Microsoft Visual Studio
Reader Chris Vickio spotted this Microsoft Visual Studio ad and writes, “Saw this and thought of you guys. Yes, the difference is obvious. Painfully obvious.”
On the other hand, John McLennan writes, “Found this great little intro to the Lussumo Software landing page: ’...back with fewer features than ever.’”
Got an interesting screenshot for Signal vs. Noise? Send the image and/or URL to svn [at] 37signals [dot] com.
Walker Hamiltonon 18 Dec 06
I spotted the difference between the two photos on the page it links to ( http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/difference/ ).
The one on the left has a guy being ignored. In the one on the right, the bleached blond is still ignoring him, but the other girl has now decided she wants to jump him.
Mirkoon 18 Dec 06
So typical of Microsoft to have a marketing strategy like this one. Bloatware anyone?
Jamieon 18 Dec 06
So are they promising that Visual Studio will run even slower on my box than it already does? Awesome.
Steve Ton 18 Dec 06
Hmmm, I’m sure a complex IDE, just like open source darling Eclipse, needs this level of changes to keep up to date with latest code and design practices. I personally love Visual Studio 2005. The perfect tool to build usable web apps with a honed down feature set.
Philon 18 Dec 06
I actually think the “Difference is obvious” campaign is pretty neat. It’s the only advertisement that grabs my attention in the trade magazines, and it shows someone has a sense of humor as well.
John S.on 18 Dec 06
Ship the next version of Rails with less features. I dare you.
John S.on 18 Dec 06
I should clarify. Your less features mantra is great. I really like it and we try to use it in our product development. However, I think Visual Studio is a perfect example of where more is better. IMO, there is no better productivity enhancing IDE. Like anything else, the more you learn how to properly use it, the more you’ll get out of it. I know you’re trying to draw a contrast between advertising more v. less features but in this case, the comparison is pretty shallow and doesn’t consider the actual products being advertised, just the advertising.
Jeff Crofton 18 Dec 06
I’m not sure about the Vanilla one. While advertising “more features” seems kind of ridiculous, so does advertising “fewer features than ever.” Adding features just for the sake of adding features is ridiculous, and so is removing features just for the sake of removing features.
Now, I realize neither of these is probably the case. Microsoft probably didn’t add features just for the same of adding features and Lussumo probably didn’t remove features just for the sake of removing features. But, placing the advertising emphasis on the number of features you have, rather than the quality or usefulness of those features indicates to me that maybe you priorities are in the wrong place.
Where’s the ad that says, “Contains exactly as many features as we could come up with that were useful?”
Douglas Robaron 18 Dec 06
And did you notice the change in hardware required to run it?
Is the woman looking at him or the laptop?
Rob Claisseon 18 Dec 06
I agree with John S, on this one. I’ve upgraded from VS.Net 2003 > 2005 and yep it has more features and I love it for it :) Yeah, its still got its faults but I keep finding new features (small stuff) that make he think “how did I live with out there before”.
Less is more for somethings, and 37signals prove that – but as with anything, any big sweeping generalisation will fail, because there are always going to be exceptions.
But as always with svn its an interesting observation.
Matton 18 Dec 06
Interesting take on Simplicity over at Joel on Software.
Raymond Geenon 18 Dec 06
Yes the difference IS obvious. Just under half a gig to download the new service pack 1 for Visual Sudio 2005. Ten minutes just to load the EXE once its downloaded and anywhere from a couple hours to 20 hours to run the patch. I’m not making this up: http://blogs.msdn.com/heaths/archive/2006/10/06/VS-2005-SP1-Takes-a-While-to-Install.aspx
They are gonna need better ads than those if they want to bring back the flocks of developers heading off to greener pastures – ie: Xcode 3.0.
Dr. Peteon 18 Dec 06
Although I agree that features aren’t necessarily a bad thing (I do own Photoshop, after all), it is funny that we’re supposed to automatically salivate over “400 new features”. Is making my DuoCore processor overheat and explode a feature? Is leaving me open to 50 new dll hacks a feature? I think I’d like to see that list before I rush to upgrade.
Warrenon 18 Dec 06
Probably the only good thing Microsoft has added to Visual Studio between version 6 (which is from like the late 90s, maybe 1998 or so) and now is that their C++ compiler is more standards-compliant so you can use more C++ libraries on the Internet.
All the .Net crap is to me quite useless.
BizSnypeon 18 Dec 06
The less is more mantra works for somethings but come on guys! You rabid MS haters will never be able to see anything good in their products.
If you think less is more appys to all areas of your life how about getting on a plane with half the gages and indicators. After all, knowing when you’ve lost cabin pressure is a waste of dashboard space and just adds to the confusion of flying a plane.
Or perhaps you’ld like to have surgery performed on you or a loved one by a doctor who subscribes to the less is more theory. “Just give him a bullet to bite while we remove his appendix…” If we start using anesthesia then we have to hire someone to administer it and that just adds to the overhead…
Dennis Eusebioon 18 Dec 06
Going to have to agree with BizSnype on this one. Less is more does not pertain to all categories and it’d be wrong to think that everything in life should be thought of in this way.
Buuut, that’s not to say that microsoft’s stuff suffers from serious feature bloat.
Andy Kanton 18 Dec 06
Visual Studio 2005 is a great IDE and is probably the most productive IDE I have ever used. The “less is more” crowd is forgetting that Visual Studio is a product aimed at professionals that ARE NOT computer noobs. The majority of these features are useful and if you don’t want to use them you can simply disable them and they won’t bloat your IDE anymore. If the extra features really confuse you, you’re not going to need the Professional version of Visual Studio anyways; get the free Express version.
Vanilla 1, on the other hand, is aimed at consumers because extra features tend to confuse them. I prefer the Vanilla 1 ad, mostly because of clever wording. However, both ads are worded well enough for their target demographics.
RE: Warren If you’re only using C+, yes the .NET would be quite useless. .NET’s implementation in C+ is quite fugly and borderline unusable. However, the combination of C#/.NET is a godsend in the programming world. C# is one of the most elegant languages out there (only behind Ruby in elegance, but way ahead of Ruby in usefulness).
Sethon 18 Dec 06
Designers, can we get something other than green and blue for a color palette?
We’re tired already…....... :/
Oh yeah, and I’m glad I’ll never have to use Visual Studio again. Textmate por vida!
Aaronon 18 Dec 06
As a webmaster using Vanilla, I’d say there isn’t ‘less’ in Vanilla because consumers get confused more quickly than pros (as Andy suggest above). The reason there is ‘less’ is to allow administrators to decide what matters (as opposed to assuming that ‘better value’ requires the kitchen sink).
There are plenty of add-ons available for Vanilla—install them all and you can have your very own bloatware. Each forum administrator is expected to just install the ones that would actually be helpful to any given user group.
There’s probably something in there to consider around simplicity vs. choices but I’m struggling to be articulate about it in this little box so I’ll stop…
Michael Chuion 18 Dec 06
Simplicity is not a question of feature count. There are a host of different ways to be simple, including design process, steps to complete a task, choices to make, visual design, etc. These are different perspectives on a product, each of them with their own issues to consider.
Less is more may be true, but it also asks “Less where?” and “More how?” It very well may be, to listen to Don Norman’s riff on simplicity, “Less hidden features is more perceived control.”
C Fosson 19 Dec 06
I’d be surprised if all of those 400 features were useful. The point is you have to know where to draw the line. Improving software should be about making it more useful, not just adding features.
Seth, againon 19 Dec 06
About the feature debate, what’s everything think of this article about customers purchasing because they aspire to use the features (even if they don’t) and Don Norman’s comments stating that features sell products?
Danon 19 Dec 06
Seth, again: that’s very interesting. 37signals even gets a mention about this on Joel Spolsky’s blog: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2006/12/09.html
The old/new adage “Less is more” still applies—the hard part perhaps is deciding what you need less of :)
Jonicon 19 Dec 06
Proof, if proof were needed, that Microsoft really haven’t gotten this whole idea that simplicity is key to creating better products…
The only way they feel they can justify charging so much for any of their products is to stuff it to the damn rafters with a whole stack of shit that no one will ever need…
Well done to Vanilla, for truly understanding what is necessary… Stick to what you do well, but try to do it better.
This brings up a great argument actually; Is innovation key in software development, or is it a matter of focus? Should developers work to make their products better, or tack on endless functionality that the majority of their users don’t need?
I’m with Vanilla on this one. Microsoft bashing is a lazy pastime because it’s just so damn easy, but they really do seem to have missed the point with this VS ad…
Daveon 19 Dec 06
I’ll also sing the praises of Vanilla forum. On a recent project, a client only had access to PHP 4.2.0, no command line access. Instead of kicking off a quick Rails app, I was forced to look at similar php frameworks. None existed. I wound up using the Lussumo framework from inside Vanilla forum to jump start an application, using the extension model to provide all the functionality the client needed. One week, twenty hours, from start to completion, and the client doesn’t even know that the forum part is there, and is more than happy with the 200kb install zip file. The simplistic nature is perfect for both simple and complex forums, and even for completely custom applications. It’s not a Rails, but if you’re limited to php and need authentication and role based permissions, it gets you close to finishing anything.
Johnon 19 Dec 06
While I agree that both lines are a bit hype-tastic, the alternative you provide isn’t particularly inspiring either.
Perhaps something like “All the features you need, nothing more, nothing less” would suffice? Either way, trying to pitch a product as “exactly enough” is probably a bit presumptuous.
In any case – I think the humour is what shines through for me in the Vanilla example.
Jens Meiert (WHWS)on 19 Dec 06
400 /new/ features for doing almost a single task, that is frightening anyway. How many of these features are in fact preventing you from doing your job, or even destroy your work? The best is that people – of course! – will buy it.
Hafizon 19 Dec 06
Well, I’m not going to take sides here, and instead will remind everyone of the ‘less and more co-exist’ mantra :)
Tim Benjaminon 19 Dec 06
Hats off to Vanilla for having the balls to take this approach in their marketing communications.
Across virtually every product category, people are tired of ‘features’ interfering with effectiveness.
Chris Eidhofon 19 Dec 06
Less isn’t always more. I use vim for editing, because it has so many great features. I use a lot unix-commands, and they’re so powerful because there’s a lot of ‘em. For the average customer, less is more. For power-users (people who spend multiple hours a day in one tool), more features are often better.
I don’t work with MS-software anymore, but what I’ve seen from VS is that it’s one of the best IDE’s I’ve ever worked in. Although it’s always easy to bash microsoft (most of the time it’s even right), they do make cool stuff too, and VS is one of the cool things.
Chris Hon 19 Dec 06
Truly sad, from various angles. > Just plain silly “fly swatter” animation. > Painfully obvious ploy to try to sell software to “geeks” using sex – as if a woman like that would actually give a crap that he suddenly becomes supergeek just because he got the new VS software > Those 400 new features apparently require a superpowered Dell XPS to run
phil swensonon 19 Dec 06
You picked the wrong type of product to slam…. IDEs are aimed at people who spend many hours a day in the app.
Actually rails’ biggest weakness is the lack of a fully featured IDE. In a lot of ways I’m still more productive in Java than in Rails because of the amazing IntelliJ IDE. I still prefer Ruby of course…
Sleepyheadon 19 Dec 06
I use Visual Studio on a daily basis and I want more than the 400 new features.
kevinon 19 Dec 06
RE: Andy Kant nailed it in his post above. I agree completely.
Visual Studio .net 2005 is awesome but yes the advert is marketed poorly.
I’m in the IDE almost all day, every day and I don’t use 400 features in the IDE. I don’t think anyone does or ever will.
But the IDE itself is powerful and the combo of c#/asp.net 2.0 is a pleasure to work with. Looking forward to BLINQ and LINQ in the hopefully near future – as well as new dynamics of c# 3.0.
Jeffon 19 Dec 06
Say what you will, but VS is one of the products that Microsoft has really gotten right. I know you’re all about Rails around here, but I’d never trade in ASP.NET for that.
George P.on 19 Dec 06
With all due respect, you people should give credit to a good product. I have been using VS for a long time, and it is by far, the best platform for developing C/C++ application that exists right now. I’m not the only one, lead developers from the FF team have even said this also.
Sure XP had a long journey to get to were it is now, but you should respect VS. Especially since its been used to build (program) a large part of the world that you live in.
Liam McDermotton 19 Dec 06
Well for starters, they’re not saying anything about the platform but the way it’s advertised.
Personally I don’t rate Visual Studio (or .NET for that matter) at all, but that’s not really relevant to the post.
George P.on 19 Dec 06
Liam, read the comments there is a lot of negative comments on VS. Not that I care anyways, it doesn’t really matter.
It’s just annoying when all MS software is considered garbage—even mature products like XP, which a lot of people can attest is pretty solid.
Andy Kanton 19 Dec 06
I agree with George P. All of this unjustified hate for anything Microsoft is getting annoying. The majority of the products coming out of both the Apple and Microsoft camps since about 2002 or 2003 have been nothing but stellar.
Before you trash it, try it out in Parallels, the Express version is free: http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/express/
Liam McDermotton 20 Dec 06
Sorry George P, thought people were referring to the article, which isn’t really slamming the product just the advertising.
‘It’s just annoying when all MS software is considered garbage’ Personally I find it annoying when people talk-up Microsoft products, whether stellar or not (really just a matter of perception). They’re an awful company with dispicable business practices (bundling ie and media player, lead role in lobbying for software patents amongst other things, redefining standards, double-speak: OpenXML, neither open or XML; Enhanced Reduced Functionality Mode; Windows Genuine Advantage).
I hate Microsoft because they are trying to force me into using their products, they’re so desperate that they’ve now threatened litigation: http://www.computerworld.com.au/index.php/id;839593139;fp;16;fpid;1
Their products aren’t necessarily rubbish, but I’ll take any opportunity to slam them I can. Their monopoly and scares me greatly, I believe many are feeling this pressure hence the zealotry you see against them. As for Vista, am not even going to get started on that…
‘Before you trash it, try it out in Parallels, the Express version is free: http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/express/’ Nothing for me here, am a Linux user so don’t have parallels, secondly no editor comes close to Vim.
I’ve used Visual Studio 2005 briefly at my old job (the amount of money they spent due to being locked-in to Microsoft products is scary), didn’t find it that impressive.
Whenever using Microsoft products I feel claustrophobic and trapped.
Jim Wilsonon 20 Dec 06
Don’t let the slick interface of Vanilla fool you. Lussumo, which makes Vanilla, is actually a 1-man show that is streamlined via an open-source community. There is no marketing department, or weekly meetings where employees try to figure out cool marketing strategies. In fact, you can probably bet that if there was a marketing department at Lussumo, they wouldn’t have been that creative with their slogans.
Lussumo is run by Mark O’Sullivan, the creator of Vanilla. He happens to be a genius when it comes to creating simple and extremely usable software, and his vision was to strip away the ridiculous amount of features found in most message board applications, and make it much more flexible and customizable. You start with the most basic of features: login, posting and permissions. From there, you add various plugins mostly written by independent developers who contribute to the Vanilla community. Even the name, “Vanilla” evokes the idea of plain and simple. The add-ons or plugins, are the sprinkles and the hot sauce. Each webmaster is able to make their own sundae—figuratively speaking, of course.
IMHO, only an extremely small 1-man company like Lussumo could have created such a great featureless product. Kudos to Mark for creating such a sweet app.
Steve Nuttallon 22 Dec 06
And the gods spaketh thus: “Wherever two or more software developers are gathered, there shalt begin a holy war.”
Arik Joneson 24 Dec 06
Well see, everyone bashes on Microsoft and give props to the little guys. But no one ever recognizes that Microsoft is king of “bloated” software. They have the power, will and business saavy to one up the competition (except apple for some reason) and do it well. Most IDE’s boast a lot of features to begin with.
This discussion is closed.