This is great news for “Radio” users. Whether it will turn out to be enough help in enough time remains to be seen. I’ve been blogging with “Radio” from day one, courtesy of Scoble’s convincing me to join the beta program before it launched. It has served me well, despite its warts.
Recently, I’ve been giving serious thought to switching to a new blogging platform. In particular, I’ve been looking at WordPress and ExpressionEngine. Now, I’ll have to also give some thought to whether “Userland” can make enough progress with Radio to let it stay in the mix.
My name is Steve Kirks, a Radio user since 2002. I have a Radio weblog and I’ve written some scripts using Radio’s native lanuage, UserTalk. Radio is a great piece of software that’s about to get better. UserLand has put me in the position of helping guide Radio’s future. That future includes you.
I developed a relationship with Scott Shuda about six months ago after I posted an open letter on my weblog, wishing that UserLand was more active with developing Radio. Scott asked me a question in a private email: “What if you could talk to those guys directly?” Intrigued, I replied back with a link to my Radio wish list and a cell phone number.
Over the next six months, we spent time in email and on the phone, working together to determine a future for Radio. He was specific about UserLand’s resources and company direction. I was specific about the good and bad things with Radio. Combined, we came to an agreement: something had to change if Radio was going to move forward. I suggested that Radio needed a product manager, someone to promote and develop the product to a rapidly maturing market. He agreed.
Part of those first steps involved spending some extra time in the Radio discussion group listening to users and helping where I could. A frequent refrain: what’s going on with Radio? Most comments were polite and others were not, but they all carried a similar sentiment. The users were unhappy with the lack of changes, updates or bug fixes to Radio. The last major feature change was in 2003 with the addition of trackback–a common feature on other weblogging products. Upstreaming frequently has issues and few of those are recorded in Radio’s event log, leaving a user to wonder what did or didn’t happen.
Radio is going to grow and improve. Later this week, we will release a Radio Roadmap showing the intended development milestones for the rest of the calendar year. We will modernize the HTML generated by Radio, improve the comment system, improve upstreaming and release new themes. These are fundamental changes that are required to make the Radio environment work better for users and be more attractive to third-party developers. If your subscription isn’t current, now is the time to renew.
The roadmap only goes to the end of the year for a reason: it’s not done yet. We need imput from you, the Radio user base. What do you like? What do you hate? What features are missing from Radio? Use the power of your weblog to your advantage: write your comments in a weblog post and link to this letter. We’ll comb through the responses and post some answers to the common questions in another letter later this week.
The main Radio website will undergo minor changes over time also. We’ll work hard to enhance the content there with more help, more examples and more success stories from users. We’ll beef up the developer documentation and consolidate older documents to prevent conflicting answers. Finally, we’ll incorporate some of the feedback we’ve received from you–in fact, we’ve already added the XML icon link to the RSS feed and added a shortcut at the top of the page to edit a new post.
I’ve started to publish my Radio-related posts in a category at steve.userland.com. I’ll post development notes there, but big news and milestone annoucements will always be in the Radio discussion group or via the Radio product RSS feed.