“I deal with the customers so the engineers don’t have to.”
As many of you know, I’ve been a Nokia Developer Champion for a couple of years now. Technically I was one (in deed only) since 2006; Nokia just formalized that with a certificate and a few very nice perks starting in late 2010.
I was brought into the official fold not for coding prowess but rather for Maemo community development. Which was cool, because that’s where I found the bulk of my volunteer efforts going; there were plenty of others fighting on the coding front and too few fretting over community growth and outreach processes. And as I explained to some Nokia developer relations guys after a pre-Nokia World get-together last year, there are champion developers, and developer champions.
While I’ve certainly performed my share of miraculous programming feats, these days I’m more of the latter.
Coders have enough to occupy their time without concerning themselves with outreach and evangelism. Many, I’ve found, have for whatever reason not fully developed the networking skills so necessary to project and product success. I was a late-bloomer myself, so I understand. But someone has to act as liaison between the more exceptional programers and the movers/shakers who can make things happen for their creations.
And as Tom Symkowski in the movie Office Space learned, the “go-between” is an often misunderstood and unappreciated role.
While Maemo looked to have a future, and then the same with its successor MeeGo, my form of “meddling” was at least tolerated and sometimes even embraced by the mostly-European community. Even technical cynics will accept The Devil (aka Marketing) when it’s clear, honest, and useful.
And on that note…
Maemo is gone as a platform. MeeGo survives in a Nokia-customized form on the N9 and N950, but has no future unless Jolla pulls off a miracle. And there is nothing in the Nokia pipeline to replace them.
So I’m left with a choice: follow Symbian champions out of the program, or get behind Windows Phone.
While some of my well-meaning friends in Europe see the choice as easy, it isn’t for me. For one, I’m not so antagonistic toward WP. Would I prefer to keep supporting Maemo or MeeGo? Oh HELL yes. But I’ve been developing for the Windows desktop and server worlds for about two decades now and I’m comfortable there. That said, Windows Phone development is not as open so I do admit to wrestling with that issue. If I am patient enough to stick with MeeGo, then that will be in whatever community may develop around Jolla, and Nokia dev champ membership has no relevance.
But here in the US, there are three mobile platform choices: iOS, Android, or WP.
I don’t intend to get into the first two and I’m not going to get into the reasons here. So that leaves the last (and last place) option.
I’ve helped organize a local (Dallas area) Windows Phone developer group and it’s been steadily growing… so there’s definitely interest. Even if I don’t write a single line of WP code, I can still help this group with support and networking while I’m an active Nokia Developer Champion. I’d love to do the same for Qt, but I’ve had no success with that effort so far.
My NDC term expires in October, and what’s announced at this year’s Nokia World event may well determine whether or not I pursue another one. Of course acceptance is really up to Nokia anyway.
No matter what, my hope is that friends who are opposed to Windows Phone can read this and understand that, although I completely understand and respect their position, I’m hoping they can grit their teeth, hold their noses and at least tolerate mine.
I’m really not sure where I go from here with regards to the mobile landscape. Maybe I’ll abandon it altogether and put volunteer work into 3D printing wholeheartedly. Maybe I’ll see what I can do for friends involved with Scarlet Motors. At this point I’m playing it by ear… and ideas are welcome.