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All Postings, Joel Spolsky:  (139 posts)

Source blog: Joel on Software

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 02:23:21 UTC

Oh look, a new site!

Posted By Joel Spolsky

I’ve moved to WordPress. There may be some bugs!

Tue, 31 May 2016 05:30:50 UTC

Introducing HyperDev

Posted By Joel Spolsky

One more thing& Its been awhile since we launched a whole new product at Fog Creek Software (the last one was Trello, and thats doing pretty well). Today were announcing the public beta of HyperDev, a developer playground for building full-stack web-apps fast. HyperDev is going to be the fastest way to bang out code and get it running on the internet. We want to eliminate 100% of the complicated administrative details around getting code up and running on a website. The best way to explain that is with a little tour. Step one. You go to hyperdev.com. Boom. Your new website is already running.

Tue, 31 May 2016 00:14:26 UTC

Introducing HyperDev

Posted By Joel Spolsky

One more thing& Its been awhile since we launched a whole new product at Fog Creek Software (the last one was Trello, and thats doing pretty well).… Read more "Introducing HyperDev"

Sat, 02 May 2015 00:55:01 UTC

Not a blog post.

Posted By Joel Spolsky

This is a test. Dont get too excited :) Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Tue, 20 Jan 2015 17:00:37 UTC

Stack Exchange Raises $40m

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Today Stack Exchange is pleased to announce that we have raised $40 million, mostly from Andreessen Horowitz. Everybody wants to know what were going to do with all that money. First of all, of course were going to gold-plate the Aeron chairs in the office. Then were going to upgrade the game room, and were already sending lox platters to our highest-rep users. But Ill get into that in a minute. First, let me catch everyone up on whats happening at Stack Exchange. In 2008, Jeff Atwood and I set out to fix a problem for programmers. At the time, getting answers to programming questions online was super annoying.

Tue, 20 Jan 2015 00:14:25 UTC

Stack Exchange Raises $40m

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Today Stack Exchange is pleased to announce that we have raised $40 million, mostly from Andreessen Horowitz. Everybody wants to know what were going to do with… Read more "Stack Exchange Raises $40m"

Fri, 25 Jul 2014 03:03:27 UTC

Trello, Inc.

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Hello? is this thing on? Im not sure if I even know how to operate this blog device any more. Its been a year since my last post. Im retired from blogging, remember? Want to hear something funny? The only way I can post blog posts is by remote-desktopping into a carefully preserved Windows 7 machine which we keep in a server closet running a bizarrely messed-up old copy of CityDesk which I somehow hacked together and which only runs on that particular machine. The shame! I do need to fill you in on some exciting Trello News, though. As you no doubt know, Trello is the amazing visual project management system we developed at Fog Creek.

Thu, 24 Jul 2014 00:14:24 UTC

Trello, Inc.

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Hello? is this thing on? Im not sure if I even know how to operate this blog device any more. Its been a year since my last… Read more "Trello, Inc."

Mon, 22 Jul 2013 19:55:00 UTC

Victory Lap for Ask Patents

Posted By Joel Spolsky

There are a lot of people complaining about lousy software patents these days. I say, stop complaining, and start killing them. It took me about fifteen minutes to stop a crappy Microsoft patent from being approved. Got fifteen minutes? You can do it too. In a minute, Ill tell you that story. But first, a little background. Software developers dont actually invent very much. The number of actually novel, non-obvious inventions in the software industry that maybe, in some universe, deserve a government-granted monopoly is, perhaps, two. The other 40,000-odd software patents issued every year are mostly garbage that any working programmer could invent three times before breakfast.

Mon, 22 Jul 2013 00:14:23 UTC

Victory Lap for Ask Patents

Posted By Joel Spolsky

There are a lot of people complaining about lousy software patents these days. I say, stop complaining, and start killing them. It took me about fifteen minutes… Read more "Victory Lap for Ask Patents"

Tue, 30 Apr 2013 20:42:55 UTC

Free as in Fortune Cookies

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Trello has been out for less than two years and its been growing like wildfire. We recently hit 1.5 million members, of whom about 1/3 perform some action every month, and our MongoDB database now contains more than 70 million cards on 3.7 million boards. So the obvious question I get all the time is, How exactly are you supposed to make money with that? You may have noticed that Trello is free. Not free trial, not freemium, but just plain old free. Some people have justifiably wondered if it really makes sense to pay a dozen people, nestled in fancy offices with free lunch and espresso, to develop software that we have to pay Amazon cash money to host, while not actually charging for said software.

Tue, 30 Apr 2013 00:14:22 UTC

Free as in Fortune Cookies

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Trello has been out for less than two years and its been growing like wildfire. We recently hit 1.5 million members, of whom about 1/3 perform some… Read more "Free as in Fortune Cookies"

Tue, 02 Apr 2013 18:31:45 UTC

The Patent Protection Racket

Posted By Joel Spolsky

The fastest growing industry in the US right now, even during this time of slow economic growth, is probably the patent troll protection racket industry. Lawsuits surrounding software patents have more than tripled since 1999. Its a great business model. Step one: buy a software patent. There are millions of them, and theyre all quite vague and impossible to understand. Step two: FedEx a carefully crafted letter to a few thousand small software companies, iPhone app developers, and Internet startups. This is where it gets a tiny bit tricky, because the recipients of the letter need to think that its a threat to sue if they dont pay up, but in court, the letter has to look like an invitation to license some exciting new technology.

Tue, 02 Apr 2013 00:14:21 UTC

The Patent Protection Racket

Posted By Joel Spolsky

The fastest growing industry in the US right now, even during this time of slow economic growth, is probably the patent troll protection racket industry. Lawsuits surrounding… Read more "The Patent Protection Racket"

Tue, 12 Mar 2013 01:34:31 UTC

Town Car Version Control

Posted By Joel Spolsky

The team at Fog Creek is releasing a major new version of Kiln today. Kiln is a distributed version control system. One of the biggest new features is Kiln Harmony, which lets you operate on Kiln repositories using either Git or Mercurial. So you can push changes to a Kiln repo using Git and then pull them using Mercurial. This means that you never have to decide whether you want to use Git or Mercurial. Religious war: averted. But, Im getting ahead of myself! For those of you that have been living under a rock, the single biggest change in developers lives in the last decade (besides Stack Overflow, natch) is Distributed Version Control.

Mon, 11 Mar 2013 00:14:20 UTC

Town Car Version Control

Posted By Joel Spolsky

The team at Fog Creek is releasing a major new version of Kiln today. Kiln is a distributed version control system. One of the biggest new features… Read more "Town Car Version Control"

Wed, 17 Oct 2012 15:31:43 UTC

The App Developers Alliance

Posted By Joel Spolsky

A couple of months ago, Jon Potter came over for lunch and asked me to be the chairman of the board at the Application Developers Alliance. I said, Sure! On one condition: I get to define what you mean by Application, what you mean by Developers, and of course, Alliance has the standard definition from Star Wars: A New Hope. He agreed to that. So, heres my attempt to define those things. Historically, the computer industry has divided software into two types. Systems Software is inward facing: it controls the computers themselves. That includes things like operating systems, internet servers, and so on.

Mon, 09 Jul 2012 15:35:16 UTC

Software Inventory

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Imagine, for a moment, that you came upon a bread factory for the first time. At first it just looks like a jumble of incomprehensible machinery with a few people buzzing around. As your eyes adjust you start to see little piles of things that you do understand. Buckets of sesame seeds. Big vats of dough. Little balls of dough. Baked loaves of bread. Those things are inventory. Inventory tends to pile up between machines. Next to the machine where sesame seeds are applied to hamburger buns, theres a big vat of...sesame seeds. At the very end of the assembly line, there are boxes and boxes of bread, waiting for trucks to drive them off to customers.

Mon, 09 Jul 2012 00:14:19 UTC

Software Inventory

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Imagine, for a moment, that you came upon a bread factory for the first time. At first it just looks like a jumble of incomprehensible machinery with… Read more "Software Inventory"

Tue, 17 Apr 2012 19:57:06 UTC

Trello at UserVoice

Posted By Joel Spolsky

The folks over at UserVoice are using Trello quite extensively throughout their development process. Founder Richard White describes it all in detail. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Tue, 17 Apr 2012 00:14:18 UTC

Trello at UserVoice

Posted By Joel Spolsky

The folks over at UserVoice are using Trello quite extensively throughout their development process. Founder Richard White describes it all in detail.

Tue, 27 Mar 2012 19:42:43 UTC

The Founders Dilemmas

Posted By Joel Spolsky

My friend Noam Wasserman at Harvard Business School has spent years researching startups. His work is great, because he actually does real, quantitative research on the kinds of things that everybody has opinions about. Should you raise more money or maintain more control? Should you have a cofounder? Should your friends and relatives be cofounders? When and if should a founder be replaced by a professional manager? There are certainly a lot of blog posts about this stuff but not a lot of data... until now. Wasserman has finally put it all together in a great book called The Founders Dilemmas, which I highly recommend if youre starting a company.

Tue, 27 Mar 2012 00:14:17 UTC

The Founders Dilemmas

Posted By Joel Spolsky

My friend Noam Wasserman at Harvard Business School has spent years researching startups. His work is great, because he actually does real, quantitative research on the kinds… Read more "The Founders Dilemmas"

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 18:40:59 UTC

The Management Team

Posted By Joel Spolsky

The saddest thing about the Steve Jobs hagiography is all the young incubator twerps strutting around Mountain View deliberately cultivating their worst personality traits because they imagine thats what made Steve Jobs a design genius. Cum hoc ergo propter hoc, young twerp. Maybe try wearing a black turtleneck too. From The Management Team, my guest post on Fred Wilsons blog. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Fri, 13 Jan 2012 19:56:43 UTC

New York City gets a Software Engineering High School

Posted By Joel Spolsky

This fall New York City will open The Academy for Software Engineering, the citys first public high school that will actually train kids to develop software. The project has been a long time dream of Mike Zamansky, the highly-regarded CS teacher at New Yorks elite Stuyvesant public high school. It was jump started when Fred Wilson, a VC at Union Square Ventures, promised to get the tech community to help with knowledge, advice, and money. Im on the board of advisors of the new school, which plans to accept ninth graders for fall of 2012. Heres why Im excited about this new school: 1.

Fri, 06 Jan 2012 19:14:30 UTC

How Trello is different

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Just a few months ago, we launched Trello, a super simple, web-based team coordination system. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and adoption has been very strong, even in its early, 1.0 state. Trello is new kind of development project for Fog Creek. Its 100% hosted; there will never be an installed software version of Trello. That allowed us to modernize many aspects of our development process; I am happy to announce that there is absolutely no Visual Basic code involved in any part of Trello. Whats next, flying cars? The biggest difference youll notice (compared to our previous products pitched solely at software developers) is that Trello is a totally horizontal product.

Fri, 16 Sep 2011 03:28:22 UTC

Should you launch at a conference?

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Should you launch at Launch? (Or TechCrunch Disrupt? Or Demo? Theyre all pretty similar). This year I launched two major new products at conferences: Careers 2.0 and Trello, and both times, it was totally worth it. First, a little background. There are three popular conferences where you can launch new products: Launch, TechCrunch Disrupt, and Demo. They all work the same way: You apply. If you have a half-decent product that is genuinely new, youre likely to get a spot. That said, hundreds of companies apply for these conferences with unbearably awful products, so theres always a risk that youll get lost in the noise.

Tue, 13 Sep 2011 17:44:10 UTC

Announcing Trello

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Around the time of Fog Creek Software's ten year anniversary, I started thinking that if we want to keep our employees excited and motivated for another ten years, we were going to need some new things to work on. It occurred to me that we could easily afford to make four little two-person teams to launch four new products. That would give our developers more chances to move around from product to product when they got bored, which would make Fog Creek Software an even better place to work. Each team, we decided, would be guided by the spirit of lean startups.

Mon, 27 Jun 2011 19:51:13 UTC

Stack Overflow DevDays is Back!

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Stack Overflow DevDays, the universe's best conference series for coders, is back, and it's bigger than ever! Here's the idea behind DevDays. You're a developer. You'd love to learn all the latest hot new technologies. Things like DVCS, HTML 5, Node.js, CSS3, Hadoop, etc. The stuff the cool kids are all talking about on the playground while you're stuck in the basement somewhere grinding away on Java Enterprise Visual Basic. The idea behind DevDays is a fast, high-bandwidth, fire hose tutorial on at least ten interesting concepts. We'll assume that you're a developer, you know what a loop is, but each tutorial starts at the ground level and gives you a whirlwind tour through a technology by showing you actual code.

Sat, 25 Jun 2011 03:19:27 UTC

NY State Passes Marriage Equality Act

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Thu, 26 May 2011 14:55:15 UTC

Modern community building

Posted By Joel Spolsky

The Stack Exchange network is already up to 51 sites on diverse topics, from math to cooking to science fiction. Each site is a community on its own, and each community has its own needs and values. Pouring a big fat algorithm in equal measures on top of 51 different groups of people does not always work the way you might hope it would work. Maybe that's why the super-algorithm companies (like Google) tend to suck when they try to build social applications. Our goal as a company is to incubate each of these 51 communities–to get them to critical mass. Critical mass is that magic moment when the community has enough activity that it grows by itself.

Mon, 09 May 2011 10:31:03 UTC

Help us organize the next Stack Overflow conference

Posted By Joel Spolsky

We're working on a series of two-day Stack Overflow conferences for the fall: “What's this conference about? The idea for the original DevDays was to have high-bandwidth, intensive introductions to a wide variety of new technologies¿ the kinds of technologies that everybody wants to learn but doesn't necessarily need to use on a project right now. Last time, it was things like iPhone development, Python, jQuery, Google AppEngine, etc. This year, we're asking you. So far, there's a lot of interest in DVCS, HTML5, and Node.js.”   Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy?

Thu, 28 Apr 2011 18:16:31 UTC

Lunch

Posted By Joel Spolsky

What do you do for lunch every day? Where do you eat it? With whom? I've been on teams that eat together every day, and it's awesome. I've been on teams that don't, and lunch every day is, at best, lonely. A lot of big tech companies have cafeterias, either free (Google) or cheap (Microsoft). At these companies, some teams actually make an effort to eat together every day. But a lot of teams don't. If you wander around these places at lunchtime, you'll see some large groups, a lot of pairs of people who have scheduled a “lunch meeting,” but you'll also see a distressing number of loners eating by themselves.

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 21:55:36 UTC

The podcast is back!

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Jeff Atwood and I have resumed our weekly podcast, formerly known as the Stack Overflow Podcast, now known as the Stack Exchange Podcast! Here are some ways to find us: On iTunes. If you have an iPhone or iPod that you sync to iTunes, you can set this up to automatically download every week. iTunes link to Stack Exchange Podcast On SoundCloud. SoundCloud is sort of like a sound version of Twitter, a very cool way to subscribe to audio. Stack Exchange Podcast on SoundCloud Or you can simply subscribe to the Stack Exchange Blog, where the podcast will arrive every Wednesday at about 3PM EST, complete with show notes and listener comments.

Wed, 09 Mar 2011 13:41:52 UTC

Stack Overflow (the company) is now Stack Exchange

Posted By Joel Spolsky

The snack room at Stack Exchange got a wee upgrade today: Find out why (and read to the end to find out how to get your own StackExchange sticker) at the Stack Overflow Blog. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Wed, 23 Feb 2011 18:17:08 UTC

Random thoughts for February 23, 2011

Posted By Joel Spolsky

One day, you'll be telling your grandchildren about getting a programming job, version 1.0. You would send a “resume” to a “recruiter.” It included all kinds of silly information required by the esoteric resume ritual (foreign languages spoken, whether or not you play ultimate Frisbee, Microsoft-veteran status). This so-called “information” was utterly useless at determining whether you could program or not, but if you spelled everything right and used suitable fonts, you could come in for a day of interviews at which you would be asked to perform mundane programming tasks on a whiteboard. Careers 2.0 is here! Need to hire a really great programmer?

Sat, 12 Feb 2011 02:41:19 UTC

Does your employer own your side projects?

Posted By Joel Spolsky

There's a surprising amount of misinformation out there about whether software companies own the work that a programmer does in their spare time. From my answer to the question on answers.onstartups.com: Being an employee of a high tech company whose product is intellectual means that you have decided that you want to sell your intellectual output. Read the whole thing here: If I'm working at a company, do they have intellectual property rights to the stuff I do in my spare time? Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy?

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 20:16:57 UTC

FogBugz/Kiln Demo

Posted By Joel Spolsky

If you weren't able to make it to the FogBugz/Kiln world tour, a video of my presentation is up now on YouTube. (If you have a high bandwidth connection, try the �p” option, which shows the screen more clearly.) Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Mon, 24 Jan 2011 14:51:07 UTC

Stack Overflow 2010 recap

Posted By Joel Spolsky

(reposted from the Stack Overflow blog) 2010 was an absolutely amazing year here at Stack Overflow. We grew from 7 million visitors to over 16 million, putting us in Quantcast's top 400. We raised $6 million in venture capital, and we went from three full time employees to 27. We built a 7500 square foot office in New York, and we launched a ton of new features and sites, like Stack Exchange, a network of 33 Q&A sites on diverse topics from cooking to computer science. Stack Exchange grew 51% in December alone. Wow. The expert Q&A model that Stack Overflow pioneered is really working.

Wed, 05 Jan 2011 16:59:49 UTC

The Wikipedia of Long Tail Programming Questions

Posted By Joel Spolsky

“Have you ever noticed how certain questions come up again and again on Stack Overflow sites?” – From The Wikipedia of Long Tail Programming Questions, over on the Stack Overflow blog. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Thu, 09 Dec 2010 17:56:50 UTC

Stack Exchange for Jewish Life and Learning

Posted By Joel Spolsky

It seems like Stack Exchange is the perfect platform for questions about Jewish observance. After all, most of the Talmud reads just like Stack Overflow: a question, followed by multiple answers, usually with the highest ranking answer appearing first. The number of questions is infinite. If you would be interested in participating in such a thing, please commit to the proposal today. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 15:16:54 UTC

World Tour - last chance

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Due to unexpected demand we've been working with the venues for the upcoming FogBugz World Tour 2010 (incorporating DVCS University) to find more room. We already have more than 3154 people signed up and in some cities, we moved to a larger venue to accomodate everybody. That means there's still room in most cities if you haven't signed up. If you come, you'll see me give a demo of FogBugz 8.0 and Kiln 2.0, and we'll give you a one hour introduction to distributed version control ... how it works, how it's different than the version control you know and love, and how to set it up to make your life easier.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 20:09:22 UTC

nothingtoinstall.com now live!

Posted By Joel Spolsky

The first Stack Exchange site to make it all the way through the community creation process is now live and out of beta! nothingtoinstall.com is a place to get help with web applications. Want to know how to email huge files? How to delete your Facebook account? How to secretly follow someone on Twitter? How to backup Wordpress blogs, ahem, Jeff? This is the site. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 15:22:44 UTC

FogBugz and Kiln (coming soon to a city near you)

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Thanks to the hard work of the Fog Creek team, including ten great summer interns, we have just released amazing new upgrades to FogBugz and Kiln. To kick off the new releases, we're about to start another one of our famous world tours. I'll be flying to 20 (yes, twenty) different cities to demo FogBugz 8.0 to anyone who wants to come see it in person. As an added bonus, I'm also going to bring along someone from the Kiln team to teach a one-hour course in distributed version control. If you've been wondering what all the fuss is about, this is a painless way to learn the basics of the new generation of version control.

Tue, 21 Sep 2010 21:13:24 UTC

New, PNG-based Stack Overflow flair

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Fri, 17 Sep 2010 21:53:19 UTC

Merging Season

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Area 51 is filling up with thousands of ideas for new Stack Exchange sites, and a pretty clear pattern has started to worry us: too many ridiculously niche proposals, overlapping proposals, and proposals that are already covered by an existing site. Merging Season   Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Thu, 02 Sep 2010 18:43:19 UTC

Fork it!

Posted By Joel Spolsky

The Stack Overflow Blog: “The Unix world loves to take sides. I don't have to blog about this; Freud already did, in 1930. He called it `the narcissism of minor differences'” Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Tue, 31 Aug 2010 15:10:41 UTC

A new WordPress Stack Exchange

Posted By Joel Spolsky

We've been opening new Stack Exchanges left and right on a variety of topics. In almost every case, the Stack Exchange appears to duplicate the content of an existing community. For example, our WordPress answers site (now in beta) covers the exact same material as WordPress.org's existing forums. This is nothing new to us at Stack Overflow, which purported to cover the exact same material as hundreds (if not thousands) of other programming sites. There's no rule that says that there needs to be exactly one Q&A website per topic. There is, however, a compelling case for the Stack Exchange technology.

Thu, 19 Aug 2010 18:14:38 UTC

Simplicity vs. Choice

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Sometimes I think a pretty good business model would be to copy the applications that 37signals makes, but make them more complex. More features, more promises–generally, just more complicated. Here's the video from a talk I gave at the Business of Software conference last year: I'll be speaking again at this year's conference in Boston, October 4th-6th. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Sat, 17 Jul 2010 01:57:56 UTC

The growing empire of Stack Exchange

Posted By Joel Spolsky

We launched three new Stack Exchange sites this week! Gaming Cooking Pro Webmasters We'll have three more for you next week, too. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Tue, 13 Jul 2010 02:56:13 UTC

Domain Names

Posted By Joel Spolsky

“We decided that individually-branded sites felt more authentic and trustworthy. We thought that letting every Stack Exchange site have its own domain name, visual identity, logo, and brand would help the community feel more coherent. After all, nobody wants to say that they live in Housing Block 2938TC. They want to live in Colonial Manor. Never mind the connotation of, well, colonies.” Domain Names Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Wed, 07 Jul 2010 19:55:06 UTC

Web Applications Stack Exchange now in beta

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Want to know how to export mail from Gmail? Or delete your Facebook account? Or send giant files via email? Well, the new Web Applications Stack Exchange is for you. It's a part of the Stack Exchange network, so it has the clean, elegant design that made Stack Overflow a phenomenal success. The newest member of the Stack Exchange Network is the first one to go through the community site-creation process called Area 51. There are more great sites in the pipeline, but they have to demonstrate that they can reach critical mass or we won't create them. Need to hire a really great programmer?

Mon, 28 Jun 2010 18:55:18 UTC

Don Norman at the Business of Software 2009

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Neil has posted a video of Don Norman (most famous for his book The Design of Everyday Things) speaking at the Business of Software conference last year in San Francisco. “Imagine you're on the first slide of your powerpoint presentation and want to move to the next slide. Your remote control has two buttons. They are unmarked, but one button points up and one button points down. “Which button do you press?” It turns out half the people press up, half the people press down, and everybody thinks their choice is obvious. It's a great talk. The early bird discount for the Business of Software 2010 (Boston, October 4-6) saves you $400, but it expires this week, so this is the right time to sign up for my favorite conference.

Tue, 22 Jun 2010 14:40:27 UTC

Area 51 is now in beta

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Area 51 is now in beta. This is the promised place where the community comes together to invent new Stack Exchange sites. Benofsky from Hacker News writes: Seems overly complicated, I have no idea what's going on when I visit Area 51, I guess this is their strategy for turning away uncommitted users. Also, how are they going to make money? I'm glad you asked, benofsky! The answer is simple. Volume. (transcript) Well, I'm not one to take Internet chat board comments seriously. After all, the Anonymous Nostradamus's over at Code Project reacted thus when Stack Overflow itself launched: I think the UI sucks.

Wed, 09 Jun 2010 20:05:55 UTC

My secret weapon for setting executive compensation

Posted By Joel Spolsky

My friend Noam at Harvard Business School does annual surveys of executive compensation in tech companies. The surveys are a great way to figure out how much to pay that VP of Sales you were thinking of hiring, or whether your equity grant as CTO is fair. You can buy the studies for $999, or you can participate in the survey and get free access to the results when they're published. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Tue, 08 Jun 2010 16:31:37 UTC

Paul Kenny's talk at the Business of Software 2009

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Paul Kenny is a regular speaker at the Business of Software. He's an expert on sales, especially high tech sales, and both Red Gate and Fog Creek hire him all the time to train our sales teams and build our sales organization. Here's a video of his talk at last year's conference: The next Business of Software conference will be in Boston, October 4th-6th. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Tue, 18 May 2010 15:02:07 UTC

Random thoughts for May 18, 2010

Posted By Joel Spolsky

FogBugz 7.3 is a pretty huge release, despite the modest version number. It has a bunch of features that almost everyone will find useful on a daily basis. The Case Event Edit Plugin now lets you edit cases (instead of just appending to them). Bulk Reply, so you can respond to multiple emails with the same response. You can even flip through the outgoing responses and customize each one if you want. Width of the case area is now resizable. We now support IMAP (in addition to POP3) for incoming email Project backlog editing (for scrum/agile shops) is now much faster.

Mon, 10 May 2010 18:53:30 UTC

Kathy Sierra's talk at the Business of Software 2009

Posted By Joel Spolsky

I'm a long-time Kathy Sierra fan. Her talk at the Business of Software 2009 was amazing, even though, in retrospect, I realize now that she had a slide making fun of Stack Overflow's terrific new VC-backed business model. She even got the unicorn! Watch the  whole talk here. The next Business of Software conference will be in Boston, October 4th-6th. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Tue, 04 May 2010 17:43:28 UTC

Random thoughts for May 04, 2010

Posted By Joel Spolsky

“And the best answer we could come up with was, let's make the damn thing free, and get some VC somewhere to pay for it.” Announcing the Stack Overflow Series A financing Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Sat, 01 May 2010 01:30:01 UTC

Note from Taco

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Dear TechSmith, Thank you very much for all the pictures of your pets: Also thanks for the toys, which were great. I especially like the iPhone. Yours, Taco. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Mon, 19 Apr 2010 15:46:03 UTC

Sites for experts

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Since announcing the new plans for Stack Exchange, there's been a lot of discussion about what kind of new Q&A sites will work best on this platform. So far there are 32 informal proposals on meta.stackexchange.com. We're weeks away from opening a site where these proposals can become real. From my answer to the Firearms proposal: “The power of the Stack Exchange platform is detailed, expert answers to extremely rare, `long-tail,' highly technical questions. To get expert answers, you need experts. To attract experts, you need a site where people are asking very interesting and hard questions, not the basic questions, so that it's clear that this is a PRO site, not a consumer/enthusiast site....

Tue, 13 Apr 2010 20:06:59 UTC

Stack Exchange 2.0

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Like the small-town mayor who suddenly finds herself running an entire state, our ambitions for Stack Overflow keep growing. Our original idea of making the Internet a better place to get expert answers to your programming questions suddenly seemed too small. Programming questions? We asked. Why just programming questions? Why not every question under the sun? And who says we can't run for Vice President of the United States of America? We tried making our software available as a hosted white label product called Stack Exchange. We thought that other people would create awesome sites on every imaginable topic. Some people did (yay!)

Wed, 31 Mar 2010 22:15:16 UTC

The Design of Design

Posted By Joel Spolsky

There is a new book out by Fred Brooks (author of The Mythical Man Month)! The Design of Design Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Wed, 31 Mar 2010 20:46:10 UTC

Stack Overflow Party

Posted By Joel Spolsky

The entire extended Stack Overflow team (including the Stack Exchange team) is meeting in New York in April to do some strategic planning. For example, we need to plan our Rock Band song lists, decide who gets to be on the drums and who is stuck with the USB cowbell, etc. If you're going to be in the city on Tuesday, April 6th, we'd like to invite you to join us for a party and a chance to meet the team. This is also a chance to see the new Fog Creek office if you haven't visited yet. If you want to come to the party, you must register.

Thu, 18 Mar 2010 00:25:54 UTC

Distributed Version Control is here to stay, baby

Posted By Joel Spolsky

A while ago Jeff and I had Eric Sink on the Stack Overflow Podcast, and we were yammering on about version control, especially the trendy new distributed version control systems, like Mercurial and Git. In that podcast, I said, “To me, the fact that they make branching and merging easier just means that your coworkers are more likely to branch and merge, and you're more likely to be confused.” This is what Taco looks like nowWell, you know, that podcast is not prepared carefully in advance; it's just a couple of people shooting the breeze. So what usually happens is that we says things that are, to use the technical term, wrong.

Sun, 14 Mar 2010 22:53:48 UTC

Puppy!

Posted By Joel Spolsky

At  right, a picture of Taco, a ten-week-old siberian husky puppy who moved in with us last week! Some of you may have seen my final column in Inc., in which I announce my retirement from blogging effective March 18th, the 10-year anniversary of Joel on Software. Writing for Inc. was an enormous honor, but it was very different than writing on my own website. Every article I submitted was extensively rewritten in the house style by a very talented editor, Mike Hofman. When Mike got done with it, it was almost always better, but it never felt like my own words.

Thu, 18 Feb 2010 14:05:02 UTC

Facebook / LinkedIn importers

Posted By Joel Spolsky

New StackOverflow developer Kevin Montrose (6,878 reputation) added a neat feature to the career site that makes it a zillion times easier to file a CV if you've already put in your job and education history on LinkedIn or FaceBook. Try it out. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 02:21:03 UTC

Raising money for StackOverflow

Posted By Joel Spolsky

A few people heard me on This Week in Startups (starting at 15:45) asking Jason if we should take money from the first VC who fell into our laps, or spend time doing the Sand Hill Road rounds, meeting more VCs, and doing a road show for the other firms that might be interested in investing. Jason (and his guest James Segil) both agree that we should take more time picking the right partner. We're going to be in bed with these guys for years, they say, and we have to approach this like picking a spouse. Anyway, people emailed me in shock and surprise that we would even consider VC, considering the things I've written.

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 03:12:26 UTC

Headcount

Posted By Joel Spolsky

In the early days of a technology startup, you tend to have a lot of software developers, and you feel like you could never have enough. If you hire sales and marketing staff too early, they don't really get much traction, and you may start to think that sales and marketing are a waste of time. This lead me, in the early years, to believe that a healthy software company should have a lot of real software developers and maybe no sales and marketing. At one point I entertained the quixotic and, retrospectively, stupid idea of requiring every employee at Fog Creek to be a programmer...

Tue, 26 Jan 2010 21:04:05 UTC

Why testers?

Posted By Joel Spolsky

My sister got her kids a little puppy, and they've been trying to train it. To live with a dog in the house, you need to teach it not to jump on people, not to poop in the house, to sit on command, and to never, ever, ever chew on the iPad. Never. Good girl. With dogs the main trick to training is that feedback has to be immediate. If you come home to discover that, hours before, the dog tipped over the garbage can in the kitchen, it's too late for training. You can yell at her but she just won't get what you're going on about.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 21:21:10 UTC

Rocket Surgery Made Easy

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Steve Krug has written a follow up to his usability classic Don't Make Me Think. The sequel, Rocket Surgery Made Easy, is a terrific, short, concise, fun guide to running simple “hallway” usability tests to improve the usability of your software and websites. Highly recommended.   Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Fri, 22 Jan 2010 20:33:45 UTC

A little less conversation

Posted By Joel Spolsky

“As companies expand, the people within them start to specialize. At such a point, some managers will conclude that they have a `keep everyone on the same page' problem. But often what they actually have is a `stop people from meddling when there are already enough smart people working on something' problem.” From my latest Inc. column: A Little Less Conversation   Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Wed, 30 Dec 2009 15:01:12 UTC

Secret language

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Microsoft Careers: “If you're looking for a new role where you'll focus on one of the biggest issues that is top of mind for KT and Steve B in `Compete', build a complete left to right understanding of the subsidiary, have a large amount of executive exposure, build and manage the activities of a v-team of 13 district Linux& Open Office Compete Leads, and develop a broad set of marketing skills and report to a management team committed to development and recognized for high WHI this is the position for you!” This is ironic, to use the Alanis Morissette meaning of the word [NSFW video].

Mon, 14 Dec 2009 15:30:13 UTC

Let's stop talking about “backups”

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Is your desktop backed up? Did you backup that server? Are your backups on a different machine? Do you have offsite backups? All good questions, all best practices. But let's stop talking about “backups.” Doing a backup is too low a bar. Any experienced system administrator will tell you that they have a great backup plan, the trouble comes when you have to restore. And that's when you discover that: The backed-up files were encrypted with a cryptographically-secure key, the only copy of which was on the machine that was lost The server had enormous amounts of configuration information stored in the IIS metabase which wasn't backed up The backup files were being copied to a FAT partition and were silently being truncated to 2GB Your backups were on an LTO drive which was lost with the data center, and you can't get another LTO drive for three days And ...

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 22:57:11 UTC

Stack stats

Posted By Joel Spolsky

The higher someone's Stack Overflow reputation, the more likely they are to have submitted a CV to Stack Overflow Careers: This is not entirely surprising, of course: the more time someone has invested in Stack Overflow, the more likely they are to (a) know about Stack Overflow Careers, (b) be willing to invest $29, after all the hours they've already sunk, and (c) have the confidence that their CV is going to impress the kind of employers that are using the site. Still, the participation rate in Stack Overflow Careers is pretty impressive, and it somewhat confirms the claim we're making to employers, which is that when you search for CVs on Stack Overflow, you are looking at some pretty gosh darn good programmers.

Thu, 10 Dec 2009 01:49:23 UTC

When and how to micromanage

Posted By Joel Spolsky

“Like most entrepreneurs, Ryan and I are still learning about how to manage people and teams. And we're both used to hiring very smart and dedicated people who will get things done to a high standard if you give them some general direction and set them free. But on this trip, we started to notice that this style of hands-off management, which works so well with our own staffs, just wasn't working when we had outside vendors involved.” From my December column in Inc.: “When and How to Micromanage”   Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy?

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 22:24:43 UTC

Programmer search engine

Posted By Joel Spolsky

For as long as I've been in the industry, which is, I think, about 74 years now, the problem I've had with hiring programmers was not interviewing them or deciding if they're smart–it's been finding them in the first place. What I've dreamed about is a programmer search engine. The ideal programmer search engine would only include programmers who are actually looking for jobs. If you've ever emailed someone based on a resume you found through a traditional search engine, you've probably discovered that they're not actually on the market. It would only include people willing to work in your neck of the woods.

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 13:34:05 UTC

Upgrade your career

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Do you like your job? Do you enjoy the people you work with? Would you want to have lunch with them? Every day? Alex Papadimoulis thinks that FogTyler Griffin Hicks-Wright Creek's free lunches are “cultish,” but everyone at Fog Creek loves them. Maybe it's the mandatory brain implant we install in each new worker, but I like to think that we just enjoy eating together because we genuinely like each other and like spending time together. If you can't imagine eating lunch every day with your coworkers, I hate to break it to you: you might not like them. Is it OK to spend most of your waking hours with people you don't like?

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 00:50:52 UTC

Does Slow Growth Equal Slow Death?

Posted By Joel Spolsky

My new Inc. column is up. “For a guy who wrote a book on how to hire great programmers, it's mortifying how incompetent I've been at enlarging the sales team, which, right now, consists of one terrific account executive and a dog. (I'm just kidding. There's no dog.)” Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Sun, 01 Nov 2009 21:51:31 UTC

Figuring out what your company is all about

Posted By Joel Spolsky

What is your company about? Recently I got inspired by Kathy Sierra, whose blog Creating Passionate Users and Head First series of books revolutionized developer education. She kept saying the same thing again and again: help your users be awesome. Kathy taught me that if you can't explain your mission in the form, “We help $TYPE_OF_PERSON be awesome at $THING,” you are not going to have passionate users. What's your tagline? Can you fit it into that template? It took us nine years, but we finally worked out what Fog Creek Software is all about, which I'll tell you in a moment, but first, some backstory.

Sun, 01 Nov 2009 04:50:24 UTC

Adam Bosworth on standards

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Adam Bosworth: “All successful standards are as simple as possible, not as hard as possible.” Required reading. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Tue, 27 Oct 2009 00:36:42 UTC

Capstone projects and time management

Posted By Joel Spolsky

It is amazing how easy it is to sail through a Computer Science degree from a top university without ever learning the basic tools of software developers, without ever working on a team, and without ever taking a course for which you don't get an automatic F for collaborating. Many CS departments are trapped in the 1980s, teaching the same old curriculum that has by now become completely divorced from the reality of modern software development. Where are students supposed to learn about version control, bug tracking, working on teams, scheduling, estimating, debugging, usability testing, and documentation? Where do they learn to write a program longer than 20 lines?

Fri, 09 Oct 2009 02:20:54 UTC

The “WiFi At Conferences” Problem

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Why does WiFi work so poorly at tech conferences? Marcus GriepI assume that WiFi wasn't really designed to handle a big ballroom with 2000 people, all trying to connect with their laptops and cell phones at the same time. Sometimes I feel like I'm lucky if it works in my apartment. So I never thought it was even possible to get it to work at a large, technically-savvy conference. At Stack Overflow DevDays, yesterday in Boston, the bandwidth seemed OK but the DHCP server ran out of addresses. This didn't seem to be something that anyone could fix. The conference organizers (er, me and Greg) were incredibly busy trying to, you know, organize the conference, so spending time tracking down the mysterious ISP and making them fix their router was impossible.

Thu, 24 Sep 2009 01:58:34 UTC

The Duct Tape Programmer

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Jamie Zawinski is what I would call a duct-tape programmer. And I say that with a great deal of respect. He is the kind of programmer who is hard at work building the future, and making useful things so that people can do stuff. He is the guy you want on your team building go-carts, because he has two favorite tools: duct tape and WD-40. And he will wield them elegantly even as your go-cart is careening down the hill at a mile a minute. This will happen while other programmers are still at the starting line arguing over whether to use titanium or some kind of space-age composite material that Boeing is using in the 787 Dreamliner.

Tue, 08 Sep 2009 15:56:21 UTC

Countdown challenge

Posted By Joel Spolsky

This month we're starting to get organized for StackOverflow DevDays, a series of one-day, mini conferences in ten different cities. Because of the packed schedule, keeping on time is very important, so I want to have a full-screen countdown application that we can run during intermissions warning people when we're going to resume. We'll put this up on the main screen and hopefully that will encourage people to sit down and be quiet on time. I thought this would be a great opportunity to showcase the StackOverflow community's programming talent, so I posted a little contest over on meta. Need to hire a really great programmer?

Thu, 03 Sep 2009 00:54:48 UTC

Upcoming startup workshop in San Francisco

Posted By Joel Spolsky

I'm organizing a half-day startup workshop in San Francisco. This would be a terrific event to attend if you've recently started a software company and feel dazed, confused, or just want to bounce ideas off of someone who's been there. We'll keep it small so everybody gets a chance to be heard. Space is extremely limited. It's a bonus supplement to the Business of Software conference, which is Nov. 9-11 in San Francisco. Although the startup workshop itself is free, you do have to pay for for that conference, which is not free, in fact, it's kind of expensive (but totally worth every penny!)

Wed, 02 Sep 2009 02:13:34 UTC

Being Number One

Posted By Joel Spolsky

At last year's Business of Software conference, I gave a talk about designing products that are more than just adequate. How do you make a product that becomes a category-killer, number one, super hit? What is it that gives the Apple iPod 90% market share? Neil Davidson has the video of my talk online (it's about 46 minutes). This year's conference is going to be great. There are still a few tickets available. It's November 9th-11th in San Francisco. This is a conference that's all about terrific speakers: Geoffrey Moore, Don Norman, Paul Graham, Heidi Roizen, Jennifer Aaker, Michael Lopp (“Rands”), Ryan Carson, Paul Kenny, Dharmesh Shah, Kathy Sierra, Mat Clayton, and The Cranky Product Manager are all confirmed speakers. Register now before it's too late!

Thu, 13 Aug 2009 18:53:04 UTC

New startup incubator in Cambridge, England

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Red Gate Software has launched a startup incubator in Cambridge. Free office space, internet access, room, board, advice, and pocket money. (I'm one of the people giving advice). For a first, it's really free; Red Gate isn't taking stock in the companies it helps. “We think that getting to know smart people doing interesting things will, in the long term, be good for Red Gate. In the future, we might end up licensing your technology, investing in your company or maybe even buying it. Or maybe we won't. Ultimately, all deals come down to relationships.

Fri, 31 Jul 2009 15:17:42 UTC

Seth Godin at the Business of Software Conference

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Seth Godin: “If you're going to interrupt everybody with an ad, it better be something everybody wants to buy. So what do you end up with? Average products for average people.” If you've ever heard Seth speak, you've had your mind blown. Which is why, on the rare occasion, when he runs a one-day seminar, he charges $1650 to attend, and it sells out in seconds. At last year's Business of Software conference, Seth's keynote was the highlight of the show. Thanks to a very generous offer by Seth, you can watch the full hour online. Need to hire a really great programmer?

Thu, 23 Jul 2009 20:53:01 UTC

The Day My Industry Died

Posted By Joel Spolsky

“Every single industry was going to be turned upside down! New industries would be created! Start-ups would make people rich! Which is really nice, because it's awesome to be rich! And, bonus: It'll never be winter again!” In this month's Inc. column, The Day My Industry Died, I retell the first part of the Fog Creek story. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Thu, 23 Jul 2009 20:44:05 UTC

Web Startup Success Guide

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Congratulations to Bob Walsh on publishing his Web Startup Success Guide (to which I wrote the foreword). His interview with GTD Guru David Allen, which is chapter 8, can be read online. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Thu, 23 Jul 2009 20:41:28 UTC

EBS 2.0

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Brett Kiefer describes Evidence Based Scheduling 2.0 on the FogBugz Blog: “EBS 2.0 gives you the vocabulary of strict dependencies and start dates. You can now say `No one can travel back in time until the Flux Capacitor is complete and the duped terror cell steals the plutonium.'” Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 17:00:56 UTC

Fruity treats, customization, and supersonics: FogBugz 7 is here

Posted By Joel Spolsky

A year ago today, FogBugz development was in disarray. The original roadmap was too complicatedWe had done this big offsite at a beach house in the Hamptons and came up with a complicated roadmap that involved splitting FogBugz into two separate products and two separate teams. We had done a lot of work on the architecture that made the product much more modular, but we had this goofy plan to do a major release containing virtually no new features, just to let the new architecture shake out, a plan which nobody was very excited about. So, on July 31, 2008, we reset our plans.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 21:25:26 UTC

Why Wolfram Alpha fails

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Mencius Moldbug: “They create an incomplete model of the giant electronic brain in their own, non-giant, non-electronic brains. Of course, since the giant electronic brain is a million lines of code which is constantly changing, this is a painful, inadequate and error-prone task.” Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Wed, 24 Jun 2009 03:32:10 UTC

The eternal optimism of the Clear mind

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Clear just closed down. Here's how it worked while it was in business. You paid $200 for a one-year membership. You underwent a big, complicated background check to prove that you were extra-super-trustworthy. In exchange, in a few big airports, you got to skip to the front of the TSA line for screening. Now, you didn't skip the screening itself. You still went through the X-ray machine and had to remove your shoes, belt, pocket contents, laptops, and plastic quart ziplock bag of toiletries. You just got to cut to the front of the line. A few people signed up. In certain airports, it was, indeed, worth actual money to cut to the front of the line.

Wed, 10 Jun 2009 19:45:46 UTC

Platform vendors

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Dave Winer (in 2007): “Sometimes developers choose a niche that's either directly in the path of the vendor, or even worse, on the roadmap of the vendor. In those cases, they don't really deserve our sympathy.” iSmashPhone: 15 Apps Rendered Obsolete By The New iPhone 3GS When independent software developers create utilities, add-ons, or applications that fill a hole in their platform vendor's offering, they like to think that they're doing the vendor a huge favor. Oh, look, the iPhone doesn't have cut and paste,  they say. Business opportunity! They might imagine that this business will be around forever. Some of them even like to daydream about the platform vendor buying them up.

Wed, 10 Jun 2009 17:56:51 UTC

A visit to Microsoft and Google

Posted By Joel Spolsky

From my latest Inc. column: “Giant corporations such as Google and Microsoft are like cities full of relatively anonymous people: You don't actually expect to see anyone you know as you walk around. Going to lunch on either campus is like going to the cafeteria at a huge university. The other 2,000 students seem nice, but you don't know most of them well enough to sit with them. Meanwhile, a typical lunchtime at my company is like Thanksgiving dinner: There's a big meal you get to share with a bunch of people you know and like.” Need to hire a really great programmer?

Wed, 10 Jun 2009 16:50:52 UTC

Conferences in New York

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Andrew emailed to ask why we don't have a StackOverflow DevDays day in New York City. That's a fair question! There's a big software development community here. There are two reasons New York is low on my list. The first is cost. Hotels, venues, and catering are prohibitively expensive in New York. At a medium-class hotel, say, the Marriott on the East Side, giving everybody one coffee break with coffee, tea, soft drinks, and nothing to eat costs $23 per person [PDF]. It's simply impossible to do a $99 one-day event in New York. The other reason is attendance. I don't know why, but techies in New York just don't turn out for events at the same level as other cities.

Tue, 09 Jun 2009 16:30:21 UTC

StackOverflow DevDays: Five New Cities

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Whoa. Less than a month ago, we announced first Stack Overflow DevDays and opened registration to 300 people in each of five cities. Well, that sold out pretty quickly. Ryan Carson, who is taking care of all the conference logistics, was pretty sure we'd be able to book larger event spaces, so we allowed even more people to register... we've got 2388 people booked worldwide so far, including over 800 in London, but it's clear that with just five events we weren't going to be able to accomodate all the people who want to spend a day meeting online Stack Overflow friends in real life and learning a little something about some hot new programming topics.

Wed, 03 Jun 2009 17:39:57 UTC

Get a job

Posted By Joel Spolsky

The Joel on Software Job Board has been working well since we launched it almost three years ago. It logs about 220,000 unique visitors every 21 days, including many passive job seekers who have RSS subscriptions. But a few employers place ads and just don't find anyone. I'm pretty sure we're the only job listing service in the world with an unconditional money back guarantee, so these people call us and we give them their money back. It's not a lot, usually just two or three a month, but I'd still prefer to have a wider audience for these job listings as long as it didn't diminish the quality of resumes.

Fri, 29 May 2009 16:19:38 UTC

Server Fault now in public beta

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Server Fault is now in public beta! When Jeff Atwood and I launched Stack Overflow last fall, we really wanted it to be a site for and by programmers. But the engine behind the site, the Q&A engine with voting, editing, and tagging, could obviously be used in a lot of other professions. The first field we picked is close to our heart: system and network administration; as programmers, we often end up doing system administration themselves. And it's the perfect domain for a Q&A engine... there are a million detailed problems that depend highly on lore to get right. There's no way to accidentally discover aspnet_regiis.exe -I until someone shows you the trick.

Tue, 12 May 2009 16:39:46 UTC

Stack Overflow DevDays

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Stack Overflow has been going nuts–after just six months in business, we've had 3.5 million unique visitors per month. We've starting thinking about how to get that great tribe of developers together in the real world.We decided to launch a series of Stack Overflow events: the first gathering of the tribe of great developers making Stack Overflow so successful that over 90% of questions get answered [video]. It's going to be in October, in five separate cities. In each city, we're planning a one-day event. We decided to cram as many diverse topics as possible into a single day event. Like a tasting menu at a great restaurant, we'll line up six great speakers in each city.

Tue, 05 May 2009 20:40:17 UTC

Why Circuit City Failed, and Why B&H Thrives

Posted By Joel Spolsky

“Even as competitors like Circuit City go bust, B&H remains packed with loyal customers. And that makes me very happy. For a business owner, there's nothing more satisfying than watching honest dealers expand their operations while the schmucks, with their going-out-of-business markups, go down the drain.” From my Inc. column: Why Circuit City Failed, and Why B&H Thrives Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Wed, 29 Apr 2009 21:33:55 UTC

Talk about StackOverflow

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Here's a video of a talk I gave at Google last week about StackOverflow. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Tue, 07 Apr 2009 16:44:29 UTC

The Business of Software 2009 speaker lineup

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Three years ago, I was invited to New Zealand to speak at Webstock, the local web conference. Now, let me tell you honestly, I go to a lot of these conferences, and the speakers are often saying the same things, or I've heard them before, so it's hard for me to sit still when the other speakers are talking. But once in a while, someone gets up and just blows me away. I'm absolutely riveted and I start scribbling notes furiously. One or two good speakers like that, and you've got a conference that's worth going to. In Wellington, New Zealand, it was Kathy Sierra.

Fri, 03 Apr 2009 20:17:02 UTC

Win32 programmer needed

Posted By Joel Spolsky

We're always looking for good programmers at Fog Creek, but right now we could really, really use a top notch Win32 (C/C++) developer to join the Copilot team. I know you're out there. Apply now! Thanks!   Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Wed, 01 Apr 2009 18:04:47 UTC

Fog Creek Compensation System

Posted By Joel Spolsky

This month, I wrote up a brief description of Fog Creek's compensation system for Inc. I also posted the Fog Creek professional ladder which is used to compute everyone's level and thus determines their base salary.   Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Fri, 27 Mar 2009 22:02:33 UTC

Solid State Disks

Posted By Joel Spolsky

One of the FogBugz developers complained that compiling was pretty slow (about 30 seconds), which was leading to a lot of sword fights in the hallway. He asked if it would be OK if someone spent a few weeks looking for ways to parallelize and speed it up, since we all have multiple CPU cores and plenty of memory. Intel Corp.I thought it might be a good idea to just try throwing money at the problem first, before we spent a lot of (expensive and scarce) developer time. And I had just read a glowing review by Anand Lal Shimpi of the Intel X25-M SSD, so I thought I'd experiment with replacing some of the hard drives around here with solid state, flash hard drives to see if that helped.

Wed, 11 Mar 2009 20:09:29 UTC

Stack Overflow Live!

Posted By Joel Spolsky

If you're going to Las Vegas next week for Microsoft's huge MIX 09 conference, Jeff and I will be recording a live broadcast of the Stack Overflow podcast. Er, I mean, it's “live” in the sense that it will be recorded in front of a live audience ... you! But it's not live because it's a podcast, it's not actually broadcast live ... well, you know what I mean. Please come; it'll be a barrel of fun! Tuesday, March 17, 2009, at 6:30 PMAt the Third Place hang out areaThe Venetian Las Vegas4th Floor, Marcelo 4403 You will need to be registered for the conference.

Mon, 09 Mar 2009 18:16:23 UTC

How to be a program manager

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Having a good program manager is one of the secret formulas to making really great software. And you probably don't have one on your team, because most teams don't. Charles Simonyi, the brilliant programmer who co-invented WYSIWYG word processing, dated Martha Stewart, made a billion dollars off of Microsoft stock and went into space, first tried to solve the Mythical Man Month problem of organizing really big software teams by creating one super duper überprogrammer writing the top-level functions, while handing off the implementation of the lower-level functions to a team of grunt junior-programmers as needed. They called this position program manager.

Wed, 25 Feb 2009 20:44:48 UTC

Start-up Static

Posted By Joel Spolsky

“At this point, you're so dang cocky that you have too much wine at Thanksgiving dinner and pointedly remind your mother-in-law about how rude she was to dismiss your start-up idea and how, when you're making millions of dollars, there will be nothing for her -- she can bloody well eat frozen government cheese.” From my latest Inc. column: Start-up Static Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Wed, 11 Feb 2009 23:50:56 UTC

Is the tech recession over?

Posted By Joel Spolsky

OK, it's just one data point. All I know is sales of FogBugz and Copilot. But what I'm seeing is this: October-December 2008 were terrible–sales were 20% lower than usual–but starting January 5th, we saw a significant bounce back to the same level of sales as we had before this recession started, and it's continued to this day. This could be a fluke; it might not reflect any reality. Or it could be a sign that tech firms, for the moment, are doing reasonably well. The Joel on Software job board is holding steady at about 50 jobs listed, down from a peak around 100, but there are still a significant number of openings for great developers.

Sun, 08 Feb 2009 00:19:56 UTC

The New York Times covers the Fog Creek office

Posted By Joel Spolsky

The New York Times covered the new Fog Creek office: “A client who claims to know something about design might be an architect's worst nightmare. But it turns out that Joel Spolsky, a software designer, author and blogger, actually knows a lot about it.” If you're coming here from that article craving more pictures and descriptions of the space, there's an article I wrote describing everything in detail, and there's also a slideshow with 49 pictures. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy?

Thu, 05 Feb 2009 19:23:18 UTC

New, faster Copilot

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Something I knew: if you just put traffic on the Internet, it's not necessarily going to go by the most efficient route. Something I didn't know: that can make a pretty big difference. The default routes can be slow, clogged, and high latency. Think Cross-Bronx Expressway. Akamai sent a couple of salespeople over to pitch us a service called IP Application Accelerator. According to the goofy pictures-with-clouds in the whitepaper, when you subscribe to this service, your packets go straight to the nearest Akamai node, which are installed all over the world, and then they magically zip on a superfast superclean superhighway to the Akamai node nearest your destination, after which they hop off and take the city bus to their final destination.

Sat, 31 Jan 2009 22:00:02 UTC

From Podcast 38

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Here's a brief conversation between Jeff and I which I transcribed from Stack Overflow podcast #38, starting at [42:28]. Joel: There's a debate over Test Driven Development... should you have unit tests for everything, that kind of stuff... a lot of people write to me, after reading The Joel Test, to say, "You should have a 13th thing on here: Unit Testing, 100% unit tests of all your code." And that strikes me as being just a little bit too doctrinaire about something that you may not need. Like, the whole idea of agile programming is not to do things before you need them, but to page-fault them in as needed.

Thu, 29 Jan 2009 18:49:54 UTC

I am not having any problems with Google

Posted By Joel Spolsky

A very irresponsible journalist, Paul Boutin, wrote a whole story in the Industry Standard which appears to me made up from whole cloth. He is attributing, to me, a comment posted by an anonymous poster. I am not using Google Apps, I did not write the comment in question, basically none of the things that Boutin said I did are true. A part of the problem is the design of my discussion groups, which look too much like the main Joel on Software site. A part of the problem is unregistered, anonymous posters... that will be turned off immediately. Another part of the problem is The New Tech Journalism, which will have to remain a rant for another day.

Sun, 18 Jan 2009 02:02:58 UTC

Purchase orders and custom licenses

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Over on the Business of Software group, we're discussing those big bureaucratic companies who want a custom legal agreement to buy $79 worth of software. “Lawyer-infested companies that are obsessive-compulsive about contracts do not pirate software and they CERTAINLY don't try to trick you into signing a contract `allowing' them to pirate your software. This theory is laughable.” Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 19:09:50 UTC

Open House

Posted By Joel Spolsky

After I posted pictures of the new Fog Creek office, a lot of people wrote to ask if they could visit it. So we're holding an open house here on Friday, January 30th, from 12:00-1:00 pm (absolutely no one can be admitted after 1:00, sorry). There will be free food and drinks. Fog Creek is at 55 Broadway, New York, on the 25th floor. View Larger Map Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Wed, 14 Jan 2009 16:24:00 UTC

Thanks or No Thanks

Posted By Joel Spolsky

“Simply because one programmer's idea translated visibly and directly into a lot of money didn't mean that the other team members weren't adding just as much value to the business, albeit in a less direct way.” From my latest Inc. column: Thanks or No Thanks Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Tue, 13 Jan 2009 16:24:14 UTC

Open-plan offices make workers sick

Posted By Joel Spolsky

News.com.au: “Australian scientists have reviewed a global pool of research into the effect of modern office design, concluding the switch to open-plan has led to lower productivity and higher worker stress.” Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Mon, 12 Jan 2009 20:12:39 UTC

“By installing Java, you will be able to experience the power of Java”

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Just because there's room on the dialog box, doesn't mean you have to put something there. The Java installer starts off with a dialog box that manages to repeat the word Java six times without really telling you what it is, just that it's “everywhere.” People don't like to read. If you can't think of anything to say, maybe you should just shut up. This whole damn dialog could read Java Loves You–Please Wait without any loss in functionality. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy?

Thu, 08 Jan 2009 19:58:42 UTC

Goals

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Seth Godin reminded me about having goals. “Having goals is a pain in the neck,” he says, but “the people who get things done, who lead, who grow and who make an impact... those people have goals.” OK, good point. Here are Fog Creek Software's goals for 2009, in no particular order: Ship FogBugz 7.0 for all platforms Ship Copilot Desktop for all platforms Release the next documentary about software development Build a kick-ass new product from the ground up with the summer interns, and get the first dollar of customer revenue before they go back to school Put on a fantastic Business of Software conference Relive the glory days with another FogBugz World Tour I like what Seth said about how “if you don't have a goal, you never have to worry about missing it.” Need to hire a really great programmer?

Wed, 07 Jan 2009 21:05:07 UTC

Copilot OneClick for Macintosh

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Fog Creek Copilot is an inexpensive, and very easy to use, remote tech support system that allows you to remote-control someone else's computer over the Internet without installing anything special. It's perfect for ad-hoc tech support, and used extensively by helpdesks, software companies providing telephone support, and people helping their friends and families with computer problems. At Fog Creek, we even use it to conduct coding interviews for programmers. The new Copilot OneClick feature lets you preinstall the software on all the computers you connect to frequently, so every time your dad calls up needing help with the accounting software running his Ponzi scheme, you just click one link and you're logged onto his computer.

Sat, 03 Jan 2009 03:06:48 UTC

Another resume tip

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Are you a software developer applying to a small company? Here's a tip from someone who has read thousands of resumes. When you're applying to a startup, or a software company with less than, say, 100 employees, you may want to highlight the Banging Out Code parts of your experience, while deemphasizing the Middle Management parts of your experience. When a startup CTO sees a resume that says things like: Responsible for $30m line of business Architected new ERP platform Managed team of 25 developers Optimized business processes they think, “Spare me, that's all we need, somebody running around trying to manage and optimize and architect when we just need someone who isn't afraid to write code.” Here's the stuff CTOs at startups want to see on a resume: Single-handedly developed robust 100,000 LOC threadsafe C++ service Contributes to OpenBSD file system in spare time Wrote almost 75% of the ...

Fri, 02 Jan 2009 19:19:18 UTC

Animoto

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Tom suggested that I use Animoto to jazz up the slideshow of Fog Creek pictures. Here's what came out of that: Animoto is very simple: you give it a bunch of pictures and choose a soundtrack, and it gives you a video presentation. The part I liked best was how easy it was to get your pictures... you just point it at one of the five most popular online photo sharing services, and it shows you a list of your albums on that service. One click and all your pictures are imported: The service is free for 30 second videos (about 15 pictures worth).

Sun, 28 Dec 2008 06:07:08 UTC

Stack Overflow is a Wiki

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Stack Overflow launched about three months ago, and is already serving 8.3 million page views per month. The growth has been incessant. Most of the criticism I've heard of Stack Overflow reminds me of the early criticism of Wikipedia: “I went to this article and it was wrong.” By the time you read the criticism, the article has been fixed. There was that year, not last year, but the year before, when every traditional journalist wrote a funny thought piece in their newspaper about something they looked up in Wikipedia and just how wrong it was. By the time their column appeared in print, the Wikipedia article was corrected, making a liar out of the journalist.

Mon, 22 Dec 2008 23:17:12 UTC

From the Department of Badly Chosen Defaults

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Alert reader Chris S. emailed me to point out this post by a developer at flickr about how to make IE scale images more smoothly. All you have to do is add img { -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } to the stylesheet. It worked! Note that all the other browsers use bicubic interpolation for scaling by default, because that's the only thing that make sense, but IE requires a non-standard CSS extension. So, pictures on this site should be a little smoother for those of you determined to use Internet Explorer. Happy Hannuka! Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy?

Mon, 22 Dec 2008 03:53:57 UTC

Future of Web Apps

Posted By Joel Spolsky

I'll be speaking at Future of Web Apps, in Miami, the last week of February. If you're going, and have any ideas for what I should talk about, drop me an email! Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Fri, 19 Dec 2008 22:14:12 UTC

Snowy day in New York

Posted By Joel Spolsky

I've been debugging the new site. The first problem: hopelessly messed up rendering on IE6. The best way to fix CSS problems with IE6 is to generate random mutations on the style sheet until it looks fixed. That's really the only way to approach these kinds of things; CSS is nondeterministic, and many better minds than mine have gone completely stark raving mad trying to understand the rhyme and reason of IE6 rendering bugs. Once that was fixed, people who read this site in an RSS reader reported that included images with captions weren't showing up correctly. To fix that one, I had to move the style information from the style sheet right into the tag, but only for the RSS feed.

Thu, 04 Dec 2008 02:04:06 UTC

Stack Overflow Podcast #32

Posted By Joel Spolsky

This week Jeff and I talk about software piracy, some performance improvements on the site, dealing with criticism, great programmer's offices, and more, in Stack Overflow Podcast #32. Not loving your job? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Mon, 01 Dec 2008 19:34:11 UTC

My Style of Servant Leadership

Posted By Joel Spolsky

“As for the sergeant major's job, it basically consisted of two main duties: being the chief disciplinary officer and maintaining the physical infrastructure of the base. As such, he was a terror to everyone in the battalion. Most people knew him only from the way he strutted around, conducting inspections, screaming at the top of his lungs, and demanding impossibly high standards of order and cleanliness in what was essentially a bunch of tents in the middle of the desert–tents that were alternately dust-choked or mud-choked, depending on the rain situation.” From my latest Inc. column: My Style of Servant Leadership Not loving your job?

Fri, 28 Nov 2008 03:56:45 UTC

Stack Overflow Podcast #31

Posted By Joel Spolsky

In the Thanksgiving edition of the Stack Overflow podcast, episode 31, Jeff and I discuss math, status reports, the economic downturn, the business case for nice office space, SQL parameters, programming “slumps,” and a whole lot more. Not loving your job? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Thu, 20 Nov 2008 16:53:31 UTC

Stack Overflow Podcast #30

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Stack Overflow Podcast episode 30 is up, with special guest Richard White of UserVoice. Not loving your job? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Wed, 19 Nov 2008 03:08:19 UTC

Anecdotes

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Michiko Kakutani reviews Malcolm Gladwell's latest book in the New York Times: “Much of what Mr. Gladwell has to say about superstars is little more than common sense: that talent alone is not enough to ensure success, that opportunity, hard work, timing and luck play important roles as well. The problem is that he then tries to extrapolate these observations into broader hypotheses about success. These hypotheses not only rely heavily on suggestion and innuendo, but they also pivot deceptively around various anecdotes and studies that are selective in the extreme: the reader has no idea how representative such examples are, or how reliable – or dated – any particular study might be.” This review captures what's been driving me crazy over the last year...

Thu, 13 Nov 2008 02:29:38 UTC

Stack Overflow Podcast #29

Posted By Joel Spolsky

In this week's Stack Overflow podcast, Jeff and I talk about video games, programming languages that aren't "in" English, and hiring great programmers. Not loving your job? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Thu, 06 Nov 2008 14:00:50 UTC

Stack Overflow Podcast #28

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Corey reviews the podcasts Jeff and I are doing, under the title Jeff Atwood is Trying to Kill Me: “The trip from Chicago to Detroit was without homicidal incident. The only harbinger of what was to come was that I could sense a growing irritation in myself towards Jeff Atwood. Why? Because Jeff just couldn't keep up with the pace of Joel's conversational tennis.” Ha! Take that, Jeff “Atwood,” if that's even your real name, you homicidal maniac! Anyway, sorry I haven't been posting as much here on the blog. As Corey discovered, the action is all on the podcast. This week, Jeff and I go through the colors.

Mon, 03 Nov 2008 23:01:27 UTC

The Unproven Path

Posted By Joel Spolsky

“As for what this all means, I'm still trying to figure that out. I abandoned seven long-held principles about business and software engineering, and nothing terrible happened.” From my latest Inc. column: The Unproven Path Not loving your job? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Sun, 02 Nov 2008 03:34:20 UTC

Stack Overflow Podcast #27

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Our guests on this week's Stack Overflow Podcast are the founders of Reddit, Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian. By the way, Jeff recently upgraded the database server from Microsoft SQL Server 2005 to 2008, and found pretty conclusively that 2008 has a new architecture for full text search which is significantly slower than it was in 2005. Something to be careful about if you're thinking of upgrading to 2008. Not loving your job? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Thu, 16 Oct 2008 03:34:20 UTC

Stack Overflow Podcast #26

Posted By Joel Spolsky

On this week's Stack Overflow Podcast, Jeff and I devote the episode to questions from listeners. Not loving your job? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.