Probably one of the hardest parts of my job is finding out who patterns & practices' customers are, what you do with our stuff, and what you would like to see us do better or differently. Now, given that so many developers and architects make use of p&p content, you may wonder why I find this so hard. It certainly isn't due to lack of discussion and feedback - between the e-mails, conference calls, presentations, surveys and community discussions, I get more data than I once would have thought possible.
But while this type of feedback is (and will continue to be) invaluable, it is sometimes very tricky to work out how to react to it. For example, if I have a great conversation with a customer at an event, I may get a detailed understanding of their situation, but I can't tell if their situation is extremely common across most customers or relatively unique. So I might put together a survey and get responses from 100 people, which will start to show trends across a wider group - but this mechanism doesn't allow us to get any kind of deep insight into what each respondent was doing and thinking. In particular we can't easily tell if survey respondents are answering the day after first installed a deliverable, or if it is based on years of experience.
In an attempt to get a mix of the depth of understanding we get from one-on-one conversations, and the breadth from traditional surveys, we have just launched a new survey called the Enterprise Library Exit Poll. If you've completed previous p&p surveys, you will find this one a bit different to normal. First, we are limiting it to people who have just completed a software project that uses Enterprise Library. Second, the survey is a little longer than usual and we are asking for some more detailed information on how you used the blocks and what your experiences were. The idea is that we will use this survey to get a much better understanding of what it is like to use Enterprise Library on a project, from beginning to end, and use this information to help us improve future releases.
If you aren't in the target audience for this survey (at least not yet), then don't despair - we still value your opinion, and I'll continue to hang out on the gotdotnet site, answer blog posts and e-mail, and meet people at events. This is just one more tool that we're using to help make our deliverables more relevant, and we know that we need lots of tools to do this well. But if you are in the target audience, we would love to hear from you, and we appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences.