Desk and da Vinci: Simple Publishing

by bxrtley

I’m still in the honeymoon phase of this new app. So, sue me. But the Desk app is really awesome. The power behind this software is not just the user experience and software development jargon I know nothing about. But it’s the front-end story from this back-end (or full-stack?) developer, John Saddington. If I seem like a groupie, oh well. Deal with it.

Every time I sit down to write, there’s an emotional bond to the software, its creator and the community I know is using and supporting this writing platform. Alas, could this be like the Apple of publishing? Time will tell.

da Vinci’s “Publishing Tool” Layout

I came across this “Design Like DaVinci” slideshow from Brian Sullivan. It was pretty engaging. da Vinci used reams and reams of paper for his sketches. 13,000 pages! And from those sketches came some of the greatest paintings, sculptures and inventions. That would make his sketchbook a sort of publishing tool. But my jaw dropped at the 59th slide:


Experts say that this is an early version of the Cornell note-taking system. And they might be right. But this resembles something else…

Desk’s Publishing Layout

Look familiar? Well it should! The Desk app has a very similar layout. John, if you meant to design Desk like da Vinci’s sketch layouts (Cornell system is a ‘blah’ comparison for this), that’s just awesome. But if you didn’t intend for this to happen?! That’s even more awesom-erer!


Simplicity is Timeless and Universal

What if there’s this common, eternal thread of creative publishing that inspires simple, powerful tools that will inevitably all look like each other? Leonardo da Vinci had minimal sidebars and bottom widgets before the word widget even existed.

And while this simple, ancient UI experience is timeless and it’s universal. Ubiquitous. But the personality is different. And that’s because each creator is unique. A stick figure is a stick figure is a stick figure. But they can embody different movements that reveal a myriad of emotions.

Simplicty = Constraints + Intuition

So as I and others continue to mindlessly add ideas to the Desk support forum, we just might be making a lean publishing tool plump like the competitors. Forgive us J, ‘we don’t know no better man.’

After seeing da Vinci’s sketches, writing with Saddington’s app and designing my own work, I’ve come to a logical conclusion: Simplicity = Constraints. But timeless, universal Simplicity = Constraints + Intuition. Those constraints will be intuitive to the point where they seem nonexistent. And as updates naturally happen, the Desk app will further align its simplicity with its intuition. Onward and upward.