Why is Konfabulator 'Pretty?'

Marielle Lange mlange at lexicall.org
Sat Dec 10 08:31:59 CST 2005

> As Richard stated his position on this, I'll state mine as well.  
> I'm not
> concerned about competitive advantage at all, and won't be until  
> RunRev
> becomes as popular as JavaScript (one of my hopes!). :-)

Richard, Ken... I thought that the statement "giving revolution for  
free" was enough for anybody to understand I was pushing things to  
the extreme. The purpose was not to denounce the profit orientedness  
of professional members. Apologizes if that sounded like a criticism.  
That wasn't meant to be one. It was rather a compliment. There is no  
*shame* at trying to be successful and remain so. If I use a computer  
that doesn't crash every 3 seconds is because I rely on a product  
developed by a company which has continued profit making as one of  
his priorities. *Nothing* wrong with this.

> Personally I don't think of Rev as a $99 tool (even without standalone
> building capabilities). It's worth far more to me than that.

It's not a question of being able to fork $5000 for a product because  
some clients can pay for it. It's a question that revolution puts as  
selling line on its website : "Revolution Dreamcard is ideal for  
beginners and intermediate developers.". After 2 years on this list,  
I still wait for them to do something that suggests they are  
interested in that market. I still wait for them to show that they  
have "any commitment" to that market (other than the $99 price).

At different moments, we have contacted revolution in our status of  
"inventive users" to propose a hand, as we are aware they are a small  
company and we were given completely unrealistic answers of the like  
"yes, please, do for us the equivalent of 5-6 months full time job,  
that would be so cool... and please do it without bothering us  
because we have no time for this and please do it all alone as we  
won't help you synchronize this or setup the structures that would  
help you organize collaborative initiatives or we won't let you re- 
use resources we may have". When we started talking about setting up  
an infrastructure that facilitates contribution from members of all  
levels (even the least experienced one), we were told, please don't  
do it.

Yes, in terms of profit to get from a single person, a $99 license  
doesn't seem to support the development. But if you divide the cost  
of developing such resources between a large number of persons, you  
reduce the cost each person needs to pay. That's the case for license  
fees. That's the case for the amount of time/work each person has to  
give for a useful collection of resources to be rapidly set up.

And that was the all point of this thread on why is konfabulator  
pretty. Konfabulator is pretty because it is not very expensive (was  
$49, I believe, now free) and because there was a *very* cool library  
of widgets, easy to download and to adapt or to learn from on the web.

Sure, it is in the best interest of the professional market to have  
continued development and bux fixing. But for a product like  
dreamcard to be of interest to the inventive users, bug fixing is not  
a priority.  To have 100% reliable tools is not *that* important.  
What is more important is to have some examples, templates, easy to  
follow tutorials, suggestions that help get us started... or even  
better as the konfab and dashboard success stories show, have them  
develop the infrastructure that lead to a rapid development of such a  
catalogue of resources by the user base. What I would like to see, as  
an inventive user, not making any profit from my activities using  
revolution (and certainly not able to fork $5000 on a license), is a  
centralized archive of all resources that exist for revolution, a  
central place where tips, information, resources, etc. can be shared,  
so that us, the inventive users for who revolution is only one of our  
many activities, one of many toys we play with, can find the  
information we are looking for in a minimum amount of times.

I fully agree with the professionals on this list. One day, runrev  
ltd will have to decide what their product is supposed to be for. The  
wiki idea was nicely transformed into a project of easying  
improvements in the current documentation. Well, originally it was  
not really about it. Originally it was to help the inventive users to  
find resources without being expected to have to read 50 digests a  
week (it toke me 3-5 days to skim through the posts of the last  
month... that's too much for a hobbyist). The idea was to automate  
extraction of tips and code bits from the list. The idea was to  
provide a place were "beginner and intermediate" members of the  
community could easily find tips and tricks and eventually share  
them. Then runrev kicked in to tell us not to do anything about it  

Agreed, Richard, the persons who pay you wouldn't be very happy you  
spend your time watching a small flower change of color on your  
desktop. However, many inventive users like to download such widgets  
because they represent a very concise programming unit in which it is  
very easy to understand what line of programming does and how a  
specific effect can be achieved.

Yes, widgets are dead easy to realize with revolution and the  
temptation is great to rapidly move to more complex projects (like I  
did) or even to rapidly believe you could dig your day job and make a  
living thanks to revolution! It remains that widgets are a great  
resource for beginner and even intermediate users. Yes, revolution  
can do a lot more than produce widgets and this would justify a  
higher price tags. But the complete beginner only wants to know how  
he can realize a widget. There is nothing "inappropriate" about that.


Marielle Lange (PhD),  Psycholinguist

Alternative emails: mlange at blueyonder.co.uk, M.Lange at ed.ac.uk
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