Resetting my expectations: What do users know about new product features?
I learned something interesting this week in conversations with MATLAB users. By e-mail and phone I talked with two people who have been reading posts in this blog. Both have the Image Processing Toolbox. One I know personally; he is an image processing expert and has used MATLAB and the toolbox for many years.
As it turns out, neither user knew about the toolbox functions that I mentioned in my previous spatial transformations post. I admit that this surprised me a bit. These functions were added to the product almost five years ago, when Image Processing Toolbox version 3 was released.
We software developers know in our heads how long it can be before users learn and start to use new features, but it can be an abstract concept that's hard to remember. Also, our mental release timeline is shifted compared to our users' timeline. When a release ships, its new features may have been largely completed by developers some months before; those developers have already moved on to something else. And it may be months longer before the new release is actually installed and available at many customer sites.
I really shouldn't have been surprised, I suppose. I'm sure there are lots of useful features I don't know about in software that I use every day.
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