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Screwdriver Narrowness Considered Harmful

Something I actually think about a lot just popped out in an email to an internet acquaintance who makes Mac software

One thing to know about me (and probably a surprisingly large number of your customers and potential customers): there's very little mutual exclusivity in my software world. For example, I use TextEdit, Vim, and TextMate pretty much every day and for completely different things. To me it's like having several screwdrivers. I could be that guy who insists there's only One True and Good Screwdriver, but I prefer to keep them all handy and just grab the one I need for the job.

Does that make any sense?

I mean I hear these territorial pissing matches on `foo tool` vs. `bar tool`, and how the fate of the world turns on making the right decision one time, and then becoming some kind of viral evangelist. Meh.

There's stuff like Quicksilver and OS X in general where you inherently have to choose a platform. But what about text editors, graphics apps--jeez, even _notebooks_? Am I the only one who employs a stable of several different tools for a certain kind of task? Esp. where one is clearly better at one portion of the task than the others?

How about you?

viscountslim's picture

As has been noted elsewhere...

As has been noted elsewhere by members of the 43Fold, diligently investigating the capabilities of new tools is an *excellent* way to avoid doing any actual work.

That said, I spent a lot of time figuring out what I need and what's available. I'm sure some of that was wasted time, but the upshot is that I'm comfortable that I need everything I use and vice versa. Though I too am drawn to the idea of One Text Editor to Rule Them All, that's not realistic for someone who writes for a living, so during the course of a day I will typically use four or five different means of manipulating and organizing text. Writing, outlining, copyediting, note-taking, and storage all require different screwdrivers (list of apps available on request for the truly bored, the truly boring, or other writers who want to compare notes). I still get pangs when I see a neat new tool like Kinkless, but I'm finally happy enough with my system that I can exercise restraint and not lose an afternoon to contemplating how OmniOutliner would fit into my system. (I have no doubt it kicks ass, but I don't NEED it. I had to make the same painful call with VoodooPad, though I will admit that every few months I pull it up and try to integrate it again.)

That said, if anyone who has to deal with the exigencies of freelance writing (e.g., multiple file formats, integration with Word, editing and copyediting compatibility, outlining capability) has successfully narrowed it down to one screwdriver, I'm VERY interested in hearing about it.




An Oblique Strategy:
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