How everything began…

It was the evening of the 16th of October 2006 when a group of students gathered in lecture hall 3 of the HPI building. Professor Wagner was teaching the first lesson of “entrepreneurship”. We were faced with the fact that throughout the course the students had to write a business plan in groups of two or three students. This should be a document describing how a fictive or real startup should be set up.

During this lecture I was not yet sure whether I really wanted to stay and write this business plan or maybe choose a different lecture. I had no clue with whom to do this, because several friends did this lecture the year before. However, right after the lecture I received an email of Tino Truppel. I barely knew him from his job as a student representative. He asked whether I wanted to attend the lecture and whether I would be interested in forming a group with him.

The next day I answered that I was not yet 100 percent sure, but we should definitively meet. By these two mails, the project was started. Well, not exactly as we had not yet any business idea for the startup. Though we had some vague project ideas that could be interesting, all of them proved to be not the big thing for a startup. After some weeks of inspiration and brainstorming we agreed on the fourth idea: some kind of prototyping tool where you could do some usability testing. Sounds familiar? Yes, in fact, it didn’t change that much since then.

After the semester we had a business plan, and we pitched in front of Eran Davidson, the VC of Hasso Plattner Ventures and co-lecturer. Having spent a lot of time into the project and being quite confident that it was worth a try, we convinced Silvan to join in and the lecture task of writing a business plan became a project that should lead to our very own company.

Today is the 16th of October 2008. It has been two years since that first lecture at HPI. I even found the initial mail of Tino somewhere deep inside my mail client. And at first, I couldn’t believe that it is already two years that we are working on the Prototype Creator. Time has passed so fast and we learned so much in these past two years, incredible.

And today, I would like to thank Tino for this initial mail, since it was the beginning of the best project I’ve been with and it lead to a team that is so much fun to work with. Thank you, Tino!

BarCamp Munich 08

Last Weekend I went to BarCamp Munich 08. BarCamps are social events where web-related people, bloggers, developers and others meet for a so-called “unconference”. You’ll find a lot of presentations, discussions and workshops there and every participant is invited to give a session himself, no matter whether it is about technical, social or other aspects of the web.

BarCamps are free to all participants. The organization of such an event is a big logistical and financial task. At pidoco° we support those events that strengthen the community and enjoy taking part ourselves, so we decided to contribute back as an official sponsor and as an active helper. So I spent a few hours at the coffee booth to support Sonntagmorgen, who could not come themselves but served the Barcamp with their delicious coffee.

At the booth – and all around the camp – I got to talk to a lot of people, new contacts as well as friends from past events. It was a nice surprise to meet a few people who already knew pidoco°. Later I managed to take part in some sessions, too. There was a quite interesting discussion about user experience in general (you’ll find a good summary in Hendrik’s blog in German language) and good technical presentations e.g. about scaling and monitoring web applications.

Two young Germans, Rizqi and Robert, impressed me with their talk about chain.js, an extension to the Javascript library JQuery. Using chain.js you can link Html-Dom objects with plain JavaScript objects dynamically: when an object changes a property, the linked counterpart will be updated as well. This automatism simplifies a lot of work for developers of interactive web sites.

To my perception the BarCamp Munich 08 was a big success with a top location and great organizers. Steffen and his whole team were always around and did an extraordinary job. Next week end there’ll be BarCamp Berlin 09. This time I’ll be there “just” as participant. So I hope to take part in more sessions this time and maybe give one or two myself.

Silvan

Events for this week

This week is packed with some interesting events i’ll be attending:

The Web 2.0 Expo Europe is coming up and the guys at lifestream.fm and at TechWeb thought it is time to party. One week before the official start of the Web 2.0 Expo there will be the Pre-Web 2.0 Expo Europe Drinkup on Tuesday evening in Mitte.

Thursday will be a very interesting event for all upcoming founders. The HPI.Connect student club is hosting a full day Startup Workshop with many speakers from a VC, several support programs for entrepreneurs, and a divers list of founders (including myself). This will give you a nice overview on the different ways of funding the first months of your company.

The weekend is the huge BarCamp Berlin 3. With over 600 registered attendees this one will be equally big as the BarCamp Block in Palo Alto last year. And I guess it won’t be any less fun. We’re still thinking about giving a presentation, maybe on some JavaScript stuff. We’ll see…

Whether or not we’ll meet this week, have a nice one!

A new face at pidoco°

Since today we are happy to have Philipp working full time from our office in Berlin. Although he has accompanied the company for a while, he was busy finishing his studies the past months. Working together in one place will ease the communication a lot.

Since our students are occupying the office during the next two weeks, he had to move to our kitchen. But it wouldn’t be a successful startup if the CEO doesn’t work at a kitchen table. 😉

Welcome aboard, Philipp!

EuroIA 2008

Last weekend I attended the EuroIA in Amsterdam. EuroIA 2008 was a conference about Information Architecture. Besides professional information architects the conference addressed project managers and application developers, too. These target groups often need to structure information or create taxonomies.

The conference was a great experience for me. Most talks and sessions had quite practical topics, which is why I learnt a lot during these two days. Being a developer I found many intersections with computer science. Often IA and IT examine very similar problems and just address them from a slightly different angle. I am sure that both of us can learn a lot from each other if we dare to look beyond our own nose.

Presentations ranged from very good overviews about current methods and techniques like Chiara Fox’s “Content Analysis” to cutting edge and future trends in personalization in “I’m not you” by Bogo Vatovecca. In the next days you’ll find most of the slides presented at the conference on slideshare tagged by euroIA2008. You’ll find some nice pictures in Stefans flickr stream.

Apart from learning I met a lot of exciting people and had some interesting chats. So thanks to the organization team for the conference to proceed so smoothly and to the IA community for sharing this informative event.

Silvan

pidoco° as a Desktop App?

Almost. However, if you do not have Firefox or Safari installed on your Windows machine, or if you do not have the necessary rights to install either of these browsers, then the pidoco.exe is the solution for you. Simply download and run the file on your windows desktop.

Download and execute pidoco° from your desktop:

Get pidoco° for your desktop

Requires Windows 2000 and newer, and a connection to the internet. Administrator rights are not required.

What is inside? The .exe file contains a lightweight browser called Prism from Mozilla, which is extracted to your temp folder and opened with the pidoco° page. Nothing will be installed on your machine and you do not need any administrative rights to run pidoco°. The file does not contain any viruses, malware or spyware.

How to crash Safari

Sometimes, life as a web developer is not that easy. Especially when dealing with browser issues that have to be bypassed somehow. And some issues are rather critical, because they lead to an entire browser crash. However, it feels good if you can locate the bug and find a solution.

During the past weeks it may have occurred that your Safari crashed while visiting pidoco°. Today, we installed a bug fix in both the preview and the productive version, which is supposed to prevent Safari from crashing.

Although the source of the problem was not in our code, we don’t mind if you are angry about our tool as long as you tell us whenever you feel something is going wrong with pidoco°. You can use the feedback form within the editor or send an email to contact (at) pidoco.com. Otherwise we have no chance to fix the problem.

Luckily, our system is designed to store all your data instantaneously. This way, you cannot loose any work except for up to 5 seconds. You don’t have to worry about your work, although it is annoying to see a browser crashing.

For the ones that are interested in the details: SVG includes the use-tag which allows for duplicating certain shapes by reference rather than copying them. However, the rendering engine of Safari and Chrome, WebKit, has a problem if the referenced shape is modified via JavaScript. In our case we changed the css class which lead to the crash.

A first conclusion

Being back in Berlin and having unpacked our car, we can draw a first conclusion of our first conference as a sponsor: judging from now it was a very successful time in Lübeck. We had many fruitful discussions and have talked to many more interested people than we expected.

We would like to thank all the attendants for the inspiring feedback. We started evaluating all the ideas we got and couldn’t stop discussing different ways to implement them. Therefore, you can be sure to see new features based on your suggestions.

Even during the conference we had the first ones to open their free account of pidoco°. Please be aware that our Prototype Creator is currently only fully functional in Firefox. With Safari and Opera we still have some issues to solve. However, the best way to help us discovering all bugs and support us in solving them is to send us feedback. You can use the feedback form that we included into the editor.

Thanks again for these great days in Lübeck and hope to see you all at some of the upcoming events like the BarCamps in Munich or Berlin, the World Usability Day, or the UPA Europe conference in Turin.

Others use Powerpoint, we use pidoco°

Yesterday we had a very successful presentation here in Lübeck with about 60 attendants. Thank you for having attended our session.

In this session we made an experiment with our tool: Tino used a prototype as presentation slides and was able to integrate the prototyping features within the presentation. After all, we got the feedback that it was great that we used our tool and showed a real demo instead of just some powerpoint slides.

So next time you need some slides, use pidoco° 😉

Thanks again for all the feedback after the session.