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Buckman on SLUG: What do users REALLY want?

Received: from THOMAS.kahuna.decnet.lockheed.com by ALAN.kahuna.decnet.lockheed.com via INTERNET with SMTP id 16504; 16 Jan 90 14:07:59 PST
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 90 14:07 PST
From: Robert D. Pfeiffer <RDP@ALAN.kahuna.decnet.lockheed.com>
Subject: Buckman on SLUG: What do users REALLY want?
To: Moon@ALAN.kahuna.decnet.lockheed.com, SLUG@ALAN.kahuna.decnet.lockheed.com
In-Reply-To: <19900111221843.7.MOON@KENNETH-WILLIAMS.SCRC.Symbolics.COM>
Message-ID: <19900116220754.6.RDP@THOMAS.kahuna.decnet.lockheed.com>

    Date: Thu, 11 Jan 90 17:18 EST
    From: Moon@STONY-BROOK.SCRC.Symbolics.COM (David A. Moon)

	Date: Fri, 5 Jan 90 11:41 PST
	From: Eric Buckman <BUCKMAN@ALAN.kahuna.decnet.lockheed.com>

	Are all these comments / suggestions on what Symbolics should or shouldn't do
	really worth anything, or are we as users just talking among ourselves.


    I'd like to comment on this, as an individual who cares about the user
    community, not as any kind of official statement from Symbolics.


	Tell me
	I'm wrong, tell me that we're going to see great marketing moves and decisions
	from Symbolics on anything close to the same level that we see great technical
	accomplishments from them.

    Yes, you are going to see that.

I believe you.  

Bill Gates (Microsoft) is talking about object-oriented software.  Bill
Joy (Sun) is talking about object-oriented software.  Ed Yourdon is
talking about object-oriented software ("Object-Oriented Analysis" -
Peter Coad and Edward Yourdon).  And Symbolics seems to have strongly
focused their marketing message on -- you guessed it -- object-oriented
software!  Clearly, Symbolics is in touch with the marketplace.  (Yay!)

My two cents worth:

The (very good) marketing message still needs to be delivered to people
that haven't even heard of Symbolics.  I think that Symbolics marketing
is still a little bit stuck on "preaching to the choir".

	While I'm flaming........ what's the story on Symbolics coming out with great
	new technical products, but not following up on them.  

    This is a personal view, not an official comment from Symbolics:  We have had
    some significant problems with follow-through on some products, largely for the
    obvious financial reasons.  Nonetheless Concordia, Statice, and Joshua are very
    important for the company and are getting a lot of attention.  It might be that
    you're not aware of what's happening until a new release arrives on your
    doorstep, but it is happening and has been happening for a while.

Customer feedback:

We're actively using Concordia and Statice on the planning/scheduling
application I'm working on and, on the whole, we're satisified.  We also
may or may not be using Joshua on this project in the upcoming year.
The places where we would like to see maintenance effort go are a lot of
integration issues:

Allow Concordia (Nsage) records to be conveniently stored in a Statice
database (or, if this is already simple, document it with some good
examples).  Other Concordia issues are the rather inflexible programming
interface and the awkwardness of laying out printed (hardcopied)

Integrate Statice with CLOS (I know I've already said this in mail on
Genera-8-0-Beta but I'm trying to be a squeaky wheel :-) ).  What I'd
like to be able to do is to write Statice DEFINE-ENTITY-TYPEs and CLOS
DEFMETHODs.  Another thing we might like (although for us the priority
definitely wouldn't be as high) is Statice running on a Sun.

    Your guess that the long-term plan is for CLIM to replace Dynamic Windows is a
    good insight.  It seems to me (and I think to a lot of other people) that, as a
    reimplementation based on a better understanding of the problem, and as a
    portable standard, CLIM is going to be a lot more useful to customers than DW,
    and it would be a mistake for Symbolics to take anything away from investment in
    CLIM even to fix the many known bugs in DW.  You won't see CLIM as an integral
    part of Genera 8.0, because the timescale isn't right, but CLIM is definitely
    one of the most important ingredients of the future.

Yes, I think we will convert our DW code (which is reasonably good
sized) to CLIM as soon as it is feasible.  I guess I'm not as down on DW
as some other users -- I think that it is well conceived and reasonably
well implemented.  I'm sure we would not have gotten so far so fast on
our application without it.  But the value of a sophisticated UI
substrate is so high that keeping up with the state of the art is
extremely valuable and it looks like that means CLIM.

	.....  Coming from a lab that develops software for those
	application groups, we have so far been very pleased with the power that
	Symbolics provides, both in terms of their development environment (where we can
	turnaround applications a lot faster, and with a much much lower head
	count, than other groups working on other platforms/languages.  Some of this
	success can be attributed to using Symbolics software as pre-written code.  i.e.
	Building up from Concordia to create a  hypertext based help system for an
	application, or using Statice as the substrate on which to build database

    I'm glad to hear that.  Making people like you a lot more productive in what you
    do was always the big idea behind Symbolics.  I admit that in the past not all
    elements in Symbolics understood that; some people used to think the big idea
    was to make minicomputers that would put DEC out of business.

    I'm sorry this message was so long and verbose.

I would echo the sentiments of other respondents.  The time you put into
generating this mail is very valuable to the SLUG community and is very
uplifting.  Thanks.