Sunday, February 1, 2009

Michael MOApp

Toolbox logo.png

If you look at the lower part of the sidebar, you'll see that I've added a component called "Toolbox." Look inside, you'll find the 35 applications I use most frequently... at present. I've spent so much time and money searching for the Mac utilities that suit my needs, I thought it might be interesting, and maybe even helpful, for me to write a fairly regular column, discussing what I've discovered and giving reasons for my choices.

Thus I decided to start with one of my favorites, which is representative of an entire new line of small simple applications, designed by the multi-talented Michael Göbel, called myOwnApps (I know, I know, but read on, there's a wonderful off-center logic to it.) The sample I've chosen is called myWords, an application for writers. This is a highly competitive field for Mac development right now. Some of the biggest guns in the shareware world are offering very evolved, sophisticated tools for novelists and playwrights, each with an avid following.

myWords icon.png

So, why did I chose this funny, slightly old-fashioned, oddly eccentric myWords? Well, partly because of all those supposed "drawbacks;" I'm not intimidated by it. It's totally flexible and fits my changeable work habits. Or to put it more negatively, it doesn't force me to work within a pre-concieved "writer's model." I make up the rules and categories, and change them at will. "Works," Entries," "Snippets," "People," and "Places" are the only inbuilt hierarchy. And there's that big yellow notepad at the top to remind me to keep notes as I go. Instead of learning software, I write. It's all up front.

But more to the point of why one makes these choices: this is Mac programming as it was originally meant to be. As far as I know MOApp is Michael, and cats. No corporate structure, pretend or otherwise. I've been following his output since the first (really eccentric) "Suite". He charges very little, but has always made it perfectly clear that they are a work-in-progress. They've progressed amazingly over the last several years. And, all along, I've felt personally involved. His sense of style is impeccable; it guides not just his design of interface, but an underlying philosophy of "simple is better."


I'm torn between wanting him to do really well, and keeping him my own secret source of satisfying tools. One recognizes a craftsman by his attention to details. myWords is typical of all MOApp designs, there is a joy in small details: a hidden picture viewer, the Snippet drawer that can become a palate, the way the window zooms to letterbox, or slides off the left corner of the screen on closing. There is also a means to take a snapshot of any current state in case a rewrite goes awry; and there are several ways to print/export. Occasionally there is a slight weirdness in function or odd transliteration from German. But these just make me smile, there's nothing to struggle with, and Michael's answer to inquiries is very fast, if a little terse.

I will probably be writing more about MOApp in upcoming columns. There is a much more sophisticated line of products at his site. These myApps are a response to requests from people, like me, who haven't yet upgraded to Leopard. But they're the same quality, just not quite as slick. At this point, there is no reason why these excellent applications aren't more widely known and discussed, except for their German or strange English names and lack of current "kitchen sink" mentality of adding more bells and whistles in lieu of making smooth, solid tools that do one thing simply and flexibly.

Michael's company is die Gestalteriche.

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