2010 Year in Review and Looking Ahead

I don’t always do these types of posts and I almost didn’t this year but I figured it would help keep my thoughts together to reflect on later.

2010 was a really busy year and there was very little rest.

Expens’d

It has been just over a year since I acquired Expens’d from Atlantic Dominion Solutions.  The past year has really been about understanding the application, how people are using it and fixing some obvious bugs that plagued my users.  We added several new features requested by users but did not add the features I am dying to tell you about.  Unfortunately, I can’t say just yet what is being added but it will be great for our users.

Subscribers are continuing to increase, both paid and free accounts.  Advertising consisted of Bing, Google Ads and Facebook Ads.  I was surprised to find Bing brought in the most new users.  I don’t have exact numbers just yet.

Running a Software-as-a-service (SaaS) project is interesting and exciting, I have learned a lot in the past year and plan to share the details as we move forward.

Ruby on Rails

My complete move to Ruby on Rails and especially Rails 3 is almost complete.  I have one client remaining who I still provide consulting services to who is a .NET shop.  Once this project completes in 2011, my .NET career will come to a final end.

Rails 3 has really been a joy to work with, not in a single aspect but in the areas the team improved.  The areas which annoyed me in Rails 2.x are mostly rewritten and the pleasure continues.

I think Rails 3 is going to be a huge turning point for the Rails community.  This version could lead to better adoption in the enterprise and other organizations unsure of the platform.

An Epiphany

I would say about halfway through the year I came to realization that no matter how great it was to work with Ruby on Rails or any programming language and framework is, client work is not the joy it once was to me.

Since that time in the summer, I have been diligently working toward becoming 100% reliant on products.  These products include both web applications and mobile applications mainly targeting small businesses.  I continue to look for products to acquire which fit in with my plans.  If you know someone looking to sell, send them my way.

The transitions to 100% products is not as simple as flipping a switch, it takes time and planning.  My goal is transition complete by the end of the year.

All of my current products and projects are now Rails, future products will also Rails.  As consulting work winds down I will set some time aside to work on selected consulting projects that are particularly interesting.

Mobile Exploration

After purchasing a Motorola Droid X earlier this year and hearing how Android is gaining such market share I had to see what the hype was about.  I rejoined the Apple iPhone developer program and the Android Marketplace to make sure I had the latest information and tools.

Spending several weeks with both platforms to expose myself to iOS 4 and Android development I came back with an initial gut feel where my tolerance for risk versus the state of each platform and determined Android was not ready for prime time yet.  It is not as polished, tools are weak and making a reasonable living is a lot harder than with iOS.

This set my course from a mobile standpoint that I would focus on Objective-C on iOS and leave Android for another time, a more mature time.

The Year Ahead

I attended only one conference in 2010, which was RailsConf in the first half of the year.  I hope to change that in 2011.  I will be attending RailsConf again but want to take in some smaller, regional technical conferences as well as some business-related ones as well.  Maybe the Business of Software Conference this year.

2011 will be a year of transition from consulting to a products company.  I plan to blog more here about running a software company, some technical stuff but mainly about the factors behind technical decisions.  Some will be code, some will be me blathering on.

I have some ideas for other products to develop this year and some significant plans for Expens’d.  The journey will likely not be taken alone as one person cannot do it all, cannot know it all.

I am looking forward to this journey, things will certainly get exciting.

  • http://twitter.com/jennmcgroary Jenn McGroary

    Great reflections Rob. I to have been moving away from the time constraints of client work to focusing more on my own products. As you’ve probably seen in my newsletters, I’ve created a group coaching program on more of a membership type business model.

    I have decreased the amount of web design/development projects that I’m doing this year. I find it much more fulfilling to work on my own sites/projects. :-)

    Good luck with the year ahead and perhaps we’ll actually get to meet in person sometime this year! ;-)

    ~ Jenn

  • http://twitter.com/mikeymo Mike Morris

    Good post Rob…. your “client work is not the joy it once was to me…..” resonates with me as well. Let’s do something together in 2011!

  • http://www.accidentaltechnologist.com Anonymous

    Thank you.

    Client work takes so much time, the pay is great, but there is so little return at the end of the day. I did notice in one of your newsletters that you were moving away from any new web design/development projects. This is pretty much the same for me, with the exception of something really interesting that comes along, maybe nothing will.

    The major benefit to working on your own projects is you get to work on something that really means something to you, something you are passionate about. Life is really too short not to.

    Good luck to you as well. I hope we get to meet at some point too. Maybe there will be some good networking events coming up. Keep me posted if you find any.

  • http://www.accidentaltechnologist.com Anonymous

    Thanks.

    I think we are probably in the same point in our life. We realize consulting pays well but has almost no personal reward beyond the money. Keeping hourly clients really just makes us employees without benefits.

    It is really hard to do everything yourself, partnerships are so important. Let’s discuss when we meet up at the end of the month.

  • http://www.aparajayah.com Johnluisaiden

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  • http://www.itsolusenz.com darwinjalen

    What a Valuable Post for Mobile Exploration and Ruby on Rails, Great sharing thanks to u.

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