Friday, February 5, 2010

xmlsh Phone home !

With 1.0 I'm focusing more on refinements, performance and usability then feature enhancements.
It is critical to know how much xmlsh is being used 'in the wild' and what features are being used.
Unfortunately I have no idea. Sourceforge posts the # of downloads but I dont even know if those are new users or the same userbase downloading each new version.

Calabash (Norm Walsh's xproc implementation) has a "Phone Home" feature, enabled by default.
This keeps track of what steps were run and on exit 'phones home' (posts an XML file to a server) with the statistics. This is critical information to be able to analyze usage and focus optimizations.

I have not implemented such a thing in xmlsh. I am a bit shy of doing so because I dont want to offend people, and even though the data is anonymous it has the impression of being an invasive thing to do. Plus there is a performance impact of both measuring the data (slight) and sending the results (more).

However Norm has told me noone has yet complained about his "Phone Home" feature. And from it he has collected valuable stats which he can use to improve the product for everyone.

Any opinions on this ? Certainly it should be an optional feature. But if I made it "opt in" instead of "opt out" I suspect noone would bother to turn it on.

Maybe this is something that on first use only xmlsh could prompt for the option, as well as indicate how to turn it off in the future.

Any ideas anyone ? How to gather statistics for the good of all users, without being invasive.

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