Chris Pratley: The Genesis of OneNote

This weekend I ran across a new blog by Chris Pratley, and boy was it a fun read, and I'm not even a Tablet user yet.  Chris talks about the genesis of OneNote, all the steps along the way, and gives us glimpses of what it one day will be.  His first post says “I think I’ll use this blog to muse about OneNote in particular” and then he's off with a vengence (14 posts in 3 days)! 

One of the interesting things he talks about was collecting written notes from a bunch of users, and then posting them in the hallways:

We put these notes on the wall because I wanted them to be easily accessible. If we ever had a discussion about whether “users do this” or “users do that”, it should be as easy as walking out into the hallway to check. And we did. Many arguments were settled pretty quickly. The “wall o’ notes” was one of the more successful things we did in the OneNote project.

Chris also gives some good insights into software development at Microsoft:

Now, I often read or hear from users of OneNote (or Word, or whatever) that we don't have Feature X, and that must be because we didn’t think of it. I smile at this, because it is sort of cute to think that we just sit around dreaming stuff up, and whatever we dream up goes into the product, as if development realities didn’t exist and we are limited only by our imagination. Or, I suppose I could view it as insulting - that what is in the product is by definition all we could think of. The reality is that we had enough ideas to fill the features lists of at least the next three versions, and the only reason we didn’t have more was because we were forcing ourselves not to keep dreaming up new stuff and to get cracking on defining the details of what we had decided to do.

This is just a small small sample of a blog that's too good to miss, so here's the rss feed.


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