Any Mac developers? Can you explain this?

*My question is prompted by my still mourning Eudora, the original mail app which was warped into Thunderbird and retains essentially nothing about Eudora that made Eudora great, and Bento, the “Filemaker Light” database program for the non geeks and poor folks who can’t spring for Filemaker.

Developers create every kind of app, leading to dozens if not hundreds of options for things like image manipulation and creation, even though Adobe has been a colossus in that arena since the very beginning, offering things like Elements for the people who don’t need the monster package.

Or PDF readers: search on the app store returns 181 results. Or programs to assist with creating HTML and CSS. Or markdown programs.Or writing text, taking notes, reading the news, keeping the books, tweeting…what the fuck ever. Which is terrific, I totally support and desire a wide array of options for various tasks.

But for some reason I cannot wrap my head around, there are almost no options for handling email except except those created specifically for Gmail (which makes sense, given that the browser interface for Gmail is stunningly bad). When it comes to programs that can handle multiple email accounts, practically nothing, and certainly nothing that approaches the robust abilities and features of Eudora. Apple mail is shit. I’ve tried the few that seem to exist, and none has really impressed me. Given that e-mail is a pretty universal need, why do developers have so little interest in creating applications to deal with it? It’s not like there wouldn’t be a market.

Next is databases. In the same way that Photoshop rules the database world, so does Filemaker. But Adobe’s dominance doesn’t deter developers from making Yet Another App to Manipulate Images, so I can’t see why Filemaker’s would. And why FM itself killed Bento I will never understand.

The third category of app that goes begging for someone to care enough to build a better one is…shit, went out of my head. I’ll add when I remember, but a third category occurred to me.

So…can anyone explain why these categories are so UNDERdeveloped, so to speak?

In general, I think part of it is that Email and databases are big challenging domains that take lots of effort to get right, and can’t easily be broken up into smaller pieces. Photoshop is huge, but complicated. Doing one little part of what Photoshop does is still a useful thing for lots of people, so there’s room for someone to implement a little bit of it and provide value. Email and databases aren’t really like that. You can’t, say, implement a little program that just sends email and can’t receive or display or search it and expect anyone to buy it.

Most of the apps you’ve mentioned are actually pretty simple. It’s dead simple to make a new twitter client, or a note-taking app (provided you aren’t trying to sync between multiple devices. Syncing is a bitch.). So you’ll get plenty of those apps because people are trying things out.

Email applications are notoriously difficult to implement correctly and fully, have a very limited pool of power users that actually need or want more than what the built-in solutions provide, and have a low floor for what most people are willing to pay for them.

As an example of the difficulty of email: Figuring out which part of a message is quoted from a previous message is a fucking nightmare. Seems like it should be easy. It very much is not. And if you do it wrong, users will hate you forever. And that’s just one tiny feature in an email client.

It’s a really hard market to break into, both because there’s not as much market as you’d think, and because most email power users have a carefully crafted workflow that doesn’t adapt well to changes.

Many developers focus on gmail because they have a sufficiently-large market and a relatively sane modern API. You don’t have to implement the entirety of the email spec because gmail has abstracted it away.

And, of course, it could be that you have different opinions about what a good email interface is than most people. I, personally, love the gmail interface. It’s by far the best email client I’ve ever used, even though it’s cobbled by running in a browser. That doesn’t mean that your opinion that it sucks is wrong, but if more people agree with me than you, it explains why people aren’t out there making better interfaces. (Out of curiosity, what do you want to do that gmail makes hard?)

In find it clunky and unintuitive in every respect, particularly in composing. Since you like it, my saying that probably doesn’t help, but that’s how I experience it. (I dont’ know if you remember Eudora or ever used it, but if you do/did, the fact that I LOVED it should make it a little clearer; I like things to be separate, clearly identified, I hate my mail program trying to think for me…lots of stuff.

I get a freakish amount of garbage mail, far outstripping anyone I’ve ever heard of, for multiple reasons. Depending on where I count it from and how filtered it is, my last tally of total emails per day came out to something like 1500, down from around 3500 10 years ago. 1485 of them are trash, but I can’t be absolutely certain, so I have to filter the hell out of things to try and stay on top. I am a little OCD about keeping things “just in case” and Mail Steward has saved my life for that purpose. The database was about 40 gigs last time I looked. But it eases my mind to know everything is there, and the searching available is powerful.
Your explanation of why is very clear and makes complete sense. Still bums me out massively, but it does help me understand, which is all I ask of anything, really, is to understand it… Thank you. (Although I’m kind of surprised about databases being so touchy…)

I have been wanting to really apply myself to learning Applescript for years because I have so many file management issues and no program I’ve ever tried gives me all the power I want. Whenever I dig deeper about how to do the things I want and need to do to deal with my overall digital hoarding situation I always land at Applescript and the terminal. Apparently if I want to get what I want to get I need to do it.

By the way, what have you designed/developed? Full apps on your own that are available publicly? Do you have a specialty?

I remembered the third thing, and I don’t think it fits with the other two: epub readers. Why the dearth there?

For mail I think its specifically because most users are happy with the free alternatives, either using apple mail, or gmail in a browser. Also its a shrinking market because more and more people are using their phones to check email, or using facebook messaging, whatsapp or line instead of email. Far more money to be made elsewhere, than the small and ever shrinking pool of ex-eudora users who would pay for a better email client.

For databases, yeah doing a user friendly database like FileMaker is HARD and lets face it mac is not the platform you think of for databases, so again the market is limited. Filemakers pricing seems reasonable to me, and you can elect for annual licensing to spread the cost out rather than outright purchase if you want.

The issue with epub could be DRM. Or it could be developer interest.

iamthewalrus(:3= pretty much covered email. It’s not a simple problem to solve for an independent programmer, and has not proven to be popular for companies with lots of resources (e.g., Eudora R.I.P.).

There are a lot of databases for Mac OS X, but I think what you’re really missing is a nice, pretty database front-end that abstracts all of the SQL away from you. A lot of “apps” do this for, but they pick a specific problem domain (manage your DVD collection, for example). The death of Bento seems pretty clear that there’s just not enough market demand for general purpose database front ends.

Like so many things, it’s a market issue and not particularly something a Mac OS dev decides on his own, except for hobby projects.

If you take the money-price part of the market away, there’s open source. Here the costs are different: “the community” collectively have to pay with their time and their knowledge. Are there enough of them passionate about these areas to donate their time to such endeavors? There are a lot of email programs that are “good enough,” and if I already know Objective-C, then Xcode with SQLite or MySQL or some other database is a good substitute for Bento, so why would I write a Bento replacement?

It seems like you are passionate about these issues. Xcode is free of cost, and knowledge only costs you time. Why not try to start your own project and grow a community about that passion?

FWIW, I’m a hobbyist Mac OS X programmer; I even have a couple of apps in the Mac App Store. I’m also a maintainer of a significant open source project (cross-platform) and participate with other projects. This is all spare time stuff, though. In real life I’m a manufacturing engineer.

Also, Stoid, if you really want some missing eudora features then join in and contribute to Thunderbird development. You don’t even have to learn to code, just test nightly builds and join their discussion lists and you can still have an input on the direction it goes.

There is already a bunch of Thunderbird addons that mimic certain functionality of Eudora. If you’re still missing something, then try and recruit an open source developer and make it happen. Much easier to modify Thunderbird than build your own mail app from scratch.

Well, mail isn’t as important to me now as it once was, and time is precious. I can limp along for now. If I was to get into trying to influence development or get something done, it would be database, which is still about weird little OCD issues I have.

I think truly the smartest use of my “futzing with my computer and managing stuff” energy and time would be learning Applescript… I’m a nut for automation. I HATE using my mouse or touchpad unless it’s specifically set up to make something ELSE simpler (I assume you all know about Better Touch Tool? LOVE that puppy… ). And I have lots of little things all over that I want to control and simplify and organize. I have tried really hard to push Automator/Quickeys/Keyboard Maestro and maybe another half-dozen more narrowly focused apps into doing what I want, but I always hit a wall where the functionality I desire has not been built in. But when I go searching the web I find things existing on Github or discussions featuring lots of coding that gives me hives.

I know that Applescript is supposed to be the most like human speech, but it is still miles away from that, and being the language junky that I am, it’s hard for my brain to break away from English to coding syntax and structure. I will say that when I did some deeper level stuff with Filemaker years ago, and Excel, I was able, once I was focused, to create some rather complex actions. I really like the process and the logic underlying programming, for want of a more perfect term, it’s just the way it’s expressed that makes my brain hurt. (I also hate the fact that I can hyper focus on some complex formula creation of some sort and make it happen, but when I’ve been away from it for more than 72 hours I have no idea what I did to make it work, and I kinda have to relearn everything I learned to understand my own work. :frowning:

Very good example, I think, of the way I run into trouble: I learned basic accounting many years ago for work. Being a mathphobe and an English freak, I screeched to a halt mentally when I was told that to increase a particular kind of account, I had to debit it. And another kind of account, to decrease, needed to be credited. What? No…no no no no no… .Does Not Compute! I nearly lost my mind until someone had the brilliant idea to toss out the words debit and credit and substitute Apple and Orange. Instant clarity.

Oh and since I have the attention of some Mac smartypants… :slight_smile: Can you look atmy other mac question and tell me if you have any answers?

AND… could you all share your app creations? I would love to check out your work. :slight_smile:

Theres a bunch of alternatives to filemaker on mac here:

Records for Mac is only $29 and looks like it might be what you want?

Sorry don’t know the answer to your other question.

AppleScript is the most horrid, disgusting computer language there is in existence. I’m a computer language junkie, and AppleScript is a painful experience because it tries to marry a faux English language with logic, and it just doesn’t work.

Still, the things you can accomplish with it are awesome.

Apple now supports Javascript for automation instead of AppleScript. I’ve been to busy to do anything with it, but it might actually be easier for you to learn.

Balthisar Tidy, going on nearly 14 years old now. Try the free one from the App Store.

HTML Tidy. I’ve been one of the maintainers now for a bit over a year. It’s not pretty Mac application, but a cross-platform CLI tool and library that’s used in a lot of other projects.

I still use Eudora (the real one, not the Thunderbird-skin), in 10.6.8, which I still use because of Eudora.

(Haven’t seen a single feature in 10.7-10.11 that gives me anything useful in return for taking away Rosetta).

But because one cannot stay in the past forever, I’m writing my own Eudora replacement. In FileMaker :slight_smile:

I’ve used OSX’s since I got my first Mac back in the PowerPC days. I run multiple accounts, a mixture of both IMAP and POP3. It works. I have no issues.

I’m betting that many people feel the same way.

I’m not a Mac developer, just a Mac user and a software developer.

Most of my work is on the hardware side of the Green Hills Software TimeMachine debugger.

After this much time what PowerPC application is there that you still use that doesn’t have an Intel version?

ahem Eudora, obviously.

The last real version (as opposed to the bad fake skin on Thunderbird’s bones), Eudora 6.2, is PowerPC-native.