This is a guest blog post from Darryl Duke, founder of Stepstone Technologies, a sponsor at Atlassian Summit 2012.

Every year, we look forward to the fun and excitement of the Atlassian Summit Launchpad event. Seeing all the great products from other vendors is terrific. And cooking up a wacky and (hopefully) entertaining way to show off Zen Foundation is always challenging. After winning in 2011, the pressure was on to see if we could do it again.

This year, we were super-juiced about Zen Foundation’s new Brand Designer. But we also expected that a good portion of the attendees were new to Zen, so we needed to show off the full product. Tall order: squeeze our 30-minute tour into 5 minutes, and make it entertaining for a diverse audience of over a thousand. Because they will judge you.

It seemed impossible, so we simply backed up and focused on the why we created Zen in the first place: Confluence is an awesome, powerful tool for developers, but our non-technical audiences were finding it difficult to use. So if we could make Confluence beautiful and easy to use, then we could alleviate that frustration and unleash Confluence’s power throughout any organization, while making it great for secure, external collaboration and public-facing websites, too.

We ran with this idea: there are so many things users want to do with Confluence, but sometimes they feel constrained. So Stepstone co-founder Darryl Duke played the frustrated user, wearing a straitjacket to represent perceived wiki limitations. And the Zen software itself responded by demonstrating onscreen the solution to all his wishes.

After the “doctors” dragged Darryl onstage, he started the show with a scream, and then launched into a tirade demanding a wish list only a crazy person would dream of. Gorgeous designs and complete branding? Check. Interactive design tools, including automated icon generation, to make that a snap? Check. Drag-and-drop layouts and resizing? Sectional editing? Drafts and publishing? Menus and navigation? SEO? All check.

Was Zen powerful enough to enable Darryl to escape from the straitjacket? See for yourself: Zen’s Summit Launchpad 2012.

(Special thanks to Brendan, Terrence, Annelise, and Brittany!)

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