Schneide blog heartbeat revisited

The start of a new year is a great opportunity to look back and review the old year. This article reviews this blog, how we run it and what happened in 2009.

The first review

This blog came to life in February 2007 and was revived and retrofitted with a basic rule set in August 2008. Exactly a year ago, i wrote a first review of the changes, explaining some of the rules behind it and judging the outcome. You might want to read it in order to understand some of the following metaphors.

A year with constant pace

We haven’t changed the rules in a year. We still run this blog at a constant, sustainable pace. We still collect and foster “vegetables”, our metaphor for blog entries. Everyone in our company has a “garden” full of blog entry drafts that evolve over time and finally get published. We still don’t think that maintaining a company blog has to lead to internal competition or a blog quality assurance department.

We ran this blog for a whole year with weekly entries by just passing the blog token around. Instead of getting tired to write yet another blog entry, we sometimes asked to publish our entry ahead of time just because it was ready and eager to meet the world. We kept discipline, but in a flexible manner.

The results

What can you expect to happen when all you do is to keep your flow (we call it “obeying the mechanics”)? A single picture tells it all:

You see the visitor statistics from the day we revived the blog. The small mound around 2008-10 was last year’s visitor maximum. We grew every month this year. We did expect the numbers to grow, but not exponentially as in the last months. We are overwhelmed by success. Which leads to a few additional rules.

The additional rules

  • As the amount of discussion around our blog rises, we introduced the rule of “author-based commenting“. Every comment on our blog needs to get our approval (by saying something on topic, we just filter out the spam) and will eventually get an answer from us. The responsible person for both actions is the original blog entry author. This may lead to slightly longer approval delays, but adds coherence to the comment trail and discussion tone.
  • We regularly publish our articles on aggregator sites like dzone.com. All of these sites provide their own commenting system. We tend not to answer comments on these sites. It would shatter the discussion without benefit for the ordinary visitor. If you want us to answer, feel free to copy the comment into our blog.
  • We introduced some regularly “events” in our company last year. The Open Source Love Day (OSLD), the Dev Brunch and the occasional Blog Harvest are all worth to write about, but are attended by many authors. We agreed to publish these special event entries out of turn, whenever they are ready but in a timely manner. These entries share a common icon set to distinguish them from regular entries. They are a cocktail of our combined writing skills and tend to be very specific. Regard them as “bonus tracks” on our written company album.

What to expect in the future

We are looking forward to keep our pace in 2010. The blog will receive a facelift and better integration with our website soon. We plan to provide some improvements on finding relating groups of existing articles. But we don’t want to make changes in our ruleset or dedication.

If you happen to follow us on our blog, drop a comment. We really like to hear from you. By the way, in 2010 the first entry on reader request will be published. Stay tuned!

Blog harvest, October II

harvest64A great way to stay up to date with current musings and hypes of our industry is to follow other people’s blogs. We do this regularly – everybody scans his RSS feeds and roams the internet. But to have a pool of shared knowledge, we pick our favorite recent blog articles and usually write an email titled “blog harvest” to the rest of the company.

Then, the idea came up to replace the internal email by a public blog post. So here it is, the first entry of a new category called “blog harvests”. You’ll read more harvests in the future. They will be categorized and tagged appropriate and have the harvest icon nearby.

Second Blog harvest for October 2009

There are four main blog entries I want to share:

  • 8 Signs your code sucks – Let’s assume we all read Martin Fowler’s classic “Refactoring” book, then these eight signs are a mere starter. But as the follow-up post indicates, it got quite a few people started and upset for the “comments are code smells” line. Well, we heartfully agree with the premise that comments are clutter and code should be the comment. /* TODO: Add a joke using comments here */
  • ORMs are a thing of the past – Another opinion that might get in the way of hibernate fanboys. We’ve had our share of hibernate “experiences”. It’s a useful tool if you know how to use it – and when not to. Replies followed instantly, here are two noteworthy ones by Scot Mcphee and by Jens Schauder.
  • The Case for Clojure – Clojure is functional programming on the Java VM (think LISP). Stay tuned for our own book review on this topic. You can argue that Clojure isn’t pure, though.
  • Bad Programmers Create Jobs – As is already is a controversy harvesting, lets add some more, written by Mohammad Azam. Side note: Half of our work was initially created by “bad” programmers, so I think Mohammad hit the nail on the head. And remember that you’ve produced legacy code today.

Then there is a bit of (future) knowledge you shouldn’t miss:

That’s it for now. My harvest format has changed for the blog, i’ll evolve it further in the next months, Thanks for your attention, stay tuned.