iA Writer has no focus, or vision, for what they want to be. There’s a little bit of the hyper popular wiki-style linked notes apps (Craft, Notion, Mem, Obsidian, and all those who came before). There’s a little bit of the historical writing interface that iA Writer made obscenely popular. And then there’s this sense of Text/Code Editor they have baked in. And there’s file management.
iA Writer, when it came out, was extraordinary. I loved it. But the current iA Writer feels like an app being product managed by someone who feels as though they need to morph the app into whatever the latest bit of feedback they got in their emails — without a sense of being willing to say ‘no’. It’s not a good app anymore.Brooks Review
So many apps and services suffer from feature creep and this desire to be everything to everyone. I wish more people paid attention to the fact that it often leads to cognitive overload and poor experience. And beyond apps and services, in today’s world where FOMO is a global affliction, just saying “no” is the ultimate feature.
February 14, 2023. San Francisco
2 thoughts on “Just say no!”
I agree for the most part. But there’s also the issue of alternatives. Is there any credible alternative to iA Writer and other applications that are as polished but focus on the essentials?
I’d argue that this is the no-man’s-land between excellently designed commercial software and FOSS. The former requires constant updates to not appear stale, the latter overwhelmingly has catastrophic UX. As things stand, there’s no middle ground to be had.
I have no idea how the original text comes to the conclusion that we can’t say no. In my opinion, we are one of the very few companies that have a strong opinion on writing apps, a strong vision that we follow and we celebrate No. While pretty much everybody else follows the next best thing and suffocates their apps in features and slows their apps down to a screeching halt, we have been doing our thing for 13 years now.
The vision hasn’t changed an inch, since we last met in 2009 with Matt Mullenweg, at some cafe in SF, when I told you about the plan to develop iA Writer.
But times change. Wikilinks are not some hype and random feature. As far as we can see it’s becoming a standard that we want to support because Markdown is not used in one single app. We got a very clear signal from our user base, and we discussed this at length and in detail.
I don’t know if you have used iA Writer lately, or if you just wrote this on our expense without checking if you’re using a good example for “Just say no”… iA Writer is fast and focused, and half a million people really love using it. Matt Brooks might like another app. I don’t know and I’ll never know because I’m not going to pay 50 bucks to get his expert opinion, I’d rather listen to our users. Paying attention is not a bad thing, as long as you can say… no.
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