Category: "Software / Apps"

Markdown Notes App with Outline

Markdown Notes App with Outline

If you search on the Mac App Store, you will find dozens of Markdown note taking apps with a markdown pane on the left and a preview / reading pane on the right.

Many of them also feature a sidebar on the left where you can "conveniently" browse your files. Yay!

Yet, none, and I really mean none of them, offers an option to see an outline of your document in the sidebar!!

Why?

I have notes that are 30 pages long. They are living documents, with a structure. They make full use of 4 or 5 levels of headings. And scrolling up and down to find the relevant part just isn't practical. Having an outline would allow to click and quickly scroll to the relevant part of the document.

I so wish someone would implement this.

Apollo: the Flash Virtual Machine is getting better

Apollo: the Flash Virtual Machine is getting better

It was bound to happen. Macromedia's (well, Adobe's) Flash player finally evolved into a very complete Virtual Machine. They call it Apollo.

It basically solves the same problem Java has tried to solve for years: write once, run anywhere.

Though it's certainly less mature than Java today, I see several factors that could let Apollo succeed where Java has failed. Among these:

  • It leverages existing developers skills (HTML, Javascript, Flash...) which makes it look much more accessible than Java which only leveraged C++ skills.
  • It's gonna look nice out of the box. Java still looks relatively ugly...
  • With today's computers it's probably going to feel less painful and slow than Java back in 1996...

On the other hand, Sun has recently released Java as Open Source and that's certainly not a coincidence. I'm not sure what Adobe's pricing/distribution plans are with Apollo, but it certainly ain't gonna be as free as open source! :roll:

There's more than the code...

Oh well... I think it's been too long since I last read some great wisdom like the one on Joel on Software.

I read this really insightful peace today about all the important things beyond just the actual software code.

Here's a funny quote:

Human emotions can be really, really superficial. In particular people ridiculously overvalue aesthetics and beauty when evaluating products. It's one of the reasons iPods, and, for that matter, Keanu Reeves, are so successful.

...but the whole article is definitely a must read!

Of course, this so much applies to b2evolution as well... :-/

Offshoring/outsourcing software development

This thread in Ask Joel is the most interesting discussion I've ever read abut offshoring/outsourcing software development!

It's getting incredibly long though, so it's really hard to read through. But the first 25 comments are definitely worth reading.

My personal take on the subject is roughly this: I believe software is art more than science. I think the best approach to make it look like engineering is something along the Unified Process - that's what the IT world has learned the hard way for the last 30 years! One golden rule of UP is to have the users and the coders communicating, to have them understand each other's constraints...

This doesn't mean I think nothing can be outsourced, but you certainly cannot carelessly offshore a whole IT department to a place with a radically different culture and expect that communicating with specs will "just work"! :|

If offshoring software development is ever going to succeed we'll need a whole new set of skills and tools (internet being one of them) to master it, and we're not even close! However, I think the experience of open source software projects developped by an international community are an interesting experience to this.

I would probably elaborate on this if I wasn't this busy reading the thread at Joel's right now! :>>

IT independant innovation... dead?

Two quotes from PHPeverywhere:

"Perhaps the problem is that the computer industry is maturing, so all the cool corners where you could do your own thing in peace are disappearing slowly..."

-John Lim: "Gamma Radiation from Microsoft turns open source advocates into Sulks"

"[We] are caught between a rock and a cheap place, where your software cannot get enough market share in a world dominated by Microsoft (and other BigCos), and at the same time your niche is being commoditized by free software.

The only way to make money in the IT industry nowadays unless you have colossal market share (which you use to eat up niches such as anti-virus software) or are creative enough to compete in the PC-gaming industry, is by combining your products with services. And make sure your services is the main component, otherwise you risk going out of business when your product is commoditized. The whole industry is moving this way, from minnows like my company to giants like IBM (which is the furthest in this transition, buying up Rational and PWC). Sun is learning it the hard way."

-John Lim: Tim O'Reilly: "The Open Source Paradigm Shift"

And make sure you don't miss Eric Kidd's "The Missing Future". Excellent!