There’s something very exciting about the idea of developing software geared toward professional use only.  Professionals are willing to invest in tools that provide value (it’s simple math) and they are willing to learn to use a tool if doing so will make it more valuable.

The idea of being able to pick up a piece of software and start using it, with no experience, makes sense for casual users but if you’re going to be living inside a piece of software it should be optimized for that kind of use, not optimized to make it easy for anyone to use.

There used to be a lot of software like this, but even territories like film editing and CAD have mostly fallen to the “intuitive” school.  Don’t get me wrong, I think that approachable, novice-intuitive tools should exist (not everyone is a professional at everything) but I don’t think that they should exist at the cost of expert tools.

Unix is another kind of protool.  A little effort in learning the essential concepts of Unix (commands, arguments, pipes, etc.) can provide serious empowerment, but there is essentially zero way to “discover” this on your own (without reading the docs or something).

I’d like to consider the “protools” perspective as I develop new projects. Not so much that I need to target existing professional audiences, but the idea that it’s OK to build something that isn’t right for everyone, or requires a little learning to be able to use effectively.  I think the result will be less up-front design time wasted and a greater level of user satisfaction, even if it’s for a smaller number of users.

I think there’s already enough things in the world that are trying to be right for everyone, and by that nature, perfect for no one.


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