In a nutshell, 37 Signals’ Getting Real provides advices on building web applications that get the job done and stay the hell out of the way. To accomplish these two goals, an application needs to be simple (with fewer features), should focus only on the main tasks and requires minimal or zero learning from the users.
From “The Starting Line,” “Feature Selection,” “Interface Design,” “Promotion” to “Support,” the book helps the team (manager, designer, programmer) to stay on point by breaking the job down into small chunks and to avoid wasting times like meetings. Meetings are toxic because “they break your work day into small, incoherent pieces that disrupt your natural workflow” and “they often contain at least one moron that inevitably gets his turn to waste everyone’s time with nonsense.” I also hope that companies take 37 Signals’ guidelines on customer support by “tear down the walls between support and development” and about “quick turnaround time on support queries should be a top priority.”
I haven’t used any of 37 Signals’ web applications; therefore, I don’t know how simple and easy they are to use. After reading Getting Real, the application that jumps at me is Apple’s Preview, which comes with Mac OS X. Preview is not only a simple program that gets the job done, but also reveals its strengths the more I use it. Just like its name, the software allows me to preview almost any type of image files from PSD to PNG to JPG and even PDF on the fly. (Try to open 20 PSDs at a time in Photoshop vs. Preview and see the differences). Why do I need Acrobat Reader, which takes forever to launch, when Preview does a smoother job? As I am reading Getting Real in Preview, I discovered a neat feature by accidentally closed down the application. Preview bookmarked the page I was on. I didn’t have to read the manual to find that out. Now that is keeping it real, and smart too.