Buzz’s Blog: On Web 3.0 and the Semantic Web

Jan 14 2012   2:19AM GMT

A lesson in product dependencies: why a great product can be the wrong solution



Posted by: Roger King
Tags:
RapidWeaver
Sandvox
software application dependencies
Stacks for Rapidweaver
Vimeo plugins
Web development

3D Animation Videos.

I teach information systems and 3D animation at the University of Colorado at Boulder. For my animation classes, I like to record my in-class lectures to that later, when students are trying to remember how to do something with an infinitely complex application like Autodesk Maya, they can look at the demonstrations on the videos. I use Camtasia (they have both a Mac and a Windows application) to create desktop/voice recordings and have found it to be a great product.

Finding a tool to quickly build a simple website.

The problem I ran into had to do with posting these videos for students to download. The site I built and where I used to host videos (http://3dbybuzz.com) turned out to be a pain to maintain because of the large number of videos I post on it. The videos are also very long. So I decided that I would make a fresh set of much shorter videos and have them hosted on a paid Vimeo account. All that works fine.

Extending an application with plugins.

Now, the Mac-based web design application I had been using is called Sandvox and it is a very elegant, intuitive tool. I think it’s the best in its class in terms of ease of use. But it’s a little short on functionality. So, I followed the advice from the Sandvox site to check out plugins made my another (completely unrelated) software vendor. I bought five of their plugins and they worked great. I used them on 3dbybuzz.com. So, I naturally went back there to see if they had Vimeo plugins.

A problem with service for the plugins.

Which they do. But their site seemed to malfunction. I could log in to my account, but not access anything I had paid for. The site would not let me post a service request. I couldn’t find an email address or phone number on their site. (Remember, this is NOT the Sandvox folks; this is a separate company that supplies plugins.) I managed to dig up an email address for the vendor by poking around the Web. I sent a message asking to help. I tracked down one of the lead guys in the company on Facebook and left a polite request, saying their plugins are great but their site is broken.

I never heard back. Period.

Finding a different tool to build a good website.

So, I have switched to RapidWeaver, which has a very large community of plugin suppliers. It’s also a very powerful app. I also bought three plugins. One for a RapidWeaver extension that provides a new kind of webpage, called Stacks, to the RapidWeaver application and two from another plugin vendor that give Vimeo capabilities to Stacks pages. They work great. I find that the combination of the Stacks webpage and the wide variety of plugins it can support to be a very clever way of extending RapidWeaver.  First, you install Stacks, which allows Rapidweaver users to add a Stacks page to a website and then you choose plugins to provide capabilities to Stacks pages.

It’s really too bad…

I’m a teacher and a researcher, not a business person. But tying yourself to a plugin supplier that does not provide timely customer support seems like a bad business decision to me. But, honestly, Sandvox and the five plugins I did buy from that vendor are all extremely good pieces of software, in terms of their functionality and their usability and the appearance of the resulting webpages.

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