Friday, January 13, 2006

Why dogs have owners

Seeing as you're here, you've probably seen the short version already, so here's the long version -

A few years back, when I worked for another company, we used FogBugz for bug tracking. It was a good system - inexpensive, flexible and simple, and quite sufficient for our needs. Particularly nice features included the ability to handle customer emails easily, so easily that we added menu items to allow our users raise issues and suggest features. We added them directly to the Help Menu, and they just collected info and sent an email, FogBugz handled the rest.

FogBugz also allowed us to send email (with debug info attached) back to developers when our app crashed. Not sure if that worked though - our app never crashed at a customer site. But that was due to the testing bug I had been infected with, rather than FogBugz.

Did I mention ease of use? Because it was (or appeared) so simple for users, FogBugz was usable "out of the box" by those who had never seen it before (Compare and contrast Bugzilla) but also had the power to cover all the reports about issues anyone could think of.

Finding an application that not only is user-friendly, but also made the app we developed more user-friendly is unusual. To be honest FogBugz is the only example I know after decades in this game.

Hardly surprising then that the man behind FogCreek Software should have opinions on UIs and what makes them good. Joel Spolsky is the man (although just "Joel" is enough for Google - a modern definition of "famous") and I've been reading his blog since then. He's always interesting, ususally informative, and often funny.

But today he got me into trouble because he used the wonderful phrase "as doomed as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs", which years ago would have been a cut-out-and-keep phrase, but is now a cut-and-paste-to-email-to-your-jokes-list phrase.

Who woulda thought there were so many cat-lovers on my jokes list !

"That is not a nice phrase. It's horrible. You're so mean . How you'd you like to be that cat?"

Hey, it wasn't a cat! It was a software company.

How do cat lovers ever get past the Schrödinger lecture in school?

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