No More Hustleporn: What Could a Pro Desktop App Look Like?

Tweet by Dan Grover

PM in tech, ex-@meta, @tencent, @udacity. “There are no solutions, only tradeoffs."

Between apps like Warp terminal, VS code, Obsidian, Linear, and Superhuman, there seems to be an emerging design language / set of conventions on what a "pro" desktop app looks like in the 2020s.

While 90s pro desktop apps had bloated menus with every possible feature needed to sell boxes, and 2000s focused on simplifying and trying to guide users more, latest trend seems to combine best of both.

They lay out features + content in a deterministic/non-algo way, have command palettes (a la Sublime), liberal use of *discoverable* keyboard shortcuts, plugins/plugin stores, always dark/compact modes, and always offline modes.

I think the best design is happening in some of these niche/pro apps. Consumer apps have so large a customer base that they can afford multiple teams trying to growth hack their own features / different designers endlessly trying to reconcile things into shared systems.