by Cesare Rocchi

Product or Project?

by Cesare Rocchi

A friend asks you: “what are you doing these days?” You are working on something on the side, or even full time. How do you call it? Product or project?

I’m not hair splitting. A project to me is in a sandbox. I do it for fun and to learn something new. The expected outcome is self contained. I know something more when I am done and I enjoyed doing it. It can be an open source library, a novel, a painting. Anything. It’s something that I do just for me.

Product is something that is meant for someone else. It’s not just for me. Fun and learning are still key components but they are just pieces of a bigger puzzle.

I approach projects lightly, when I have time. There’s no rush and it’s just me. And that’s one of the reasons I almost never ship them or show them publicly. I have a ton of projects started and abandoned. Yesterday I found one that I started with Xcode 3 :)

I switched gears when I decided to build and sell my own products. The switch included also a change in the terminology. To my friends I now answer: “I am working on two products”. My attitude is now pretty different. I have a todo list, a plan, everything is more “official”. There’s also a lot less ego, because the products are meant for someone else.

I had to give up some learning though. For example I can’t test/learn a whole new web framework. It would take too much time and I’d probably not trust the result enough to ship it in production.

I kinda forced myself to a more “boring” situation, where I use and re-use almost the same tools. That has freed some energy to talk to the interesting group of people that are beta testing my products. But this is the topic of another blog post.

And you? Are you working on a project or on a product? Let me know on Twitter.