Before being a blogger and a computer fan, I’m a reader. I read a lot of stuff, using daily my browser (Firefox) and my RSS client (Vienna, for Mac only), or buying (old-skool style) monthly some magazines. I think that only if you read things, you can write (and create) good things yourself. And of course, having some good ideas. One of the most interesting features of Internet nowadays, at least for me, it’s that you can choice the news and the sources you like more. You can do your newspaper yourself, taking some news from blog “A”, some lines from site “B”, some comments from forum “C” etc. This is wonderful 🙂 Expecially when the topics that make you wet are not made by stuff you can easily find outside the web.
One of the many (184 at the moment!) RSS feeds I daily update is provided by Des Traynors blog (http://feeds.feedburner.com/destraynor).
In one of his latest posts, titled “You can’t stop at Good Enough” (http://www.destraynor.com/serendipity/index.php?/archives/155-You-cant-stop-at-Good-Enough.html), the blogger talks about Firefox and about the comments he got from Digg community for his story titled “9 suggested improvements for Mozilla Firefox”.
I use Firefox, pimped with some great extensions I couldn’t live without, on my Mac on daily basis and the only feature I’d really like to have is a drastic memory and cpu usage improvement: Firefox sucks too many resources on Mac! By the way, I don’t want to talk about Firefox, because I mostly agree with Des Treynors. What i’d like to point you to is this little extract from the post I talked about above. We talk about software usability, so dear noobs, it’s nothing to do with the Flip 3D function inside Windows Vista 🙂
Des Traynors says:
“This last group of people, the “these are only minor improvements, already available through plug-ins” group are the ones that just don’t understand that usability is a game of inches. I’ll start a war by saying this, but these people are the reason why an awful lot of open source software is shit. They create a tolerance of things that are “good enough”. The iPod Mini was good enough in August 2005. In fact it was the fastest selling music player that year, and probably would have remained in that position for another year. What did Apple do with it? They retired it and released something that was far better. If you stop at “Good enough”, you’re leaving a big fat “insert better product here” sign above your head. Someday that product will come along and you’ll be wondering where it all went wrong. Every tiny improvement that you don’t make forms a checklist for your competitors. Once that checklist is long enough, you better believe that your days are numbered. You will lose your market share, one user at a time.”
I think he said all 🙂 Open Source software needs to go over the “it works!” or “it’s good enough!” states if it wants to be a real alternative to commercial software. Most open source software must be improved on three aspects:
– performances, because open source software is not intended to make hardware vendors richer (like one commercial OS and many commercial software do); open source software is by the side of users, so it has to maximize the users’s productivity also on slower machines, thing that already but partially it does;
– graphical user interface, because actually the 90% of open source software GUIs are just unusable and ugly shits, with duplicate menus and misplaced buttons (see Amarok, the dumbest GUI ever, or GIMP);
– usability, because it matters! and it makes software nicer to use; commercial softwarehouses add tons of useless functions to every new version of their softwares, often hiding or making highly reacheable the functions we need (see Microsoft Office), because they have to attract consumers and sell tons of copies to live; open source developers don’t have this necessity, so they might focus on the few really needed functions and improve them to the max level!; then they can add new functions.
If developers will follow these guidelines, open source software will win 🙂