Development across the Internet
Early in 1997, a California based consultant posted a message in a Usenet News group requesting assistance with some overflow work. Steve responded immediately by e-mail with a brief description of his background and the services he could offer. Not surprisingly, there were many replies (for the next 3 months !). Some insisted on discussing matters by phone and soon talked themselves out of the running. In the meantime, TLA and Toucan continued having dialog via e-mail. The method obviously suited both parties and had many advantages with the type of work they were doing. If that was the case, it wouldn't matter if the parties were 10 miles or a thousand miles apart. Or even (as in this case) half a planet away.Now, some time on, we are still working together and look set to maintain a long term working relationship. We have never met, or even spoken on the phone. Everything is conducted via e-mail. Toucan may e-mail a specification or an outline which we discuss and cost via e-mail. Every week TLA attaches a file containing the work in progress and every so often, attach a bill in HTML. Payments are made by by Telegraphic Transfer.
Both companies find this as close to ideal as it could get. Everything is in writing so the project history is documented without extra effort. Backups are inherent in the process (and you can't get much further off-site). There are no telephone calls to break concentration as well as all the usual advantages of teleworking.
More and more clients are realising the benefits of this type of work relationship, regardless of geographic location. As the mystique surrounding the internet disappears, so has the historical reluctance to consider this type of arrangement. The world is truly a smaller place now.
In September 1999, some 3 years later, both Gary and Steve were in San Jose for the Embedded Systems Conference and arranged to meet. Now each knows what the other looks like and other than that, it's business as usual.