbox: someone was interested in using Timeline. That person made me believe in the idea again and several improvements were made to the program after that.


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