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Contrived Conflicts

CSS Sculptor got a very nice write-up from King Z over at The Daily Report, for which I thank him profusely.  I think he’s pegged the tool pretty well in terms of its intent and target audience(s).

What mystified me was the turn the comments took: suddenly they went from giggling over the splashimation and exhortations to port Sculptor to other environments (Coda got several mentions) to an multi-party argument over which was better, Sculptor or Project VII‘s CSS Layout Magic.

Um, why?

As Al Sparber, creator of Magic, stated quite accurately, “They are two very different tools conceived in very different ways”—nothing to add to that, really.  But even if we were to imagine a world where they were very similar tools that operated in very similar ways, I still don’t see why it would have to be a “battle” situation.  It’s not like our world is so small that there’s only room for one of any given thing.

I mean, take a step back and look at the wider development landscape.  There are a whole bunch of web development environments out there (Dreamweaver, Expression, Coda, Firefox with extensions, etc.).  All of them serve the community, each in its own way.  Each is used by a community of people, many of whom gather to help each other improve their skills.  Why try to create conflict between those communities?  What useful purpose could that possibly serve?  We’d be as well served to start a Mac vs. Windows vs. Linux debate.  Which is to say, not at all.

And so it is with the artificial conflict that so mystifies me, that of Sculptor vs. Magic.  Project VII has very loyal customers, and rightly so: they put out great stuff.  I hope that we’ll also have loyal customers, because that will mean we also created something great.  (Obviously, I already think we did, but then I would, wouldn’t I?)  It seems kind of obvious to me that these two communities have way more in common than they do differences.  My usual reaction on encountering someone who’s a huge fan of a web site or a piece of software is to smile and nod knowingly, like we’re part of a secret club or something.  Because in a sense, we are.  We get fired up by the same kinds of things.  We’re our kind of people.

I admit this is veering dangerously close to plaintive “can’t we all just get along?” territory, but c’mon, folks.  There’s already more than enough tension and conflict in the world.  Let’s try not to add to it, yeah?  Now everybody throw the hörns!  Seriously, throw ‘em, and put in a little “ROCK!” just for me.  You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.

13 Responses»

    • #1
    • Comment
    • Fri 24 Aug 2007
    • 0111
    thacker wrote in to say...

    Meyer–

    Personally, didn’t consider any of the comments on Zeldman’ blog to be sniping. But then, no one retorted with a “yeah. well .. uh .. my dad can be up your dad.” Yet. Can’t see any comparison between your product and Sparber’s except maybe in three letters.

    Will pass on the horn thing, though. A simpler and more direct sign language, when necessary, seems to work better.

    • #2
    • Comment
    • Fri 24 Aug 2007
    • 0121
    Al Sparber wrote in to say...

    I agree with you, Eric. I was shocked to see the “this one blows that one out of the water remarks”. Perhaps the anonymous poster who started it all was trying to light my fuse ;-) When the dust settles I trust that the rational folks in the Dreamweaver community will realize that there are simply 2 very good CSS tools available to them, each of which posseses a unique and rich set of features and capabilities. Project Seven and WebAssist are similar in that we are both innovators who enjoy the bar being raised. In that sense, I think the community will be seeing more great CSS tools in the future. Looks like a good trend.

    • #3
    • Comment
    • Fri 24 Aug 2007
    • 0226
    Tobie Langel wrote in to say...

    Eric, you should have a look at the JavaScript framework “battles” that instantly flourish in the comments of posts even remotely related to any one of them. Its infuriating, childish and silly, but it doesn’t seem like there is much we can do about it.

    • #4
    • Comment
    • Fri 24 Aug 2007
    • 0448
    Tim Beadle wrote in to say...

    It’s probably because that, in order to work with computers, you have to be at least borderline autistic, which probably impairs your ability to see things from someone else’s point of view.

    Either that, or we’re all still little boys inside ;)

    • #5
    • Comment
    • Fri 24 Aug 2007
    • 0536
    prisca wrote in to say...

    Eric, I couldn’t agree more – great tools are great tools – why not use them and disucss their ins and outs objectively instead of lowering the tone to bickering….would be much more useful :)
    It was a shame to see the comments on Jeffrey’s post going into that direction rather than discussing the subject at hand – or making more ‘friendly’ comparisons…
    Throwing my hörns here ;) rock on :)

    • #6
    • Comment
    • Fri 24 Aug 2007
    • 0821
    Jonathan wrote in to say...

    Well said. By the way, the picture of you on the Sculptor site throwing your hörns made my week. Rock on.

    • #7
    • Comment
    • Fri 24 Aug 2007
    • 0952
    Nate Klaiber wrote in to say...

    I think that many times debates like these are born out of fear. The loyal customers of one project are afraid you might step on their playing ground and take some of their friends. I think the companies understand that the competition is good for the marketplace. However, in your scenario it doesn’t have anything to do with competition since you are doing different things. This comes back to a users inability to actually understand a product in comparison to another product. They see CSS Sculptor and instantly put up a defense.

    I like CSS Sculptor for 2 reasons: 1) It helps people learn the proper way by example. 2) You have some sweet pictures on the website.

    Oh, and how come you didn’t mention TextMate in your list, it is only the best HTML editor on the planet :)

    • #8
    • Comment
    • Fri 24 Aug 2007
    • 1000
    Ben Buchanan wrote in to say...

    Sometimes I think geeks just argue this stuff out of sheer habit :)

    • #9
    • Comment
    • Fri 24 Aug 2007
    • 1343
    Mateo wrote in to say...

    Al, I was not trying to light your fuse. I will submit that these are two different products and best of all each product facilitates good practices as they are standards compliant. Hugs for everyone.

    • #10
    • Comment
    • Fri 24 Aug 2007
    • 1543
    pauldwaite wrote in to say...

    my dad can be up your dad

    Hoo boy. Nice typo for innuendo fans.

    • #11
    • Comment
    • Fri 24 Aug 2007
    • 1702
    thacker wrote in to say...

    Waite–

    innuendo?? call the damn spelling mp’s.

    • #12
    • Comment
    • Fri 24 Aug 2007
    • 2017
    Will Kessel wrote in to say...

    Not having seen the software (yet, I hope — have to lobby a new boss for that one — eeek!), I can’t really comment on the software end of it — so I won’t.

    I can attest to the idea that if it comes from Eric (or Al Sparber, for that matter), it has to be good (can anyone say, “Smucker’s”?).

    But, I digress.

    Eric, I agree with you entirely — however I must note this with a bit of irony, for we share a method of creating web sites with a standardized set of codes that we trotted out for years as being superior to the mangled tangle of font tags and other craziness of the dot-bomb era — yet we expect people not to act this way when we create a new tool to help us out.

    I think a more tactful way of expressing it is to say that some programs just don’t work as well for one’s individual coding style as another’s; personally, I really don’t like to use Dreamweaver all that much — to me it’s a $400 text editor; I’d rather use BBEdit and code by hand. Now look at how many people are still using (sorry) FrontPage…

    • #13
    • Comment
    • Sat 25 Aug 2007
    • 0959
    Katablog.com wrote in to say...

    The way it all started was that a poster on Zeldman asked how Sculptor compared to CSS Layout Magic by PVII – a worthwhile question for designers who do comparison shopping. Soon there was a quick reply that Sculptor blew CSS Layout Magic out of the water. That coupled with a very suspicious post on the Project Seven Forums a day before caused a lot of attention. Sculptor does not “blow Layout Magic out of the water” at all. That was simply plain bias and unfair to PVII.

    I do see them as two separate products, but I prefer LM because of the support issues. I think WA does a very poor job of support (requiring payment for good support) and I think PVII goes above and beyond the call of duty on support.

    I personally don’t see any big deal about creating an instant style sheet and page layout and then changing the colors to fit my client’s needs. Though I can see that those who want instant preset color combinations would prefer Sculptor.

    I haven’t been able to completely evaluate Sculptor because the movies don’t work for me. But as far as 30 layouts, it appears to me that it’s really a couple of layouts with a variety of color schemes.

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