The Developer's Diary
CoolPageHelp.com is proud to present the Chief Developer of Cool Page and CEO of 3Dize Inc. - Shelby Moore III
©2000-2002 3Dize Inc. All rights reserved
It has been several months since I wrote the first article of this series, and I hope I can find time to make these more frequent. I am glad to have this forum to communicate "off the cuff" with you, our valued Cool Page user.
Most users may not have noticed a subtle but incredibly important change we made in version 2.6 of Cool Page. The Cool Page API enables other companies to add new features to Cool Page. For example, the DS Applets in the Applets folder of the Objects window were created by DSEffects.com using the Cool Page API in combination with Java. The details of the Cool Page API can be found in the "Extending Cool Page" section of the User Manual in Help menu of Cool Page. And the list of available plugins can be found at following web page:
Many users enjoy the free features of the DS Applets, and many users purchase them gladly. In my mind to register and get full features of the (currently 68) applets for only $20 is a bargain. However, some users have questioned why they have to purchase the DS Applets in order to remove the popup ad and change the link for the applets. I thought I would explain our strategy in this changing Internet Economy, and try to convince you why we feel we made the best decision for you.
Here at 3Dize, Inc. (CoolPage.com) we are very talented programmers, and certainly we can program any feature we can dream of. We have proved that with the amazing, unique features in our Art-O-Matic and Cool Page software, not to mention other amazing products our team has worked on at other companies.
However, the range of things that can be done on a web page is always increasing faster than our small team could ever possibly keep up with. In order to try to program every possible feature set ourselves, we would have to put enormous resources into hiring and managing 100s of employees. One thing I hate to do is manage other people. I am a programmer, and I don't enjoy having to ask someone why they can't make it to work, or other numerous complications that come with managing large # of employees.
So from the outset, we knew that to make a software company really efficient, and more importantly to maintain our small company culture which is responsible for our unique approach to software, then we needed to stay as small as possible. Small teams are the most efficient, but eventually there is a limit to what a small team can accomplish in a given span of time. Large teams are very inefficient, but given enough resources (people) the brute force approach can churn out more work overall, but usually not of the same perfectionist quality that has made our software unique. And certainly many non-programmers need to be added as glue which is not efficient from a cost analysis.
Initially as Cool Page became more popular, we tried to contract virtual programmers to build new features for us. For example, the improvement in the Objects Window in Cool Page version 2.5 to include folder hierarchy on the left pane, and to have bottom tabs for navigating 1000s of objects, was done by one of the world's top programmers, Jeff Stock at Treehouse Consulting. This was extremely successful but it became apparent that virtual programming relationships are difficult to manage for very tight projects. Open Source type work usually results in a marriage of many different directions and ideas. The best work is usually done by obsessive, dedicated, small teams-- such as the one-man programming team for most of Cool Page-- myself.
Yet users are constantly clamoring for more features and especially users did not like having to add Java applets and scripts manually using the HTML Object in Insert menu of Cool Page. Users wanted features fully integrated into Cool Page's easy, drag+drop, wysiwyg, no code approach to web page creation.
So we decided that it was best to create a way for small teams at other companies who are experts in their particular speciality-- whether it be Java, Flash, Scripts, Hosting, etc-- to add their own features to Cool Page. Of course these small teams still need to be paid for their work. So we had to decide whether we should contract these teams and then give the features away as part of Cool Page product, or should we let these teams sell their features as add-ons to Cool Page.
We realized that either way the users were going to have to pay, either we'd have to increase the price of Cool Page to cover the compensation we would pay these teams, or we could let the users choose which feature addons they wanted to buy. We then realized that the open, competitive market produces the lowest price and best products. By letting users choose, small teams are more motivated to produce the best products. There are winners and losers because the users vote with their $. This gives small teams more motivation because they can win big if they do really great work, but that can also lose if their work is not good enough. This removes our internal small team from the process of managing and evaluating the work of outside, independent small teams.
This principle has worked extremely well so far. DS Effects has produced the best and largest Java applet collection in the world for Cool Page. And it is the first Java applet collection in the world to have wysiwyg preview while editing the parameters. And it only costs $20. This is very efficient price and quality result. And the user has won compared to any other option in the software market. And there are more exciting plugins that will be added and these will come much faster and of much higher quality and efficient price than if we had tried to do everything by increasing our employees.
But there is something more significant going on in the Internet Economy implicit in this decision to create the Cool Page API, and in other strategic partnerships you will see Cool Page implementing in coming months. Back in 1998, we couldn't buy internet advertising for less than $40 per 1000 banner viewings. Now no one pays more than $1 per 1000 in bulk. Back in 1998 when we were making a profit, albeit a small one with small traffic, we were predicting the collapse of the ad rates, and thus the collapse of the inflated Nasdaq stock prices, because none of these internet companies were selling anything or making any profit. They were simply all spending each other's IPO stock money on each other's ad banners. A lot of "marketing experts" and other corporate executives made a lot of personal fortune for doing nothing more than litter the web with annoying banner ads.
Well that has begun to fade now, and now all those companies that relied on ad funded business model are imploding. For us this means that users will need to get used to the new Internet Economy where companies just can't give away services for nothing. In this world, we must pay a fair price to receive a fair service. I think we have been extremely efficient in bringing our users the best value we can, while still remaining profitable enough to continue our existence, growth, and motivation to keep on making greater products. We have no plans to stop making freeware version of Cool Page. We give as much as we can away for free, but there has to be a limit.
So I just hope users understand and appreciate what we are trying to do. And more importantly I hope users are benefitting. I always like hearing how someone used our < $100 products to produce web sites that rival what professional web designers charge many $1000s for.
Until next time... please feel free to post your comments to me here at the feedback form on this web site. I always enjoying sampling your opinions and adjusting our decisions to match your needs.
Shelby Moore III
CEO 3Dize, Inc.
Lead programmer of Cool Page and Art-o-matic