just a dude abiding

on subtle failure

While reading through the top links on proggit, I ran into a project I’d seen a long while ago and promised myself I’d keep track of.  I didn’t.  But this story isn’t about me and my need for a simple bookmarking/reminder service, and the ways in which such a thing could change how I keep track of interesting things on the web.  That story will come later.  No this story is about the clutter project, the project I had accidentally lost track of.

From reading their very dark website, you’ll discover that clutter is YAGUIWT(Yet Another GUI Widget Toolkit). What makes it special? It’s cross platform-ish, has bindings to a ton of languages, and supposedly doesn’t bring the cruft that most of the well known toolkits have grown to contain. Despite being a bit dark, and being quite a visual shift from reddit’s simple blue on white look, it’s a visually appealing site that has the touches of professional design. It was easy to get my bearings on the site and find information about the project and things of interest, save for one little subtle thing. Screenshots.

Again, the clutter project, is a GUI/Widget toolkit, a graphical tool to make your applications usable by the masses. A tool that claims to work across several platforms, and languages. But most importantly, it’s end result is a visible GUI application. I thought at first that I was just missing the link to the screenshots. They have to be there. Maybe they’re just not linked off of one of the top pages. Who would make a well designed, and informative web page about a GUI/Widget toolkit, and not put up any screenshots? So, being the resourceful individual that I am, I moved on to the omnipresent google. This search should return all the instances of the word screenshot on their site. That’s bound to turn up these hidden screenshots. Except it doesn’t.

Failing to put up screenshots has obviously not caused the death of the project. But it’s still a failure. A subtle failure, but a failure nonetheless. They’ve failed at managing their user’s expectations. They’ve failed by forcing me to go hunt for information, that should be clearly displayed on their site. Or at the very least made it known that the information wasn’t provided by the site. Despite failing to provide me with information I think is pertinent, as a programmer I’m still very intrigued by their product.

The time I spent hunting for the missing screenshots (and subsequently writing this post) should have been spent reading the API docs, or downloading the source, or installing a binary package, or a sample application, or any other activity that could lead to me becoming an active user, contributor, or at the least a vocal supporter. Instead I’ll add the project back to my mental (or conveniently web based, and amazingly intuitive, and hopefully soon to be released) list of things to check back on when I have time. Odds are good that like the last time, I won’t.