Joel discusses the confusing mess surrounding simply turning off Windows Vista. He tallied over fifteen different ways, then describes how to pare it down to only two. This can very easily be correlated to software development in general.
How many preferences are there in Lotus Notes? Well, that depends. There are up to six different sets of preferences, plus the ones built into the mail file itself. Each one is broken up into multiple tabs and subtabs, and some such as Toolbar Preferences have a completely unique UI paradigm for making changes. In all there are over 130 decisions to be made just in File > Preferences > User Preferences in Notes 7.01, and that's not counting all the combinations of port settings and International dictionary settings.
Nathan has long supported the idea of radical simplification in the Notes client, and I'm with him all the way on that charge. For my users their single biggest complaint is not that the Notes client is ugly or slow, it's that it is simply overwhelming. That criticism is mostly based on their use of Notes as a mail client. In my own applications I keep it as minimal as possible, such as the following
[Side note: That's based on my own "blue rinsed" standard application template.]
It could be argued that some applications need more functionality and can't be as barebones as this. I challenge that assertion. The issue isn't that the functionality isn't needed, it's that the functionality should only be presented when and where it is needed.
As a real world example, create a Reply to an e-mail message. Using the standard Notes 7.01 DWA template, the action bar in the response has Reply to All and Follow Up actions. What on Earth do those mean in this context? If I wanted to Reply to All I would have done that from the view. Is the Follow Up flag getting put on the original message or my response? Why would I want to do that from here, anyway?
Also, the vectors for accessing functionality should be presented in the fewest places possible. How many different widgets are there related to Instant Messaging in the Notes client using the integrated instant messaging?
- Right-click context menu
- Chat view action (with multiple subactions)
- Instant Messaging toolbar
- Instant Messaging statusbar
I applaud Joel for tackling the issue of overloaded software that tries to please everyone but ends up bewildering the majority. And I also appreciate Nathan for keeping the pressure on the Notes 8 design team to simplify while innovating. I sincerely hope that goal is met.