When Developers Get Cute

Raven

When Developers Get Cute

Here’s an idea, let’s program a secret feature in a widely used Mac application and make the icon change to something completely different. That’s exactly what Allan Odgaard (through the prodding of two contributors) did with his application, TextMate. On October 31st the icon for TextMate changed to a special Halloween version.

My first reaction when I opened the program was both “cute” and “annoying.” If it was only for a day, then I wouldn’t care — it will just change back to the old icon tomorrow. The problem is that is didn’t. November 1st rolled in and low-and-behold, I still had a jack-o-lantern for an icon. By this time, “cute” was no where to be found, and “annoying” was taking over.

After several support tickets from various users, Allan was quick to make an update to his application. Each update comes with Release Notes and the first revision in the notes stated:

[REMOVED] TextMate no longer pays tribute to human sacrifices, rape, nor does it show a picture of the God of the deaths in your dock — ticket 945BEB5D

After reading his release note, I can only imagine the complaints he got from people he offended with his Halloween “cuteness.” Personally, the only thing I found offensive was that he changed an expected attribute of the program — albeit for fun — but didn’t test it throughly enough to make sure it would turn itself off after the joke!

Ultimately, I did the like the idea. It was fun and unexpected, and it didn’t affect my work flow one bit. However, if you’re going to do something like that, make sure it works completely before you secretly push it onto your users.

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Tell us what you think

  • http://www.sitening.com/ Jon Henshaw

    It’s all good and I totally understood what you were saying. But yeah, I really didn’t mind it all that much, I just thought it would be fun to blog about.

  • http://geekthang.com FredB

    I didn’t want to sound harsh, the “didn’t check the facts” part was related to the idea that Allan didn’t check his code. That’s all.

    As I wrote on my site[1], I just think some people reactions were a bit over the top (not yours, Jon) and that:
    “I can understand people who need to work and are a bit distracted by the change, but it takes only 5 seconds to change an icon in OS X and 10 seconds to find the original one on Google if you don’t have it already.”

    [1]:http://geekthang.com/2006/11/3/humorless-textmaters

  • http://www.sitening.com/ Tyler Hall

    I think the point Jon was trying to make is that a new version should have been pushed out on November 1st rather than waiting till the 2nd. Still, I thought it was funny. I just hope they don’t do it too often. With the new icon, it took me an extra moment of processing whenever I would switch between applications. I kept looking for the purple icon before remembering it was orange :)

  • http://www.sitening.com/ Jon Henshaw

    Thanks for the clarification FredB. Although, in my mind, that doesn’t make it much better. It just reaffirms the confusion it caused. I made the assumption of how it worked based on what I thought was the most logical way to do what he did.

    Anyways, regardless of whether or not I got all of the facts straight, I’m just ragging on him. I love TextMate and he’s high on my list of developers I admire.

  • http://geekthang.com FredB

    I think you misunderstand what happened.
    The icon, etc. didn’t change automatically on the October 31st.
    Allan released a new version of TM that day, with new icon, etc. You TM self-updated to this version, I guess.

    So, it was not supposed to turn itself off. Allan released a new version yesterday with normal icon, etc.

    Maybe you should check the facts before publicly underestimating Allan by making the assumption that he didn’t “test it throughly enough” or didn’t “make sure it works completely before he secretly pushed it onto his users”.
    ;)