Saturday, April 12th, we launched the Beta of our first Facebook app, MinutesNotice.  MinutesNotice lets Facebook users passively broadcast free time to friends — so someone can, for instance, tell a friend that you’re willing to go to dinner, grab a beer, play XBOX, etc.  One of my old business school colleagues described it as a clever mix of Twitter, Dopplr, and a traditional calendar.  True to some extent, though we don’t really intend for this to become another Calendar — at least that isn’t how we’re thinking of this right now.  We don’t think that people want to manage their free, fun time with a strict calendaring system.  But we do think that people are interested in using spare, routine time more efficiently.  We hope our app fills this need.

We specifically launched into Beta because social apps need users and social interactions to improve.  I’ve written about this before — one of the most difficult things about building social apps is testing them in real-life scenarios.  Social apps are perhaps the purest form of Web 2.0 apps from a dev & test perspective.  You really do need to build, test, and redeploy on the fly while trying to keep your app contained insofar as that is possible.

We’ve done that to some extent… on Saturday we sent out 15 invitations and we have 18 users at this point.  We’ve collected some excellent feedback — we have a half dozen great feature enhancements at the top of our list, probably another 10-12 that we’ll release in future versions, and we have approximately 40 known bugs with various degress of severity.  Committed as we are to the agile development model, we’re planning to release a Beta 2 with some necessary new functionality and bug fixes in the next 24-48 hours.

None of this is out of the ordinary or unexpected.  In fact, much of this has gone as predicted down to the old adage that development takes twice as long & costs twice as much as you anticipate.  I’ve been primarily wearing my product management hat as I’m trying to get our app to a point where we’re willing to go broader with our distribution.  We don’t have the luxury of time or a large staff, so we 1) haven’t completely thought through every scenario, and 2) don’t have tons of documentation on our product.  That’s really fine with me — although I appreciate the value & necessity of something like the Rational Unified Process, I don’t necessarily think it lends itself to agile development.

So if you’re using the app, expect it to improve quite a bit here in the short-term.  If you aren’t using it, drop me a line so we can send you an invite!