Looking ahead to Vault 4.0 and 5.0

I consider Joel Spolsky to be my friend and teacher, but frankly I'm getting sick of his elitist New York attitude.  A couple of days ago, he posted yet another blurb on his blog about how "interesting" life is in New York compared to the Midwest.  Rubbish.

First of all, if you want to pick on a region for being boring, it seems like Mike Gunderloy would be an easier target.  Mike is one of my favorite writers, but good grief!  Out there in the eastern part of Washington state, he's a long way from anything we would describe as civilization.  At his latitude, Gunderloy probably has the only copy of Visual Studio between Redmond and Minneapolis. 

But Champaign is completely different.  Stuff here is happening.  It was only a few months ago that they upgraded the intersection near my home with a stop sign.  And just in time too!  Yesterday, for the first time ever, I saw three cars meet there at the same time.

Not impressed?  Okay Joel, top this:  When was the last time you folks in Manhattan had a serial killer who eats all his victims?

In the last few weeks, there have been four mysterious disappearances in the neighborhood where I live, just a few miles north of Champaign.  Nobody has actually witnessed these crimes, but we found a half-eaten carcass from one of the victims, and it seems quite obvious what is going on.  Everybody knows there is a coyote den nearby.   Coyotes may be stupid, but they are apparently smart enough to realize that our neighborhood is serving up a buffet of feline entrees.

Unfortunately, this string of tragedies has struck my own home.  Recently, we let our cat out for an evening jaunt and she never returned.  In all seriousness, this loss has hit my family hard.  Lilac wasn't some nameless farm cat.  She was a blue point Siamese and we got her as a kitten during our first year of marriage, over 16 years ago.  She had become part of the family.  In fact, I am quite certain my wife liked Lilac more than she likes me.  (And can you blame her?  Compared to me, the cat did approximately the same amount of housework and was a much better listener.)

Anyway, life here in central Illinois is too interesting for my tastes.  I don't have time for all this.  It takes a significant amount of energy for me to keep up the proper "guy" image and pretend like I don't miss the cat.  To make matters worse, there's no "coyote season" in Illinois.  It's not actually legal to kill a coyote, which means I have to invest all kinds of extra time and planning to make it look like an accident.

I wish I had founded SourceGear in Manhattan where life is simpler and I wouldn't be so distracted with all this stuff.  What I really need to be doing is focusing on my new job. 

Yep, I've got a new set of responsibilities here at SourceGear.  This week I traded hats with Dan (one of my business partners) and became the project manager for Vault.

I guess I'm just a nerd, because I think this is going to be fun.  The aforementioned snooty New Yorker says that good software takes ten years.  Vault is currently in year four, one of my favorite phases in the life of a software product.  We just finished version 3.1.  Our product is starting to get really good.  Now it's time to make our product great.

We're talking now about our next two major releases.  Vault 4.0 is probably going to consist primarily of features requested by our customers.  Right now I'm just trying to finalize the spec and schedule and figure out who is going to do what.

Vault 5.0 is being envisioned as more of a strategic release, with several major features that are specifically intended to support our longer-term direction for the product.  We're working on this release now as well, developing parts of it in parallel with 4.0.

Since our plans aren't really firmed up yet, I'm not going to give any other details right now, but I plan to be blogging about Vault development along the way.

In the meantime, I keep thinking I might draw some inspiration for "my other project" by watching a few old cartoons;-)