Well, I did it. It was a hard thing to do, but it had to be done. I killed of Alagad’s ill fated WysiPad product line.
For those of you who are not familiar with WysiPad (almost all of you), it was a browser based HTML editor. WysiPad was roughly akin to other products such as FCKEditor or Ektron’s eWebEditPro.
As they say, necessity is the mother of all invention. Years ago, when I worked at a company called Meristar (now Interstate Hotels and Resorts), we were managing hundreds of websites. Unfortunately, almost all of them had been created by different companies using different technologies. This created quite the maintenance headache.
At that point in time content management was quickly becoming the big thing. This coincided with the release of Internet Explorer 5. IE 5 came packaged with the DHTMLEdit control, which was an ActiveX control which provided basic HTML Editing capabilities.
For the most part, developers leveraged the DHTMLEdit by simply embedding it as an object in a webpage and using it’s extremely simple API from VBScript. But there were a few products such as eWebEditPro which embedded it inside another ActiveX control and expanded on it’s capabilities.
So, as I was saying at Meristar we managed hundreds of websites. One of these used eWebEditPro to edit HTML content. It didn’t take long for us to begin thinking about creating a very simple CMS which used a browser based WYSIWYG HTML editor to build new websites.
The goal was to empower our clients (other departments) to edit their sites, thereby freeing us up so we could spray fire suppressants at our constantly crashing and burning servers.
Of course, it’s cheaper to have your developers build (and constantly support) a buggy, hackish, version of what your want, rather than spending the money to buy what your really want. (That was sarcasm, by the way.) This was my introduction to Visual Basic 6.
So, I wrote a terribly simple HTML editor. Emphasis on Terrible. But it worked (sometimes). So we were emboldened and moved courageously forward in our plan to have our clients do our job for us. Of course, it took us two years to realize that our clients think that bold, red, 42 point fonts are “eye catching”.
The HTML editor I wrote for Meristar is probably long since dead. However, the experience was a lot of fun and really inspired me. So, I started work on my own HTML editor, which eventually became WysiPad.
WysiPad 1 was written in about 2 months, part time. It was a seriously 1.0 product. I don’t remember what it did and didn’t do, but it became obvious that a 2.0 produce was a badly needed.
I spent quite a bit of time doing feature research for WysiPad 2. I had spreadsheets detailing exactly what features would be supported. Ok, that’s not true. My spreadsheet indicated what menus WysiPad 2 would have. I assumed that once all of the menus did what they were supposed to that I would be done.
Oh how sadly wrong I was. First off, in Visual Basic 6, Active X controls can’t have a menubar. I had to write my own. This alone took months. (Remember, I was new to Visual Basic at this point.) After the menuing system was done I started implementing the various features. I didn’t finish for almost two years.
Writing WysiPad 2 was probably the biggest strain my marriage has ever sustained. I was absolutely convinced that 1) I was almost done and that 2) it would be a smashing success. Well, both of those never materialized. As a result I spent almost all of my time in the office working on it, while putting my (then-pregnant) wife off. Luckily, my wife is extremely patient, understanding and forgiving.
WysiPad 2 was released in 2003. Unfortunately, it was overflowing with bugs. In the two years sense then I have released countless bug fixes. Each bug fix seemed to make the produce even more brittle.
Now, consider the economics of WysiPad: I estimate that I worked on WysiPad 2 for at least 15 hours a week (in addition to my real job) for two years. If we assign a variable value for the cost of that time, the equation would look like this:
15 hours * 52 weeks per year * 2 years * $X hourly rate = $Y total cost of development.
So, if X were $50 then the total cost of development would be $78,000. Wow! That’s a lot of money. However, that doesn’t take into account any of the time spent supporting it or making up with my wife.
Now, to break even I would have had to have mad at least $X from WysiPad. I didn’t. I made $n. (Note that it’s so small it’s been lowercased.)
If you were to divide $n by $X you could get the percent I recouped. Well,
$n/$X = 0.077
That’s right. I made less than 8% of my investment back.
What a looser.
So, I finally decided to put it out of my misery.
WysiPad is Dead. Long Live WysiPad!