Form and function

If I did my best to summarize everything that makes me uneasy about the incestuous world of Apple indie developers and Apple-focused writers, I couldn’t do as well as my RSS feeds and Twitter stream did today in reacting to the launch of Vesper.

Given the development team, it was easy to predict how the reviews would be written. Much discussion of elegance, attention to detail, simplicity, ease of use, cleanliness, minimalism, focus, and opinionated design. I have no doubt that all these things are true, but the similarities give the early reviews a certain paint-by-numbers vibe. On the other hand, if an app doesn’t do very much, its feel is pretty much all you can write about.

More bothersome has been the reaction to criticism of Vesper. It’s as if the Q Branch team are children who need protection. They aren’t. They chose to omit common features like syncing and TextExpander support from Vesper, and they had to know that that would lead to some dissatisfaction (they’re also not the ones whining about the criticism). Those who express that dissatisfaction shouldn’t be treated as a bunch of savages, and yet many Apple bloggers felt it necessary circle the wagons and defend their own.

Here’s a thought experiment: Imagine a new note-taking app written by an unknown developer. It’s has a nice, clean look and is easy to use, but it has no syncing, no TextExpander support, and no URL scheme. Assuming the app got any attention at all, how much effort would Apple bloggers put into defending that design choice? How often would the phrase “data silo” be used?