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µChat: Response was quite the mixed bag

July 2, 2011

So µChat’s now been out for 8 days, and there are definitely some excited users using it as we speak (just spent the morning using µChat to get feature requests from the users…awesome!). This is not to say however, that it was not a bumpy road. I’m going to try to learn something from the experience, and hopefully I’ll keep these things in mind for the next project.

Lesson 1: Test EVERYTHING.

Obvious right? But I wrote µChat and tested the functionality for months, however a small discrepancy in how the app is built when going to production vs my local build resulted in a launch day kerfuffle that really tainted some of the good press that it got.

Lesson 2: Haters going to hate.

(This is the first and last time I’ll ever use this phrase…just wanted to try it out). Man it sucks when they’re after your baby though. At times it felt like no one understood the novel technology that makes the room discovery work. And this is entirely my fault. The term “Distributed Chat” has been thrown around for a long time and while I feel like µChat is “Distributed Chat” in its purest form (you don’t rely on servers to find rooms, your friends, anything), that message has been quite difficult to convey. Slashdot user are perhaps the most dangerous, because they’re so eager to discuss new technology. If your messages isn’t perfectly articulated, you’ll get worked over. That being said, getting Slashdotted has been a life goal for as long as I can remember, so it was a very exciting moment regardless.

Lesson 3: People love their privacy.

The number one comment is related to encrypting chat conversations. This has been in the works, and the crypto is already at work in the verification of your friends list. So it shouldn’t be too long before everyone sees a little lock icon in their private chat conversations to enable encryption. This feature probably won’t be available for non-private conversations, as it doesn’t really protect you from anything other than sniffing your connection. I’ll tell people when they’re genuinely protected, but otherwise I’d prefer to not give the impression of security.

Lesson 4: µTorrent/µChat users are second to none. (Thanks Nitrate!)

uTorrent has long benefited from an incredibly bright, dedicated community of users that aggressively test alphas and betas, finding bugs and making suggestions. µChat is already benefiting for a similar community. I make an effort to sit in the welcome rooms for a couple hours a day, offering help for uTorrent and getting suggestions for µChat. And there are a lot of people that want it to succeed, and really want to be a part of making it better. I spent a good long while with a user called Nitrate this morning going over the UI and seeing what worked and didn’t work in his eyes. And its so awesome to feel like I’m working as part of a team. And these users can legitimately claim that they were integral to the success of the product.

So again, thank you to everyone who’s taken it upon themselves to help make µChat better. I’m eternally grateful, and look forward to making µChat everything you guys want it to be.

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