TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Oct 92 Editorial
Volume Number:8
Issue Number:6
Column Tag:The Editor's Page

Do Developers Have Ears?

By Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief

Because we are a magazine, software companies regularly send us copies of their software to review. As a result, we see a lot of software. (Its good to be the editor). We actually try to use each product a bit. What we find is surprising - most software doesn’t do what we want.

Some Good, Some Bad, Some Ugly

First, let me say that I am not bitching and moaning - there are good products. Take a look at Global Village’s GlobalFax software. The idea of just holding down your Option key (while selecting Print ) to fax is simple and effective - in other words, perfect.

The problem lies in those products not being developed by people who will use them. Take Quark XPress. I would find it hard to believe that its developers actually use the program on a day-to-day basis. The product has so many rough edges that it really slows work flow. For example, every time you move a file to a different parent folder, it can’t find the pictures it refers to - even if the relative position has not changed. Xpress's drawing and layout speed is so slow that you have to have a Quadra to run at an acceptable speed. (I think that the Quark people should start working on our “Programmer’s Challenge” problems to practice their efficient code writing. Either that or they should call Mike Scanlin to come to their rescue).

But it’s not my fault

Some developers run into problems because they are using someone else’s tool. Take CE Software’s QuickMail. Ever since version 2.5, QuickMail has used Apple’s Comm Toolbox. And, ever since then, communications have been relatively unstable. Many of the problems have been caused by the Apple Modem Tool and the Comm Toolbox (according to CE at least). CE wants to support the standard, but Apple has neglected a tool they pushed.

Version 2.5.1 of QuickMail has helped to solve many of the problems caused by the Comm Toolbox. Version 2.6 (which is reportedly slated to ship by November) is supposed to solve even more. But one thing is evident, CE seems to be working hard to overcome the limitations of the Comm Toolbox.

How do you solve the problem?

Bluntly - look for patterns and then look for easy solutions. One of the business practices that we’ve enacted at the new MacTutor is pattern recognition. For example, when Stephanie (our Marketing Director and one of my favorite employees) first started out, she accidently stuffed outgoing invoices in the wrong envelopes. Consequently, many of our advertisers got someone else’s invoice. An easy mistake, but an embarrassing one.

The solution was easy - window envelopes. Now, it is not possible for envelopes to be misaddressed and they don’t have to be hand addressed. An easy solution to an easy problem.

So how does this apply to software development? Listen to your customers. Use the applications you develop yourself. See what features you would like to have. What makes things run faster? What makes life easier?

Developer tools - the answer?

Most of the time, developer tools are a great way to get ahead on your project. You should always investigate existing tools before embarking on writing something from scratch.

The key with tools is to make sure that they are going to save you time and effort. If there is something lacking in a tool that you are already using, tell the vendor. Most vendors, except Quark, listen to their customers. And keep banging on those companies until they do what you want or give you a reasonable answer.

Warning to all naughty companies

As I’ve looked through the software from many companies, one thing has become evident. The companies like Quark who don’t even return tech support calls (even when you’ve already paid for them - just ask our Art Director, Judith) continue to sell product. Why? Because they have no competition. Quark survives because they are the only product in the marketplace that answers some of their users’ needs. So, here is a call to all developers identify companies like Quark and write a competing piece of software.

Where do we go from here?

It’s simple. Listen. Learn. Think about solutions then implement them! It is not as hard as it may seem. Try it you’ll like it.

We Need Tips and Letters

Remember, articles like “Dialog Box” (letters) and “Tips and Tidbits” are driven by you, the reader. To keep them alive, you have to write in so do it now!

Neil Ticktin



Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Planet Diver guide - How to survive long...
Planet Diver is an endless arcade game about diving through planets while dodging lava, killing bats, and collecting Starstuff. Here are some tips to help you go the distance. [Read more] | Read more »
KORG iDS-10 (Music)
KORG iDS-10 1.0.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Music Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: ** Debut Discount: 50% OFF! Sale Price US$9.99 (Regular price US$19.99). Other all Korg apps are also 50% OFF until Dec 28! **... | Read more »
World of Tanks Generals guide - Tips and...
World of Tanks Generals is a brand new card game by the developer behind the World of Tanks shooter franchise. It plays like a cross between chess and your typical card game. You have to keep in consideration where you place your tanks on the board... | Read more »
TruckSimulation 16 guide: How to succeed...
Remember those strangely enjoyable truck missions in Grand Theft Auto V whereit was a disturbing amount of fun to deliver cargo? TruckSimulation 16 is reminiscent of that, and has you play the role of a truck driver who has to deliver various... | Read more »
The best GIF making apps
Animated GIFs have exploded in popularity recently which is likely thanks to a combination of Tumblr, our shorter attention spans, and the simple fact they’re a lot of fun. [Read more] | Read more »
The best remote desktop apps for iOS
We've been sifting through the App Store to find the best ways to do computer tasks on a tablet. That gave us a thought - what if we could just do computer tasks from our tablets? Here's a list of the best remote desktop apps to help you use your... | Read more »
Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade guide - How...
Warhammer 40,000: Freebladejust launched in the App Store and it lets you live your childhood dream of blowing up and slashing a bunch of enemies as a massive, hulking Space Marine. It's not easy being a Space Marine though - and particularly if... | Read more »
Gopogo guide - How to bounce like the be...
Nitrome just launched a new game and, as to be expected, it's a lot of addictive fun. It's called Gopogo, and it challenges you to hoparound a bunch of platforms, avoiding enemies and picking up shiny stuff. It's not easy though - just like the... | Read more »
Sago Mini Superhero (Education)
Sago Mini Superhero 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: KAPOW! Jack the rabbit bursts into the sky as the Sago Mini Superhero! Fly with Jack as he lifts impossible weights,... | Read more »
Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes guide - How...
Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes is all about collecting heroes, powering them up, and using them together to defeat your foes. It's pretty straightforward stuff for the most part, but increasing your characters' stats can be a bit confusing because it... | Read more »

Price Scanner via

World’s First USB-C Adapter For MacBook Suppo...
Innergie, a brand of Delta Electronics, has announced its official release of the world’s first USB-C adapter supporting four DC output voltages, the PowerGear USB-C 45. This true Type C adapter... Read more
13-inch and 11-inch MacBook Airs on sale for...
B&H Photo has 13″ and 11″ MacBook Airs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP as part of their Holiday sale including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 11″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air: $819 $90 off... Read more
13-inch MacBook Pros on sale for up to $150 o...
Take up to $150 off MSRP on the price of a new 13″ MacBook Pro at B&H Photo today as part of their Holiday sale. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only. These prices are currently the... Read more
13-inch 128GB MacBook Air now on sale for $79...
Best Buy has just lowered their price on the 2015 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air to $799.99 on their online store for Cyber Monday. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale... Read more
Best Buy lowers 13-inch MacBook Pro prices, n...
Best Buy has lowered prices on select 13″ MacBook Pros this afternoon. Now save up to $200 off MSRP for Cyber Monday on the following models. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if... Read more
Cyber Monday: Apple MacBooks on sale for up t...
Apple resellers have MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, and MacBooks on sale for up to $250 off MSRP for Cyber Monday 2015. The following is a roundup of the lowest prices available for new models from any... Read more
Cyber Monday: Apple Watch on sale for up to $...
B&H Photo has the Apple Watch on sale for Cyber Monday for $50-$100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - Apple Watch Sport: $50 off - Apple Watch: $50-$100 off B... Read more
Cyber Monday: 15% off Apple products, and sto...
Use code CYBER15 on Cyber Monday only to take 15% on Apple products at Target, and store-wide. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for online orders only, in-... Read more
iPad Air 2 And iPad mini Among Top Five Black...
Adobe has released its 2015 online shopping data for Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day. The five best selling electronic products on Black Friday were Samsung 4K TVs, Apple iPad Air 2, Microsoft Xbox... Read more
All-in-one PC Shipments Projected To Drop Ove...
Digitimes’ Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report that all-in-one (AIO) PC shipments may drop a double-digit percentage on-year in 2015 due to weaker-than-expected demand, although second-largest AIO make... Read more

Jobs Board

Software Engineer, *Apple* Watch - Apple (U...
# Software Engineer, Apple Watch Job Number: 33362459 Santa Clara Valley, Califo ia, United States Posted: Jul. 28, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Join the Read more
SW Engineer - *Apple* Music - Apple (United...
# SW Engineer - Apple Music Job Number: 40899104 San Francisco, Califo ia, United States Posted: Aug. 18, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Join the Android Read more
Sr Software Engineer *Apple* Pay - Apple (U...
# Sr Software Engineer Apple Pay Job Number: 44003019 Santa Clara Valley, Califo ia, United States Posted: Nov. 13, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Apple Read more
*Apple* Site Security Manager - Apple (Unite...
# Apple Site Security Manager Job Number: 42975010 Culver City, Califo ia, United States Posted: Oct. 2, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** The Apple Site Read more
iOS Wallet & *Apple* Pay Engineer - App...
# iOS Wallet & Apple Pay Engineer Job Number: 40586801 Santa Clara Valley, Califo ia, United States Posted: Nov. 16, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** The iOS Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.