CDT for Windows, an exercise in product management

Putting the “CDT for Windows” distribution together has been a lot of fun. I’ve been able to learn more about Windows installers, or at least Inno Setup which really dumbs down the process so that you can quickly put together a pretty sharp looking installer. Even their Pascal scripting engine brought back a lot of memories from my first year computing class (how do you create a comment in Pascal anyway? {}.)

I’ve also been able to learn more about the infrastructure that SourceForge offers to let me set up bug tracking, help forum, announcements mailing list and most importantly, the downloads section for the distro. That and it gives pretty good statistics information so I can see how many downloads I’m getting (~250 so far), and how easy it is to get into the 99.78 percentile in SourceForge project activity (number 415 out of 152,347 today!)

But what SourceForge doesn’t give me, and something that I’ve never been good at, is a nice Web site and marketing material. Last night I finally put together the CDT for Windows web page and it’s pretty stark at best. In fact, I had a hell of a time just picking the background color since I just couldn’t stay with the default white which was blinding me.

It really makes me appreciate the work that the product marketing guys and their teams do. I’ve always had a great relationship with these guys in my career since they represent the customer as we’re putting together the product, and they make sure the lines of code I create, get turned into a hot looking product that customers will find appealing.

Well, with CDT for Windows, being an open source project not really sponsored commercially or by Eclipse, I’m finding myself flying without a net. As much as I like hanging out with marketing people, their talents haven’t rubbed off on me yet and the marketing material for CDT for Windows looks just plain ugly. Even the icons look eerily similar to the Eclipse Platform 😉

But, I still think CDT for Windows will be useful for people who have struggled getting the CDT working on their Windows machines. Hopefully, I’ll attract more artistic people to help build it’s own look and feel. This is the beginning of a journey that I thought would be simple, but having to do it on my own, it ain’t pretty…