SousChef: When is a native app worse than a web app?
- it lets you “Tap the Cloud” – you can search for recipes other SousChef users have shared. Like flickr, sharing is enabled by default.
- it lets you search your recipes based on ingredients you have on hand
- it has a “10 foot mode” that shows you your recipes fullscreen so that you can keep the computer a good distance from your cooking area and still read the recipe. Furthermore, the 10 foot mode supports reading the recipes out loud and speech recognition.
- it makes it easy to export formatted HTML to your favorite blog
- an import facility to make it easy to convert recipes from unstructured text into structured recipes (title, ingredient list, cooking steps, etc.)
SousChef costs $30, but there is a free download that you can use to try things out before you buy. The tryout version is limited to 25 recipes, shows limited search results, and doesn’t allow blog export. I downloaded the tryout version because I do have a library of recipes in text/word/pdf format on my computer that I wouldn’t mind getting into a nice format. One bug or additional limitation is that the import feature doesn’t seem to work in tryout mode: you can drag the little boxes around, but when you click the Import button the imported recipe doesn’t include any of the text you just imported. Because of this bug, I did most of my testing with the supplied sample database instead of using my own recipes. I hope they fix this bug soon.
I really wanted to like this application: it fits a real need, it had a nicely designed UI (albeit not as sophisticated as Delicious Library which was a clear inspiration), its from an indie developer, and it takes advantage of Mac features like speech recognition. But the program is hamstrung by its business model: cloud-based features depend on large numbers of customers to work effectively, and there will never be sufficient volume of Mac users willing to pay $30 to make these features effective. Furthermore, the developers chose to cripple the cloud-based feature in the free version, in the hopes that it would make more people cough up the $30.
Furthermore, there are large numbers of websites around today that will let you do similar things for free (the best of which seems to be bakespace, though none seem really great). I’ve heard of several people who are trying to build the ‘corkd’ of the recipe world. Guess I’ll wait.