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Disco App: Get Down Tonight

Disco IconThe disc-burning application Disco has been in the news quite a bit lately. Though I've been dealing with this blog's conversion to WordPress, I did have time this weekend to burn a few discs.

Disco is, if nothing else, already a success in terms of marketing. The team's cleverly crafted blog and tremendous attention to detail in the user interface, as well as their ambitious jokes about "having Toast for breakfast," have already primed the app for a Delicious Library-like launch (albeit at a lower price). In fact, it's now available in public beta, and I imagine the number of downloads will be quite high.

Marketing success is one thing, but if the application falls on its face, that momentum will quickly be lost. And Disco, unfortunately, will have to worry about its continued success after people have actually used it.

Disco App InterfaceI put Disco through two trial burns and, though I managed to crash the application while preparing the discs (this is a pre-beta release), stability during burning was solid. The interface is simple, simple, simple. I'd call it wizard-like, but Microsoft gave wizards (and warlocks?) a bad name.

This simplicity is not without problems, though. In the view to the right, you can see that I need to scroll to see the rest of the sites I'm backing up. The window displays only six files or folders with no resizing option. If an application is going to do away with resizing, it should at least automatically expand to show more than six items. Worst yet, the scroll bar you'll likely always see (who burns less than seven items at a time?) is one pixel away from the dangerous remove-an-item "X," which deletes files without any prompts.

Also, I can't sort by size or name, and file management features - expanding folders to inspect or remove unnecessary files - simply don't exist. You have to create the disc structure you want in the Finder first, then drag them into Disco. And, to be honest, if you're going to do that you may as well just use the Finder to burn the damn disc anyway.

Disco DiscographyThe actual act of burning a disc is simple, straightforward, and graphically amusing… but the Finder can claim two of those three. Most of us know by now that Disco will actually "smoke" while burning (see below), and that the smoke responds to mouse and microphone input. It does, and it's amusing for a few minutes. After that, you realize it's nothing more than eye candy ((And worse yet, it's eye candy that you can configure (and view the results) only while you're burning a disc!)) and you turn it off.

Disco also maintains a discography of burned discs to help you locate files and items you've burned. Unfortunately, I was unable to determine how the Discography worked: I'd type in a search term like "php" or "zip" or "ban" (seen here) and I'd be told there were no search results. This turned out to be a bug in the beta version, but I've heard from others that even failed burns are added to the Discography - another bad feature.

In the end, at $14.95 or so, Disco is really just a buggier version of the Finder's or Disk Utility's burn capabilities with the addition of dangerous and obnoxious user interface design.

Disco Burn

Update (11/04): The "visuals aren't everything" backlash is beginning. See also here, here, here, and here.

5 Responses to "Disco App: Get Down Tonight"

  1. Hmm. I guess I should've caught up on reading NSLOG before I sent you email about Disco earlier. 🙂

    The selling features for me were (no, not the smoke, my iBook G4 is too underpowered for that. In fact Disco tells me I have an "underage GFX card") the ability to easily do sessions, and quickly be able to erase RW media.

    I have an extra license for Disco that I offered to you Erik, but it seems you already have a registered copy of Disco and therefore are not in need of another one.

    Perhaps you can suggest a worthy recipient...


  2. I don't know of anyone off-hand, Dean, but if someone worthy posts here you may want to give them a license.

  3. [...] In my own brief review of Disco, I dismissed the sizzle and attempted to find the steak. Instead, I found recycled beef grounds. Recycled from Mac OS X's built-in disc burning frameworks. [...]

  4. I also wrote a review of Disco.

  5. I tried to buy the Disco product in January 2010 having run the trial version. Although the website accepted my order, no product codes were sent, no replies to my emails and Paypal duly refunded my money. I assume the company behind Disco are no more, although the website is still live.