A love letter to personal software
I’ve been using a screenshotting tool called Annotate (and its predecessor, Glui) for almost ten years.
It’s much better than the built-in mac screenshot software. I can keep multiple screenshots available to drag wherever I want. And it has the perfect selection of the markup tools I need with none that I don’t.
A typical set of screenshots I keep around. Note: it’s kind of hard to take a screenshot of your screenshotting tool.
But the latest OS update broke blur, one of my favorite tools. I searched for an update and realized Annotate is no longer available.
The company that made Annotate, Drift, has pivoted. They’re a very successful B2B startup that recently achieved unicorn status. They’re great product designers. I’m sure their software is helping sales and marketing teams deliver smooth experiences to their customers.
But, as a user of Annotate in particular and software in general, the demise of this small productivity tool saddens me.
The market for making corporations’ computer experiences more productive is thriving. But what about me as a human? Someone made a tool that made my and countless others’ computing experience better and more efficient. Now that tool and UI live on only as legacy software but cannot be installed anew.
How can we expect to make progress in computing when innovations are so easily lost? Most of human history is a story of tools getting better, faster, and easier to use. But software doesn’t feel that way to me.
Yesterday, I edited a large pull request on Github that slowed my browser to a crawl. My 2018 model computer has barely an hour of battery life. My text editor doesn’t know that a close parenthesis is my most important word delimiter when coding.
These feel like small gripes, but they add up to a mental tax that I wish I didn’t have to pay.
I wish we measured and optimized human happiness and productivity. And that we rewarded tools that put humans first and corporations second. Maybe then small but valuable software wouldn’t be lost. And I would have a sense of delight rather than dread when I opened my laptop.