Last week we learned that the forum at https://connect.microsoft.com/SQLServer/Feedback for SQL Server product feedback was being closed. Launched in 2005, Connect was the primary website for the general public to use for feedback. This was where we went to file features requests and bugs.
I’m not going to tell you that the past 12 years with Connect have been a success. Most of the time I wanted to file a Connect item for Connect itself. It was not the most usable website. I’m not just talking the UI, either. If you didn’t know the website existed, you would be hard-pressed to find it yourself. Just look at the image above, with the old logos and old product names. The site needed love, and you could tell it wasn’t getting enough (if any).
The biggest issue with Connect was the poor communication received from Microsoft. Many of us would wake up to find dozens of requests marked as ‘Resolved (won’t fix)’ with no other information offered.
But there were times when it worked. And when it worked, it was glorious.
A few years back, as PowerBI was hitting the street I began to notice that Microsoft was getting better at collecting product feedback. Closing Connect is just another step towards something better. For now, the intermediary step is UserVoice, you can find the forum here: https://feedback.azure.com/forums/908035-sql-server
I don’t believe that UserVoice is the final resting place for collecting our feedback, but it should work well enough for now.
The Trouble With Voting for Features
One issue I have with both UserVoice and the old Connect is the concept of voting. While it makes sense to have users vote on items they find useful, the number of votes doesn’t indicate if a feature is worth building. But people would equate votes with having product work done. This led to a frustrating experience for everyone involved.
I can provide an example for this. Let’s say that there is a free database engine. We can call it ‘YourSQL’. YourSQL is popular, because it’s free, and it works. It has thousands of users, at companies large and small.
You work for an ISV that makes performance monitoring tools for databases. You meet with customers. They start asking you about your plans for monitoring YourSQL. Hundreds of people get together to create a UserVoice page and upvote the request.
One day you turn to one of these customers and ask a few questions:
“How much did you pay for the YourSQL license?”
“Nothing, it’s free! Isn’t that awesome!”
“Yeah, that’s awesome. OK, so how much would you pay for a monitoring tool for YourSQL?”
“Um, well, not much. If we had money, we wouldn’t need free tools.”
And that’s the trouble with voting for features. It’s one measurement, not *the* measurement for feature requests. All feedback is welcome, and necessary, no question about the importance of feedback.
Don’t equate a number of votes with work getting done. That’s not how commercial products are made.
You can’t pay your employees with upvotes.
So, if you have an idea for making SQL Server better, go to https://feedback.azure.com/forums/908035-sql-server and submit your idea. Or submit a bug.
Or just tell Conor “thanks”, he’d love to hear that.