There’s this mantra I hear a lot in open source: Release early. Release often.

This saying is very fortunate because only a certain kind of personality is good at proudly releasing source code for the world to see. We tell ourselves that we’re good programmers and that we solved some interesting problems. Maybe even in an elegant way. But then, it’s time to release and we feel a little edgy about the world seeing the code. Some of it was elegant, but some of it was ugly. And there are parts we weren’t even sure what we were doing but it seems to be holding together.

And we don’t ship.

I’ve got an open source CMS based on the Zend Framework that I’ve been working on for years but it’s never going to be so ready that I’ll be able to ship without any nervousness. What if I release and am flamed by the world as an incompetent programmer? That would just be humiliating. I might have to switch careers.

So it gave me a good boost to read some comments from Seth Godin:

Shipping is fraught with risk and danger.

Every time you raise your hand, send an email, launch a product or make a suggestion, you’re exposing yourself to criticism. Not just criticism, but the negative consequences that come with wasting money, annoying someone in power or making a fool of yourself.

It’s no wonder we’re afraid to ship.

I didn’t feel it was fair to quote the whole article but you should read it. Stop being afraid. You’re right. It won’t ever be as good as it needs to be for us to not be nervous. Just give it a shot.

That “release early, release often” saying gives us an easy out. We can just say “we live by the ‘release early, release often’ philosophy” and we’ll be ok.