The Saddest Page on the Internet

Note: I've been writing and re-writing this post for more than a year and have finally decided it's finished enough.

Please allow me to present, "The Saddest Page on the Internet".

We Were Sofa

In some ways this page shares eulogistic qualities of the tributes we saw to Steve Jobs. The past tense. The "birth" and "passing" dates. The spare layout. But where we praised and cherished Jobs, reflecting on all the many ways he shaped our world, here all we are left with is a tombstone.

Thankfully, the people behind Sofa are still with us, but the unique synthesis that was Sofa is gone. They've been assimilated into the ironically faceless Facebook, and we will never again see the kind of work that was so unique to them as a team. If they are still working as a team, it's not on their own products, not on something that will bear their unique stamp. Next time we see anything from them it will be in Facebook blue next to a garish "Like" button.1

I miss Sofa.

Sure their products have been adopted by others, but since the acquisition they have only seen minor compatibility updates and do not appear to be under active development.2 Which is sad. Versions and Kaleidoscope are great products and held promise of being even better. Versions made Subversion—and version control in general—friendly and usable for a command-line noob like me. It wasn't as feature-rich as competing apps such as Cornerstone, but it was feature-sufficient. Fast, easy to use, and beautiful to look at. Similarly, Kaleidoscope couldn't compete with FileMerge or other diff/merge tools, but with it's image diff'ing feature it did something I'd never seen another app do. The ability to merge would have been fantastic, but I forgave the app it's short-comings because of its beauty.3

Simplicity and elegance were the hallmarks of Sofa products. The care they took was plainly apparent. From the details in the app's icon, to its menus, nothing felt bolted on. If they couldn't support a feature with the necessary ease of use, that feature didn't get released. Versions never got merge support; Kaleidoscope couldn't diff directories or merge files until recently.

It's not for me to second guess someone else's business decision—which I'm sure this was—but it's right and natural to stop and reflect on the end of something beautiful and remind ourselves that, "What we do in life echoes in eternity."

Sofa will always be a benchmark for my own work.

  1. Like this.

  2. Black Pixel acquired both Versions and Kaleidoscope. Kaleidoscope recently received a major revision—including directory comparison and merging!—and is now at version 2.

  3. I started writing this nearly a year ago and much of this is outdated, but I have chosen to leave this post largely unedited.