I was surprised to hear this, but not because I thought it was premature – truth is, I was surprised HomeSite hadn’t been discontinued a long time ago. It’s been almost 15 years since I created HomeSite, and I stopped working on it in 1998 when I left Allaire Corporation. Several other developers took over after I left, but to the best of my knowledge nobody has touched it for several years, so the fact that it was still being sold until now is a nice testament to how useful people found it. Kudos to Macromedia and Adobe for keeping it around, despite the fact that it competed with some of their other products.
Sometimes in this blog I’ve made disparaging remarks about HomeSite, but that’s not because I disliked it. It’s just that it’s hard to look at something you created so long ago without seeing all the mistakes that you’ve learned not to make since then. I’m actually very proud of HomeSite, and very thankful that it enabled me to quit my job and work at home. And, funny enough, HomeSite is also what paid for the home I’m living in now.
I’m also incredibly thankful to the great community that sprang up around HomeSite and helped make it so popular. The Wikipedia page on HomeSite captures a bit of this history:
“Nick Bradbury and then Allaire had a policy of having an open support forum for those interested in its products, both current customers and prospects. The fans of HomeSite would contribute to the development of the product by making suggestions on-line and refining those suggestions amongst themselves. The Allaire developers would join in the discussion, participating and really incorporating user suggestions…Users responded to that respect and love for the tool by supporting each other and by creating and sharing a wide variety of HomeSite extensions.”
These days it’s common practice for programmers to actively involve customers in the creation of their software, but back in 1995 it wasn’t the norm. I certainly wasn’t the first developer to take this approach, but I like to think I was one of the pioneers. That more than anything is what I’m most proud of with HomeSite: in some small way, I hope I helped to break down the invisible wall between developers and users. So much of our society’s future depends on technology that we absolutely must open the lines of communication between those building the tools and those using them.
Anyway, I hope you’ll forgive my patting myself on the back a bit here. I’ve never had one of my creations go the way of the dodo, so I’m feeling a bit nostalgic at the moment, and I’m looking back and remembering the things (most of them accidental) that got me started down this path I’m on.
Update: I have to add that TopStyle 4.0 is an excellent replacement for HomeSite. It even has the tabbed HTML toolbars that were so popular with HomeSite customers.