For the past few years, one of the most frequently used applications on my Mac has been Notational Velocity. It’s a note-taking application, with a unique and efficient unified mechanism for both searching notes and creating new ones. Although I usually end up editing those notes in other applications (like iA Writer), they are always created and managed in Notational Velocity.
I’ve never known who’s behind the app until today, having stumbled across a great interview with its author, Zachary Schneirov.
Having read the interview, the following thoughts came to mind:
Schneirov is one of those super-talented individuals hidden away, working in obscurity and under the radar of mainstream social media. (In @makalu, we often talk about how that’s where most of the people we’d want working with us are located, and how hard it is to discover them!)
I really admire and envy his ability to apply such discipline to making decisions. Whether it’s taking donations, or adding a new feature, the interview gives an insight into how carefully he weights the consequences. You can tell he’s a man who says “No” far more often than “Yes”.
That the application is so fast, efficient, elegant and solid can almost go unnoticed; the ironic and unfortunate fate of great design and engineering effort. The interview illustrates just how great the design and engineering is behind this product! (And, it makes me want to rush out to pick-up Jeff Raskin’s, “Humane Interfaces” book…)
Apple’s development environment provides a lot of great frameworks. But the general purpose nature of those frameworks will mean they are sub-optimal for a lot of specific application contexts. To make the best application possible, an engineer needs to deeply understand both the framework, and the problem he’s solving, in order to know when it’d be better to roll his own solution. In the article, Schneirov discusses some of the interesting areas in which he decided not to use Apple’s solutions.
Grab a coffee, and spend some quality time reading the full interview.