What Is An MVP?

We describe MVP as a minimal viable product, and sometimes we turn the definition into minimal marketable product. Regardless of how you look at it, it’s a product that gets attention, if not money.

The MVP can be a first stop in the life of a product. It can also be the last one – if there’s no interest in it, why bother developing it further?

An MVP can sell, if it’s interesting enough. Or it may provide feedback that requires us to pivot and create a new different MVP.

The thing is, we need to define what we’ll consider a success or failure, in order to move forward.

Last week, I promoted the “Everyday Unit Testing” book on Twitter:

The tool section in “Everyday Unit Testing” book is waiting for your review!

— Gil Zilberfeld (@gil_zilberfeld) August 8, 2014

I got this response from Peter Kofler:

@gil_zilberfeld interesting that you consider tools the "minimum viable product", do you? They are not. (but I have not read it yet)

— Peter Kofler (@codecopkofler) August 8, 2014

At this time, the book included just the tools section. It’s just one chapter.

Is it an MVP?

Peter’s opinion is that a book about unit testing, with just a tool section, is not an MVP. He expects more from a book on such a large scope.

For me, one chapter was enough to see if there’s an interest enough for me to continue writing the book. In that context, the experiment is successful. In fact, although the book is free, there are already some customers who have paid for it.

So is it, or is it not an MVP?

The viability of the product is really contextual. It depends on the market, the time it comes out, competition, and many others. I believe Peter (having met himSmile) is a part of my market for the book , but for him, minimum means more.

What you need to do is define your expectations from your product. What the words Minimum, Viable and Product means for you. This is your experiment, and only you can check whether it has succeeded or failed, and what to do next. Once it’s out there, you get feedback. It may not be what you expected, maybe because the customers expected something else.

And then it’s your turn again.

In my case, the next chapter of “Everyday Unit Testing” will be out in  a few days.

Image souce: http://professionalgaminglife.com/pro-gamers/gamers-team-directory/teams-directory-m/most-valuable-player/

2 comments on “What Is An MVP?”

  1. Peter Kofler Reply

    thanks for quoting me here 😉

    First let me express my respect for you writing a book. Such a project needs much dedication and even more effort and till now I was not able to start such a quest myself. Well done!

    For me MVP means the essence of a product. In case of MVP of a book on unit testing, I would not expect more content, I would want a different content, touching the core of the topic. IMHO tools are the least problem I see when working with developers who struggle to apply proper unit testing. I am not able to name the essence of unit testing myself, but I would expect topics like finding test cases, naming, writing proper assertions and similar.

    I now see that I was too fast in criticizing you – as is the danger of Twitter – and still not have read the chapter – so my shame is multiplied. In fact we are just discussing the section’s title.

    Maybe writing about tools is the easiest topic, which would also make sense to use as the first preview of your book – or the one you have the most notes about, or the one you chose randomly. From the product’s point of view, using the smallest (easiest) increment might be reasonable if you just want to see who is interested.

    Judging a book from the table of contents is superficial, but I do not know other methods to check if it is interesting to me quickly. In this spirit – I am impatiently awaiting your second chapter, so I can judge you on your choice of topic again 😉

  2. Gil Zilberfeld Reply

    Peter, thanks for the comment!
    Ii can see where we differ on the definition.
    In fact, in my view, the table of contents could have been the MVP for the book. But that felt like cheating.
    Taking on the tools was the easiest first step, and as I discovered, even that wasn’t as simple as I thought.
    I’m not sure what the essence of unit testing is, but I hope, in time, I’ll cover more of it.


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