New vs Joy

Is newer better?

Textmate 2 hasn’t been updated in years. Yet I like how it feels: beautiful icon, new file blank state, native markdown shortcut handling, speedy cocoa architecture. Yum. There’s no built-in terminal (you have to use one separately like a grown-up), basic version control support (I prefer using Git from the terminal anyway). It’s not the newest, best IDE. But it’s the best for me and makes building sites, apps and games a joy.

ToonBoom Harmony’s interface feels 20 years old. Yet I like how it feels: its retro input states, reverence for classic animation conventions, and the ever-present “built by animators for animators” design decisions. There’s very little native support for other animation mainstays (doesn’t round-trip with compositing tools or non-TB animatics), and while its UI gets slammed as being difficult to use, I love every minute of it.

Lightroom Classic isn’t the hot photography DAM in town anymore (denoted by the “Classic” moniker). Yet its interface and workflow (which hasn’t changed much since I started using it in 2007) reminds me of my early days of dSLR photography every time I open it. The new version can do most of the things the Classic version can and more, but this is the version that brings me joy, and so I continue to engage the tricker, more advanced features with that same spirit of discovery as I had way back then.

Maybe we don’t need to optimise our tools for newest or most features.

Maybe we need to optimise them for what brings out the best in us.