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Project Platform Wars

This is a story about something that many of us are faced with – the dominance of the PC and the appeal of the Mac.

I’ve worked on a project at a local Fortune 50 company on-and-off for over a year. When the project started, we all had PCs. We didn’t have a hard time getting onto the company Intranet, using VPN, sharing docs, etc. It worked pretty smoothly.

Along the way, the team morphed and a Mac user came on. He struggled with integration, downloading multiple tools and using virtual PC. He made it work and all was well.

I left the team for a few months and in the mean time, a number of new people came onto the team- all Mac users. When I came back, I came back into a Mac world – I was the odd man out with a PC.

The team I needed to work with were all saying I needed to switch so we could share docs more easily (namely OmniGraffle / Visio docs). It was suddenly my problem for *not* having a Mac and not being able to use OmniGraffle.

Still the odd man out, I didn’t have any answers. I felt (imagined?) this tension of the team saying “Lee, you’ll love the Mac and if you switch, it will make our team more effective.�? Costs and viability aside, I decided that I couldn’t switch.

The platform issue got escalated, as it had the potential to cause major problems. As it turned out- the answer was simple. Our project leader simply said that the company uses Microsoft products and that means that all diagrams, wireframes, etc. need to be done in Visio because of future hand-off to enterprise teams.

Suddenly, all the Mac people were faced with the possibility that the Mac was not perfect in every way. It can’t use a standard program of the enterprise. They were suddenly the odd men out.

Of course, being playfully triumphant, I could only turn to my team after hearing the news and say with a smile “UH! In your face!�? It was not my problem anymore.

The reality of the situation, good or bad, was suddenly crystal clear. The enterprise world is a PC world and the enterprise expects you to play well with their systems. The Mac being better designed, more secure, more compliant, more cool doesn’t matter (unless you're a designer).

At the end of the day, I really just want things to work together. I value great design and impressive hardware, but I really just want to make sure that I can work with everyone on a team using the same documents. It would be great if it were a Mac world, but it’s not in most companies, so I’m OK with the PC for now.

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Geeky question: The problem we were having was related to being able to save OmniGraffle and Visio files as XML documents and then sharing them across platforms. When we did, the diagrams would get rearranged and generally funky. Does anyone know a solution for sharing OmniGraffle and Visio docs across the Mac and PC?