Changes at Small Picture

A picture named monaSmall.gifA few weeks ago Kyle told me he was leaving Small Picture. Since then I've been thinking a lot about where I want to go with the software, the community, the company and for myself.

I have told a few people about this, of course -- and the first question they ask is why. I honestly can't answer that question, so I won't try. This was not my decision, or preference. I liked working with Kyle, and I thought we made a great team. But I've learned in my many years developing software, that people come and go. And usually the project, if it had value, continues. In a different way of course, and perhaps in a different direction.

Fargo, imho -- has much value. I love writing in it. And I especially love writing blog posts in it. It's software I've been waiting for ever since I started doing CMSes for the Internet, way back in the mid-90s.

In other ways this is the culmination of my life's work. Much more so than things I'm better-known for such as RSS. Outlining and public writing are the core technologies that have driven my career as a developer and as a writer.

There are two big pieces to Fargo, what runs in the browser and what runs on the server. The outliner that runs in the browser is in good shape. I can work on it myself, and have been adding features that are both responsive to the needs of users as we've gotten to know them, and ideas that are new and innovative.

The big questions are about the server software. Right now it runs in an environment that we built written in C++ and JavaScript called Trex.

There are serious performance problems in Trex. They tend to show up as your outlines get bigger, so I'm seeing them before others do because mine have grown faster. When you make a change to an outline, you often get timeouts when you try to refresh one of the pages on your site. Sometimes there are 503 "service unavailable" errors. At times the software is basically unusable. This is not an acceptable situation.

There may be an easy technical solution, or not. We may have to port the server software to another environment, possibly Node. Or we may just re-focus on being an outliner that can be hooked into other CMSes.

There are several choices, none of them good, but this is how it is with software esp when a key developer leaves the team.

I've given this a lot of thought and I think the only approach that works, for now, is to re-focus Fargo on just being an outliner, while we look at re-tooling the server-side.

We're not going to shut off the Trex server, but you need to be aware that it could go down, and it might not be possible to bring it back up. So that should factor into your decisions about where to put your web content. I'm going to continue using it myself for Scripting News , as we explore other options.

I'm very sorry about this. I totally love using the Fargo-Trex combination. But until the problems are sorted out, we all need to be aware that the problems exist. I'm not the kind of developer who likes to skate on thin ice while the users of the product assume all is well. There are problems. I ask for your understanding and support.

Finally, thanks to the community for being such a great inspiration. And we're still here, and hope to be for some time to come!


Posted: Thu, 25 Jul 2013 13:43:36 GMT