The first Codegeist entries are starting to appear on the Entries page in the Codegeist space on http://confluence.atlassian.com! And even though there are still six weeks left in the contest, I think this is about the smartest thing that these developers can do. I blogged about this very thing last year, and the advice still stands:
The plugins that were submitted early had the benefit of a month of real-world use, feedback, and bug reports. In general, those plugins ended up being substantially more polished and complete than those which appeared at the end. The authors were able to develop detailed documentation and to fix parts which didn’t make sense. They put up lots of screenshots. But most importantly, they were able to fix bug and add features that people requested.
So, my advice is release early, release often. As soon as you have anything workable, put it out and solicit opinions (the forums are a great place for this). The concrete feedback you gain on your Codegeist plugin will be more valuable than the element of surprise that you give up.
And as we have several new categories this year, there’s an even greater reason to start working in public. You’ll be collaborate with and ask question of the core developers, all of whom are excited to see how you plan to use these brand new APIs. There’s a wide open field of opportunity for innovation around our newer products, so we’re hoping for some really great things.