I have now demonstrated Blackstone’s ability to generate printable pages to 12 user groups, lots of corporate customers, and many hundreds of users. While we have publicly committed to Blackstone supporting the creation of printable documents, we have not publicly committed to any specific output formats. PDF is obviously the most requested format, and so I think that it would be reasonable to assume that PDF will be supported. I have also demonstrated generating FlashPaper as a printable output. (Incidentally, these two were the ones most voted for in a poll on my blog page).
But, at every user group thus far, the first question has been “will you support RTF?”. The truth is that we don’t know yet, we have not nailed down the final formats, and want feedback from customers to help us figure this out. I do see the appeal of RTF, I also see the appeal of XLS (the next most requested format, although I am having a really hard time figuring out exactly what XLS generation would do). But what I am still trying to understand is just how critical RTF support is.
Put it this way, if we were to support RTF then we’d need to not invest resources in something else, it’s that simple. So, while RTF would be nice to have, I’d not want us to invest in it unless it were critical. Or, put differently, if users were to tell us that they’d upgrade to Blackstone if RTF were supported, and not if only PDF were supported, well, that helps put things in perspective. Again, I agree that supporting RTF would be a good thing. Heck, I’d like us to support every format you could ever think of. But, and realizing that we will need to ship the product at some point, we do need to think through prioritization.
Any thoughts on this one? Please share.