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Becoming obsessed with the idea of a mac

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Posted by Stephen R. Diamond
Nov 24, 2007 at 12:47 AM


Hugh Pile wrote:
> >
> >In my experience, Ecco and Zoot are as close to unique as you can get;
>only Tinderbox on the Mac comes anywhere near as a “text-sippet manipulator/notes
>outliner”, and of course Tbx is not a PIM. But Scrivener is also unique; there is no
>drafting tool on Windows to compete with it. I know - I’ve probably tried them

I don’t know about the usability of statements like the last sentence above. It seems to me that if a program is that great, it is easy enough to say why. Harder in some instances than others but never a formidable expository task.

It isn’t hard to make an a priori case that Scrivener cannot be so great. First, it tries to manage a writing project from start to finish in a single application. It is not, by pretension, a mere drafting tool. Generally you cannot get the best of all worlds using a jack of all trades tool. It is rather what someone who knows nothing about stereo systems (like me) might do when buying a pre-assembled set of components. Those in the know always buy separate components and I think the same goes for work tools. To get a competent all in one program for $39 is literally too good to be true.

From its web site, Scrivener has two main writing/organization tools: 1) an outliner; and 2) a corkboard. I’ll stick for the moment with the outliner. What outlining features does it have? That nobody is too interested in spelling such features out should lead to suspicion that there is really something there besides the fluff.

If the outliner is not well-featured, who wants to use it as part of a writing project. Some will settle for an outliner less that the best in exchange for the integration, but not a truly puny or sub-modern outliner. This goes back to the matter concerning packages intended to cover all phases of work.

I have a speculation as to why programming on the Mac seems more fertile than on Windows. Apple has never had any concern with backward compatibility. Mac OS X left OS 9 programs completely unusable. The huge waste concerned Apple not in the least. Windows, on the other hand, carries the burden of maintaining backward compatibility with Windows 98 - or is it 95? Anyway, it goes back through a number of major revisions. I imagine backward compatibility imposes a considerable burden on programmers, who must incorporate all the workarounds that allow the program to work on earlier versions of Windows.