Write-only interfaces. / A write-only interface.

A write-only interface, which I totally just now made up, is one where the primary (and often the only action you can take) is one where you can “add” to a collection but not view what’s already in said collection. It’s an app with a compose form, but no way to look at all the other things you put in there. If you wanted to get all UNIX about it, it’s appending >> to a resource. So then you’d have to use another app or service to get back at the data.

Why would one want to do this? For starters, especially on mobile:

• to simplify;
• to save bandwidth/load time;
• to head straight to the action that was top-of-mind.

Recently, I’ve been curious about this type of interaction – an interface where the only action a user can take is to contribute/write/add to whichever collection of objects to which she’s authenticated.

An example of such a write-only interface that I use multiple times a day: Jotana. It’s a compose view that sits on top of Asana. It merely allows you to add new items to your Asana list for future review. I find it saves me a lot of time, especially during a conversation where I have to quickly jot down notes, but I don’t want to mess with too many interactions. Sometimes, I can be so distracted listening to a conversation that by the time I launch a note-taking app, I’ve already forgotten what I wanted to put in there.

After using Jotana, I find it hard to just swap back to a more traditional-looking notepad application. Why wouldn’t one want to take notes and immediately add it to their workflow (in this case, mine happens to be Asana, both in terms of personal work as well as team work). If your thinking is mainly around “adding” to your list, why in the world do you even want to see what else is on that list to begin with, especially on a resource-expensive launch? (As far as I can tell, Asana.app is some web/native hybrid, so performance isn’t always as great as a fully-native system – and additionally, the app auto-updates itself way too frequently on launch. This is the reason I sought out an app like Jotana in the first place.)

In a world where it’s so simple and cheap to create and put an app in the app store(s) and where the OS and interface (Spotlight, &c.) make it completely easy to have multiple apps for a single product, why not an app that only allows write-only as an action? Maybe this is only for people that really understand a system, though, and want such granular transaction control. As a casual user, you probably aren’t thinking at a transaction level and you aren’t doing those actions enough times a day. And, as an app developer, you don’t want to split mindshare between too many icons/downloads.

So, perhaps experts only need apply.

For frequent interactions and in the interest of simplicity, I wonder if I need to see all emails before I send one? All Asanas before I create one (see: Jotana)? All transactions before I send money (see: Square Cash)? All check-ins before I make one (see: Checkie)?

All photos before I take one?––Wait.––This is exactly how Camera.app works.