Matt Gemmell

TOLL is available now!

An action-thriller novel — book 2 in the KESTREL series.

★★★★★ — Amazon

Six years of

software 2 min read

Today marks six years of, so happy anniversary to me! I’ve written 870 posts (excluding this one), received 2,985 comments (those are just the ones that have been approved, of course), and right now seem to have just over 6,500 subscribers to my RSS feed. Analytics tells me I get around 70,000 page-views a month, excluding source code downloads and feed pulls.

I’ve released more than 40 pieces of open source code here, and it’s been used in… I have no idea how many applications. A lot. Hundreds, most likely.

Six years is a fairly long time on the internet, especially to be blogging on the same domain (I had other blogs/sites before this one, of course). I was digging through old archives, and found something I thought would be fun to share, in the spirit of nostalgia.

Back in the day, about 9 years ago, I was working for Adobe; I was in the Web Products Group, and my product was Adobe GoLive (previously GoLive CyberStudio).

In the early versions, GoLive didn’t have the ability to create web image galleries, so in an effort to be helpful I (independently) created an AppleScript which would do just that. For want of a better name, I called it PageThing. The response was surprisingly positive, and I decided to create a more configurable version using REALbasic (shock! horror! boo-hiss! etc!). Thus, PageThing 2 was born.

It’s really interesting for me to look at the UI all these years later; its appearance was very much of its time, when anyone who mentioned excellence in user interface design on the Mac was talking about Dantz Retrospect.

PageThing had a few nice features:

  • It made image galleries. On the world wide web. Technological utopia.
  • Online hover-help.
  • Noticing when your chosen text/link/etc colours weren’t web-safe (catastrophe!), and allowing you to snap them to the nearest web-safe colour with one click.
  • Letting you choose the app the resulting HTML files would open in (i.e. their Mac creator code).
  • Fairly configurable appearance and content of gallery pages.
  • Loading and saving sets of options, if you were maintaining multiple image galleries each with different appearances.
  • An easter egg (hold alt/option whilst triggering the About window) which would show Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager.

Here are a few (original, GIF-tastic) images.

PageThing 2 main window

The main window.

PageThing 2 web color help

Navigating the treacherous world of web-safe colours.

PageThing 2 next/previous link customisation window

One of the various configuration dialogs.

PageThing 2 completion window

Blistering speed. And what are those apps?

PageThing 2 icon

The icon that still haunts my dreams, complete with obligatory Mac Writey Hand.

PageThing 2 logotype

I always loved purple, and that old Apple font too.

I had a lot of fun with PageThing. Two particular high points were it being given a 96% rating in MacFormat magazine’s Shareware Central section (I still have that issue somewhere, with PageThing on the cover disc), and porn star Kiko Wu emailing me to say she used it to maintain her pay-site, on her then-new lime iMac. She felt the UI was the most understandable of all the image gallery apps she’d tried, and in her line of work I guess she’d know what she was talking about.

The last ever version of PageThing was 2.1.1, for both PowerPC and 68k Macs (it still runs in SheepShaver/ClassicOnIntel; I just tried), and I very much doubt there’ll ever be another.

I think it’ll always secretly be my favourite app (sorry, Favorites for iPhone).

Made with PageThing 2

(For more software/UI/UX-related stuff, follow me on Twitter.)