I keep thinking about this presentation at C4 from Panic’s Cabel Sasser.
The one thing that has stuck with me about it is how Coda is one of my favorite OSX apps, but there’s really not that much originality in it. Sasser discusses how there were already these great tools on OSX for the tasks that they wanted to do in Coda.
- FTP: Transmit
- Previewing: Webkit
- Text Editing:Subethaedit
- CSS editing: CSSEdit
- Documentation: O’Reilly
Rather than creating something from scratch, Coda was developed with the intention of simply integrating the best tools already available.
Along the way Panic had to make compromises (their arrangement with CSS Edit didn’t work out, and O’Reilly wanted an amount in royalties from licenses that Panic didn’t agree with), but they found solutions either by coming up with them internally or going someplace else.
I think there’s something to learn in that. Next time you find yourself building something completely from nothing, ask yourself if someone has already done it – and then copy/steal/learn from that idea. You may come up with something better than you set out for – and faster.