“We eat our own dog food” is a term in software development for a company that uses the product it sells for its own operations. The idea of “dogfooding” is that developers who use their own software will have much stronger incentives to make the software usable, productive, and reliable.
Laminar Research practices a form of dogfooding with the scenery tools:
- All of the scenery tools are open source, so we don’t have any “special secret magic tools” that you don’t have.
- Our art team uses the same set of tools that third parties use.
Dogfooding does have an effect on development: when the artists get on my case about the usability of a scenery tool, it gets my attention. We pay those guys to churn out a lot of artwork; if they aren’t productive, we can’t get the sim out.
However, there is an Achilles heal to dogfooding: you can only dogfood software that is useful for your company’s business. We have this problem with MeshTool: since we don’t make our own orthophoto sceneries, MeshTool doesn’t get heavy internal use, and as a result I think it’s been a lot slower to become usable. The MT users who have filed bugs have been very helpful, but I feel for their suffering with a very raw tool.
Dog Food and Version 10
For version 10, we are producing art assets that use new rendering technology for the very first version. This means we’ve had to build the tools to support new version 10 technology early on, and that’s good news for third party developers. When version 10 is released, I’ll package up the various version 10 tools we’ve created for public consumption.
In most cases, the tools need additional polish – our artists often use tools in very early, buggy, raw form. But what we already have is a big head start, which should shorten the time from version 10 release to a full set of tools.
I’ll post more over the next few days regarding some of the specific tools we have and what we will do with them once version 10 ships.