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Re: [Orgmode] Org-mode versus Taskpaper - now for real

From: Manish
Subject: Re: [Orgmode] Org-mode versus Taskpaper - now for real
Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2008 19:56:37 +0530

  On Thu, Apr 3, 2008 at 3:25 PM, Rick Moynihan wrote:
  > Eddward DeVilla wrote:
  > > I guess the best way to address this problem might be to document up
  > > front that org-mode uses a simple, readable, text only format and that
  > > all of the features can be used independently of each other but that
  > > they do interact well together.  (It's been a while since I've scanned
  > > the manual, so maybe that's already in the intro.)  I guess we could
  > > put together a tutorial of using org-mode as just a friendly listing,
  > > outliner without using any of the other features to show org-mode can
  > > scale up to Taskpaper's level of simplicity.  I'd have a hard time not
  > > adding a table though.
  > >
  > >
  >  Hi all,
  >  I'm a big fan of org-mode, yet I think Carsten's motivation to question
  > it's simplicity is a good one.
  >  Yes, org-mode can be as simple as Taskpaper, and I totally buy into the
  > argument that adoption of any planning system requires piecemeal growth.
  > Org-mode allows you to grow in this way, where as Taskpaper will require you
  > to throw it out for another system.
  >  However, though this argument is entirely true, it ignores other issues.
  > If org-mode wishes to tackle the Taskpaper demographic then we need to learn
  > some lessons in presentation and user experience.
  >  Org-mode has *EXCELLENT* documentation, indeed I'd hold it up as being one
  > of the most thoroughly and well documented OSS projects I've ever seen.
  > Congratulations Carsten! :-)
  >  However where Taskpaper wins, is in the presentation.  Just looking at the
  > site, things appear simple.  They've got trendy Web2.0 rounded corners and
  > styling on their page.  They have a Screenshot upfront showing you how
  > simple it is.  They have a nice little logo, with some text loosely
  > associating it with the GTD movement.  They attempt to answer the question
  > of whether or not Taskpaper is of use to you, and they have a handful of
  > user reviews to convince you it's great.  Oh, and all along they stress
  > Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity!
  >  In contrast Org-mode has an incredibly basic website.  It's well laid out,
  > and perfectly usable but it's not pitched towards the same class of user.

  | > If we care to go after the same type of user

I think this is the key question.

  > then we need to address this
  > and some other problems:
  >  - It's pitched at Emacs users.  I mean seriously, WTF is Emacs to anyone
  >   who isn't a geek?
  >   + It's called org-mode.  A side effect of it's Emacs heritage, but not
  >     the greatest name.
  >   + Installation is hard.  You need to install this obscure thing called
  >     Emacs, then you need to download org-mode, extract it in the right
  >     place and edit a .emacs file by entering some obscure computer code.
  >     In my experience most people can't follow instructions on how to
  >     copy a file from A to B.
  >  Emacs might be Org's greatest ally, but it's also simultaneously Org's
  > biggest problem.  My point here, isn't to bash Emacs, it is what it is, and
  > it's damn good...  But with apologies to RMS, it is the product of a
  > radical, hair-brained, compiler-writing, AI-lab, academic!!  You really
  > couldn't find anyone further away from the mainstream computer user!

I am so glad that that "radical, hair-brained, compiler-writing,
AI-lab, academic" did what he did.

  >  (Emacs has always appealed to me and I've toyed with it for a long time,
  > however in all honesty the only thing I *REALLY* use Emacs for is org-mode!)

I don't know about others but I started using Emacs first because of
Planner, then grew into Org-mode and now I use it for more and more
things (scripting, outlining, accessing databases, ...)  The more I
use it the more I am growing fond of it and the community around it.

  >  So, what's my suggestion?  Is it possible for Org to target the same type
  > of user as Taskpaper?  Maybe, it depends on how much we want it to.  So
  > what's required?
  >  1. Make the web pages look pretty.
  >  2. Downplay the Emacs mode stuff.
  >  3. Offer some kind of Easy org installation.
  >    - Effectively a distro of Emacs tailored to Org-mode.
  >    - Ship with an installer.
  >    - Give it a catchier product name.
  >  4. Customise this Emacs distro so that it starts up in org-mode, with
  >    some kind of help/tutorial file.  Not an Emacs *scratch* buffer.
  >  5. Take most of the Emacs crap out of the Menu's etc...
  >  6. Obviously still allow people to use org-mode with GNU/Emacs as they
  >    currently do.
  >  7. Offer more native key-bindings, by default - not Emacs key chords.
  >  8. Suitably change the documentation.
  >  Now that's a *LOT* of work, but it's certainly do-able.  Do I expect anyone
  > of us to actually do it?  No.... though it'd be pretty cool if someone did,
  > and it gained traction (unlikely). :-)

Not worth it, IMHO.  Thank $deity, Carsten and others that contribute
to org-mode do not /have to/ do it.  I wish they would spend their
time having fun instead of worrying about increasing market share.

-- Manish

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