Adding features for customers

I started writing a personal information manager written in Java back in 1999.  Over the years, I’ve gotten lots of suggestions about cool features to add in; features that one person thought would be the cat’s pajamas.  For instance, my best man thought it would be really hot to add the ability to pop off an email to anyone in the list.  So, I added a wizard to send email to any group within the contacts using any field in the contact list.  Then a customer told me that it would be a state of the art personal database if you could change the field names dynamically.  He wanted to use it for his business and had some special fields that identified clients.  Then another customer groused that “not everyone lives in the states” meaning that the address fields weren’t right for his international contact list.  So, I added the ability to change the field names, which also makes it easy to turn the PIM into another language, well except that the help page is still in English.

What I found interesting is that after finishing these new features, some of which are pretty time-consuming, the customers are not always so enthusiastic.  Sure, they use the new features but then they come up with other new features right away or imply that the feature isn’t exactly the same as they envisioned.  So you bust your ass and get a mediocre thanks in return if you’re lucky.  Excellent!

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