A Human Interface?

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One of my greatest pet peeves in the personal computer industry is software design, specifically, how well the software interface meshes with our human understanding and appreciation of aesthetics, ease of use, simplicity, non-cluttered, and intuitive.

Naturally, the aforementioned personal requirements for software design just happens to be Apple Inc’s mantra also. As one who started using personal computers almost from their inception, I have always been drawn to the Mac and the MacOS interface. Furthermore, Apple has a knack for designing and developing some of the best consumer and professional software products on the planet.

When it comes to choosing a software platform for recording my road cycling metrics, and one that meets my personal requirements, I have been drawn to the online TrainingPeaks platform and their desktop application WKO4. Truth be told, I have been a long-term user of TrainingPeaks and the various incarnations of WKO3 and WKO4. The people behind the aforementioned software platforms, including their products for IOS, just “get it” when it comes to simplicity and ease of use in a beautiful and well laid out interface. The downside is, of course, the subscription model of TrainingPeaks. At approximately $120 US per year for the Premium version, it is expensive. WKO4, at roughly $200 US for a desktop product is also stratospheric in price in terms of today’s software prices at the Mac App store.

By comparison, GoldenCheetah, a competitor to WKO4, is open source and FREE! Unfortunately, even the beta versions of 3xx are still clunky to use, the complexity of the interface leaves much to be desired. The primary developer(s) of GoldenCheetah would do well to hire a human-interface designer. However, the training metrics and compatibility with the myriad of third-party hardware products is highly commendable.

Another online and IOS platform that I am quite familiar with is Today’s Plan and it’s sibling Stages Link (still in beta). The usable metrics on these two platforms are really well designed, however, both applications still suffer from over-complexity and clutter, especially Stages Link. Today’s Plan is also subscription based and quite expensive at that.

That leaves the venerable and popular Strava as an alternative for just about everyone else. It is a very popular social media platform for athletes, unfortunately, many of their metrics are not that useful (i.e. accurate) in the real world and differ greatly from the aforementioned platforms. Strava is also based on a subscription model for the Premium version, although it is considerably less expensive than the other platforms.

One other platform I should mention is VirtualTraining by the folks at Cycleops/PowerTap. The online platform is quite extensive, but suffers from over complexity also, and the interface is like a nightmare from the days I suffered on a Windoze machine at work. Their iOS platform, however, is nicely done and I use it regularly for my indoor training on my Cycleops Jet Fluid Pro. The Premium version of their products is subscription based, but quite reasonable in price.

There are a zillion other software products out there for recording training metrics and indoor riding, including the popular Zwift and TrainerRoad. I have probably tried them all at one point in time or another, assuming the products were MacOS or IOS compatible. None of them really met my personal requirements as mentioned previously.

Finally, I should mention that I do not like being held captive to an online subscription model of any kind and still prefer a separate desktop product that can function without being continuously connected to the online world. Unfortunately, software designers are moving rapidly to the cloud and subscription models, and the consumer is paying dearly for their services. Stop this madness!