Wednesday June 8, 2016

During months I encountered very nice surprises on the software field. One refers to Windows Live Writer - a tool which for a long time I’ve been using to blogging. Two is about a new web-browser called Vivaldi. Interestingly, both of them fulfill an intense need for the better (regarding associated circumstances which I’ll describe soon below). Let’s see what’s happened:

A great - but abandoned - tool.

I was lucky to discover several Microsoft’s tools which I’ve found significantly useful, and also innovatory. Specifically I mean Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Writer (I suppose Movie Maker also suits that). Unfortunately, both Messenger and Writer has been abandoned over the time, without perspective of further development. It was especially sad and considered great loss because of those tools’ worth. To this day I remember how great Windows Live Messenger was, how nicely it combined classic chat (via MSN protocol) with Facebook. I’ve never seen another piece of software which could do it in a similar, really great way.

But let’s back to Writer. Generally it was used for blogging, but You were also free to use it as a genuine tool to update websites’ content in a very easy, intuitive, user-friendly way. But over the time (with ver. 2012) Microsoft gave up of developing this program. Although for a while You could still use it, a serious obstacle arose when Google changed its “security standards” - which made working with Blogger impossible.

Some time later I discovered incredible surprise when I’ve found out that out of some people’s initiative (within Microsoft!) emerged an Open Source fork of Writer - called Open Live Writer. This way the fantastic project may not only survive, but be developed and evolving again.

More surprisingly is the fact that the team of volunteers creating Open Live Writer collaborated with Google - regarding the “security standards” issue I’ve mentioned:

“We’ve worked with the Blogger Team within Google on this project, and they’ve been kind enough to keep an older authentication endpoint running for many months while we work on Open Live Writer.”
( source » )

It’s very nice that people of Google acted that way! :)

Forgotten ideals.

Opera is known as a web-browser which incorporates interesting, innovative ideas. Sometimes it has been even blazing the trail (e.g., browsing with tabs has been first introduced in Opera; but also many other pretty useful concepts - like, for example, Speed Dial, Opera Turbo, Opera Link, “Fit to Width” feature, built-in RSS reader...). For me it resembles “Think Different” - the Apple’s flagship slogan.

At one point Opera Software (the company) explicitly changed the direction of the browser’s development - moving from its original rendering engine (Presto) to another one, better known and more common (Blink). Unfortunately as a result (or side effect) of that change Opera has been deprived of most (if not all) its innovative features. This triggered users to split into two groups: some people stayed with Opera, some were disappointed and felt rather in a need of something better.

Furthermore, the replacement of the engine wasn’t the only aspect of the significant change I’ve mentioned. Opera had its own community, gathered around “My Opera” - a platform offering services such as blogs, feature groups, photo albums, the free email service, etc. From the reason which I don’t know it has been decided to close it down.

But users weren’t only ones who disliked the change. Interestingly, also Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner - Opera Software co-founder and its former CEO - shared their view. He believed that the community helped make the Opera what it was - and decided to revive both the virtual community platform (“the Vivaldi Community”) and the browser itself - in a form of a brand new product called Vivaldi. In other words it's supposed to be the answer to the question how the Opera could be if the change would not happen. Or another way: to save and develop what was the most valuable in the original Opera concept and drew users’ attention. Hence the slogan of the project is: “A browser for our friends”.

I find both cases worth attention because they illustrate the theme of taking the initiative (as a response to unsatisfactory circumstances) - the result of which is making the positive, significant difference. In case of Vivaldi people (on their own) recognize, save and develop what was the best in the original product they were interested in. In case of Open Live Writer they even salvaged the whole, abandoned program - moving it into the Open Source domain (more precisely, OLW is licensed under the MIT license which - according to Wikipedia - is compatible with many copyleft licenses, such as the GPL » this is another, ethical quality which I highly value).

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