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    It’s easier to read here: https://tttthreads.com/thread/927593460642615296

    Funny to have a rant on UX on medium not suitable to long form posts.

    It is sadly very similar in desktop realm. You can’t copy text from the most part of the interface. There can be an error and you have to rewrite it to find what is this all about. The computer has this already written down, it’s just silly. That is the one thing that usually is better about webapps. Of course there are silly designers who want to expose their users to the same limitation, by blocking copy or context menu. But usually they don’t do this, because it’s more work.

    That’s why CLI will likely never die. By default you can manipulate the data to your heart’s content. It may be slow and sometimes half-assed, but it still will be faster. You don’t have to rewrite anything. It’s a bit sadly the closest we have to a data-oriented system. Where one can manipulate all available information without massive hurdles. Only with some hurdles.

    What else: Oberon, Plan9 interfaces (Acme!), Powershell, AppleScript (? - when I was using OSX at work few years ago I couldn’t find reference manual of the language), certainly more throughout the history.

    We can’t do anything useful in 2d and yet we are working on VR/AR interfaces where undoubtedly we will make same mistakes (and more!).

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      Decent rant. Gets at some of my issues with webapps: feels like 2x the work for something that isn’t as nice (both UX and performance-wise) as a desktop app. There are obvious advantages, but I don’t find the medium inspiring by itself; it feels like webapps are more about commerce/communication than being a bicycle for the mind.

      (Well aware I’m typing and frequent a web app, thanks.)

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        This is one of my pet peeves, and as an end user I feel web apps are one of the worst things to happen to computer software in a long time.

        One place the difference is really noticeable is comparing Google Docs to the standalone Microsoft Office applications. Google Docs is missing 90% of the features and the interface is terrible. Whenever I need to create a document I jump to my Macbook and use Pages (which isn’t great either, but beats Google by a mile).

        Another place where the difference is really noticeable is comparing Outlook in Office 365 to standalone Outlook. The features are very limited, there’s no ability to customize it, features that existed for 15 years in Outlook aren’t there any more, etc. It’s a mess.

        Even the promise of cross-platform compatibility doesn’t work out in practice, because the larger web apps inevitably end up only working on specific browsers.

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          The most striking thing in my eyes is the fact that millions of dollars by multiple vendors have been poured into making the web a viable app platform and yet it hasn’t produced much in the way of complex apps that support professional workflows. Some may regard this as a feature (think 37 Signals aka Basecamp), but the fact that it Gmail and Gmaps remain the most technically sophisticated webapps out there is damning.

          It just goes to show you that no amount of money and wishful thinking can paper over a conceptual impedance mismatch.

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            one counterexample: Salesforce.com

            Sure, it’s a CRM. But it’s also an extremely pluggable environment. Third parties work to offer pluggable functionality, there’s “remote debugging” if your client has issues. There’s entire VMs working on huge sets of data.

            It’s very close to being a Smalltalk-style image per user. The web-y-ness allows working with various data sources in interesting ways, allowing third parties to set up stuff within your own environment. It’s an extremely connected environment, and essentially impossible without the web.

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              I don’t imagine that it’s impossible for there to be a web application that is strictly better than a desktop one, for some given set of tasks, but by the time the platform mutates into one that enables said application, the platform will not look anything like the pig’s breakfast we see today. It won’t be within a million billion miles of elegant, but somehow more layers of abstraction will be piled on and we’ll muddle through, because Google’s gotta keep those ad dollars flowing.

              I hate it. I hate it all so, so, so much.

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                For all the advances, the web has become an execrable platform commandeered by ad agencies and data brokers. I keep javascript locked down pretty tightly using NoScript whitelisting sites I visit often, mainly to avoid a lot of the egregiously bad ideas. Some pet peeves - scroll jacking, unreadable, ultra low-contrast designs, having to load multiple javascripts frameworks just to read some fucking text with a few pictures.

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                …it hasn’t produced much in the way of complex apps that support professional workflows

                I’m not sure this is true, unless we have very different definitions of complexity and professional workflows. In the past decade some of the web apps I’ve worked on were:

                • A self-service telephony configuration app with features like group rign, follow-me, etc.
                • An ERP system for the flooring industry, including shipping, receiving, accounts payable/recievable, etc.
                • An app for designing & formatting physical books for print-on-demand self publishing

                Currently I’m working on a web-based contact center and communications platform that supports routing of calls/chats/tweets/email/voicemails to agents, review and quality analysis of agent interactions, real-time stats in the browser for contact-center management, workforce planning, agent script editing and display, telephony administration, company directory, chat & telephony for non-contact-center users, and probably a bunch of other stuff I’m forgetting. It’s nothing if not complex and professional.

                Like most projects, all of these applications had their fair share of issues, but the problems were not specific to the web, and would likely have been issues in any desktop application built by the same companies. Mismanagement of projects, insufficient time to deal with technical debt, poor business decisions, legacy tech that must be accomodated - those problems are not specific to any platform.

                I’m speaking mostly from personal experience, but it may be possible that apparent lack of “complex webapps supporting professional workflows” is primarily due to those apps existing in niche markets that don’t get publicity in the same way social media platforms and end-user tools like email/office software do.

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                  Gmail and Gmaps remain the most technically sophisticated webapps out there is damning.

                  In the consumer space, sure. But there are some reasonably complex enterprise-y web apps. MS Office (and even the Mac productivity suite) historically weren’t “free” applications, so it’s not entirely fair to compare them against “free” web apps.

                  That being said, web apps are mostly crap and I use them because of factors other than quality (convenience largely).

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                Sooooo Right.

                I mean, these days even rants have to be broken up into 140 character subrants! ;-)

                What’s a twitter rant? A Trant? Twant? Rantter? Rwantter?

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                  A tweetstorm! Merriam-Webster has a writeup on the term and its (short) history here:


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                  Another great example is Autozone. Remember when they had the text consoles where people could very quickly lookup parts. It’s all be replaced by a GUI app now. If you learn all the keyboard shortcuts, it can be close to the original, but most people I just watch click and click and click.

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                      This is part of why the Bloomberg Terminal is still as successful as it is despite the fact that the interface looks like it’s stuck in the 1980s.

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                    Seems ironic to be written as a series of tweets, which has to be the laziest and most reader hostile way to do anything longer than an SMS message.

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                      I think this rant along with every comment on it misses the real point: mobile devices have made computers really suck.

                      You know why these interfaces make no use of the keyboard and its glorious F keys and so on? Well, show me where the F keys are on your iPad…

                      Google Maps was a lot less terrible back when it had a desktop-centric UI, but eventually they forced everyone over to the new touchscreen-centric UI and now it’s all spontaneous pans and zooms and things popping into and out of presence… which has not only made it horrible to use, it now also eats CPU like nobody’s business, which is an impressive achievement.

                      It’s not like things were going great before. But the iOSification of computing made everything suck 15 times worse.

                      Now here’s my struggle with that thought: iOSification also put computers into the hands of everyone – even my parents, who can only barely figure out how to use their iPad now, who without the invention of the touchscreen UI would have gone to their graves without ever making independent use of a computer. So… I don’t know what to think.