Sunday, August 27, 2006

Is Your Dream App Already Here, or Nearly Here?

I've been kind of following the whole My Dream App idea competition, and in the process, along with some interesting ideas, I have noticed a couple of recipe organizer dream apps in the discussion forums. Being the creator of MacGourmet, this in and of itself doesn't trouble me. I get idea submissions from users all the time, and do my best to accommodate as many of them as possible, while still attempting to stay cohesive and not adding a feature just for a feature's sake, but I know MacGourmet is not perfect yet, and I'm constantly working to add new features, the features that users are requesting. What bothers me though, is that none of the ideas presented are anything that is not in MacGourmet or its competitors, and none are anything that I haven't put on my roadmap or discarded/postponed because not enough people are interested in them yet.

There are things like integration in the shopping list. I looked at that initially, and really, cooking rarely works like this. You won't find most people shopping this way. Prepare shopping list, wait 5-7 days for ingredients to arrive if free shipping is used, then cook. Cooking is much more immediate than that. Let me know if I'm wrong about this.

A lot of the requested features, I've noticed, are already in MacGourmet, or are planned, like nutritional analysis. In addition there are other things that are pretty much "been there, done that."
The Share button lets you email a recipe or published (sic) it on the web.

.Mac publishing using templates, is already in MacGourmet. In fact, Apple is even helping publicize this by featuring MacGourmet on its Software with exclusive features for .Mac members page. The template system I use allows anyone to create their own publishing and printing templates too. Additionally, you can email recipes to people in the current version as well.
...printing is handled by the Print button in the top toolbar. Clicking it would open a sheet allowing you to choose from different templates, such recipe cards, grocery lists, etc. With that, you can also aggregate multiple recipes from the database, so you don't have to print one list/recipe at a time.

Already in MacGourmet, much better in the forthcoming version 2.
Would this include a nice print-out, with the ingredients on one side for in the supermarket, and the recipe on the rest of the page for in the kitchen.

Not a great idea. You don't need the recipes in the grocery store, and once done shopping you don't need your shopping list in the kitchen.
It would HAVE to have nice, high resolution pictures of each food item or else it'd be lame.

Bigger pictures mean a lot more disk space, and more time loading. MacGourmet v2 will provide for the display of larger versions of images though.
I really like this idea, especially if there were add-on modules such as "a Man, a Can, a Plan: cookbook" and/or "top secret recepies" cookbook.

Already in MacGourmet.

There are also suggestions for timers (planned), a chef's view (my name, already in MacGourmet), menu planning (planned), scaling (already in MacGourmet and improved in v2), .Mac syncing (planned), a shopping list that sorts ingredients by aisle (coming in v2)...

So what's going on here? Why are these people asking for all of these things, things that already exist in MacGourmet for their "dream app?" MacGourmet is here now, has a two year head start, and will have a lot of the things they are asking for, in addition to some the posters haven't even thought of. I'm incredibly receptive to feedback and requests from my users as well, and fully investigate ideas submitted, ideas which often get added to the overall plan.

Not even mentioned in the thread are a lot of other features that MacGourmet already has that aren't in the "dream app" concept. Things like importing MasterCook and Meal-Master recipes, importing from the web using web clippings, Quick find for finding recipes based on ingredients you have on hand, smart recipe lists, wine notes, cooking notes, varied display templates, shopping list export to PDAs and a bunch of new features for v2.

So, is the "dream app" of these posters already here, or nearly so? I guess the thing that troubles me about the posts is that clearly, the posters don't know what even exists for the Mac right now, don't know about MacGourmet, and I view this as a failure of mine to make MacGourmet the best known, most popular recipe organizer on the Mac. If they knew about MacGourmet, they'd be sending me feature requests instead of submitting a very similar idea to My Dream App. If you have any ideas about how this can be improved let me know in the comments.


At August 27, 2006 3:30 PM, Blogger Andy Finnell said...

This reminds me of when I was working for Macromedia on Fireworks. At the start of each development cycle, we'd go on customer visits. We'd ask the customers what they wanted to see improved and just observe how they used our product "in the wild."

The results were very telling. Nearly every customer we visited said things like "Fireworks would be so much better if it had feature X." The problem was, feature X had been implemented in 3.0, and not only that, we did feature X better than anyone else. And of course there was always feature Y, which they wanted, which had been in there since the 1.0 release.

Fireworks' problem was marketing. Macromedia simply wasn't telling anyone about it, as evidenced by one of the customer quotes we got: "I didn't realize Fireworks was still being developed." Ouch.

The other half of the problem was people weren't using it, therefore they didn't know its capabilities (and thus use it more). Not because it didn't solve their problem (it did), but because they didn't want to learn it. They had very busy jobs and they already had a working (albeit painful) workflow and didn't see the incentive in learning a new product. We were unable to convince them that our product could eliminate their pain points. i.e. People have inertia when it comes to the way they do things.

Without knowing how you currently market MacGourmet, I can only give the generic, obvious answer: people either haven't heard of your product, or they haven't tried it out. One of the ideas that we came up with for Fireworks was to do web tutorials on new techniques that used Fireworks. People would (theoretically) read the articles to learn the new techniques (required to do their job) and would learn about some of Fireworks' capabilities. Maybe you could do something similar for MacGourmet, like write a cooking tutorial that used MacGourmet.


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