Today is a very special day. Excactly ten years ago, on December 15th 2005, I wrote the first post on the mimec.org website. It's become a tradition that I write a short summary of the past year on each anniversary, and I will do it again today, because it was also a very special year for me.
First of all, there were a lot of round anniversaries this year. Almost exactly 10 years ago I graduated from college. WebIssues turned 10 years old in November, although technically it wasn't officially released until September 2006. Fraqtive turned 10 years old in January. And in March it was 10 years since I started my first job - and after those 10 years I still work for the same company, although it grew in size from a few developers to a few hundred, changed its name and relocated its headquarters. Even my primary day job project is still the same after 10 years. So, looking at those numbers, one might think that my life is very stagnant, and I will most likely spend the rest of it in the same place, doing the same things…
But even though a lot of things remained the same for such a long time, the last year also brought a lot of substantial changes. I overcame a serious crisis in my family, and we are back together, although a year ago nothing indicated that this would ever be possible. I think that this is my greatest personal accomplishment, and I simply owed this to my son. Obviously it doesn't mean that it's all a bed of roses now, quite on the contrary, but it was a very valuable lesson for all of us, and I will definitely not let the most important things get out of control again.
Today is also the first anniversary of Bulletcode, a software company founded by me and two of my friends. At the moment it's still more of a hobby than a real business, we put more money into it than we make, and we try to put as much work into it as our day jobs allow. But the whole year was a huge, invaluable experience for us all. We started the company to work on a very promising project, which unfortunately failed miserably for reasons that were beyond our control. So we ended up with a company which generated costs, without any projects, with no business partners, and with no idea what to do next. But instead of shutting it down, we took the challenge and started looking for new ideas and opportunities. I cannot reveal yet what we are working on, it's all a bit of a mistery and conspiracy, but it's definitely the most interesting project I've ever participated in, and we're all waiting impatiently to release our first product.
Yesterday was the seventh anniversary of mimec.org, but I will not elaborate on that. It suffices to say that the last year was very different from the previous ones. My son Adam changed from a blurry ultrasonographic image to a little boy who runs around the house. There is no time for anything. I can hardly keep up with my paid job, not to mention the open source projects, but I still managed to make four minor releases of WebIssues, an one release of Saladin (with another one pending), Fraqtive and Descend.
A few days ago I finally got a new laptop. It has a 15" Full HD display, which for some reason is very rare these days, powerful CPU and GPU and plenty of RAM. Minecraft runs at about 50 FPS at full screen with far viewing distance :). The bad news, though, is that my company run out of Windows 7 licenses, and I was forced to install Windows 8. I'm not going to rant about it, becuse enough has been said about it already. After installing the English language pack and removing the metro-garbage from the start menu, I'm getting used to it without having to change my habits too much. It's just hilarious that the now so called "desktop" applications suddenly became legacy and are only temporarily supported for backward compatibility. It reminds me of how all existing applications suddenly became "unmanaged" when .NET was created, as if they were crippled in some way. Microsoft suggested that in a few years all applications would become "managed", and finally support for those "unmanaged" ones would be dropped. Of course I don't mind .NET; it's just the kind of marketing speech that makes me laugh.
But when I saw Office 2013 with the black and white UI and icons designed for displays that support only 8 colors, it actually made me a bit upset. For a long time Office was setting the user interface design standards for a lot of Windows applications, especially regarding toolbars and menus, because the default ones always had a very plain look. Obiously I also always tried to keep up with the trends. Over ten years ago, in Grape3D, I used third party menu and toolbar classes for MFC which mimicked the flat, semi-transparent highlighting style know from Office XP. Later I wrote my own set of classes which broke out of the Office trends for a while and looked more like IE 6. But soon after that Microsoft released Office 2003 with the spectacular bright blue and orange UI which automatically changed its colors to match the Windows XP theme. Whether it looked good or not, it became a long time standard. Just take a look at version 0.9 of the WebIssues Client, or the so called "modern" Qt style which I wrote in 2008, and you will know what I mean.
The so called "ribbon" introduced in Office 2007 was something that people complained and ranted about nearly as much as the Metro UI in Windows 8, but it eventually turned out to be a very good idea. It was not just a cosmetic change, but something entirely new. Currently all my programs use a similar concept, which is available as part of the XmlUi component. At the same time the bright colors were toned down and the whole thing looked equally good with classic Windows style as with Luna and Aero. But now that I'm getting more and more used to Windows 8 and Office 2013, even the soft gradients and slightly rounded corners of XmlUi are beginning to look a bit odd. So what is the next logical step? Should we, developers, all turn to creating rectangular, black and white UI? How soon will Microsoft change its mind and what will be the next "standard"? Or perhaps it's time to stop bothering?
This year's anniversary of the mimec.org website coincides with two very important events. First, I'm finally releasing version 1.0 of WebIssues. It's been the longest development cycle I've ever made, as it took about 2.5 years; in that time I (and other contributors) made about 1,000 commits into SVN, and published nine pre-release versions. The popularity of this project is also continuously growing, reaching about 15,000 downloads this year, and a few weeks ago WebIssues was one of the featured projects of SourceForge.net main page. But the most important thing is that I managed to put all the long awaited features into it, and it became a really unique, innovative project, which can compete even with commercial software.
The second, even more important event, that we're impatiently awaiting with my wife, is the birth of our first son. All indications are that it's going to happen right after Christmas. This is really going to be the biggest and most important "project" in the next few years :). Starting next year, you can expect some new photo galleries to appear on this site, especially that we're going to continue visiting various interesting places in the world, as it seems to be the most reasonable way to spend money in these uncertain times.
Hopefully I'm still going to find some time to continue working on various other things:
When this website was created five years ago, there was little more than a few articles and an early version of Fraqtive. It was simply a continuation of my personal site at the university web server which I created in my spare time while I was a student. It turned out to be just the beginning of an exciting adventure with open source development. The fact that I kept working on the same projects for such a long time was perhaps the biggest success.
Back then in 2005 I created the first prototype of WebIssues as my master's thesis and I wasn't even thinking about continuing it, not to mention publishing it. Now I'm making great progress in working on version 1.0 and the release I made just yesterday was another important milestone on this very long road. It may not be the most popular program in its class, but it has its loyal and satisfied users and that's the ultimate goal of every open source application.
At the same time I'm also progressing in completing the first version of Saladin, the dual pane file manager for Windows which I announced some time ago. Unlike my other projects, this is a very recent idea and also a new approach to development: I'm simply creating an application that I am using myself on a daily basis. As Windows 7 is quickly gaining popularity (last month I had almost exactly the same visitors using Windows 7 as those using all variants of Linux), this may turn out to be a good choice. Although my time estimates are often quite wrong, if everything goes well in January you can expect the first version, which will already be quite functional.
The mimec.org website was brought online exactly four years ago. As usual I'm using the anniversary as an opportunity to summarize the passing year. The number of visitors of this and the related sites steadily continues to grow twice a year and exceeded 200,000 this year. Fraqtive was downloaded over 6,000 times, just like last year, even though no new version was released so far; I'm going to make a new release later this week though. Finally my "flagship" project, WebIssues, experienced more than threefold increase in the number of downloads, almost reaching 10,000, and that makes me very happy.
After many doubts I eventually decided to take the risk and start working on version 1.0. It turned out to be quite a challenge, especially because I was doing everything from scratch and I had to learn PHP web development by experimenting on a living body. Fortunately I managed to extend the development team, which also proved incredibly difficult. It looks like most people who have the right experience to participate in such complex project very quickly lose their enthusiasm for work if they don't do it for money. It's not a very good omen for the free software, but I believe that those remaining dedicated units can still make a difference.
In my personal life it was also a very important year. Teresa and I are now engaged and we're planning to get married in June next year :). Besides almost everything is in place in our new flat, including the modest home theater I recently bought. It's really good to finally have a place of my own. I also traveled quite a lot this year - short vacations in Germany, festival in France, holidays in Spain, not to mention two trips with my company to Prague and Zell am See in Austria. Now I look forward to spending Christmas with my family and take some rest from coding and everything else.