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First impressions of Tinderbox: It's very green. Everything is unpolished. Buttons are too small or too big, text is in the wrong font (hint: no Geneva in OS X). There's a big white hole at the bottom of a window. Obvious things you expect to work don't: you can't scroll with the mousewheel, you can't use contextual menus, things that look like pop-up menu arrows aren't. Windows don't zoom to fit their contents. Icons look like a 2-year-old designed them (even I could do better, I think.) In a sample document, everything appears in the wrong place. There's a menu item, “Move note up”, with a keyboard shortcut, command-up arrow. The keyboard shortcut and the menu item do different things.

For a program that is visual, Tinderbox uses very few drawing-program metaphors, which seems to me really bizarre. If you drag a bunch of objects, only one of them actually drags, but when you release the mouse button, they all move (often after several seconds' pause). There don't appear to be “Bring to front” or “send to back” commands, so one item just hides behind the other until you click on it. The hand tool moves objects in addition to the canvas.

Palettes don't have close boxes; the worst offender I found was “Locate space…” in the Edit menu. You select it to see what it does, you get a palette with an oversized “Open” button and no close box. There's no obvious way to cancel. Choosing the item again just brings up another copy of the palette, right on top of the existing one. It seems the author doesn't understand the difference between palettes and modeless dialog boxes.

So, no way I'm paying $95 for this right now. I really wanted to like this program, but I just can't in its current form. Polish is important: you could have the best program in the world, but if it looks like garbage, most people won't use it.

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