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Why are computers so frustrating?

July 24, 2020

I just heard that a designer I worked with for a long time is using Giraffe. This makes me very happy because I respect this designer, and he is very very good at what he does. It makes me especially happy because up to now I have never know him to use CAD or BIM before.

This earned him a little reputation, but he was not being irrational at all.

Almost no CAD or BIM tools are fit for early stage design: too slow, too cumbersome. The return on time investment is just not there. Even doing the calcs by hand, or excel separately is still easier, and clearer, than managing the kruft that is included in most CAD packages.

Our obsession has been creating radically simple software so that no part of the software fights the designer: every feature propels them forward. We are closing to launching the next version of Giraffe and it is notable how many things we have removed.

It has been very difficult to do. The economic incentive is always for more. More features, more capability. The thought is that more stuff leads to more power, more incisive judgement, more insight. I don't think this is true. Removal, simplicity, elimination, focus. These are precious commodities.

In some way great tools are embedded best practice. A new designer should be guided by the software to do the right things in the right order. An experienced designer should feel like they have just woken up from a great sleep: same person, just feeling better.

Too many tools sweat the details, fight the vision, and frustrate the work.

Seeing this designer use Giraffe makes me more confident that we are embedding good design practice, piece by agonising piece, into the tool we are making, and I hope this helps designers do better work.

There is something wonderful about a pencil because it is delightful to a toddler, Leonardo da Vinci and a carpenter.

There is something wonderful about a computer because it eliminates drudgery.

Our mission is to somehow to combine those two.