Whenever I start to read a review for a new “bloat-free” MS Office competitor, I know what the script is going to be:
- Office is overpriced and “bloated” with too many features that you “don’t need”
- Luckily, <company X> made a smaller leaner one without all the bloat
- But I’m never going to use it, because it doesn’t have <insert my favorite feature> or word count.
It’s actually quite amusing how often this exact script, including the “word count” gripe, recurs. Here’s one from 2001. And another from 1997. Oh, look, it happened again.
Remember, kids, the trouble with the “everyone only uses 20% of the features” myth is that everybody uses a slightly different 20%, and the journalist who has to review your exciting new BloatFreeWrite has been told to write a 250 word story.
(For review: Bloatware and the 80/20 myth. No matter how much it bothers you neat freaks, the market always votes for bloatware.)
Can’t Understand It? Don’t Worry.
Whenever somebody gives you a spec for some new technology, if you can’t understand the spec, don’t worry too much. Nobody else is going to understand it, either, and it’s probably not going to be important. This is the lesson of SGML, which hardly anyone used, until Tim Berners-Lee dumbed it down dramatically and suddenly people understood it. For the same reason he simplified the file transfer protocol, creating HTTP to replace FTP.
You can see this phenomenon all over the place; even within a given technology some things are easy enough to figure out and people use them (like COM’s IUnknown), while others are so morbidly complicated (IMonikers) when they should be simple (what’s wrong with URLs?) that they languish.