It’s all about the workflow

In the last few months I’ve been running into the same issue over and over again. At OSCON I was out to dinner with some Apache/Subversion friends. In recent years, conversations with these friends turn to the subject of Subversion versus one of the distributed version control systems, usually, but not always git. And as often happens, the conversation was focused on particular features of the systems. Distribution, obscurity of command sets, the workings of various individual features. For me, the important thing about the DVCS’s is not the various features, it is about supporting a particular kind of development model, a workflow of using the tools.   Vincent Driessen’s excellent post on the git branching model, outlines the kind of scenario that I want to be able to support. That workflow is important to me, not the particulars of git. I’d be happy if more than one tool could provide good support for such a workflow. To my relief, that’s what at least some of the Subversion committers want to be able to do, and I’m looking forward to seeing their work. On the git side of the house, Vincent has written git flow, some extensions to git that make the workflow easier to manage when using git. Github’s recently enhanced pull request mechanism is another example of great git related workflow management.

Software that focuses on workflows is much more valuable to me (assuming it supports a workflow that I use – not a foregone conclusion). Each piece of software that I use on a regular basis has been selected because it supports a workflow that works for me, or because I can mould it into supporting a workflow that is comfortable for me. So today, that means NetNewsWire for Mac’s combined view and OmniFocus on Mac/iPad/iPhone for review mode on the desktop and iPad, and forecast view on the iPad. I also have use Python to make some Macintosh desktop apps provide a workflow that ‘s more suitable for me: For mail, that means Mail.app plus Mail-Act-On plus Python scripts plus Keyboard Maestro. For meeting notes that means Evernote plus Entourage plus Python scripts on the Desktop and iPad

One domain where I still haven’t found a great fit yet is the activity/life stream space. Right now I’m using Echofon on the Mac, Twitter for iPad, and Twitter for iPhone. I also have Flipboard on the iPad. Each of them works relatively well, but none of them really solve the problems that I have as a high volume Twitter reader. I really haven’t seen anything that works in a way that will really help me deal with the firehose of information from various online sources of various kinds. Here lies an opportunity.

App developers of all kinds, giving me neat features is good. Streamlining my workflow is better.

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