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I use this

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So there’s this new web site I use this. When I saw it I sighed in relief. It’s a kind of user driven software site. A ‘social’ version of sites like MacUpdate, if you wish. But where those old sites seem to be mainly made to let developers announce their new releases, I use this focuses more on the user, who can say I use this on any application which makes it easy to keep a list of your favourite applications handy or to look at your friends’ applications and so on… the whole ‘social’ game.

So I got myself an account and made sure our applications are in there. And that was more than enough to leave me with the impression that perhaps spending another few days developing this would have been an advantage.

The site still seems quite broken in some places (search most notably) and quite rough in others (being all sweet and ‘web 2’ in some places while reloading huge pages all the time in others). In addition, I doubt that it’s particularly well thought through. The fact that you can only upload 32×32 pixel icons ranges somewhere between daft and half-assed. And the fact that you can’t enter something to identify an application (like its bundle identifier) suggests that we won’t see some neat integration in the future where some little application automatically populates you application list for you and then tells you about the updates that are available.

In addition, the data on the site lacks interconnections and depth. All there is are handful of typically useless ‘tags’. What about relations between different pieces of software? Like PithHelmet requiring Safari or NetNewsWire or some other such application and Chax requiring iChat. What about different versions that can have differen requirements? And what about application shootouts where different applications that do a similar job can be linked and users can easily explore the world of those applications, see there respective benefits and possibly answer those burning questions like Transmit or Interarchy? Unison or MacSOUP? emacs or vi? for themselves…

I would have also liked to see slightly more refined ‘liking’ settings for applications. From my point of view there are many different points that can be made about applications:

I have a copy of the application.
Meaning that it came with the computer or was downloaded at some stage because it looked cool. But not necessarily meaning the application is used.
I use the application
Meaning just that. And not necessarily that I think it’s good or even like it. Just look at the Finder or XCode. Each of them could be better in many ways. But they still have to be used. I guess in most cases this implies that people have a copy of the application.
I use the application regularly
This is even stronger than the previous point. And it’s a bit hard to tell where to use the line. Yes, I have used iWeb – but only to see what it can do and never for anything real. So it wouldn’t qualify for this.
I like this application
… but don’t usually recommend it. For example I am a long time MacSOUP user and I like the application very much for its simplicity and elegance. On the other hand it looks very outdated these days and I wouldn’t usually recommend it.
I recommend this application
… but don’t necessarily like it. Because sometimes even applications you don’t like are the only ones doing the job. These kinds of recommendations are not easily made but can be really helpful.
I have an affiliation to this application
This could mean many things… having programmed the application or helped in its development, having contributed a localisation or knowing the author. You’ll see me recommending UnicodeChecker all over or John Gruber recommending anything by Bare Bones. While we do this first and foremost because we think the respective applications are great, we also make clear that we may be biased.
Of course these are by far too many points and adding them to a site like I use this would kill all the fun of it. But there should go at least some good thinking into how these different points of view could be reflected. Particularly the last one.

And finally, the site should have come with more applications set up from the beginning. In particular the applications that come with Mac OS X should have been set up. I like using Stickies for example and that app wasn’t present on the site. Nor could i add it because the programmers’ zealotry went far enough to require setting up a unique download link. Not that impressive. And not looking like they’ve actually eaten their own dogfood before publishing it.

So what started as a great idea remains just that. And waits for an equally great execution as a website. As usual, I’ll hope that future updates improve things but I won’t be holding my breath.

And once that is done, we should start thinking about a new user base for the site. In its current state the number of people using geeky applications like Firefox or Quicksilver is just too close to the number of people using iTunes to assume its audience to be normal or sane…

July 14, 2006, 0:08

Tagged as software.


Comment by James: User icon

According to the developers they went public before they were ready be an eager blogger. It then got to digg and stopped development for a while when they had to deal with keeping the server up.

July 14, 2006, 22:39

Comment by Anonymous: User icon

how do you design a site that will never lose the bottom scroll bar?

July 15, 2006, 1:02

Comment by rauser: User icon

One feature that I’d really like to see on “I use this” would be a way to demote programs that aren’t used anymore, while indicating what you switched to.

For example, if I were to switch from Bittorrent client to Transmission then I could designate that through the site.

This would lead to a lot of interesting statistics and trending that really isn’t possible right now.

July 15, 2006, 4:53

Comment by ssp: User icon

no-name: While I fail to see how your comment is relevant to the topic, may I suggest using something along the lines of

 body {

in your style sheet?

rauser: Yup, that’d be exactly the kind of helpful advice and detail I’d love to see.

July 15, 2006, 16:48

Comment by Stra: User icon

So, has anyone sent the iusethis.com developers a link to this blog post?

July 15, 2006, 21:12

Comment by Marcus Ramberg: User icon

Don’t worry, we’re watching the blog search engines for feedback :) Actually, I found this one through the trackbacks that it generated to your apps (http://osx.iusethis.com/app/ballerburg sidebar for instace). This post contains a lot of interesting points, and I am not going to address them individually right now. We’re still adding to iusethis and you can be sure that your input is valued :)

July 19, 2006, 14:18

Comment by ssp: User icon

Great to hear that Marcus.

I’m looking forward to seeing I use it improved and I hope you’ll find the time and other resources needed for those improvements.

July 19, 2006, 18:49

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