Cobbling together the jigsaw of pieces after an iBook crash got me thinking. I don't believe being 'old' adds value to any antiques I've ever seen... (I'd be worth a fortune if that were true) however, on my old Mac 512KE... I wondered why a lot of the programmes seemed to be much more 'elegant' than the ones I use today?
Obviously memory was in such short supply that space constraints forced each keystroke to count. Thus there were no ragged bits left hanging round the edges and no space for devious work-arounds to circumnavigate patent laws
But, the biggest benefit... there was no room for bells and whistles!
Today programmes have more bells, knobs and whistles than a pipe organ! One I use has well over 1000 preferences, 58 on the working surface alone. Many requiring the seasoned smarts of a shopsoiled typographer to comprehend.
Would it not add value to offer a rock-solid, plain vanilla programme with all the foreign cherries and chocolate toppings offered as optional bolt-ons?
Or am I being too simplistic?

“It is vain to do with more what can be done with fewer.
William of Ockham
14th Cent.

12 Years
Discussion Span
Last Post by jwenting

Well, you do have options. No one forces you to use Microsoft Word Perfect over Notepad. You can only do so much with software built for users looking for something simple. Complex software offers a wide range of flexibilty and use. The more complex the task, the more complex the tool must be(in some cases!).

Take creating a graphical picture, one of great quality for example:
Would you want to do this in paint just because it's simpler?
Or would you rather use something like photoshop to get the job done?

I guess it's a matter of what your doing and the like. I'm sure you can find tools that are more simplistic than others if you desire so.


Sure, server_crash, I do have simpler options. The problem for me is that I often think that the programme I like would be faster and better if I could buy just the parts I need and perhaps buy other options as I need them.

I just wonder if being all things to all people goes a bit too far sometimes.

Crashes always get me into a 'keep it simple' mindset.



I see what your saying, but creating software for each individual would take more time than it's worth, and not bring in the profit like massing one program on the market.

Why not create your own software? I do, and only things you choose are part of the program.


I'm sorta in agreement with you. I don't believe that we should be restricted to minimalist, but I do believe that things could be made a lot more comfortable for us.

I'm not one to get upset about 'feature bloat'. I kinda like it actually, and in this day and age of cheap memory and hard drive storage space there's no real problem with having and using it. But I've just been reviewing the Adobe range of products and there's one factor that hits me in the head like a brick. Like many other software companies, Adobe offers 'Beginner' and 'Advanced' products. But what they DON'T offer is a 'Beginner' interface to the 'Advanced' product! Start with the cut down product and you're stuck with it, because you simply don't have the features there when you're ready to start using them. Start with the professional product and you have to start with the professional level of expertise! There's no middle ground.

What I'd like to see are applications that can 'grow' with you. I'd like to be able to have professional capability products, but start with a 'Beginner' interface, and have the extra features there to add in as and when I need them.


The problem with offering many different versions is that it's extremely expensive to create.
If they create many different interfaces to the same product and sell it as one with many options it gets even more complicated and bloated.

Modular programs are nice, the user can basically choose the parts he likes and build his own application.
But it's very hard to do with shrinkwrap software so a different distribution model is needed for it as basically every copy sold is unique to the specific customer.

So companies take to putting every possible option anyone could possibly want in the application, just so as many people as possible will find what they're looking for (and everyone ends up buying more than they really need of course).
Another advantage of this for the companies (apart from reducing the complexity of their logistics chain) is that having a long list of features sells products.
Many people don't consider logically whether they'll need all those features. If product X costs $A and has 10 features while product Y costs 10% more and has 20 features many of them will buy Y without ever considering whether those extra features are worth the investment.
This is seen with many products which ship in 3 versions (with each having more features than the next).
The cheapest sells well, the most expensive sells very well, and the middle product is more of a niche product than anything. Many customers who would be well served by the middle product elect the high end product instead because of the extra features (which they'll never or rarely use and never make back their investment on).

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