Thoughts on software and life.

Tuesday August 1

The Visual Identity of a Language

Tara Hunt recently remarked that she can instantly recognize a website that has been built with Ruby on Rails. This got me thinking...

In just about every successful programming language or UI framework, all the apps tend to look the same, and yet, there is no reason why they have to. Most Cocoa apps look the same. Most Java apps look the same. Most C# apps look the same. Most Perl web apps look as hideous as the rest.

This makes me think that a language needs a strong visual identity before it can become mainstream. Perhaps this is why Python has yet to take off as a web development language. Quick - what does a Python app look like? Who knows - there is no equivalent of 37Signals for Python. If there were, most Python web app developers would happily copy the look and feel of that company's products, just as most Rails developers copy the style of Basecamp.

So, if you're one of the 5,000 people who are developing an Ajax framework, I would advise that you spend less time worrying about what your code looks like, and more time worrying about what apps built with your framework will look like. Focus less on flexibility, and more on a common identity.

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