CodeFutures has a policy of "eating our own dogfood". For CodeFutures, it means using FireStorm/DAO on real projects.
We started using FireStorm/DAO to build all our internal systems for tracking licenses, our Customer Portal, finance, and much more. It's actually amazing how much can be achieved with a very simple MySQL database, a DAO tier, and a JSP client.
We build all of these systems from scratch, with FireStorm/DAO as the primarly tool. Not only did it help us identify new features (for example, partial schema support and Struts client generation), but it also allowed us to identify and change the emphasis of our marketing messages.
By eating our own dogfood, we've realized how often project requirements are a moving target because internal systems evolve over time. It's not the fault of the project sponsor really. You just can't really guess all the requirements for a new system. You have to use it. So we've added projects with changing requirements and lower long term maintenance costs as two of the key benefits of FireStorm/DAO.
Customer feedback from real projects and eating our own dogfood on real internal projects supply almost all new features in FireStorm/DAO. As a product manager, I should be looking at competitive products and technologies. The simple truth is that there's no time.
We completed all our internal systems about mid way through last year. We then had the idea that we should do some professional services projects that use FireStorm/DAO. It's another way of using the product on a real project. We've done two of those projects so far and we've decided on a policy of continuing to ensure that all developers working on FireStorm/DAO do at least one development project using FireStorm/DAO each year.
Release 3.0 is available in Early Access. The main new feature is Hibernate support. However, none of us has experience developing a commercial application using Hibernate. At the moment, we can't find any commercial projects that want to use Hibernate in the architecture. And we don't want to launch a beta or Release Candidate without knowing that our Hibernate support is what real users want.
So that means we need help from developers on real projects that use Hibernate. If you're interested in taking a look at the preview of Release 3.0, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.