FrameMaker final speech

(I ran across a speech I gave in July 2003, at the disbanding of a product team I worked on for several years, and like it enough I’m reposting it.)

All is flux, nothing stays still.
Nothing endures but change.
Heraclitus, from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

Big software applications are like living creatures- they have lives, personalities, a dark side. They have surprises. They can delight you and disappoint you. Many of them have a temper, though it’s usually not personal. Few people ever get to know them completely.

Big applications, like FrameMaker, especially FrameMaker, really only live and exist when they’re being used, when there’s a person sitting in front of a keyboard with things to say, a job to do, meaning or information to get across. The application’s personality, what they are and how they feel, is influenced not just by the menus and dialogs on screen, but by how they’re presented, how they’re sold, the language people use to talk about them, the pictures on their boxes. We tend to focus on the application itself, what it DOES, but it’s really many, many different pieces and actions coming together for that person in front of the keyboard.

And, you know, big apps don’t have owners, they have caretakers, people that try to understand them, change them, surround them with meaning. Most big tools have a lot of caretakers during their lives. FrameMaker is no different.

All of you here this afternoon have been a caretaker of some part of FrameMaker, building the product, describing what it does (or should do), telling people why they should get to know it, how they’ll be better off. All of you have had a hand in defining the creature that is FrameMaker, and one of things I want to do this afternoon is express my appreciation for the great magic you’ve done in giving it a life, a public face, an existence for all of its users.

A second thing I’d like to do this afternoon is to note the ending of the group that came together to make FrameMaker what it is, in particular the core engineering team. Corporations like to ignore or avoid acknowledging this, but what we do, the time we spend at work, and the people we do it with is a large part of who we are. We’ve developed into a kick-ass team over the last two years, wonderful people with the capability of working together to do amazing things, and I for one am sad to see it go. I believe that bringing skilled people together, creating tools that will be used by hundreds of thousands to millions of people and making their lives different, is one of the coolest things in the world that one can do.

Now, as you all know, this is a bon voyage party for FrameMaker, a sendoff, as it (rather literally) crosses the oceans and continents to a new home and new set of caretakers half a world away. We’ve been working hard over the last three weeks to make sure it has all it’s things packed, all its bits and pieces wrapped up and sent off, and a proper list of instructions and introductions in place. The new team has been right on top of things, and I’m very confident they’ll have every success in creating new magic for FrameMaker, adding their own bits of personality and life to the creature that is FrameMaker.

So, at this time, I’d like to raise our glasses in honor of the the product and the people that have made it, and salute it and wish good fortune and great happiness for both it and all of us as we move forward into the next voyage and next set of adventures.

As an ending, I was going to come up with some meaningful quote, ranging from Heraclitus to Andy Warhol. But yesterday, I received the following email from Victoria Thomas, a former Frame Technology employee who’s now Senior Director of Information Engineering at Blue Martini Software. She asked me to either read or post the following:

FrameMaker is a great product – really one of a kind. It makes work a pleasure and since I’ve been authoring the book in FrameMaker (which alas, I no longer use in my daily work, although my group does) I’ve reconnected with it. FrameMaker seems to read my mind as I work and you couldn’t ask for anything more. THANK YOU for your dedication to the task of developing and maintaining FrameMaker and for making us all look good on a daily basis!

Thank you, Victoria, and thanks to you all.

Leave a Reply