Neither Mort Nor Elvis

In a post about the role of the personas that for several years have defined developer division’s thinking about the VB user (Mort), the C# user (Elvis), and the C++ user (Einstein), Scott Bellware says:

Microsoft will probably remain bogged down in embarrassing ideologies like the Mort-Elvis-Einstein thing for the foreseeable future. At best it could only eject the developer persona junk from its marketing and product development practices, but it might never understand why it had to do so other than a mounting concern for the effect on its image stemming from its inability to insulate itself from humiliation over the progressive degradation of its tools and out-moded thinking.

I found many things interesting in Scott’s post. For one, he presupposes that marketing was the team to come up with the personae (it wasn’t). For another, it dovetails with some of the work we’re doing in Orcas planning (for example, using scenarios). For another, he adds about fifty more layers of depth to the simple (simplistic) analysis I did on some of the research we have about VB developers.

Scott’s right: the existing personae don’t map to the reality. For example, on average a developer uses over 2 programming languages regularly (just think of any Web developer who typically uses HTML, Javascript, and something like VB .NET or C# and you will probably wonder why the average isn’t higher).

Comments (4)

  1. Hi John,

    Thanks for setting me straight on the origin of the personas.  Had I written more responsibly, I suspect I should have attributed the personas to the effort of putting a product to market, rather than merely to marketing folks.  More precisely then, my assertion is that the personas originated through people working with marketing concerns – demographic behavioral analysis for example – regardless of their title or primary job function.

    Looking forward to greater improvements in Orcas.  Although, I sure wish y’all would just stop and get Whidbey right, though.  Orcas is a long time to wait for clean usability that we had in VS 2003 that went away with the introduction of a few new surprise features in VS 2005.

  2. johnmont says:

    What features in 2005 surprised you? I’m not sure we can do very much at this point, but what specific features do you most like and least like in 2005?

  3. John,

    That’s a subject for a blog entry of it’s own.  When I get time, I’ll put my least favorite features and usability-obstructing features of Visual Studio 2005 in a list.

    It’s disheartening that Microsoft doesn’t have a value system like those found in agile development organizations that would allow for and enable design imperatives that provide for greater variability and adaptation.

    I dream of a Visual Studio subjected to the software design exigences of Test-Driven Development

  4. When reviewing the personae documentation I found that Scott is right that developers don’t cleanly fit into one specific silo, but they do span multiple silos which are adjecent to one another. I know plenty of developers that are Mort with Elvis tendencies (I myself am an Elvis with Einstein tendencies).