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Thu, 20 Oct 2005
Aperture induced ponderings

My drooling over Aperture produced some other thoughts.

In the wake of this month's Web 2.0 conference, there's been yet another round of "all applications are moving to the web". Aperture is an application that would be very hard to do on the web. I'm trying to imagine Aperture's multiple display support in a web app. I suppose that I can, but it's pretty unpalatable. My XT can shoot 3fps in RAW mode. Each one of those RAW's is 7MB. Now imagine any decent sized gallery of them, including some stacks of bursts. That data is not going to move over the web anywhere near fast enough to be responsive.

The attention to UI is one of Apple's strengths (when they remember to do it) and from what I've seen, they pulled out the stops for Aperture. Good UI does matter. And it takes a certain kind of skill and taste in order to make that happen. It's more than the flashy visuals. Aperture appears to work the way that I wish I could work with my photos. The designers took the time to understand the work needs and patterns of their target audience, and then built that in.

While I was watching the videos, some part of my brain overrode a bunch of things that I've spent a bunch of time writing about on this blog. Did I care that Aperture is written in a low level, mostly static language like Objective-C? Nope. Did it bother me that I couldn't get the source code, or access the community of developers? Nope. I'll probably change my mind about that once I return to my senses. But the visceral reaction that I had to Aperture is a big reminder that the final result matters a lot, not just the process and technology.

As I said, it looks like Aperture will be very fun to use. I can't say that I feel the same way about the tools that I use day to day for writing programs. Where are the incredibly fun programming tools? I did Emacs, Eclipse, some IntelliJ, WingIDE, and a few more. None of them are really all that fun to use. Many of them take out some of the tedious tasks associated with programming, but none of them give me that feeling that they are enhancing my creativity or thinking. Computers should extend the mind, hands, eyes, and ears.

Recently, I've felt kind of down on Apple, because of some difficulties I've been having with my hardware. I was also quite happy with my Ubuntu experience, and I was sort wondering if getting off the Mac and onto Ubuntu would be a mart idea. Aperture is not an app for everybody, but it is for me. More importantly, it represents the spirit of the Mac, which is a spirit that I think is still missing from the Linux and Windows communities. It is hard to get me really excited about a piece of software, and my reaction to Aperture is one that I haven't had in a long time.

I am torn between the two cultures: the innovative culture of the Mac that has brought forth apps like Aperture and NetNewsWire, and the culture of open source, which emphasizes participation and liberty. When will an open source project produce an app that's at the level of NetNewsWire or Aperture?

Maybe I've just been drinking too much Kool-Aid.

[09:55] | [computers/programming] | # | TB | F | G | 9 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post

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I work at the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF).
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