Comments on: Dog food, wine, and the road to the release
REBOL Technologies

Comments on: Dog food, wine, and the road to the release

Carl Sassenrath, CTO
REBOL Technologies
20-Nov-2008 1:40 GMT

Article #0379
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Microsoft talks about how they like to eat their own dog food, meaning, they like to use their own development tools.

I agree with that general concept, except of course, as a winemaker, I rather prefer to drink our own wine. (I've never tasted the food I give my dog, but it doesn't smell that great, so why eat it.)

Nothing helps improve REBOL more than when we use it for our own purposes. It's a type of stress test where you discover the deeper problems, because you're not just writing tests, your actually trying to get work done. It's not theory, it's reality.

As I wrote earlier this month, it's time to get R3 into the hands of more developers. In order to do that, there are a number of important issues that need to be solved, and this has been the week to solve them. It's been the week of making decisions.





Website URL

Nothing fancy is needed here, as long as developers recognize that they are using a test version of REBOL that is not 100% complete (will have bugs and more changes). In fact, the biggest task here is to automate the web page so we can make updates as easy as possible.


DocBase wiki

I think we all agree that Mediawiki (the wiki tool) is not perfect, but it is at least a starting point. We can revisit this issue again, if someone wants to supervise a better alternative to it.

Bug Database


For keeping track of bugs, we will be using CureCode, a REBOL product from SoftInnov. We thank them for hosting it on their site. So, we're drinking some good wine here.

Source Archive


Here's where we really need to drink our own wine. I spent a lot of time on DevBase earlier this year, and although it's missing a few remaining features, I think it can be improved to do the job. In addition, a new R3 GUI will be created for R3 to directly access DevBase. I expect it to be less work than R2, and it will greatly help us to improve R3.



This has been difficult to solve, and the development community has discussed a range of possibilities. Unfortunately, when something is difficult to solve, it means that the requirements are not well defined or are overly complicated. (See earlier blog.)

As I wrote before, the schedule is to get the above completed this month (Nov). So far, we're 2 of 5. The distribution web page is minor, because we have tools for that.

The DevBase improvements are very important to me personally, and I'm eager to reshape it in R3, because it's an excellent test (and a superior motivator).



Brian Hawley
20-Nov-2008 19:42:30
Are you going to do a development release before you fix up DevBase using a different VCS, use the a tweaked version of the R2 DevBase at first, or delay release until DevBase can be ported to R3?
Carl Sassenrath
20-Nov-2008 22:15:31
The second option. The plan is to use a working DevBase, with a rough, but usable GUI.
21-Nov-2008 4:29:16
Please Carl, keep DocBase on WikiMedia. There are tons of advantages and few disvantages. I can coordinate the whole project like I did on REBOL2 pages but please upgrade to PHP5 and install new wiki software.

Giuseppe Chillemi

Dogfood Story
21-Nov-2008 20:38:07
I used to think "Eat your own dogfood" was actually a pretty good catchphrase. It was kinda subversively Zen. Like "You use Head and Shoulders--but you don't have dandruff!"

It's deliberately so shocking to be a wake up call that the needs of a user (in an email program, say) aren't as different as the needs of the developers of that email program when they want to communicate. By comparing the product to dog food, they realize that they must not draw an interspecies line between themselves and their users. The software must be good enough that they'd use it themselves--shedding the attitude that "we make dog food, it's for dogs".

Thus the theory is the jab will encourage them to uplift the product to a quality level anyone would want to consume. It breaks down when people get literal and start eating actual dog food...implying that solving one's moral dilemma of feeding inferior products to dogs can be done by simply lowering one's standards. Horrifyingly and somewhat amusingly, I saw this happen.

A development manager at Microsoft promised to eat a can of dog food if his development team met a certain objective/milestone in terms of using their own product internally. The team met this objective and he ate it, with photos in the company newsletter. I'm not making this up, he did.

This resulted in a long angry dialogue, in letters to the newsletter and on internal bulletin boards. Concerned readers stressed that dog food is not made to FDA standards, and that things which won't make dogs sick can actually make humans sick. Dogs' digestive systems are different and so the rules are different.

So I guess I think these clever things are a waste of time. Instead I say:

"Ultimately, we do not think our users desire different features from the product than we do. So we'll avoid using competing products that are further developed than our own just because it is expedient to do so. We will use our own for the lessons we will learn about our own viability, even if it causes us troubles."

In REBOL's case, I think that using more outside technologies (to build the site, or for source control) might ultimately educate more on how to improve REBOL than impede its progress. It would expedite matters and the bridges you'd inevitably build with prominent technologies would show people how they can use REBOL without committing to it for everything.

Said another way, I think you may have a drinking problem. :)

21-Nov-2008 23:37:47
Microsoft talks about how they like to eat their own dog food, meaning, they like to use their own development tools.

Well that explains it. Nobody ever took them to a five-star restaurant. They don't know what is missing! :)

Rod Gaither
22-Nov-2008 8:38:55
Those of us getting new release access are going to need time to come up to speed on the changes since the last alpha, or in general even. So while DevBase and Communications are important you will have some time to work on those while we explore. I can note issues for myself until DevBase is up and AltME is workable in its current form for discussions.

A release before the Thanksgiving break means at least in my case some dedicated time to review and explore, wait until the end of the month and it is back to work.

Is this release going to be Windows only again?

23-Nov-2008 8:45:59
Agree with DocBase ... don't go off of MediaWiki.
23-Nov-2008 18:41:45
"Rebol. So good, even your dog will like it." :-)

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