I thought I would try to list the software applications that, in my opinion, have the best user experience or have been most influential in the design of other application.
Best Software User Experiences
- Mac OS 8
Window Shade, View as Popup Window, threaded Finder. Even though I use Windows 2000 and Mac OS X everyday, I find myself trying to find software to replicate the user experience from Mac OS 8. The interface design, the icons, the interaction set the standard for how to interact with an operating system.
- Visual Basic 3
With the addition fo the JET database driver, Visual Basic 3 was the first development tool that allowed me to forget about the code and focus on the layout and interaction of the application. Sure I had to purchase a number of OCXs and third party addons to build software that was useful, but it was the Visual Basic environment that I long for when building applications today.
Visio set the standard for visual diagramming and flowcharting. It made perfect sense for Microsoft to acquire Visio it just rounded out their Office suite. The only other tool that comes close to Visio is The Omni Group’s Graffle.
VisiCalc was the first WYSIWYG spreadsheet. Almost all other spreadsheet programs have retained the same user interface and interaction design of VisiCalc.
iPhoto is the only tool that I use for managing my digital photographs. It provides me with all of the features and functionality that I need to manage, organize, manipulate and share digital photographs. It comes the closest to the shoebox I used to keep under the stairs of all of my pictures and memories.
- Claris Works 4
It did everything, page layouts, embedded spreadsheets in word processing documents, outlining, everything I needed my office suite to do.
- Allaire Homesite 4.x
I long for the features of HomeSite. HomeSite set the standard for most development editors. The popup features listing, the integration to external development tools, and the tabbed view. Homesite took a lot of the best features from other editors and code development platforms and built the best Web editing interface. These features continue to evolve in Macromedia Dreamweaver MX and Homesite 5.0. Honorable Mention: BBEdit is a tool that I rely on on my Macintosh. Unfortunately, while this is definitely the best text editor on the Mac platform, I still long for features in Homesite.
- Microsoft Entourage
Entourage has become my mail client of choice. It is the best single user mail platform allowing the linking of people, events, messages. While Entourage is lacking in a couple of features now found in Apple’s Mail, there are third party applications such as SpamSieve that provide the extra functionality. Entourage allowed me to replace Now Up-to-Date and Contact and Eudora. I only looked briefly at Apple’s Address Book, and iCal to decide that they weren’t mature enough for everyday use.
- Adobe Photoshop 5
I don’t use Photoshop anymore, I’ve switched to using Macromedia’s Fireworks for all things Web. This was mostly due to pricing. Photoshop 5’s use of layers, history, and floating palettes has set the standard for visual layout tools.
- Karelia’s Watson
Watson is the only search tool. The features and functionality blend seamlessly with my goals to find information. Other than Google it is the only tool that I use to find information on the Internet.
There are other tools that I have used that have been just as influential (in both a positive and negative way) but did not make this list, including:
- Macromedia Director,
- Microsoft Outlook,
- Lotus Improv,
- Lotus Notes,
- Aldus Persuasion,
- Frame Technology FrameMaker,
- FileMaker databases,
- Netscape Navigator 7.x (also Chimera, Phoenix and Mozilla for tabbed browser windows, they reinvent Microsofts MDI interface done properly),
- Internet Explorer 4.x,
- Noah Grey’s GreyMatter (which led me to MovableType),
- Userland’s Manilla,
- Mirabilis ICQ,
- Nullsoft Winamp,
- Now Up-to-Date,
- Sun’s Java
- and many others.