Does incorporating iOS features into Mac OS mean Mac OS won't have a Finder?

Posted:
in Mac OS X edited January 2014
I am guessing that it won't happen for a while but I was curious what people thought given that Apple already has a computer without a Finder.
«134

Comments

  • dr millmossdr millmoss Posts: 5,403member
    The Finder is the most poorly evolved component of the MacOS, having changed only superficially since 1984. If Apple replaced it with a more advanced concept, its absence certainly would not break my heart.
  • pik80pik80 Posts: 148member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post


    its absence certainly would not break my heart.



    I feel the same way. I hope Lion adds something like bringing tagging more to the fore front and de-emphasizes folder hierarchies.
  • MarvinMarvin Posts: 13,530member, moderator
    Not the Mighty Finder:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mYejgqS3co

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wvSVYOlcM4



    It can find anything.



    The reason the iOS devices have no Finder is that their filesystem is application-centric and not file-centric. This causes a number of problems:



    - if you delete an app, your files go with it

    - if you want to open one document with multiple apps, it's much harder to do

    - you can't group common files and projects from multiple apps in one place



    If anything, the problem is the other way round. The Mac convention is more powerful and so it's iOS that needs a Finder not the Mac one that needs to be removed.



    I do think that it's one of those apps that would need to be reworked to allow for touch input. The drag and drop idea just doesn't work well for touch.



    I've always felt the Finder needed to be different than a standard app like a menu item e.g the following:







    It needs to be more refined obviously but the idea is that there are no multiple windows. If you need to open a file, you hit the Finder icon - appropriate name for a magnifying glass. It also functions as Spotlight.



    There would normally just be one column but you would be able to open multiple side by side. The active column would be highlighted with the parent drive partition visible at the top. On tapping or clicking the icon at the top, you'd choose the drive and there could be a list of recent folders.



    There would be actions for touch screens. So you'd tap on icons and they would become selected then you'd choose an action from a menu or icon panel such as "open with", "move", "copy", "create archive" etc. If you chose move, the action would then wait for you to select a destination folder and if you were moving a lot of items could ask you to confirm the action. 'Open with' would bring up a full screen icon view with all apps on the machine or can show only recommended apps.



    It would also have multi-level undo.



    The maximise button expands to the full screen size to allow you to have multiple columns of icon views for example to compare picture folders or have two icon views and one list view.



    It just means there's never a need to create or close a Finder window (just choose how many split views to show) and not something that clutters up exposé. If they'd develop it to use resources properly, it's also something that would never need to be restarted. They need to throttle the CPU and RAM it can use and timeout any previews. Although previews would move to quicklook.



    No matter what app you were in, there would be no need to switch out to the Finder. So while in Photoshop, you hit the icon and drag files into your document. It also becomes iTunes and iPhoto. Instant access to all your media. You want to play an album, just hit the Finder/Spotlight icon, type in the artist or browse in the iTunes mode and hit play. You want to quickly edit pictures ready for print, click the icon, select your SD card in icon view and go to iPhoto mode with red-eye, cropping, brightness/contrast tools and do quick edits before you take them to the local photo shop for prints. It can backup originals without you even thinking about it and overwrite the original file in place. It would tag it with metadata to link it to the original so that it can be reverted regardless of where the file went.



    iMovie should be part of Quicktime - iMovie is a more appropriate name for Quicktime anyway, iWeb can be integrated with Safari (testing and publishing in one app). All templates and themes come from online sources as and when required. Garageband is a bit harder to integrate but it's a bit of a specialist app anyway - Logic Express.
  • dr millmossdr millmoss Posts: 5,403member
    I could go on all day about problems with the Finder, as I imagine any experienced Mac users could -- especially experienced Mac users who've tried to teach the Finder to inexperienced Mac users. The very fact that I could go on all day about the most hatable part of the Mac experience tells me that it's beyond redesigning. After 25 years of tinkering, it's really no better than it was when it was invented, and a damn sight worse in some respects, due to feature-creep and increased reliance on it's worn-out conceptual basis.



    It's worth remembering that Apple blew our minds with the Finder, way back when. I'd prefer to have my mind blown again with some fresh new concept, rather than redesign the old one so it's even more feature-packed and more complicated to use. I'm not sure if the iOS approach is the one, but we can see Apple thinking out loud about expanding those concepts beyond the touch interface. The logic behind starting from a touch-based interface is powerful.
  • pik80pik80 Posts: 148member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    - if you delete an app, your files go with it

    - if you want to open one document with multiple apps, it's much harder to do

    - you can't group common files and projects from multiple apps in one place



    If anything, the problem is the other way round. The Mac convention is more powerful and so it's iOS that needs a Finder not the Mac one that needs to be removed.



    I didn?t realize that if you delete an app then you delete the files that come with it. I think they could be able to change that. When it comes to grouping files you wouldn?t have to rely on a folder hierarchy like the finder to group them. Adobe Bridge allows you to do collections of files that is independent of where the file is actually located on the hard drive. The Leopard beta allowed you to save a selection of files as a stack independent of what folder they were in. Apple could let you open a file in several different programs without folder hierarchies as well.



    ?The Mac convention is more powerful and so it's iOS that needs a Finder?

    Well yes that is true but keep in mind that the finder has been advancing for about 25 years where the searching program in iOS has only been around for a little over one year now. iOS?s spotlight search hasn?t had the time to advance that the finder has. There may be some really interesting advancements over the next few years to iOS searching that are nothing like the Finder.



    I definitely agree with you that many kinds of applications should be merged together. Given that programs like the finder, iphoto, and itunes keep looking more and more the same seeing them come together would make it convenient to not do as much app switching. However I would also point out that itunes and iphoto don?t reply on folder hierarchies at all. This along with the lack of folder hierarchies in iOS make it seem like we are gradually moving away from the concept.
  • pik80pik80 Posts: 148member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post


    I could go on all day about problems with the Finder



    ?I'd prefer to have my mind blown again with some fresh new concept?

    Yes I agree that it should be revolutionary rather then evolutionary. Spotlight in the finder was definitely a revolutionary step it?s just that it wasn?t enough of a revolution to completely replace folder Hierarchies.



    In a ways Apple already has a hierarchy free finder. iPhoto and iTunes is like a finder for photos and music because they look a lot like the finder except that they have dumped the hierarchies. So they have been moving in this direction for about the last decade. I wouldn?t be too surprised if the finder got dumped in not too long.



    ?I'm not sure if the iOS approach is the one?

    System wide iOS search is only about a year old. I don?t think we will know how good this idea is until we see it advance over the coming years.
  • pbpb Posts: 4,208member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pik80 View Post


    I am guessing that it won't happen for a while but I was curious what people thought given that Apple already has a computer without a Finder.



    Well, I think it is certain that Lion will have a Finder and it is highly probable that this Finder will be almost the same as the one we know today.



    I tried sometime ago to play with an iPad and the experience was very weird. I felt out of place, without ground under my feet. For novices and average users without computing experience it is probably more comfortable but for our dinosaur species, especially the ones who grew up in unix systems and command line, it just looks strange. Moereover, (r)evolution needs programming and this cannot be done effeciently without some kind of file hierarchy readily accessible by the developer.



    Yes, the Finder needs refining, new ideas, eventually integration with applications etc. but I don't think it is going anywhere for many years yet. This is at least my view of things.
  • dr millmossdr millmoss Posts: 5,403member
    I don't think the difference between the conventional and the iOS experience is the difference between knowledgable and novice users. I am by no means a novice and I don't find using iOS, either on the iPhone or iPad, to be the least bit weird. It's has it's own logic, which is different, but not at all weird. Apple is right to begin rethinking the user interface, and they've got a head-start on everybody else with the development of iOS and their experience with touch interfaces. Whatever they do next, we can safely bet (I think) that it will integrate what they have learned about touch user interfaces. I'll also predict that, no matter what they do, within a few years, everybody else will be following Apple's lead.
  • pik80pik80 Posts: 148member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PB View Post


    Well, I think it is certain that Lion will have a Finder and it is highly probable that this Finder will be almost the same as the one we know today.



    I guess I have a hard time thinking of what other features that they can include in Lion that is anywhere near as important as rethinking file searching. After 10 years of refining OS 10 I am not sure how much more really important evolutionary steps there are to take. I think they should keep evolving the interface and finally totally replace aqua but other then that I can't think of much else.



    Now it is possible that they could have two file browsing systems for a while. Chances are they won't come out with a new file browser that is better then the finder in it's version 1.0 release. I liken this to what they did with iMovie HD and iMovie 7, automator and Apple Script, or carbon and Cocoa. They might have two products that are similar for a while as the finder gets phased out.
  • dr millmossdr millmoss Posts: 5,403member
    I don't see how the Finder gets phased out, as a practical matter. I think it either continues to evolve (meaning, accrete new features, as it has for 25 years) or it gets replaced entirely by something conceptually different. The UI of iOS may be the model for this new concept, or something different yet that we've never seen.
  • pik80pik80 Posts: 148member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post


    I don't see how the Finder gets phased out.



    There is a reason I think they may have to go with phasing it out over time. If they go with using tagging as a replacement for folders hierarchies (like you can already do in many file searching programs today like LittleSnapper or Paperless) they will need to use this new file navigating program to go through and tag the files they already have. This will take some time to do so people would probably still like to rely on the finder as they are in the process of tagging their files.



    Frankly I think it would have been smart of Apple to include a (good) tagging solution in the OS a long time ago so that that tagging work could have already mostly been done but unfortunately they didn't happen.



    I think what can be holding them off from bringing functions from other programs into the finder is that they are waiting for more iapps to become mature.
  • MarvinMarvin Posts: 13,530member, moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pik80 View Post


    In a ways Apple already has a hierarchy free finder. iPhoto and iTunes is like a finder for photos and music because they look a lot like the finder except that they have dumped the hierarchies.



    It's too complex to do this in a general sense though. Website URLs should make it clear that hierarchical systems cannot disappear easily. When you visit www.website.com/images/ the machine running the site translates the domain into a folder located on the server and there is an images folder inside that. If you dump the hierarchy, you will have to either rewrite 125 million websites or find a way to map a hierarchical request into a different filesystem.



    The latter would be the necessary way IMO because not every other system will dump their hierarchy so there needs to be a translation.



    But here's the thing, let's say that you rethink the way files are organised and go metadata only, how do you logically associate them? You group them as you do with everything in life - you put underpants in the underpants drawer and socks in the socks drawer and shirts in the closet. You don't have them strewn over the floor along with books, CDs, food, toiletries, rubbish, bedding, keys etc and then pick out what you want when you want.



    You index items so that you can very quickly access a subgroup of data. This is where iTunes works well because you want to play music so you filter out anything that's not music by opening iTunes. Where this doesn't work so well is for mixed media like projects which may have audio, images, text, movies, application-specific documents etc.



    Inevitably you get lots of projects so you group those too by archiving old ones or categorise them. Before you know it you have a hierarchy anyway. So you get rid of one form of hierarchy just to recreate it in a different form and break compatibility in the process while having to build converters to stay compatible with everyone else.



    What Apple did with Spotlight was the best compromise - maintain hierarchy for compatibility but use metadata for advanced grouping.



    The mini-Finder idea works ok like the photos and iPod apps on the iPhone whose data can be accessed by any app. The principal would be to group files by the main types: movies, images, audio, documents. Documents would be a catch-all. Application-specific files would remain app-centric. If you delete an app, there's no reason why those files couldn't go as no other app can use them and the media they referenced would exist in the mini-Finder.



    You may have 100,000 images on your filesystem though so dumping them into a pile won't be very helpful but you can build tag clouds and instead of choosing images/pretty girls/short girls/ and getting one set of results, you could choose tags <images> <pretty> <girls> <short> <tall> and you can exclude mid-sized ones.



    Here's where the system breaks down though: when you absolutely need to identify a file precisely, tags aren't enough to distinguish two files and if you make them that way (i.e prevent duplicate tags or tag groups), you restrict the flexibility of the metadata. Applications need to find data in a precise location all the time as do websites. Users don't have to as groupings update all the time.



    You can add a unique identifier in metadata that lets an application access that file directly but that's what a hierarchical path is - it's just fixed for every app. Files on a hard drive are scattered everywhere. The filesystem is a logically grouped metadata index - the supported metadata is just limited. ZFS supposedly expanded on current systems to allow arbitrary metadata and this may solve the issue of speed when accessing arbitrary metadata.



    I would assume that the people who write the filesystem drivers know the best way to work things so I have no doubt that what we think up now will be scribbled on a sheet of crumpled paper at the bottom of a wastebasket many revisions behind where they're at now.
  • dr millmossdr millmoss Posts: 5,403member
    I don't think the problem is with hierarchical organization so much as it is with the metaphor chosen to represent it. It may have been important 25 years ago to analogize the file system with a physical desktop, but that time is probably well past. Years ago a minimally computer literate friend of mine asked me why a document was called a file, when a folder is a file. I was stumped. He was right, the metaphor was broken, but hardly anyone noticed (or were too confused to ask).



    The very fact that the Finder has been modified so many times, essentially to do no more than display the contents of the file system in a variety of ways, suggests that something has broken down conceptually. Having taught the Mac in a classroom, I can report from experience how difficult it can be to get people to grasp why the Finder represents files in so many different ways. It's a real problem, which adding more features only makes worse.



    It seems significant that iOS is essentially free of metaphor. It doesn't rely on the user understanding one concept in order to grasp another. The future lay in this direction, I believe. Apple is in the process of showing this.
  • pik80pik80 Posts: 148member
    ?This is where iTunes works well because you want to play music so you filter out anything that's not music by opening iTunes.?



    No! Actually this isn?t true iTunes holds your music, TV shows, podcasts, books, applications, ringtones, radio channels, (and a store and a social networking site remotely.) Therefore this proves that this concept is possible.



    ?you rethink the way files are organized and go metadata only, how do you logically associate them??



    Adobe Bridge allows you to group files without being in a hierarchy. Adobe calls them collections. The same can be said about a playlist in iTunes. You can also rely on smart groupings or tag clouds. The way that you group clothes in draws doesn?t really translate to this because you can?t search for clothes by tags or smart folders or what not but on a computer you can.



    ?What Apple did with Spotlight was the best compromise - maintain hierarchy for compatibility but use metadata for advanced grouping.?



    From my point of view I think they are just gradually moving towards a hierarchy free system but they are just in the in between area. Now I understand what you say about the developers needing to rely on hierarchies but I can?t see a reason why they can?t be invisible to the end users.



    The interesting thing I have found from relying on tags is that I am always coming across files that I had forgotten about before I relied on tags. When files are stored in a hierarchy I forget about them and often can?t find them even when I am looking for them. That is why I believe in the urgency of Apple coming up with a better solution. The hierarchy concept worked when computing started off simple but computing has become to advanced for this old idea to work anymore I think.
  • macintosh_nextmacintosh_next Posts: 224member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post


    I don't think the difference between the conventional and the iOS experience is the difference between knowledgable and novice users. I am by no means a novice and I don't find using iOS, either on the iPhone or iPad, to be the least bit weird. It's has it's own logic, which is different, but not at all weird. Apple is right to begin rethinking the user interface, and they've got a head-start on everybody else with the development of iOS and their experience with touch interfaces. Whatever they do next, we can safely bet (I think) that it will integrate what they have learned about touch user interfaces. I'll also predict that, no matter what they do, within a few years, everybody else will be following Apple's lead.



    Could you at least briefly tell me whats wrong with Finder? I have been a Mac user since 2006, and I don't really NOT like the finder. To me, it's exactly the same as Explorer in Windows. It shows me my files and applications. I don't need anything else from it, and in fact I like the cover flow feature as it's easer to scroll through my applications. And with spotlight, I hardly even use Finder, so maybe thats why I don't see a problem with it. I use Finder maybe 100 times a year. And thats assuming I am in school. When I wasn't in school, I didn't actually use Finder at all. When I am, I use it sometimes (trying to drag files into a file for school, and now dropping them into my drop box). So whats wrong with it, a brief list? Or you can PM me if you'd like. Thanks in advanced.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    Not the Mighty Finder:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mYejgqS3co

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wvSVYOlcM4



    It can find anything.



    I just wanted to say, I like your ideas!
  • mr. memr. me Posts: 3,211member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Macintosh_Next View Post


    .... I use Finder maybe 100 times a year. And thats assuming I am in school. ...



    That's difficult to believe. My bet is that you use the Finder multiple times each time that you are one your Mac. The fact that you don't know that you are using it is testimony to its strengths.
  • MarvinMarvin Posts: 13,530member, moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post


    Years ago a minimally computer literate friend of mine asked me why a document was called a file, when a folder is a file. I was stumped. He was right



    He wasn't really right. Folders are generally regarded as distinct from files. Programming languages often has isFile() functions that return false if you give them folder paths. Even if you do command line listings, they have a marking that distinguishes directories from files.



    Perhaps he meant they can be moved around similar to files but you can't open a folder in an application.



    iOS has folders too btw, to group applications together. They are easier to grasp as they are just one level deep but this is limited if you have 100,000+ files.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pik80


    No! Actually this isn?t true iTunes holds your music, TV shows, podcasts, books, applications, ringtones, radio channels, (and a store and a social networking site remotely.) Therefore this proves that this concept is possible.



    They don't show together in groupings though. You click on the left to filter by type and narrow it down. You don't for example get an area where a music track, a book, a podcast etc are all grouped together if they are from the same people.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pik80


    Adobe Bridge allows you to group files without being in a hierarchy. Adobe calls them collections.



    Ok but you've created another Finder application, it just behaves differently and in fact you can create collections in the Finder too. They have smart folders and you can attach spotlight tags to files and have the smart folder group them. Nobody uses them though because they are more complex. They give you many to many relationships so more than one group can reference the same files and if you modify a file in one group or project, it changes it in another group when you may not want to.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pik80


    I can?t see a reason why they can?t be invisible to the end users.



    For the most part, users don't need to access any folders except for their home folder so the rest of the system can disappear. Apple could include the Finder but just leave it hidden in CoreServices and developers have to add it manually. Other users could access files using something like the pop-over I mentioned above - a Mini-Finder.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pik80


    The interesting thing I have found from relying on tags is that I am always coming across files that I had forgotten about before I relied on tags.



    Do you browse by tags or search for tags? Do you use a 3rd party app for this? Also do you group project files this way?
  • dr millmossdr millmoss Posts: 5,403member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Macintosh_Next View Post


    Could you at least briefly tell me whats wrong with Finder? I have been a Mac user since 2006, and I don't really NOT like the finder. To me, it's exactly the same as Explorer in Windows. It shows me my files and applications. I don't need anything else from it, and in fact I like the cover flow feature as it's easer to scroll through my applications. And with spotlight, I hardly even use Finder, so maybe thats why I don't see a problem with it. I use Finder maybe 100 times a year. And thats assuming I am in school. When I wasn't in school, I didn't actually use Finder at all. When I am, I use it sometimes (trying to drag files into a file for school, and now dropping them into my drop box). So whats wrong with it, a brief list? Or you can PM me if you'd like. Thanks in advanced.



    The main issue is the complexity, particularly in the variety of very different ways it represents the same thing. One clear way is better than five weak (or dissonant) ways. I think I explained this in another post, but I believe you've helped me make my point on this. Most users from my experience don't even know that Cover Flow even exists, and really the only reason it does exist is that it was borrowed from iTunes, where it served a very different purpose. As useful as it can be in the Finder, it's really a kludge, made necessary by the fundamental lack of clarity of the Finder itself. Comparisons to Windows Explorer don't give me any comfort. I expect Apple to be better at solving these human interface issues than Microsoft.



    The second issue is the desktop metaphor, which as I also mentioned above, has been worn thin by over-extension. The iOS does not rely on metaphor, which I think is a step in the right direction.



    As I said, the single largest challenge I have found teaching the Mac is teaching the Finder. Just try mentioning the Finder to an average unsophisticated Mac user and see how many even know that it exists, let alone its functions, or why it's an application. Just look at how many people throw everything on the Desktop because the file system is difficult to comprehend. I know this will bring out the condescending comments, but this is reality. It can be done better so it should be done better.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    He wasn't really right. Folders are generally regarded as distinct from files. Programming languages often has isFile() functions that return false if you give them folder paths. Even if you do command line listings, they have a marking that distinguishes directories from files.



    Perhaps he meant they can be moved around similar to files but you can't open a folder in an application.



    iOS has folders too btw, to group applications together. They are easier to grasp as they are just one level deep but this is limited if you have 100,000+ files.



    So what if he isn't a programmer? No, what he meant is that a document is typically called a "file" but the metaphor for where you store one is a file folder. So you put your file in a file. It's dissonant, and consequently, not as clear as it should be.
  • outsideroutsider Posts: 6,008member
    Dr Millmoss, your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
  • MarvinMarvin Posts: 13,530member, moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post


    The main issue is the complexity, particularly in the variety of very different ways it represents the same thing.



    I agree that a single window view would be better than what they have. IMO they should use the iTunes setup where the browser part would become column view and the bottom part can be switched between list view and icon view, like this:







    Note, there is no horizontal scrolling anywhere. The blocks at the top show the available columns and clicking them moves the column view. The column widths would be fixed too but could be set between 2-5 at a time.



    Some parts there could be simplified further when not in use. For example, the tab bar could disappear and the middle toolbar doesn't need to exist or the functions can be incorporated into the sidebar. The trash icon can go in the sidebar too and allow you to empty it from there. To compare windows, you just drag a tab out. To move items from one area to another, you can drag onto a tab.



    If you wanted, you could exclude files from the top view and folders from the bottom view to avoid the mingling of files/folders but I personally think that would cause more confusion.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post


    Just look at how many people throw everything on the Desktop because the file system is difficult to comprehend.



    I see that most on Windows because the filesystem structure makes no sense. Desktops used to be cluttered when files were downloaded there by default but the downloads folder has helped here.



    Using the desktop for files isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's an area where people can visually map out areas for quick access to important files. The desktop is really just another folder that has been set fullscreen in icon-view.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post


    So what if he isn't a programmer? No, what he meant is that a document is typically called a "file" but the metaphor for where you store one is a file folder. So you put your file in a file. It's dissonant, and consequently, not as clear as it should be.



    You put applications in folders too though and don't call those files and they are in fact folders in Apple's implementation. Whatever name you assign (stacks, collections, boxes, piles), you are going to need nested groups or you end up with one-level deep folders or a tag system. One-level isn't enough for 1/2 million files and tags-only adds complexity because your current filesystem would require about 250,000 tags, which you simply can't display all at once otherwise you are going to have to nest tags, which again is a fixed hierarchy even though you can address them non-linearly but that's how the current filesystem is.
Sign In or Register to comment.