The key question any business must ask, is who're we hoping to reach? With a business like Jomres, which produces a product, this is an even more important question. Finding the answer is much harder than you might think.
Sometimes, before you can answer a question like that, you first have to understand where a system like Jomres came from.
First, a little about me and the impetus for Jomres' creation.
In Early 2005 I was between jobs. I'd up until recently worked at a local motorbike shop where I managed their stores department. Part of my responsibilities had been setting prices for new products and for maintaining their website ( actually, creating a website for them, then maintaining it). To do that I had built my own Content Management System, hosted on Redhat on an old PC in the back of the stores and connected to the net via ADSL ( which was still a rarity back in 2003 ). It was a cobbled together affair by somebody with way too little knowledge, but it worked. Later on, however, I discovered a CMS that other people had built called Mambo, which offered lots of bells and whistles that my home-rolled CMS couldn't and I started learning about that.
I left the bike shop ( on good terms, I should note ) and went onto other projects.
In early 2005 I was between jobs, and I'd been asked by my girlfriend who was training staff at a small hotel in Wales if I'd come and talk to the manager, who wanted to computerise their activities. At the time all customer details were kept on poorly organised notes, including information like address and credit card numbers, which could be easily read by any guest who cared to reach around the counter while the receptionist was missing. As you can guess, I was pretty horrified by the state of affairs.
So, I spent the day there, making copious notes about how they worked and then went home to search the web for a solution to their problem. As the hotel's budget was near zero, I would have been lucky to make a couple of hundred pounds out of the project, but was willing to have a dig around for them all the same. It was a bit of fun.
At the time, all of the free booking systems were, to put it politely, not suitable for the project. This lead me to start putting together a very basic system for the hotel, using Mambo as a foundation. The hotel quickly lost interest, so I released the project on the Mamboforge as Mosres.
So, now you know where Jomres came from, you'll see that it was initially targeted at small hotels who needed to better manage their guest's bookings. During it's time on the Mamboforge I received scores of suggestions and feature requests that turned Mosres from a (very ) basic Property Management System into an on-line booking system. Pretty quickly it morphed from being for single properties, managed in the administrator area, to a public area managed system. At the time Mambo didn't properly support Access Control so it made sense to only offer property management via the front end because you really didn't want to give people with questionable technical skills access to the administrator area of your site if you could help it.
This turned into a fortuitous shift for the system, as it opened the software up to being more of a portal application than it, or any other system at the time, was able to be.
Summer came and went, I'd decided to turn Mosres into a full-time job, and the Core Mambo team split from Miro and created Joomla so Mosres was renamed to Jomres. Whilst not really close to the team at the time, it was pretty clear which way the wind was blowing.
So, as you can see Jomres has always existed in an environment where developer and clients interact closely. Some of those users were less technical than others, but they were all able to describe their wants and needs well enough that I could adapt the system to their requirements as often as not. Some of those adaptations were less wisely considered than others, but all told the collaboration allowed Jomres to thrive.
Some software projects start with (reasonably) clearly identified goals, with a team of already skilled developers and the funds required to achieve those goals. Once the project is completed the team moves onto other tasks and the project is sold as-is with little further investment.
Others, like Jomres, evolve within a much smaller and more technical environment. New skills are learned, new software libraries are built. Changes are as often as not experiments to see how the user-base responds, and the project evolves much more organically.
This all neatly leads us to the next post where I explain where I think Jomres is now.
- Created on .