April 30, 2011
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Russ Lipton on Tinderbox

Russ Lipton writes a thoughtful (and flattering) commentary on Steve Zeoli’s Tinderbox essay for AppStorm.

I have used Tinderbox since its introduction a decade ago. It is the only piece of software I have ever used over thirty years that is, itself, intellectually stimulating – a category type absent from all known software reviews. Consequently, Tinderbox must be and is, indeed, frustrating and maddening at times.

I want to address two meta areas, both of which you touched upon:

Price. I can remember when software products cost $395; in ‘old’ dollars too. Tinderbox seems outrageously expensive by today’s standards. Tire-kickers, please keep in mind that Eastgate’s ‘artisanal’ approach to software correlates closely with the product’s unique strengths. This is not committee-designed, corporate-volume targeted, me-too outliner, note taker or mind mapper stuff, though I know Eastgate welcomes corporate customers – a different matter. I suspect the price is set as low as possible consistent with maintaining the long-term health of the project.

Enhancements. Mark Bernstein seems as enthusiastic today about pushing Tinderbox’s architectural design and feature-set to its usable limits as he was when discussing the original beta publicly long ago. I chose ‘usable’ above purposely. I don’t want to give the impression that Tinderbox is for weird, eccentric hobbyists with endless time on their hands. Bernstein is always asking users who want ‘just one more’ feature to supply a possible use case and/or reasoned defense of their request. Still, that said, it is fun (and productive) to grow alongside Tinderbox itself, which means, to grow alongside Mark as well.

Again, well-done review. There is a fully productive ‘shallow end’ to the Tinderbox pool which amply rewards beginning swimmers. The neat thing is that the deep end of the pool is (as it should be) just beyond one’s gaze at any given moment.