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Author Topic: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)  (Read 9102 times)

tranglos

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Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« on: May 11, 2009, 05:50:50 PM »
So imagine you're checking out a new text editor. The screenshots are the epitome of elegance, the feature list is enthralling, and the configuration possibilities are nothing short of hypnotizing. You download it, install it, maybe play with it for hours - weeks! - and it looks just royally good - until one night at 3 a.m. or thereabout you realize it doesn't do word wrap.

I've just had an experience quite like this with Joomla - the best, the featurest, the supportedest, the extensiblest of CMS-es. Ouch.

In my own defense, since Joomla is a complex piece of software, I assumed what I thought was a missing feature was merely my own ignorance. I thought if I couldn't do something it was because I didn't know how to get there yet, not because it couldn't be done. Well.

Dear mister generic developer, please tell me what your software does not do. Upfront-like. Thank you.

end rant!


mouser

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2009, 05:58:50 PM »
Quote
Dear mister generic developer, please tell me what your software does not do. Upfront-like. Thank you.

great point -- we would all be better off if programs gave us some bullet points of what they don't do, or don't do well.

cranioscopical

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2009, 06:00:20 PM »
Okay guys.
Since you're in pursuit of transparency, mine doesn't tell you what it doesn't do.
So, if you run across ForgotMe.net it just might give you the blues.


rgdot

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2009, 06:05:27 PM »
Does Joomla use FCK? I have seen people having to resort to css word-wrap in other CMSes (/me not a Joomla user) whenever I have used a CMS I have switched off and done plain text.

tranglos

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2009, 06:16:24 PM »
great point -- we would all be better off if programs gave us some bullet points of what they don't do, or don't do well.

After I wrote that, it occurred to me that I've always done that with my apps, without quite verbalizing the principle. My KeyNote page still lists all its shortcomings rather prominently :)

Then again, it's the kind of defeatist personality that I have ;) In college I put out a few editions of a tiny one-person magazine of anarchist poetry and insane rantings. I was proud of the first issue and some people liked it. But for the second issue I couldn't muster enough insanity, I guess, it felt flat to me, soulless. Even the cover was uninspired. So I wrote about that on the cover. I wrote "Not as good as the previous edition", or something to that effect. That drove people round the bend! It was fun to watch. How are you going to promote something if the first thing you tell everyone is how bad that is? You can't exactly make headway like that, I know!

Well, it was only a rant.

tranglos

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2009, 06:26:59 PM »
Does Joomla use FCK? I have seen people having to resort to css word-wrap in other CMSes (/me not a Joomla user) whenever I have used a CMS I have switched off and done plain text.

There is an FCK plugin, but out of the box Joomla uses TinyMCE. No matter, WYSIWYG is quite the dog. I've tried building a test site for just two small apps, with neat little pages like Features, Screenshots, Download, History, FAQ... After posting just two articles I knew I could never maintain a consistent layout of the pages using a WYSIWYG editor, arranging headers and paragraphs manually, nudging the lines... It was a prime instance of OMG LOL situation.

How did you know it was about the editor though? :) The editor is one of the problems. Another is that there is no usable plain text mode - the content is a single line of html code. If I'm going to cut and paste to an HTML editor, I can do a static site faster that way. Another thing is how there is no way to easily link to internal articles. You have to use http://www.example.c...;id=26&Itemid=40 in the editor. Even with clean URLs it's awful, because if you reassign an article to another category, the links will go stale; I was hoping for something more wikified, I don't know. Again, it's easier to do a static site and link to "my-article.html" than use URLs like that.

And there's more, but I'm in the midst of writing a more coherent post, so I'll put this one on hold.


« Last Edit: May 11, 2009, 06:29:28 PM by tranglos »

fenixproductions

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2009, 07:02:28 PM »
Dear mister generic developer, please tell me what your software does not do. Upfront-like. Thank you.

I think it will never happen. No one will ever point out all weaknesses of his software because it violates basic marketing rule: "our product is the best".

mouser

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2009, 08:09:30 PM »
Quote
I think it will never happen. No one will ever point out all weaknesses of his software
which is why it's a good idea of a feature to look for on review sites.

rgdot

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2009, 09:31:16 PM »
Does Joomla use FCK? I have seen people having to resort to css word-wrap in other CMSes (/me not a Joomla user) whenever I have used a CMS I have switched off and done plain text.

There is an FCK plugin, but out of the box Joomla uses TinyMCE. No matter, WYSIWYG is quite the dog. I've tried building a test site for just two small apps, with neat little pages like Features, Screenshots, Download, History, FAQ... After posting just two articles I knew I could never maintain a consistent layout of the pages using a WYSIWYG editor, arranging headers and paragraphs manually, nudging the lines... It was a prime instance of OMG LOL situation.

How did you know it was about the editor though? :) The editor is one of the problems. Another is that there is no usable plain text mode - the content is a single line of html code. If I'm going to cut and paste to an HTML editor, I can do a static site faster that way. Another thing is how there is no way to easily link to internal articles. You have to use http://www.example.c...;id=26&Itemid=40 in the editor. Even with clean URLs it's awful, because if you reassign an article to another category, the links will go stale; I was hoping for something more wikified, I don't know. Again, it's easier to do a static site and link to "my-article.html" than use URLs like that.

And there's more, but I'm in the midst of writing a more coherent post, so I'll put this one on hold.

In my instance, the one I have most recent experience with, is CMS Made Simple. You are correct, it's TinyMCE and also FCK additionally. I may be wrong but from your description it seems CMSMS has something that Joomla doesn't.
Without going too off topic...the thing is I would use a CMS for it's power in achieving other things, like one example having multiple users (permissions system). I don't use it to "ease" coding, so I set up a template and then go about generating pages (inside CMSMS) using plain text areas without an editor (I turn off the editor in CMSMS). I hope that makes sense.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2009, 09:34:01 PM by rgdot »

tsaint

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2009, 10:35:22 PM »
Tranglos,
 rather than thinking in terms of defeatist personalities (which sounds rather defeatist), I'd suggest you are talking about some personal, core HONESTY that you exhibit spontaneously.

app103

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2009, 11:09:50 PM »
Dear mister generic developer, please tell me what your software does not do. Upfront-like. Thank you.

I think it will never happen. No one will ever point out all weaknesses of his software because it violates basic marketing rule: "our product is the best".

Is this honest enough?  It continues to amaze me how many people download it, and that shellcity actually felt it worthy of featuring on their site about a year ago. (I more or less lost all respect for that site after they did that)

tsaint

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2009, 01:08:04 AM »
App103,
"...but it was good for what I needed it for at the time, and it's here because someone else might have a need for it, too.".
Obviously there are quite a few people to whom that applies.
You gave an honest critique of your "product" and gave a raison d'etre for it. Sounds good to me

40hz

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2009, 12:40:07 PM »
Quote
Dear mister generic developer, please tell me what your software does not do. Upfront-like. Thank you.

great point -- we would all be better off if programs gave us some bullet points of what they don't do, or don't do well.

The only problem with that is when somebody like Microsoft includes this verbiage in all their product licenses (emphasis added):

Quote
...provided AS IS without warranty of any kind. Microsoft disclaims all implied warranties including, without limitation, any implied warranties of merchantability or of fitness for a particular purpose.

Translated into standard English, this basically states that they don't claim their software can do anything. Period.

 8)

bob99

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2009, 01:12:55 PM »

I recently read a phrase posted on a forum, may have been here somewhere, that has become the mantra of too many...
I think this is how they said it, 'admit nothing & deny everything.'
Miss the days of basic honesty and responsibility.  That's what's refreshing at DC.  The exception to the mantra.



tranglos

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2009, 02:06:38 PM »
The exception to the mantra.

That's a seriously cool way to describe DC!

superboyac

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2009, 05:17:25 PM »
Then again, it's the kind of defeatist personality that I have
I have both kinds of personalities and they are both strong within me.  I can be self-deprecating, and then I can be extremely arrogant and stubbornly opinionated.  But through maturity, I've realized that the best thing to do is just state what it is very naturally.  I don't try to convince anyone anymore, if I can help it because it's usually futile.  But I'm not saying I'm neutral either.  I don't know what I'm saying.  I'm done.  forget it.

johnk

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Typewriter scrolling
« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2009, 01:07:54 PM »
Text editors are a perfect example of a software category where you can spend days and weeks of your life downloading and trialling dozens of programs, searching for the one program that includes everything from your personal list of "essential" features.

I have wasted countless hours in recent months trying to track down Windows editors that offer typewriter scrolling (where you set a fixed line for the cursor -- normally in the middle of the screen).

This is a common feature on Mac editors, and I am reliably informed that it was commonplace on text apps as far back as the BBC Micro.

I drew a blank. I did have one success however -- I succeeded in encouraging the ever-approachable developer of Writer's Cafe to include the feature. It was in the program within weeks of my request.

I have never understood why writers are happy to spend most of their time typing at the bottom of the screen (presuming they are typing a long document). I'd love to know why typewriter scrolling is not an everyday feature of all text apps. It can't be that difficult to include it. Mac apps as basic as WriteRoom offer it.

</rant>

zridling

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2009, 02:35:59 PM »
Text editors are a perfect example of a software category where you can spend days and weeks of your life downloading and trialling dozens of programs, searching for the one program that includes everything from your personal list of "essential" features.

Good point. DonationCoder.com kicked off with a stunning mega-review of text editors by mouser. The review was so successful and widely read around the web that it was expanded in a follow-up. I never knew that text editors could be so complex, but much like browsers, they do far more than you think, and much of it behind the scenes.

I could give you a dozen reasons for rejecting any given text editor off the top of my head -- no wordwrap; no wordcount; text lines up too close to the edge and is not adjustable; doesn't allow proportional fonts; its settings are too difficult to setup, and/or the program doesn't allow a way to save your customizations to an XML file during upgrades; lacks macro support; etc. None, any, or all of these may be important to you. But if you spend your entire day between an editor and a browser, the little things always bubble to the top of things that piss me off.

 ;D

SKesselman

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2009, 07:48:41 PM »
I have lists of requirements for many things from apartments to jobs, to boyfriends to software & I cannot stress enough how helpful they are to me. As you're making them, and as you come upon these things repeatedly over time, you find more & more items to add to your list. This was my mom's advice when I was looking for a job & it worked so well, I use it for anything that I ""wish I would have known about" when I signed up for it.

Most software doesn't last more than 10 minutes on my PC, you would never waste a month using something that would ultimately disappoint you if you did this.

If you need inspiration, you can browse software sites & choose more requirements to add to your list from their lists of features. :)

An example of not using the list is this (I don't how, but this one slipped by me):

When I tried to give my edraw licence away, it had been a while since I used the trial, so I had to buy it to use it again. Had I uninstalled it immediately liike I usually do, & recorded why I didn't like it (very easy: 'too complicated to perform simple tasks')  I'd have  saved $100.


Another good reason for using this list is that we (or at least I) will always forget at least one requirement. These are not likes or dislikes, they're things that are absolutely necessary. So if you forget something, you're really going to feel it, later.

It's fun to see how many things get disqualified, almost immediately. And,  you'll feel great knowing that you saved yourself so much time.
-Sarah

rodgarnett

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2009, 10:51:01 PM »
Hello Donater I hit the tab key and this just dissapeared and I didn't seethis njote again until after i made the other psot. 8)
« Last Edit: May 31, 2009, 11:15:29 PM by rodgarnett »

rodgarnett

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #20 on: May 31, 2009, 11:14:12 PM »
Hello Folks. I made a donation and found that I didn't understand what you were doing so I gave it away and left. I then bought programs from a company called  Ashampoo and they all had conflicts with my vista 32 new Acer computer. If I type with hotmail and hit the tab key my email just disappears and I have no clue where it goes. My video card makes every page I open flicker and try to download a half dozen times before it does a final open. I also need to download flash player every time a page comes up that requires a flash player.I have a new HP C7280 all in one printer and it will not work. drivers are missing for vista. If I make it my default printer explorer keeps freezing and shutting down. I am so limited since I broke my neck and back that I can't keep my thoughts stable to get through all the crazy instructions full of industry words most of us never understand. I also only have one finger to type with. doing these notes takes so much effort and Acer and Microsoft just brush me off or confuse the blazes out of me with instructions;That I can't follow. i wish i could use some of your simple programs that work and never use the default programs again. I will take any free programs that may help me keep my sanity.I will also do my best to review them and explain how they work with vista home premium. God Bless Rod Garnett

OldElmerFudd

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Re: Tell me what your software DOESN'T do... (a rant)
« Reply #21 on: June 02, 2009, 01:22:42 AM »
Quote
I think it will never happen. No one will ever point out all weaknesses of his software
which is why it's a good idea of a feature to look for on review sites.

Good point, Mouser. Most of my computer time is spent with graphic and audio software. Whenever I hear of something new, I look through the website for features, check the forums carefully (if there is one), and do a search for reviews and discussions. Newsgroups, from Corel and Adobe for example, have been valuable sources of information.

In certain respects, I'm like most users; I rarely explore all the capabilities of many of the programs I rely on. For the most part, that's because what I do use fits my needs so precisely, there's little reason to delve into them farther. <vbg>

2 penny Ron
Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code is a violent psychopath and knows where you live.