Developers can be an ornery bunch. When a vendor does something they don't like or when they're not getting the attention or respect they feel they deserve, they tend to be very vocal about it, often publicly. But spare some sympathy for the managers in charge of vendors' independent developer programs, to whom fall the difficult task of responding when developers attack.
A perfect example is the situation Research in Motion (RIM) faced last week. Jamie Murai had already written apps for the iPhone and iPad, so he figured RIM's upcoming PlayBook tablet looked like a promising target. Once he signed up for RIM's Playbook developer program, however, he met with frustration after frustration. The eventual result was a long and sarcastic self-described rant he posted to his blog, in which he railed against everything from RIM's program fees to the awkward process of downloading the tools, from the inadequate installers to the poor quality of the SDK (he judged it "complete crap").
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Murai reserved particular ire for the sign-up process itself, a procedure that required him to not merely fill out several pages' worth of personal information, but to actually print out a form, sign it in the presence of a notary public, and send it back to RIM via postal mail. It was the last straw. "I concede defeat," Murai wrote. "I no longer want to attempt developing an app for the PlayBook."
What Murai didn't expect was how quickly his rant would spread across the Web. Links from such developer-friendly social networking sites as Slashdot and Reddit drove traffic to his blog sky-high. Even worse for RIM, many of the comments came from other PlayBook developers, whose own experiences largely echoed Murai's. In short order, Tyler Lessard, RIM's head of developer relations, posted a response thanking Murai and others for their feedback and assuring them that everything was being taken into consideration. Unfortunately for RIM, however, even Lessard had to admit that most of Murai's descriptions of the developer program were accurate -- including the requirement of a notarized form.