Edvinas Bartkus

Little love for software

Last week Jon Gruber published an article "A Moment of Clarity Regarding the Raison d’Etre for the App Store". It was right to the point. It reminded me of the story that happened in my family.

A year ago, my wife was thinking about getting a light portable computer. Her work laptop is heavy and bulky. It is no joy to bring it home in case there is something urgent that needs to be done in the evening or at the weekend. She wanted to have a light machine that would enable her to send an email, edit a webpage, or create a document.

Tablet was a perfect fit. Nowadays, they are light and easy to use, powerful for Microsoft Office suite, and full of apps to do any work. Shamelessly, I highly recommended an iPad since I hear only positive things about it.

We did not finish setting up all the needed apps and setups, the idea of iPad being a work tool was shattered. One night, my wife had to send out an email with an attachment. It was mission impossible.

She uses Gmail at work, so it was no brainer to install Gmail for iPad. She received a few emails with the documents. She saved it locally on the iPad. She composed a new email and wanted to attach the documents. With an attachment picker, she could not find how to find the files she had saved a few minutes ago.

I was called in for help and tried to find a magic trick. Gmail for iPad simply did not choose to use a native file picker. They created their picker with their custom functionality. As a result, their non-native file-picker did not have an option to pick a file from local storage.

I spent half an hour Googling for a solution and trying to find the way. Without any luck. Eventually, I came up with a "magic" trick to send out an email with received attachments to yourself. Then, those attachments will appear in "Recent attachments" in the Gmail attachment picker window. It was an ugly workaround to such a simple situation.

This situation completed killed the experience for my wife. She was furious. She did not want to get to know who to blame. The software did not work. It was a situation that does not allow you to do the job. That was it. Since then, the iPad was collecting dust until I picked it up for my use.

I do remember this situation quite often. It is a reminder of how often so little love is put into software making. It was a little bit of an opening that living with workarounds has been part of my daily routine as a software developer. But it should not be a thing!