September 09, 2004

So How Should I Feel About This?

Coming up in October in New Orleans is the 11th Annual Tcl/Tk Conference. Each year the conference begins with a couple of days of tutorial sessions--half day classes on different Tcl/Tk programming topics. Since June I've been scheduled to teach one of these tutorials, on the subject of programming with Snit, my Tcl-based object-framework.

And so for the last week I've been industriously preparing for my tutorial. I've been making a list of specific technical points I need to discuss, writing example programs that illustrate these technical points, and outlining a lecture that works through the examples in a logical progression. It's been interesting work, but since it's a free-time activity I've been a little concerned about getting it all done in time.

So today I hear from someone on the conference committee that to date exactly one (1) person has signed up for my tutorial; the fee from one person won't even pay for the room the tutorial would be held in. So the committee wants to cancel my tutorial and replace it with a couple-three panel discussions on a variety of topics, and would I like to sit on a panel about OO methods in Tcl?

I said yes, of course, and I admit to a sense of relief--this means I don't need to finish the tutorial, and can get on with other things. Nor is my ego bruised; the committee expected Snit to draw more interest than that, just as I did. After all, it's becoming reasonably popular in the Tcl community.

Really, I think, it just goes to show. If you want to make money teaching people to use your software, don't write software that's simple and easy to use, and most especially don't document it well. On the other hand, if you write software that's simple and easy to use, and document it well, don't expect to make money teaching people to use it.

Posted by Will Duquette at September 9, 2004 09:27 PM

Mark D. said:

Seems like a case of "hoist by your own petard", but for good, not ill. Do we need a new metaphor?

Will Duquette said:

I think the appropriate phrase is that I'm a victim of my own success. :-)