Is It Time For a Professional Association?

An interesting conversation started on Norman Palardy’s blog the other day. Norman was taking about he wished there was better mechanism in place to help prioritize bugs and enhancement requests. It started off with a general rant (my words not his) about the feedback system not being exceptionally useful with some suggestions on how to make it better. It then wandered off (my fault – my bad) about how it would be nice to survey the beta participants to let RS know what we feel which enhancements are more important.

A 4D user then piped up about what has happened at the annual 4D Developers Conference for the past couple of years:  a small group of developers presents the results of a survey of what the developers (as a whole) would like to see in future versions of the product.  The enhancements are simplified as much as possible and aggregated down to a value between 1 (not needed) and 5 (needed) and given out as web survey.  This list is then given to makers of 4D.  The amazing thing is that 4D supports the group with stage time.

This is similar to a software product my wife supports for arts organizations where they survey all users and let everyone vote on the feature requests.  That software was designed for, and sold to, not-for-profit arts organizations who also become owners of the software.  Each year before their annual conference all member organizations get a list of enhancements and they vote.   Last years list had hundreds of feature requests.   Since they’re all owners in the company they’re votes count.

Since I’m a warped individual and I’m a glutton for punishment, I asked the question:  Is it time for a professional association for REALbasic?  I was amazed at the positive reaction so maybe the idea has legs.

What would this association do?

•    Help organize the above “enhancements” survey.  Provide a way for members and nonmembers to take the survey, tabulate results and present the results to RS.
•    Negotiate discounts for magazines, books and software.
•    Manage lists of affiliates (developers for hire, software development houses, others?)
•    Job/Project Listings
•    Meet at each Real World for business

Perhaps, in the long run, this organization could then create an RB Certification test, or series of tests, that allow RB developers to claim proficiency in certain areas.  Not that I’m a bid fan of this (I’m not) but it’s a way for developers to differentiate themselves from each other and it’s a way to have a set of training standards.

On the original blog post we have the following name suggestion:

IPRUA – International Professional REALbasic Users Association

I’ll add:

IPRUG – International Professional REALbasic Users Group
ARD – Association of REALbasic Developers
RBUG – REALbasic Users Group

So what are your ideas for such an organization?  Is it a good idea or bad idea?  Should it be free?  Should affiliate listing be free or have a nominal charge?  Any good name ideas?