Marc Hughes

I am a developer from a bit west of Boston.

I won!

01 Oct 2007

Today is Septeber 30th, but I won't be able to post until mid-day tomorrow since I'm in secrecy-mode right now. I’m currently on a plane headed to MAX at Chicago. I'm heading there because Agile Agenda has won the Adobe Air Developer’s Derby best of show prize. It's all rather overwhelming.

First, some thanks. To my wife, for putting up with me through countless late coding nights and giving me the motivation to continue. To my boss at my day job, Eric Hilfer, and several other colleagues, for giving me important feedback and motivation to shape the product into what it is today. To Olivier Charavel for a great set of icons used in the current version, and mockups for a complete design overhaul for the next version. And lastly, to the Open Source Flash development community. Oh, and thanks to the judges and the Adobe folks too.

I was very surprised to win. I was expecting to see some really ground-breaking, funky, and interesting applications take the prize. AgileAgenda is just a productivity tool with very little “cool” factor to. I've made it to be useful to me, and maybe I got lucky and it's useful to others as well.

The grand prize was a $100,000 travel voucher so I’m sure the big question on everyone’s minds is “Where are you going on the trip?” The short answer is we’re planning on New Zealand, Australia, and Tahitit maybe next fall. The long answer is it probably won’t be a $100,000 trip since my wife and I couldn’t afford the estimated $30k income tax bill that would go along with it. Believe it or not, the IRS taxes prize winnings just like income. (I can imagine the comments now…. WHAAAAAA I won too big of a prize)

On to the "standard" set of questions everyone seems to ask.

Why did I create this? One week at work, I spent 3 consecutive nights staying late fighting with MS Project. It just doesn’t handle schedules like I think about them. I want to enter in tasks, how long those tasks take, prioritize them, and assign them and let the software figure out the rest. I want to be able to change a duration, or a resource vacation schedule mid-way through the project without the software throwing up a warning dialog for every single task that occurs after that. I want software that knows when a task is completed ahead of time and adjust for that. I want a tool that understands when a task is late and adjust for that too.

I got the basics working for the AIR Derby deadline and have been refining them in the time since. I’ve also added in some new goals. I want everyone on a project to be involved in the scheduling process. To accomplish this, I’ve created a pricing structure with deep discounts for volume purchases. I’ve also started what I’ve been calling the “Developer’s Client.” (I hate the name, any suggestions?) This client lets people working on the project subscribe to a schedule and have a simplified view of it. They see only their tasks and some summary data. Using this interface, resources can write notes, keep track of time spent, and mark tasks complete. This data is then fed to the main AgileAgenda program allowing the schedule maintainer (lead, manager, producer?) to view those entries and choose to incorporate them into the main schedule or not.

Another goal is the easy sharing of data. If you upload your schedule to the website, you get a unique url you can share with team members, clients, or your boss, and they can view the current status of the schedule at any time.

The software isn’t complete yet. I’m really hoping for some feedback about what people like or don’t like. I’m no expert in project scheduling, I just wrote this for the way I think about it and would love to hear how you think about it.

I’ll be around the conference and have a supply of 6-month licenses to give out to anyone who wants to try the software out. If you don't catch me, there's a free shorter-term license with beta, so go check it out. I’ll be hanging around Adobe’s AIR booth from time to time, or you can leave a comment here and I’ll try to find you.

Pre-orders start today. In order to help gauge the potential of the product, we’ll be accepting pre-orders of at least 35% off the initial price. I say “at least” because I’m still not sure what the final sale price will be upon launch. Visit for details. So go order a few copies, and send me on a nicer trip ☺

Thank you everyone.