Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Pay for your own dog food

At Microsoft, there’s a very long history of ‘eating your own dogfood’ or using the latest and greatest daily builds. Although today, people seem to use the term “self-host,” which seems evidence that they don’t do either.

Eating your own dogfood gives you a decent idea of when it starts to taste ok, which is to say, ready for customers to see in some preview form.

Apropos of which, there’s a really interesting post at the Inkling blog, “Pay for your own dog food:”

Using your own product comes with a ton of benefits, because you become your own customer. The quality of your product likely increases because you can’t ignore it’s problems. They aren’t just your customers problems. They are your problems.

We’ve gotten in the habit of actually taking out our own credit card and using it on our own account sign up page. Yes, it’s a bit silly when the credit card processing takes some money off the top. But it makes the feeling very real that you are paying for this, and now it’s an expense just like it’s going to be an expense for your clients.

3 comments on "Pay for your own dog food"

  • David Brodbeck says:

    I always thought “self-hosting” had a more specific meaning — that a piece of software was built under, or using, a version of itself.

  • When I was in the digital cash business we always used the product to pay for as much as we could of everything. We got the same effect, vigorous analysis of the benefits and difficulties of the pricing. It also led to several alternate ventures started in competition, some even started by the people who’s pricing structure would be undercut.
    The other thing we did was always to use real money for software test purposes (as well as toy money, both). This ensured that the results of tests were indicative in the real world, as toy money had a way of spilling on the floor and nobody cared. When the developer had to show the results with their salary, the attention was much higher to all aspects of the financial experience.

  • tim says:

    I have yet to see any studies that shows that “eating ones own dog food” actually improves a product outside of anecdotal evidence.
    At one of the software companies I used to work for – I was told that I must use a product that incorporated our technology as the basis for the corporate website. The problem is we were a small 200 person shop whereas the product was designed for huge sites (e.g. CNN) so it took a costly effort to build the site and was complicated to change the content. This didn’t help my sanity nor help to improve the product.
    Microsoft is not really a good example of this approach. Microsofts systems are not indicative to any other company so Microsofts engineers don’t get the full experience. Case in point – Microsoft approach to logging. Its a pain and doesn’t sync with any other companies product’s approach to logging. I am dealing with that issue at this very moment.
    I also don’t see Microsofts products more or less buggy then competitors. Case in point – Windows 7 just blue screened on me an hour ago.

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