Vesper -- Brent Simmons, Dave Wiskus, and John Gruber's Vesper -- is part list-maker and part note-taker, and so strongly opinionated about how it balances both that you'll fall instantly in love... or want to kill it on sight.
This isn't your UIKit convention, your lowest common denominator, or any other concession to the mass-market. Everything about Vesper, every choice about every feature, liberates only through constraint. Because it allows for just a very small set of very deliberate actions, Vesper frees you from the cognitive overhead of managing the management app, and forces you to simply fulfill its purpose -- collecting your thoughts.
Debug 15: Simmons, Wiskus, Gruber, and Vesper - Listen now
Vesper's name draws allusions to the most classic of Bond women, and the drink she inspired. So does the company name behind Vesper - Q Branch. Why that? Because, according to the Brent, Dave, and John, they're making a precision tool for you the same way MI6's Q made them for Bond. And yes, in this case, that makes you Bond.
And here's what they've made: In Vesper you can create new notes, add text or images to them, tag them, search for them, share them via Mail or Messages, or copy them to the clipboard, archive them or delete them, visit URLs contained within them using a Spartan, built-in browser, and that's about it. No themes. No font selection. No import or export. No sync. Nothing to sync to or with.
Just Vesper, your ideas, and as little as possible to get in the way of their being captured.
The design reflects that feature set. There are no rich textures, no shadows nor sheen, and no gradients. Its got one font, though it's a good one. Its palette is beyond minimal, and it's flat enough to slip under a door. It's also informationally dense enough to be useful, which isn't always the case with type-centric design.
Where Vesper delights is in it's kinetics -- to steal Guy English term for it. Its sidebar opens with the tap of a the "hamburger" button, but it also opens any time you put your finger on the screen and slide it aside to reveal the notes layer beneath. To archive a note, you hold it and pull it out of the list. If you change your mind, it doesn't just slide back, but bounces playfully back into place. To open a note, you tap it. To change the order, you touch it and drag it to its new home.
These aren't abstract gesture commands, but direct manipulation -- as Brent calls it -- and it works so well well, I find myself missing it when in the note view. There's no obvious place to put it -- no edge of the list view to drag back -- but my instinct craves says their should be.
Vesper's tag- and archive-based system makes it not only possible but also convenient to use it for long-term memory. Still, even with all of its opinions and constraints, Vesper remains flexible enough to suit several different workflows. I find myself seldom using tags and often deleting, using Vesper more as short-term memory -- things I want to keep in cache but not write to disk.
If you want to do more, Vesper loads with an initial set of notes that tells you how. As Dave Wiskus describes it, it's a Super Mario rather than Zelda style tutorial - fun, informative, but totally unobtrusive.
And to quickly blast through the remaining controversies -- no the icon isn't the most richly designed or visually balanced, but it's also impossible to miss on a Home screen and I like it fine, and I'm ecstatic that Brent, Dave, and John are charging real money for a real app. I hope more developers follow in their footsteps.
I've been using Vesper for a while now in beta, and it saves me enough time to easily be worth such a little amount of money. It's value far exceeds its cost.
Again, it's so focused and opinionated it'll turn off as many potential customers as it turns on, but that's okay. Maybe that's even how it should be -- great tools for highly specific jobs with highly specific tastes. A cocktail, not a soda.
If that appeals to you, Vesper is available in the App Store now. If you want to know more before you buy, Brent, Dave, and John were gracious enough to join Guy English and me for Debug this week. I learned a ton. Give it a listen.