Chapter 8. Don't Plan. Prototype!

Greg Reinacker

Don't Plan. Prototype!

Greg is the founder and CTO of NewsGator Technologies, a provider of enterprise social computing software, and has been a TechStars mentor since 2007.

Over Christmas vacation in 2002, I did what every good programmer does—I threw away something that worked perfectly well and wrote my own new version. I'm referring to my blog software, which I wrote from the ground up to replace Radio Userland, the blog software I was previously using.

By January 2003 I realized I had also thrown out my RSS aggregator (which was part of the Radio Userland product) and I became painfully aware that the RSS aggregator was an important part of my routine. So, credit card in hand, I set out to find a new one with the intention of buying something quickly and then getting back to my real job, which was doing .NET consulting work.

There weren't many RSS aggregators around at the time. In fact, I think there were about four of them. None of them worked the way I thought they should; one was close, with an Outlook look-and-feel, but the shortcut keys were totally different, so I'd end up doing things like forwarding items I meant to delete. During this exploration process a light bulb went on and I wondered why I couldn't simply read my RSS feeds inside of Outlook, where I read everything else?

I built a super-quick prototype to display some of my feeds in Outlook, ...

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