I greatly respect Mark Pilgrim and have followed his writing for some years, but I take issue with his outburst on full screen editors over the weekend.
With these words:
Here’s the basic problem: you’re writing a text editor. Stop doing that. It’s 2007. Saying to yourself “I’m gonna build my own text editor” is as silly as saying “I’m gonna build my own build system” or “I’m gonna build my own amusement park.” Blackjack and hookers and all that. Writing a great text editor is insanely difficult. There is a certain class of software that sounds easy but is actually insanely difficult. I call it “garden path software.”
… Mark seems to argue that writing a text editor in 2007 is essentially a waste of time, because it’s been done many times before and there are plenty of excellent editors around already.
Um - try telling that to Allan Odgaard, creator of TextMate. Does Mark think Allan’s been wasting his time? Many purchasers of TextMate would say otherwise.
Then Mark says:
I guess the part I don’t understand is the target audience. Who is so serious about writing that they need a full-screen editor, but so unserious that they don’t have a favorite editor already?
Over here! Me! I earn a living from writing, and I do have a favorite right now; TextMate. But sometimes, just sometimes, I prefer to write something without having anything else visible on screen. So I might to work in something that isn’t my favorite editor. And yes, I’ve already got the distracting stuff - IRC, Twitter, email - switched off already. I can’t explain why, but sometimes - not always - I’m just a bit more productive when I work this way. Pardon me for working in a different way to you.
Then Mark concludes with this:
These programs aren’t for serious writers at all. They’re for the writer’s equivalent of script kiddies — people who want to go to Starbucks and pick up chicks with their MacBooks and their iPods and their glowing full-screen text editors.
Well, I’m speechless. I could respond with some equally outrageous retort but I don’t think that would contribute anything positive.
We don’t have a Starbucks in our town, and I wouldn’t frequent it even if we did. Nor do I want to pick up chicks, I’m happily married thanks. And when I’m working - at home, in a coffee shop of any brand, or anywhere else for that matter - I shall continue to use the application I feel most comfortable working in. I’m not trying to impress anyone, Mark. I just want to get my work done.