First let me say that I know that writing software is hard. Writing good software is even harder. Writing good software with a good user interface is harder yet.
Some people get it right and some people don't.
I recently had the desire to use Yahoo Messenger. I made a new friend and I decided that they were important enough to get a Yahoo IM account. I am an AIM user and I have used iChat for years and I saw no reason to use another IM client until last week.
So I downloaded the Yahoo IM client for the Mac and fired it up. It was easy enough to set up and get going with my huge list of one friend. But then I used it to chat...
What is the most important thing that a text based chat client ought to do well? More than anything else it ought to display the text in a nice, clear font. Now, what do you think the one thing that stood out when I used the Yahoo Mac IM client to chat for the first time?
Strike One for Yahoo IM. The default font is squished, pixelated and just plain wrong. So I tried to change it. It had nice controls in the window for changing the font and while the ones for changing the color worked, the one for selecting the font just kept resetting to the same squishy, unreadable one that I started with.
So after one chat session with that client I went off to find a replacement. I found, to my surprise, that Adium now supported Yahoo IM as well as AIM (and a bunch of others) so I installed that and configured it for both my AIM and my Yahoo IM.
Adium is sweet.
Not only does it come up with a nice readable default font, but the rest of the default settings make sense too. And when I when I went poking at the prefs I found that I could give my buddy list a look that was very similar to iChat.
So, to those programmers who work on the Yahoo IM client for the Mac: Go and download Adium and run it through its paces and you'll see what happens when you put the extra effort into sculpting software that the Adium authors have. And PLEASE: just change the default font in the next release! How hard is that?
Time for more chatting...