Introducing How-To-Select Guides

How-To-Select Guides Logo

Though I’ve been working on the How-To-Select Guides for many months now, I’ve never gotten around to blogging about them.  Well, it’s about time.

For years my company1 Xtras, Inc. via Xtras.Net (and previously VBxtras), the leading reseller of components and tools for C#, VB.NET and VB6, has helped .NET and VB6 developers find and buy components and tools. Unfortunately we’ve never done a great job of helping developers select the one best for their needs; the products were just too complicated and we couldn’t afford to staff the telephones with developers (besides, what developer wants to spend all day taking phone calls?) 

What I’ve envisioned since almost the day I founded Xtras in 1994 (then VBxtras) was providing indepth and unbiased information about products that developers could use to quickly learn which products best met their needs. The problem was, how to make it happen.  Well, earlier this year Mike Gunderloy and I discussed the concept, and he agreed to help me get them off the ground by writing the first one and managing the process of writing and/or editiing twelve more.

So now I am spending >90% or more of my time on growing a new company that publishes the How-To-Select Guides named Guides, Inc. My vision is to publish Guides for practically every category of component and/or tool available to .NET developers, and to have these Guides be:

  • Clear & Concise – Quick to read and easy to comprehend.
  • Accurate & Unbiased – Completely Defensible among leading experts with as little bias as humanly possible.
  • Exhaustive, Thorough, & Complete – Covering all options include commercial, shareware, freeware, open source, and even coding techniques; all decision points and aspects of potential concern; and including all currently available products in the category.

If we can achieve those goals, we will benefit everyone with the exception of those whose marketing is far better than their products. And our Guides should greatly cut the time required to learn about and research products. I’m very passionate about the Guides because I think they can do a tremendous amount of good, and because of that I decided that the Guide’s content should be freely available for download to all .NET developers who want to read them.

Take a look at our Guides for .NET Components and Tools, and let me know what you think.

1UPDATE: As of May 18th 2006 I am no longer involved with Xtras.Net.

2 Replies to “Introducing How-To-Select Guides”

  1. This looks like it will come in very handy when looking for new tools, great idea. Is there anyway to subscribe to updates via RSS or do I have to register for that?

  2. Good question. I’m planning to add an RSS feed as soon as we get the infrastructure in place to manage it, but then again what is going to fund me being able to get more of these Guides published is getting advertisers to believe that we have a large enough audience to pay for advertising. Registered users are a tangible count of interested parties that we can show to prospective advertisers; number of people polling the RSS feed is a little less tangible; i.e. is it the same person polling often, or multiple people polling less often. IP addresses can help but are not perfect, especially in organizations with lots of people and a common gateway.

    This is a passion for me; my goal is to publish Guides on as many different topics as possible, as rapidly as possible. Ultimately I would like to sell the operation to fund my retirement, but in the mean time I want to make a reasonable living off of it and put all other revenue back into producing more Guides.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.