In the past couple weeks I’ve made tentative steps toward the new Claw & Quill design. I think I read too much about good software design practices, and one school of thought which boils down to, “Don’t worry too much about the look and feel first,” with the corollary advice of, “Don’t start designing the UI on the computer first thing because it’ll encourage you to lock the design down too early.” All well and good, but I brainstorm better by moving things around on the screen. Given what C&Q’s going to aspire to be, I need to pull off a hat trick in UI terms: it needs to be powerful enough to meet the needs of several classes of users while remaining simple enough that it isn’t intimidating, so I’m going to be playing around a while—and I’m not up for the retro-hipster approach of doing it all on paper and moving around pieces with scissors and tape. (I’ve seen variants on that advice more than once, but c’mon, does anyone really do that?)
I’ve been on something of a Mac utility buying binge the last week or so. Since some of you are Mac users, here’s a brief mention:
- Path Finder, a quasi-replacement for the Mac Finder. Something of a power user toy, but I’ve found myself using its special powers regularly enough that a purchase was called for.
- Intaglio, a drawing program that’s sort of a reincarnation of the old MacDraw. You could think of it as being to Illustrator what Paint Shop Pro is to Photoshop. (There’s a better-known competitor to Intaglio called LineForm with a couple unique features, but Intaglio has better typographic control, which I need.)
- Painter’s Picker. Did you know the system-wide color picker can accept plugins? Neither did I. This is a great little widget for building up complementary (or clashing!) palette schemes based on classic color theory.
Last but not least, have you ever heard of “Tumblelogs?” Jason Kottke describes Tumblelogs as:
… a quick and dirty stream of consciousness, a bit like a remaindered links style linklog but with more than just links. They remind me of an older style of blogging, back when people did sites by hand, before Movable Type made post titles all but mandatory, blog entries turned into short magazine articles, and posts belonged to a conversation distributed throughout the entire blogosphere.
A “linklog” is something I’ve seen before, of course; haikujaguar has been doing one for years (“Micah’s Mine”). Most tumblelogs I’ve seen look like projectionist, which is to say that they look like something 37signals would build if they got really blasted (“even more rounded corners! everything green pastel! make that body font one billion points! Wicked!”).
I’ve toyed with the idea of setting up one. I really often do think of blog entries as short magazine articles; I don’t just throw up links and quotes and random crap. After listening to a recent podcast with Merlin Mann going on about them, though, and mentioning a “tumblelog in five minutes!” kind of site, I figured: why not. It would be an adjunct to my journal, not a replacement.
So, with little fanfare, I present: Coyote Tracks, my tumblelog. (It actually took an hour or so last night of hacking to make it look less ugly.) It should have an RSS feed for those of you so enabled. (This means someone could set up a syndicated feed for you to “friend” in LiveJournal, but I haven’t yet.) I expect Coyote Tracks to be considerably more random and wide-ranging in content. I’ll do my best to make sure anything “work unsafe” or potentially inflammatory is obvious, but—as is always true—if you don’t like a link, don’t click on it. I won’t be offended.
Coyote Tracks: http://chipotle.tumblr.com/