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Apple's iChat to gain tabs, integration with iTunes - Page 4

post #121 of 160
Kickaha, I think we have been more of the same opinion than either of us realized initially. In addition to that, contrary to the usual "arguing on the Internet" experience, I have learned a great deal in this thread. I'll say "thanks" at this point, lest I forgot later.

Regarding Minimize and Hide, obviously Minimize hides a window and Hide hides an application's windows plus takes that application to the background. But this is essentially the same thing: to put something out of sight for a while. I think that whether the windows are hidden one at a time or whole application at a time, they should end up in the same place, where they would not take up permanent screen real estate (like Minimized items currently do), but you could peek at what's hidden (not currently possible with Hidden things) and therefore bring things forward knowing just which windows are going to appear.

Done right, I think this would enable people to only view the active work windows at a time and not have the unused windows in the background cluttering the view unless they want to. It would pretty much remove the need for tabs as well. The next step would be to develop workspaces/grouping/multi-desktops like you mention, but I don't know much about that.

I'm starting to see that there isn't anything wrong with Expose, it's the deficiencies in the underlying hide/minimize jumble that caused me to criticize Expose. I unreasonably expected it to work like a swiss army knife to patch the gaps of the other UI elements. It's good that Apple has in fact kept it very clean, now they just have to get their other stuff together. I imagine Expose might eventually melt into the rest of the interface, so there is no longer an expressly activated "Expose" feature and people will forget its name, but many elements in the interface use the same effect. This ties into resolution independence, UI elements will no longer have a "normal size" and "Expose size" but might change very subtly depending on what the system senses you doing.

So.. are we on the same track now?
post #122 of 160
Quite. I think you've hit on a couple of great ideas in this thread, and you're right, we're just not that far apart on how we view the system after all.

Thanks for an enjoyable discussion.
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post #123 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by rok
um, there's a slight difference between the two. for example, posting here can be at your own pace, but chatting requires you to be real-time attentive to people constantly sending you IM's. the few times i have tried to have multi-user chats at work, it was all i could do to keep up with the various threads at once simultaneously. it's like having completely different conversations at a dinner party, with people standing on either side of you... and you don't talk, you type.

like i said, bit of a difference between that and here.

This all depends on how you use IM. I come from ICQ (the first IM, IIRC) and that was originally "single message", so I've stuck with it. I don't feel any rush to answer IMs if they're not urgent and nobody should either.

If you ever come across an interlocutor that expects you to answer immediately don't and either tell him/her directly to stop pressuring you or stop IM'ing you if they can't wait and they'll soon understand.

That sounded harsher than I meant, but it's true. IM means instant message, not Instant Reply. Educate your interlocutors and they'll in turn educate theirs.

I have conversations where each message is replied maybe hours and sometimes days after it was originally sent (ICQ made this easier by storing messages in the server which were delivered when the other party logged in, and saving a history of the conversation over time, modern IM clients help with this as well by storing History files).

Again, you decide how you want to chat and how you use your time. Nobody can force you to reply instantaneously if you don't want to.

And as a side note, the stupid method of setting yourself as "away" is a sad way to not have people sending you messages. Educate users, don't work around their ways.

Eduo
post #124 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by averagezen

My self and my partners use ichat (AIM) on a daily basis to do buisness. Having the ability to group all of my partners and freelances together in a group would be a nice feature, this would limit me to 1 chat window as opposed to the 4 to 6 that I may have up at a time. To me this would be a PRO.

Having tabs windows helps here. Having tabs doesn't lead to error unless you're careless. It saves space and allows for flexibility.

The conversation in this thread is going a little overboard because it seems people are arguing over which interface should be ENFORCED and this is stupid. The option should be given and whoever wants it could use it (like Safari's tabs).

Right now I think Adium has the best interface for IM out there (I'm including every IM application under the sun here, for all platforms, all of which I've used).

You can use tabs or not. You can have all your conversations in a single tab or have different tab groups. You can have your tabs ordered by group, alphabetically or by status. You can have different tab groups (windows) for different user grouops (Friends, Family, etc.). Probably the only improvement I'd make in Adium right now would be to make sure when the user sees a notification for a user's message that he realizes he may not be seeing that user's tab. This is PEBKAC, obviously, and I don't have a good interface solution for it.

I do wish Apple checked the Adium guys. Apple doesn't like as much customizability in their apps and usually go for a more rigid and controllable interface, but maybe a deal could be struck.

The main problem here is the Adium license and for this several options exist:

-Apple could make the iChat's proprietary protocols (especially AV) closed source as a plug-in for a special version of Adium, as this version would have to be Closed-Source.

-The Adium people could consult with all its developers and decide upon a especially-made version of Adium for Apple, and sell the source for that specific subset of Adium to them. The Adium group could use the money and Apple would have a flexible sourcebase to build onto without killing the main Adium fork (which would keep its base and flexibility).

There are several options but, as usual, Apple won't do it this way. I liked what they did on David Hyatt (hire him, let him keep working on Camino, etc.) but the Adium team is much larger and may not be an option.

I also don't think Apple would include MSN support, for several reasons which I won't list here. I myself hate MSN but have more than half my friends there (I have been able to convince a few of them to switch, but then they'd have to tell their friends to switch, which wouldn't happen, as that second level has absolutely no reason to do so).

That was rather more than 2 cents.

Eduo
post #125 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by kim kap sol
Sure, people can say it's PEBCAK, but what you say entirely true. It's unfortunately happened to me...and not just any ol' conversation between two people...it happened to be a mix up when I was talking to my ex-girlfriend and my new girlfriend simultaneously. It's silly and evands and adam may laugh but it's pretty fucking serious if you ask me. Switching back and forth between tabs between conversations can lead to disastrous situations. The possibility of misclicks also happen when you have to target small tabs.

The solution is not to decide over whether to include tabs or not, but to give the option to have tabs and, most importantly, to give the option on which tabs go where.

Safari doesn't have tabs enabled by default and neither should iChat. Tabs should also be movable or groupable. This way you could have tabs for what you want and grouped the way you want. The same way you can with Safari right now (the only thing safari is missing is tab regrouping, moving or detaching).

I for example have tried Adium's grouping of tabs. In the end I just used a single window for them all except when I'm chatting with friends and co-workers, in which case I have to windows with their respective tabs. I do this not because I think I can mistype one thing for the other but because sometimes I'll send a URL to ALL my friends' tabs and I can easily do CMD-V,CMD-SHIFT-LEFT,CMD-V until I've gone through all the tabs without seeing who I'm sending them to.

I do agree tabs should have a blinker or some animated notification. The current way to do this in Adium is to change the online-status gumdrop, which is not enough. But this is only so it can grab your attention. I've often gone unnoticed of a message for a while because I didn't see the icon change.

Something I'd like and that is probably unfeasible is that if I activate Expose in adium (and other tab-enabled applications) all tabs should detach and appear separately. This is mostly eye Candy, but I'd like it.

Right now all tabbed-applications I know of can be manipulated via the keyboard (and it's actually more intuitive than several windows, as you have a spatial location you can correlate to keys: This tab is to the left so I hit the "go left" keyboard combo, etc.). I have sometimes gone without using the keyboard while doing Mail-IM-Webbrowsing-IRC-Terminal for several hours. As long as you don't have to click on links or select-and copy you don't notice. It's releasing.

Eduo
post #126 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by jherrling
The only problem I see with tabs is you wouldn't know who replied unless there was some form of indicator such as a little icon that appears on the tab or something... Also it would be great for keyboard short cuts to be put in for switching between tabs. Something like Shift-1, Shift-2, etc. That alone would be faster than going between windows as it currently exists. The less I have to use the mouse the happier and faster I am.

You should check current implementations of tabbed IM windows (like proteus and Adium). The tabs have notices in them (although I'd like for the tab to blink) and you can easily navigate the tabs with the keyboard, just as you can in Safari (and Colloquy, for that matter, which is also a tabbed app which is all the better for having tabs).
post #127 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by vroem
MSN support is already there. (in Tiger)
For all those who don't know yet: When you log in with a Jabber account, you can automatically be connected to all your other services (MSN, AIM). With just one password. All your other accounts are stored on the server.

Jabber servers have gateways to lots of other protocols (most of them support AIM, ICQ, MSN, IRC, Yahoo).

I currently use Jabber, so I should make these notes:

Jabber supports gateways to other protocols, but your client and your server must know about them. If Apple adds Jabber support but hardcode their server or don't add support for gateways in their client other protocols may not be supported.

Quote:
Jabber is an open and free protocol and it will probably become the only official IM standard. Until now this freeness has been a bit of a problem for Jabber's adoption: the public Jabber servers don't form one big network (altough most of them interconnect) because they're not backed by commercial companies.

The same reasons you give here are the ones given by those that say Jabber won't take off.

Jabber is currently not endorsed by any company (and if rumors are true Apple won't endorse it officially any more than Adium does, it'll be just one more protocol for their proprietary client).

MSN and AOL are currently the de-facto standard (depending on the country and continent) because they were backed by companies. ICQ was the original IM (not including unix's 'talk'.. and it was swallowed by the other two. I should add that ICQ was toppled when it already have more than ten times the current Jabber's user base. So there.

I like Jabber (not 100%, but I don't like any IM protocol 100%) but I can see its defects.

Here's what I'd like to see in an IM protocol:

-Support for server-sent messages (for when you're online)
-Server-stored Buddy lists
-Support for AV (right now iChat's the best AV protocol, and Skype's the best Audio-only protocol)
-Support for seeing the IP information of your authorized buddies (that is, you authorize people to see your IP directly) and of going through the server for those you don't.
-Allowing YOU to delete YOURSELF from people who could have you in their lists.
-Easy layer of P2P interconnectivity for adding third-party connection tools (AV, Games, File transfers, etc.)
post #128 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by kim kap sol

Adam...bring this back. You don't understand what I mean by chat are being horizontally skinny. You're thinking the whole window has to be skinny...not so. Just the text area.

Two things:

1.-I liked your screenshot for an idea. I hadn't understood you either, which brings me to:

2.-Maybe you should check on that "you don't understand me" and change it to "maybe I'm not making myself clear". Don't assume the others are at fault. I wasn't understanding you and I believe nor were some of the others.

Quote:
Still...I don't think Apple should touch tabs. I was surprised they did with Safari and I'd be even more surprised if they did with iChat. The casual browser or chatter doesn't need tabs.
To this day, I know no one personally that uses the tabs in Safari. The only time I hear of people using it is on web forums.

I don't see why things have to be so radical. Apple doesn't force you to use tabs. Tabs are disabled by default. You only use them if:

1.-You know about them from somewhere else
2.-You find them while seeing around the preferences
3.-A friend points them over to you or enables them for you.

In cases 1 and 2 we're not talking unknowing users. Casual browsers won't see them and won't need them, so they won't use them. The only way a casual browser would use tabs is in case "3" above, in which case he knows where the odd behaviour comes from and knows who to go to and complain/ask/question about them.

You may choose to assume that users are in average uneducated or dumb, but don't assume they have to be corraled and shouldn't be given choices. EVERY user I have presented tabs to have come to rely on them so much they hate going back to browsers that don't have them (which is like Expose, which you may not know until someone points it to you and then you get used to it immediately).

Eduo

PS: I have refrained to use the term "feature nazi" because I don't think that's what you mean, but I should mention that's how you come across.
post #129 of 160
Adium's user interface gets my vote as well. I use Adium everyday.
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post #130 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by Kickaha

But they were made to solve a problem that the Mac simply doesn't have.

You could argue that staples are a kludge for people that can't use folders properly and that paperclips are better for so many reasons.

It still wouldn't be the point.

The point is that different people like to manage things differently and you're nobody to tell them they're doing it better or worse than they should. I know people who use their mice the wrong way up and people who close their car doors with their feet. I know people who cut their hair with that vacuum, "seen-on-tv" thingy and people that eat spaghetti cutting it up before. I know people who mix Whiskey and Coke and people who use SUVs in the city. I know people who swing (sexually) and people who go to church every other day.

Can I have an opinion on the issue and say I don't agree with what they do? Yes.

Can I say they're wrong, say they should be prohibited from having that option and that they're stupid, wrong, inefficient or whatever else I think I am superior to them for? No. I can't. Neither can you say people SHOULDN'T have the option. No matter your opinion in this respect (something which, incidentally, you evidently lack by extension).

Geez. I can't believe I'm reading "People shouldn't have the choice because it's my belief this interface decision is passe/overrated/unnecessary/ugly/hard-to-click/misunderstood-by-me".

Gosh. Complain if the feature is planned as mandatory, not if it's considered as optional (like tabs currently in Safari, which are entirely optional and off by default).

I myself would LOVE to have an GUI that is fullscreen, no windows, just panes and tabs. Self-contained, self-referencing. My grandmother could understand something like that better than she does current UI's. Would that be inefficient or less-than-best? Yes. Would it work better for her? Yes.

Give me one fullscreen OS. With several panes and tabs for each application and I have at least 20 people I know would be much happier than they currently are. Of which I'm not one, but I'm capable of seeing that something that would limit me would make an experience easier for someone else.

Eduo
post #131 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by kim kap sol
http://img32.exs.cx/img32/4757/Expose769.png
No problems distinguishing 9 conversations with Exposé.

So...

Who's roxanne?

...

Sorry... Got derailed.

Eduo
post #132 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by Kickaha
I see an IM client as being like a text editor, but the documents are shared. I would never *dream* of using a text editor that was tabbed! Would you?

I do. The most-used grapical text (code and text) editors in Windows and Unix use tabs (HomePage, Bluefish, Quanta). They also do a two-pane interface (list of documents, document content, tabs below). Same for IDEs.

They *work*.

Quote:
For one thing, tabs (in many implementations) break drag and drop between documents. Ouch. Big no-no.

This is not an inherent problem of tabs, but a problem of current tab implementation. Saying this is like saying a folder within a closed folder precludes d&d. Not so. In the same way we have pop-up and pop-into-view for d&d in the finder and expose for d&d in overlapped windows accross applications tabs could EASILY switch into focus in the middle of a drag operation and before the drop.

Say, you have text in one tab which you select, drag, move to the tab bar over a different tab, said tabs switches into focus, drop.

For some items (mostly, even) you could just drop the item over the tab and if you don't wait for it to come up and just drop right away the item is sent without an "enter" (which would happen if you waited for the window to pop up) the same way it is for the finder currently.

Do not confuse tabs themselves with tab implementations and pass the defects of one unto the others. Complaining about an implementation just means that's a temporary concern, until it's addressed.

Quote:
And they have many drawbacks as well, not the least of which is that they don't scale well, they don't work with many app content, and most implementations break drag-and-drop. I mean come on, that last one has got to be a biggie. You (generic programmer, not you in particular) just broke one the most *fundamental* UI elements, and it's not a hack? Hmmm.

Read above for the Drag&Drop. You're missing the point. D&D could be implemented in tabs just like it can be implemented in multiple windows (or, if you will, in windows currently obscured by something else).

On the "scale well" argument, few things scale well in UI. You have to decide on adopting things for your average user. As you've repeatedly stated, normal users don't have more than a handful of IM conversations at the same time. That means Tabs work for that.

I like tabs because I can have a single messaging window which I can keep in view while something else occupies most of the screen (it may be a movie I'm seeing, it may be Steve's latest keynote, it may be my mail, it may be my OTHER tabbed application: IRC. I am not able to fit several IM windows and several IRC windows in my 1024x768 screen without having it completely wallpapered by the windows. Which I obviously don't like.

Quote:
Yes, you did, but no more convincingly, sorry. I see why some people like them... but I refuse to accede that they are a general solution widget. The original problem they were designed to solve simply isn't an issue on the Mac.

For you.

Quote:
Edit: Just saw your above reply... fair enough, you're limiting it to just the IM client, and that's it. I think at that point, it becomes merely an issue of personal taste, and we can agree to disagree?

It was always about the IM client. Some of us mentioned the feasibility of tabs somewhere else but the argument was focused on the IM client. And we should've agreed to disagree from the beginning.
post #133 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by kim kap sol
I'm actually curious to see how it's going to work...especially since iChat does video and audio chats. Somehow I think it's a feature that will be dropped before it shows up in any build.

What the heck has AV got to do with Tabs? I haven't ever used audio of video in a text window. You get a separate window for it, so the point is incredibly irrelevant, highly tangential and dangerously flammable..

Eduo
post #134 of 160
To all,

I apologize for my barrage of messages. I read the thread just today and replied to messages as I read them.

Now I have a page almost all to myself..

As a summary, I'd like to mention I think current implementations of every UI widget have possible improvements (even Expose) and, as I said, Tabs currently address a single need for me: Grouping all of an app's windows into a single one.

I don't think every multi-window app needs tabs. I wouldn't dream of using tabs in Photoshop, for example, but I can see their usefulness and how they make some users' UI usage more efficient.

I'd dare to find anyone that can handle their Safari or Adium windows without tabs faster than I can with them. Really.

Eduo
post #135 of 160
Quote:
Yes, you did, but no more convincingly, sorry. I see why some people like them... but I refuse to accede that they are a general solution widget. The original problem they were designed to solve simply isn't an issue on the Mac.

For you.

For anyone. You even state that your own desire for tabs is based on grouping, not cycling problems:

Quote:
Originally posted by eduo
As a summary, I'd like to mention I think current implementations of every UI widget have possible improvements (even Expose) and, as I said, Tabs currently address a single need for me: Grouping all of an app's windows into a single one.

The original problem that tabs were supposed to solve, poor window management leading to a lack of ease in selecting quickly and precisely the window you want out of many, isn't the problem on MacOS X that it is under other systems. For *that problem*, tabs are at best a nicety under MacOS X, not absolutely essential as on other systems.

However, you did come around to the same terminology we had been discussing above, that of window grouping. That's an area of potential high utility for everyone, and one that supercedes tabs by a wide margin.

Bottom line: arguing about tabs, or figuring out the best possible implementation for tabs would be a waste of time for Apple. They should be concentrating on the bigger fish that will get more users better benefit. Tabs, or tab functionality, will fall out of that research quite naturally.

And do we *really* need to go down the 'just make everything an option' road again? That horse is dead, beaten, and therein lies madness. Or X11. It's a bad approach to UI design, fundamentally.

I'll ignore the rest of your comments since they were covered in the conversation between Gon and I.
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post #136 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by Kickaha
And do we *really* need to go down the 'just make everything an option' road again? That horse is dead, beaten, and therein lies madness. Or X11. It's a bad approach to UI design, fundamentally.

Until they fix the hide-minimize system, I'd say tabs as an option are a good idea. It is very useful to me in both browsing and IM, and maybe this is a surprise to you but both Expose and Windows Taskbar get swamped by the combined quantity/quality of my browser windows. I haven't thought about it before, but the linear nature of the tabs helps me organize my browsing, especially on forums. Expose gives no order to the windows.

Everything can be configured - good
You are expected to configure everything - bad
You are needlessly exposed to advanced options - bad

I'd say GNOME and Firefox people have configuration right. Both have simple configuration, but you can get to GNOME's internals with a distinct advanced configuration tool, and you can extend Firefox to do whatever you want, using simple or complicated extensions.
post #137 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by eduo
I do. The most-used grapical text (code and text) editors in Windows and Unix use tabs (HomePage, Bluefish, Quanta). They also do a two-pane interface (list of documents, document content, tabs below). Same for IDEs.

They *work*.

And the window managers they work within *suck*. I know. I use them. I'm quite fond of tabbed editors and browsers on Windows, simply for want of something better.

Quote:
Do not confuse tabs themselves with tab implementations and pass the defects of one unto the others. Complaining about an implementation just means that's a temporary concern, until it's addressed.

But that's dodging the issue. Currently, on the Mac, the "tabs" under discussion (as opposed to the conventional use) only exist as implementations. My entire criticism, at least, centers precisely around the fact that there is no standard, thought-through behavior for multiple-document windows. So you have to start there. Tabs cannot be considered a feature, in my opinion, until we can actually talk about "tabs themselves" rather than a wildly variable and completely inconsistent morass of implementations. (Actually, if you talk about "tabs themselves," they exist on OSX, and they're well designed for their intended job: Organizing panes of related controls in a space-efficient manner.)


As for the idea that UIs should be as wildly variable as individuals are, I can't understand that at all. What other interfaces are so variable? Would you want to get into someone's car only to realize that they prefer to steer with their feet? If a machine has a certain set of features, the interface's primary obligation is to make those features accessible in a consistent and intuitive way. The fact that the close box on a Mac window is in the upper left-hand corner has not, so far as I know, interfered with anyone's individuality.

The UI designed with the mantra that consistency is fascism is Motif, and look at how that turned out.
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post #138 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by Amorph
As for the idea that UIs should be as wildly variable as individuals are, I can't understand that at all. What other interfaces are so variable? Would you want to get into someone's car only to realize that they prefer to steer with their feet? If a machine has a certain set of features, the interface's primary obligation is to make those features accessible in a consistent and intuitive way.

Totally wrong. Who's forcing you to use an interface someone else customized for himself? If you want the standard interface, you use the standard interface.

If I lost both my hands in an accident, I would definitely want a feet-steered car.

Intuitiveness and consistency in interfaces are subjective. Both depend on how close the user's thought model and the software's logic correspond.
post #139 of 160
Consistency is quite important in my estimate. I like knowing that if I sit down at any mac or windows computer, I will know how to use it. That isn't true of *nix systems; graphical or commandline. On the mac, top -u sorts by CPU use order, on any other system that gives an invalid argument. Things like that are really annoying, and make it a big pain to trouble shoot (especially over the phone) and I think it makes the system seem unpolished.

Playing with KDE's options, you can see so many of them and set pretty much anything. But I maintain that some things should be set by the system design. That is the point of design and making design decisions. I think Apple is really good at giving us options without giving us everything under the sun (I would like themes though). It's what makes standards and a joyful user experience.
post #140 of 160
Consistency of what -- behavior, layout, structure? I think people have to get a little deeper into what they mean by consistency because you can be consistent to an idea, but that can invoke different particular details.

Consistency is an exercise in fine-tuning. I can make you jump through hoops on a consistent basis, make you jump through the same set of hoops, but you're still jumping through hoops. We're looking for a more sophisticated set of tools or behaviors first, then we can hammer out any quirks or exceptions. And in order to do that, we have to agree on what we're trying to manage or structure here -- windows, documents, apps, networks, etc. I don't think we've even come to agreement on what it is we're trying to manage.

As far as optioning out everything under the sun, if you've ever used 3D modelling software, you know the advantages and pitfalls of that approach. I've used a lot of FormZ in the last 6+ years, and while you can do just about anything under the sun, there's a really steep learning curve to learn how to do that. That's true of almost any 3D app. Some 3D apps throw the whole book at you right off the bat, and you can't even draw a simple box because you're buried in inputs, options and strict hierarchies that you can't dig yourself out of. Others hide options and tools until the user calls for them. Finding those options can be a spelunking expedition, and while users can usually at least build something simple, getting the app to do what they want is difficult. Users often think that you can't do xyz because they can't find the option or change the restriction. It takes months to learn the apps' structure, how to navigate, go into different modes of working, understand the different sets of tools, etc. This situation is simply unacceptable if it's compounded by an OS that acts the same way.

Anyway, I think you have to sort out the structure issue before you talk about consistency, options, tools and features to manage that structure. Basically, you have to start at the beginning. Also ask yourself how much control you're willing to give up to the computer, and how much you want to manage things yourself? There's a range of answers, but the range has to be defined, and thus you have to set limits. The wider the rnage, less easily learned the GUI will be. And Apple isn't really famous for having an intuitive UI, it's famous for having an easy to learn UI.
post #141 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by BuonRotto
And Apple isn't really famous for having an intuitive UI, it's famous for having an easy to learn UI.

Intuitiveness and ease-of-use normally go hand-in-hand. I have trouble finding an example where they don't.

Things are easy when they are intuitive.
post #142 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by kim kap sol
Intuitiveness and ease-of-use normally go hand-in-hand. I have trouble finding an example where they don't.

Things are easy when they are intuitive.

Or when you learn the system, which you must do for everything

Example: screen

Hard to use at first, but once you learn it, very easy, and very intuitive
post #143 of 160
I would differentiate between easy to use and easy to learn. The latter is arguably more important, because if the learning curve is shallow, then the perecption of something being eay to use is more likely.

I don't particularly like to use the word intuitive since it gets people into this idea that we double-click a mouse in the same way a duck paddles its feet in water. That's not really what intuitive means -- it means easy to deduce, not innate, but some people think we're talking about blinking or our gag reflex when we use the word. Anyway, I probably misspoke when I said "intuitive" before. I used it to mean easy to use, when now that I think about it, it has more to do with learning than with using since you've already done the intuition if you're using with any proficiency. Bah, it gets all cognitive and stuff! In any case, I think "sophistication" is a better word for describing the goal of UI design, more than "intuitive."
post #144 of 160
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post #145 of 160
Consistency and Elegance as applied to an OS or windowing environment is really hard to define. It underlies more than any single definition can provide (I think) and is a system wide experience. I, and any of us, can give examples of good consistent behavior and bad inconsistent behavior without quite knowing why. It's one of those things that when we see it, we know we like it, and when we see otherwise, we know something is wrong.

As was pointed out, being technically consistent isn't enough. Dragging and dropping of files could always give the file path in any situation (technically consistent) but in most cases, that's not what we want (intuitively consistent).

It's has got to be an incredibly difficult job to do, especially to please the most people as possible without making it overwhelming for the rest. Though they don't have everything right, I have to applaud Apple's UI design team for what they have made. Innovations like Éxposé would never have occurred to me, and though it might not be prefect yet, it's really awesome at what it does!

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post #146 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by Code Master
Consistency and Elegance as applied to an OS or windowing environment is really hard to define. It underlies more than any single definition can provide (I think) and is a system wide experience. I, and any of us, can give examples of good consistent behavior and bad inconsistent behavior without quite knowing why. It's one of those things that when we see it, we know we like it, and when we see otherwise, we know something is wrong.

As was pointed out, being technically consistent isn't enough. Dragging and dropping of files could always give the file path in any situation (technically consistent) but in most cases, that's not what we want (intuitively consistent).

Consistent = logically consistent. Consistent software closely follows internal rules which form a model. Whether we perceive it consistent or not depends on if our model and the software's model are close to each other.

Making software easy to use means to make it consistent (which allows the users to understand the system), and to use models that are a close fit to models the intended user is familiar with (to make the system easier to learn, and more intuitive).
post #147 of 160
Quote:
But frankly...tabs are really stupid for a chat app. How many simultaneous conversations can one have at a time? If the answer is 'less than 5' then let the sessions be in separate windows and let Exposé do the rest.

You don't have many friends?

OK yeah I know I'm a loser I talk to way to many people online. Like 20 at a time. Tabs are AWESOME. Finally. Now if they could just make it WORK with AIM. Sending, formatting, etc. just never work 100%. iChat just doesn't work. AIM for Mac is missing a huge array of AIM features, but the ones it supports work. Except for a few bugs like text turning black after pasting a link, a bug I reported to them over a year ago and they haven't done anything about it. Same about getting Info taking forever, unless you move the mouse, for some odd reason. Of course, how long as Apple known that animated GIFs slow Safari down so even text can't be typed? I digress. AOL AIM has Mac clients that support every AIM 5.5 (soon 6?) feature perfectly. And until AOL makes a decent AIM for Mac or lets Apple "under the tent" all the damn way, there won't be one. Proteus and the official Mac AIM are the best I've seen so far. Adium is decent. iChat is a nice idea but just doesn't work.
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post #148 of 160
Jumping back a bit, OS X certainly has some issues with its hide and minimise behaviour.

Apparently one of the rules for hiding is that you cannot hide all of the running applications.
But, for consistency, you can hide the finder.
When you hide the finder another app jumps up to take its place, and then another, and another, as you try to hide them.
This is a an edge condition in hiding ( what happens when you hide the last app ), and the selected behaviour breaks the consistency of hiding ( it unhides an app ). I think that the justification is probably that people can have a shortcut in their workflow ( jump from one app to another ).

I HATE IT.
I HATE IT.
grr, it makes me soooo mad.

I really shouldnt get so emotional about it.
I am trying to break my habit, expose is great for getting at the desktop. I use it a lot now-a-days.

Expose will help me feel better, just one more dose.......
post #149 of 160
Actually, if you hide all the apps... what happens to the menu bar?

"OMG! My menu bar just disappeared/went blank! Where the hell did everything go?!?"

I don't think it's for workflow, but for lack-of-surprise factor.
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post #150 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by Kickaha
Actually, if you hide all the apps... what happens to the menu bar?

"OMG! My menu bar just disappeared/went blank! Where the hell did everything go?!?"

I don't think it's for workflow, but for lack-of-surprise factor.

If you hide "everything", what stays visible is the desktop, which is a Finder window. You should get the Finder menubar IMO.
post #151 of 160
*I* know that the Desktop is a Finder window, and *you* know that... average user hasn't a clue, so the Finder repeatedly popping up in their face is going to annoy them. "But I *hid* the Finder... what the heck?" :/

The current approach is the best compromise I've seen, since as mmmpie pointed out, the effect *can* be used as part of a workflow. I prefer Cmd-tab to pop quickly between two apps, but I can see someone using this instead.

My geeky heart still thinks that hiding all apps should just leave the Dock, but that's only because I know enough about the underlying system to not be surprised.
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post #152 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by Kickaha
*I* know that the Desktop is a Finder window, and *you* know that... average user hasn't a clue, so the Finder repeatedly popping up in their face is going to annoy them. "But I *hid* the Finder... what the heck?" :/

The current approach is the best compromise I've seen, since as mmmpie pointed out, the effect *can* be used as part of a workflow. I prefer Cmd-tab to pop quickly between two apps, but I can see someone using this instead.

My geeky heart still thinks that hiding all apps should just leave the Dock, but that's only because I know enough about the underlying system to not be surprised.

I actually thought that all the "regular" Finder windows would get hidden, but on second thought that is quite illogical and useless behavior. You are right in that only Dock should remain. What I want to know, should desktop contents be hidden too?

It's totally silly (though logical) that clicking the Desktop makes hidden Finder windows pop up. This is a concrete example of why OS X hide is bad from the ground up.
post #153 of 160
Actually, I think it's more of a symptom of the Finder controlling the Desktop being a bad design. It's an 'invisible window'? WTH? Make Desktop functionality tied with the Dock as the 'bottom layer' of the UI, not tied in with the Finder. Yeah, it's a Finder window behind the scenes, but to the user, it's anything but.

That way, you could hide Finder, and all other apps, and still have Dock and Desktop available as your basic entry point.

OTOH, this is a good argument for having Finder pop up as the last unhideable app... kind of like OS 9... er... *gulp*
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post #154 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by Gon
Totally wrong. Who's forcing you to use an interface someone else customized for himself? If you want the standard interface, you use the standard interface.

If I lost both my hands in an accident, I would definitely want a feet-steered car.

Intuitiveness and consistency in interfaces are subjective. Both depend on how close the user's thought model and the software's logic correspond.

Actually, consistency is objective. That's the whole point of consistency. Intuitiveness is subjective to a point, or the great bulk of Apple's UI work is pointless and fruitless by definition. For instance, it's intuitive to most people that folders organize things.

Basically, your argument is that there is no model or model(s) that most closely correspond(s) to a given set of functionality. I disagree. And I point to those UIs that agree with your stance - Motif, Gnome - all of which are difficult to learn, difficult to use, non-discoverable, inconsistent, unintuitive, and ugly. Furthermore, and no less crucially for real-world use, the more variables you allow, the more bugs and flaws and inconsistencies you allow in both the system and the applications written for it. Choice is fine when research reveals that there really is more than one way to get something done. But at some point, whether because it prevents a metaphor from collapsing (intuitiveness, discoverability) or because it simply came out favorably in testing, there is generally a best way to get something done.

This is the whole point of the old Inside Macintosh HIG book (and, actually, much of the point of all the other IM books), which I'd highly recommend reading if you're serious about this.
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post #155 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by Amorph
Actually, consistency is objective. That's the whole point of consistency. Intuitiveness is subjective to a point, or the great bulk of Apple's UI work is pointless and fruitless by definition. For instance, it's intuitive to most people that folders organize things.

The common definition of consistency is how well the software adheres to a single, abstract logical model (internal consistency). This is objective. But, most software does not have a simple, 100% consistent logic. This means that when you try to form a model of it in your head, there are more than one model that all fit the software pretty well. Also, beginners often work with a model that is very removed from the best model(s) - they can't and won't grasp the full model right away. These factors and internal consistency combined are external consistency, which is subjective. Alternatively, sticking with the narrow definition leaves a big empty area between consistency and intuitiveness. If you know of a better name for that, suggest one.
Quote:
Basically, your argument is that there is no model or model(s) that most closely correspond(s) to a given set of functionality. I disagree. And I point to those UIs that agree with your stance - Motif, Gnome - all of which are difficult to learn, difficult to use, non-discoverable, inconsistent, unintuitive, and ugly. Furthermore, and no less crucially for real-world use, the more variables you allow, the more bugs and flaws and inconsistencies you allow in both the system and the applications written for it. Choice is fine when research reveals that there really is more than one way to get something done. But at some point, whether because it prevents a metaphor from collapsing (intuitiveness, discoverability) or because it simply came out favorably in testing, there is generally a best way to get something done.

I never said there isn't generally a single good way to accomplish a given task. It's good to provide one such a way to the user. Likewise, it's good to give options, neatly tucked away, for those who want/need them. (Disclaimer: I am not a Gnome expert.) Gnome's public policy is that it is dedicated to giving the user one good way of doing things. They go through the trouble to push advanced options out of sight. Their latest releases have concentrated on HIG and usability over features. KDE folks fit your criticism better.

You didn't address the missing hands scenario. It's not just disabilities either: a person who's using some software eight hours a day might want to go through a lot of initial trouble in order to save fifteen minutes a day eventually. Why not allow him to do that? Why not give the handless man a chance to drive a car?
post #156 of 160
Except that what you're advocating is making sure that every auto sold has the option available for handless drivers, including it with every car at added expense that is unnecessary for 99.99% of the consumers.

It is much better to allow for after-market modifications for such users who need such things, and that is precisely what the auto market does now.

If you really want to pursue this comparison, then it would make sense for Apple to provide the best possible singular way (or very few ways) for a UI, and allow third party developers to fill in the special workflow needs of the smaller niche markets. Just like the auto companies do. Just like Apple does now.

And before you say that Apple doesn't provide the hooks to allow this sort of thing, take a look at the Accessibility API. There is a MASSIVE amount of customization possibility in there, hidden under the 'Accessibility' moniker.
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post #157 of 160
First, I did not talk about Apple and what they have and have not done, my comments were about design in general.

I don't want to pursue the auto comparison because it is poor, automobiles have lots of physical constraints and are not comparable to software. I wasn't the one to bring the whole comparison into the discussion, Amorph was. I merely pointed out that even in his extreme "useless customization" scenario there would have been people who would have wanted to customize their vehicle. Whenever the developer makes a design decision, it is represented in code. If the code is good, most decisions are abstracted and cleanly separated from each other. ]Then it is generally very little bother to put in a configuration/option system, that lets people change that decision without having access to the source and having to compile it. Mostly, this is worth doing even just for development team internal use. A programming API is the next step in extensibility. Open sourcing the program is also a possibility. I'm just arguing that the company should expose as much of the *existing* internals of the program as possible, and seriously consider including additional extensibility features. In no circumstances should the internals be hidden from those who are interested in tweaking them. The developer should not assume to know all the uses the users would like to put the software to.

Oh holy crap. Bad mod. Gon, I hit edit instead of reply, and edited your post by mistake. Your content is all here, but my quote is gone. Oops.
post #158 of 160
Quote:
First, I did not talk about Apple and what they have and have not done, my comments were about design in general.

I don't want to pursue the auto comparison because it is poor, automobiles have lots of physical constraints and are not comparable to software. I wasn't the one to bring the whole comparison into the discussion, Amorph was. I merely pointed out that even in his extreme "useless customization" scenario there would have been people who would have wanted to customize their vehicle.

Indeed. But it is not the purpose of the designers to fulfill every possible user's desire simultaneously, only to provide a best fit for the majority of the userbase. As you point out below, designers can *not* anticipate every possible need. Therefore they must provide the best solution for most, and optimally an API for developers to provide after-market solutions for niche markets.

Quote:
Whenever the developer makes a design decision, it is represented in code. If the code is good, most decisions are abstracted and cleanly separated from each other.

Agreed.

Quote:
Then it is generally very little bother to put in a configuration/option system, that lets people change that decision without having access to the source and having to compile it.

Er, no. Each design decision must then be coded, tested, and supported N times for each option... which leads to an explosion of possible combinations, all of which must be tested as well. It's not linear, it's geometric. Reducing any one option pool reduces the testing and support load significantly.

Studies have shown that on average, 85% of the total cost of software development is in *maintenance*, if you can believe it. Anything you can do to alleviate that is a big win.

You can create orthogonal and correctly abstract areas of design, but choices oh how to implement those areas are still going to be discrete chunks of code that must be written, tested, and supported independently. And then in concert with other areas. Ad nauseum.

Quote:
Mostly, this is worth doing even just for development team internal use.

Which is a TOTALLY different environment than the end user. See, this is where the Gnome/KDE/Motif folks just don't get it: massive customizability, options, and such are great *for developers*... but not for the vast majority of end users. Many choices among a plethora of poorly designed solutions is no solution at all for the consumer.

Quote:
A programming API is the next step in extensibility. Open sourcing the program is also a possibility. I'm just arguing that the company should expose as much of the *existing* internals of the program as possible, and seriously consider including additional extensibility features.

Exposing internals is a direct violation of abstraction.

Quote:
In no circumstances should the internals be hidden from those who are interested in tweaking them. The developer should not assume to know all the uses the users would like to put the software to.

Nor should the user assume to know all the variables behind a decision by the development team.

Extension APIs are a good thing. A language that supported dynamic extension, such as Obj-C is better.

Seriously, if there were a market for such customizations, it is *not* technically impossible. Difficult, maybe, but come on... that's what l33t developers are for...
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post #159 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by Kickaha
Which is a TOTALLY different environment than the end user. See, this is where the Gnome/KDE/Motif folks just don't get it: massive customizability, options, and such are great *for developers*... but not for the vast majority of end users. Many choices among a plethora of poorly designed solutions is no solution at all for the consumer.

Regarding their overall quality, I believe they are works in progress and should be judged as such. It says something that I moved on OS X, not the free desktops, when I decided to dump Windows. Customizability and options as such cannot be a negative thing, if those users who do not need them, never see them. If there is a 5% of "developers" among the userbase that can use those options for something, great.

On Gnome, you don't *have* to boot up GConf, its existence just means the obscure stuff is available in a reasonably consistent form should you want to tweak it. Also on OS X, there are tons of options and miscellaneous data around the system in configuration files and Netinfo - it doesn't mean you *have* to ever go beyond the individual apps' Preferences and the System Preferences.
post #160 of 160
Quote:
Originally posted by Gon
Regarding their overall quality, I believe they are works in progress and should be judged as such. It says something that I moved on OS X, not the free desktops, when I decided to dump Windows. Customizability and options as such cannot be a negative thing, if those users who do not need them, never see them. If there is a 5% of "developers" among the userbase that can use those options for something, great.

On Gnome, you don't *have* to boot up GConf, its existence just means the obscure stuff is available in a reasonably consistent form should you want to tweak it. Also on OS X, there are tons of options and miscellaneous data around the system in configuration files and Netinfo - it doesn't mean you *have* to ever go beyond the individual apps' Preferences and the System Preferences.

Customizability and options are not a negative thing. Too many customizability options are.

If the extra options are buried out of normal sight, then it's fine. The only options that should be visible are the options the majority of users would use often.
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