How to demo software – the advanced version.

Joel has written a great article on howto demo software. So good in fact, that it reminded me of my most successful demos – All of which took the advice one step further.

Imagine:

You walk into the room, and before you’ve even gotten to the lectern / desk / stage prop, you tell the audience, that you decided that your pre-prepared demo was too boring to present again, so you ask them, “What problem would you like me to solve for you today”. After the moments shock dies down, you can (assuming your audience is big enough to contain a good cross section of existing customers) be pretty sure that there will be at least 2 difficult problems that are not only fascinating to most of the audience, but were hard to do in the last release.

Then, you proceed to solve these problem, using techniques that seem familiar to them, but also show off the new system. It’s sure to draw them in.

This approach relies on several incredibly important things

  1. You must know your product incredibly well (both the older version, and the new release) – In my case, I had worked as a trainer, support engineer and had done some development of the system.
  2. You must know your audience, and have a good feel for the problems they have been experiencing, and their expectations of the new system. Again, working as a support engineer, and supporting Systems integrators gives you the opportunity to observe.
  3. You must be creative, and be able to think, talk, and type at the same time – So having several years training experience helps immeasurably.
  4. You must also trust the development team – because there’s a good chance that you’ll be needing to solve the problem in a way you’ve not done before.

If you’re not quite willing to risk it, this can also be a great way to spice up a training course – you can teach, and solve problems that are relevant.

Every time I’ve done a demo like this (and thinking back, thats quite a few, for quite a few different products) its been the most fun I’ve had all day, and the audience loves it, because they get to see us sweat, rather than being the cool calm font of knowledge.

TWiki (4.2 rc1) Microsoft Windows, OSX and rpm (Centos & Fedora Core i386) installers

logoed_installer.jpg

These Windows, OSX, Centos and Fedora Core installers are fully integrated native installers that will update your Computer with perl, apache, rcs and other tools needed to run TWiki on that platform.

TWiki 4.2.0 contains many new improvements to TWiki, including a much improved Wysiwyg editor, a structured query engine, a more generic authentication system and at the same time, the Core engine is faster than the previous twiki4 releases.

The TWiki installers include native installs of (only installed if not already)

  1. Apache 2.2 (Windows & rpm)
  2. Perl (ActiveState – Windows & native for rpm)
  3. Gnu Grep (Windows only)
  4. Gnu rcs (All platforms)
  5. TWiki 4.2.0 Release Candidate 1.

Please download it, try it out and report your impressions, ideas, bugs and successes here, on TWiki.org, or in the TWiki Bugs system.

Another TWiki innovation brought to you by distributedINFORMATION & WikiRing.com

TWiki (4.2 beta) now has MS Windows, OSX and rpm (Centos & Fedora Core i386) installers

logoed_installer.jpg

These Windows, OSX, Centos and Fedora Core installers are fully integrated native installers that will update your Computer with perl, apache, rcs and other tools needed to run TWiki on that platform.

The TWiki installers include native installs of (only installed if not already)

  1. Apache 2.2 (Windows & rpm)
  2. Perl (ActiveState – Windows & native for rpm)
  3. Gnu Grep (Windows only)
  4. Gnu rcs (All platforms)
  5. TWiki 4.2.0 beta 2.

Please download it, try it out and report your impressions, ideas, bugs and successes here, on TWiki.org, or in the TWiki Bugs system.

Another TWiki innovation brought to you by distributedINFORMATION & WikiRing.com

Wiki’s are manic

I’ve been working in the wiki space (on JOSWiki then TWiki) for years, like 6 to 7 years, and it amazes me how much hype there is now. Its nice to see that the mainstream press and business are aware of it, but the recent ‘see it doesn’t work’ complaints show, they still don’t get it.

Either you care, and when you see a mess, you clean it up, or you continue on your way. Neither is a failure, just life.

Its kind of like Wysiwyg editing, I find it distracting – thats not to say i think its pointless, but it does mean that I make different choices, from those made by others.