TextMate is No Longer Evil

Even if you’re not on a Mac and therefore don’t use TextMate, you probably read about its little Halloween theme on other blogs and saw examples of it in flickr. I noticed the festive Jack-O-Lantern icon after the software update on October 30th, but it wasn’t until I opened a folder of files on the 31st that I noticed the cobwebs. I thought it was a fun little way to celebrate what I see as a harmless, American, pop-culture holiday.

While it was fun on Halloween, yesterday I was ready to get my familiar purple icon back and headed over to the Macromates blog to find out when that would happen. It was fun reading the comments about the Halloween theme but there were some mixed opinions about it. Apparently some people were really upset:

“…I found this offensive and promptly removed the theme. Please understand I do not think it is offensive because I am some fanatical weirdo. But the roots of Halloween are in animal and human sacrifices as well as rape in the name if Satan. This is not just something that happened hundreds of years ago, this happens today in abundance; in the U.S. Canada and UK. If you don’t believe me ask a Satanist or wiccan or do your own research. Many religions have an issue with the practice of Halloween including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Even many Atheists don’t like it because of the animal and human damage done every year in relation to this event. That said, it really wasn’t the above reasons that offended me most but it was the fact that it was just assumed that I accepted this holiday and wouldn’t get offended. I am sure you wouldn’t have a Chanukah or Nativity theme so you wouldn’t offend people. The Islamic holiday Ramadan happened recently but I never noticed TextMate having a green theme with a crescent moon. How disappointing.”

After reading through the comment thread I decided that I’d just be patient and wait for the next software update. I really didn’t want to get involved there. Well, this morning the update finally came. Here is the applicable lines from the release notes:

[2006-11-02: REVISION 1324]
[REMOVED] TextMate no longer pays tribute to human sacrifices, rape, nor does it show a picture of the God of the deaths in your dock — ticket 945BEB5D

That made me laugh. While I think the folks at Macromates stepped on a few toes when they decided to force a somewhat taboo holiday on their supporters, I think they handled the criticism wisely. What do you think? Should internationally popular websites and software applications try to do things like this to entertain people, or should they be emotionless and humor free?

5 Comments

  1. I’ve worked at other companies in the past that have skinned their corporate home pages based on different holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day, Valentines, etc. For every theme there was someone who complained. In Northern Ireland (Ulster) the concept of St. Patrick’s Day is offensive because it’s a Catholic holiday. Even New Year’s offended some of the Chinese folk because they have, of course, their own New Year’s celebration.

    So what could Macromates have done differently? Make the skin optional. Most of their users probably got a big kick out of it.

    (What would be most important to me in TextMate is if they changed the stupid ‘Undo’ scheme to ‘block undos’.)

  2. Did those complaining about TextMate stop using Google too?

    I liked the theme, though the dock icon change confused me more than a few times when Cmd-Tabbing. I wish I could have the cobwebs on my empty workspace always, it’s a fun metaphor.

    How can you honestly take something like that so seriously, I’d say you’re wound way too tight if you do.

  3. I think no matter what, somebody will boohoo about it. It was all in good fun, and for the most part, people loved it. They got a lot of publicity out of it.

    In fact, somebody out there is probably offended by the use of purple in their default icon. Ah, how about people who suffer from tritanopia color blindness (can’t see blue or yellow). They could get offended that they can’t see the icon in it’s true color, and they can only see it in red. There’s no end to the offense anything can cause.

    I can understand if they put an upside down crucifix, or a picture of satan or something. but a jack-o-latern used as a TextMate icon? Give me a break. These people have no lives.

  4. If you theme a web page, like the google search site, that’s one thing. I have the choice to visit the web site or not visit the web site. If you change the theme to the UI of a program installed on my computer, without asking me, you’re going to get some backlash.

    Why? Because the end user should have control of the desktop. To change my theme without asking is invading my space and wasting my time when I want to put things back to normal.

    Would I be offended by a halloween theme? Not really. I’d probably change it if I could. I would be bothered that the desinger of an application installed on my desktop thought they had the right to change my settings that I took the time to personalize.

    They way I see it, the web is their space to do what they want with, my computer is my space to do what I want with. They don’t want me to change their web site, thus it’s illegal to to so, I don’t want them to change my computer.

  5. http://del.icio.us/ClintJCL/halloween+history

    Please read the snarky history of Halloween.

    It is not about Satan, and was not made by Satanists.

    Please people… This is extremely ignorant. Halloween was CREATED by the Christians as a way of taking over the original Pagan holiday.

    A holiday devoted to honoring the dead!

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