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Apple's Mac OS X may gain multi-sized icon interface

post #1 of 87
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Apple Inc. has developed an enhancement to its Mac OS X Finder user interface that will allow for different-sized icons within the same window as a means of representing their importance, a recent patent application has revealed.

In the filing, made last December and published for the first time Thursday, the Cupertino-based Mac maker notes that conventional graphical user interfaces already allow users to alter all icons of a display system or window from one size to another size based upon their preference.

"However, such difference in size does not indicate the relative importance of the files or program represented by the icon, since the change in icon size is performed universally for all icons in a container, such as a folder or window," the company wrote. "Accordingly, in order to present a more informative and personalized user interface, a manner of describing to a user relative importance of an icon in relation to other icons in a system is desirable."

Apple said it has developed a user interface which allows a user to adjust the size of icons based upon the user's preference or based upon a characteristic of the objects that the icons represent. The filing states that, "When the icon sizing is performed according to a user preference, a relative sizing scheme or an arbitrary icon sizing scheme can be employed to variably size icons."

The Mac maker's invention includes a method and associated apparatus for efficiently employing arbitrarily sized icons to represent objects within a display device. "To this end," Apple wrote, "a user's arbitrary sizing of various icons in accordance with the present invention generates icon representations that can advantageously represent categorization of application or file importance, and/or the size of a file represented by an icon."



Additionally, the new icon interface would make way for the user to designate one preference value for a plurality of grouped icons to be sized accordingly. For example, as shown in the image above, icons 46 and 48 labeled "BBEdit Startup Items" and "BBEdit FTP Temp", respectively, illustrate multiple icons that are grouped and sized equally. This is also shown for the smallest icons 50-57.



Once a user has chosen the relative size of each of the icons that are to be sized, Apple's icon sizing application will calculate the relative size of each icon to be displayed on display device, the company said.

The filing, titled "Graphical user interface for computers having variable size icons," is credited to Apple User Interface Design Team members Arnaud Gourdol and Donald Lindsay.
post #2 of 87
Three words: PLEASE UPDATE FINDER
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post #3 of 87
This is not a new idea. We had this back in the old Commodore Amiga days! Ah, memories... It was nice then, and with OS X's fantastic, larger icon support, it will be brilliant for Leopard.
post #4 of 87
Ahh... AmigaDOS. Fond memories.
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post #5 of 87
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Originally Posted by lostkiwi View Post

Ahh... AmigaDOS. Fond memories.

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post #6 of 87
Is it just me or does it seem pretty asinine that you this concept can be patented?

Stripping away the technical jargon, it comes down to "multiple sized objects on screen simultaneously." Hardly a revolutionary concept.
post #7 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

Is it just me or does it seem pretty asinine that you this concept can be patented?

Stripping away the technical jargon, it comes down to "multiple sized objects on screen simultaneously." Hardly a revolutionary concept.

I guess once Steve experienced the shock of seeing Windows 1.0 after allowing Gates access to the pre release first Mac OS under a confidentiality agreement to develop Steve's concept (Office) Word, MutltPlan, Chart and File for the Mac Plus (I still have them by the way) he's been a little more careful
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post #8 of 87
Notice that the windows in the drawings are from the Classic OS - in fact, they look like System 7 or earlier due to the drawing. I wonder, as others have suggested, if this idea is just as old. It does seem like it would be simple and useful, however.
post #9 of 87
Yeah, it could be they're resurrecting old interface ideas they never used but had played around with. Weren't there also rumors that the "piles" interface might be making a comeback too?
post #10 of 87
Last December? Seems like it's from around 1999.

Honestly, I don't see this particular idea as very promising. Seems messy, confusing, and awkward. I don't want a folder to be absolutely enormous just because it, say, contains 100 or even 500 items.
post #11 of 87
Am I the only one who doesn't see any real world relevance in this. To me, this is just fluff.

Does it determine size by the counting the number of items directly in the directory or by adding the amount of space used within that folder?
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post #12 of 87
this isnt new. you could do this in 10.0 (or 10.1 or so)
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post #13 of 87
*YAWN.*

Instead of giving us multi-sized icons, which NOBODY needs or wants, why doesn't Apple learn something from Path Finder and update the damn Finder?

Sometimes Steve Jobs hits a homerun and is a brilliant man, other times he's just an arrogant stubborn child.
post #14 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by scotty321 View Post

*YAWN.*

Instead of giving us multi-sized icons, which NOBODY needs or wants, why doesn't Apple learn something from Path Finder and update the damn Finder?

Sometimes Steve Jobs hits a homerun and is a brilliant man, other times he's just an arrogant stubborn child.

You should get in touch with him, I bet he would welcome your genius to help him on his bad days
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post #15 of 87
Displaying files and folders in Icon view might be fun for dilettantes, but it's hard to imagine a clunkier, less useful way to look at dozens of folders each containing hundreds of files. What a mess that would be!
post #16 of 87
they haven't even gotten the grid on the desktop to lines things up properly and now they are doing this?

they need update the finder before adding stuff like this. until the finder is fixed, ideas like this will make things worse instead of better
post #17 of 87
There was an Application Enhancer that did this back in OS9, I think. It doesn't seem Apple can patent this, since it already existed.... but if there were no previous patents, maybe they can. Has anyone patented the wheel yet?
post #18 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

Is it just me or does it seem pretty asinine that you this concept can be patented?

Stripping away the technical jargon, it comes down to "multiple sized objects on screen simultaneously." Hardly a revolutionary concept.

bass [beer] has trademarked the triangle. i don't think it's ridiculous. neither is this.
jobs should have trademarked *gets instead of widgets. then vista would have to call it's gadgets "doo-hickeys"
post #19 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by desarc View Post

bass [beer] has trademarked the triangle. i don't think it's ridiculous. neither is this.
jobs should have trademarked *gets instead of widgets. then vista would have to call it's gadgets "doo-hickeys"

One can trademark certain specific shapes and color combinations, and I don't have a problem with that. That just prevents a competitor or a knock-off company from trying to use that, because there's a lot invested in making the brand and trademark, I really don't have a problem with trademark law as it is.

But still, I'm just not seeing what's so special about varying icon sizes. It's a good idea, but I'm just not seeing how there is so much invested in this idea that a patent is necessary. I think the patent filing was probably more work than updating a file management program to take advantage of the idea. I don't see this as being the result of a lot of expensive research either, maybe the time spent sketching it on a dinner napkin is it.
post #20 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyKrz View Post

Notice that the windows in the drawings are from the Classic OS - in fact, they look like System 7 or earlier due to the drawing. I wonder, as others have suggested, if this idea is just as old. It does seem like it would be simple and useful, however.

Actually it's Mac OS 8.
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post #21 of 87
BBEdit 5.0 (now @ 8.6) and and that cool OS 8 look and feel.

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post #22 of 87
This was fully supported in Jaguar but disabled in Panther.

It was an extremely useful feature and I seriously hope they bring it back!
post #23 of 87
Some may think this idea odd, or a no brainer, but I have wished for it several times so that I could make applications and their support files stored in the same drawer more distinct than having to manually trudge about for the app in a minefield of various not uniform other icons... Hopefully it will have a "supersize apps only" option..
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post #24 of 87
In other news, the lint tray in my dryer was full and I cleaned it out. Oh, and I found a quarter on the sidewalk this morning.
post #25 of 87
How many versions of OS X will it take before they naild this?

The Finder still has problems remembering window states, views, ... and we're at 10.4.9

Here's to hoping for a seriously updated Finder in Leopard
post #26 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by scotty321 View Post

Sometimes Steve Jobs hits a homerun and is a brilliant man, other times he's just an arrogant stubborn child.

I didn't realize Steve Jobs was doing software development in addition to being CEO, on the BOD at Disney, and giving numerous presentations and interviews. Man, he must be a busy guy...
 
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post #27 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by revs View Post

this isnt new. you could do this in 10.0 (or 10.1 or so)

Currently there is no way to have different size icons in the same folder. That's what this patent is revealing.

By the way, I love the Mac OS 8/9 window widgets
post #28 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by ebaker280 View Post

This is not a new idea. We had this back in the old Commodore Amiga days! Ah, memories...

I can't recall that Workbench could resize the icons according to some rule, like file size. This seems to be the second part of the patent. And.. I think you could resize individual icons in OSX even now. I think I've seen some hack on OSXHints that did this.. The setting didn't stick for very long though.
post #29 of 87
What if you could set a preference for the icons to be sized proportionally to the number of times application X was launched or folder Y was opened?
post #30 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacillus View Post

Three words: PLEASE UPDATE FINDER

what is wrong with the finder? I use it, it works for me. What does it need to do that it doesn't now?
post #31 of 87
This looks more like Mac OS X Server 1.0 with its larger icons and icons in toolbar Finder windows.
post #32 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by icerabbit View Post

How many versions of OS X will it take before they naild this?

The Finder still has problems remembering window states, views, ... and we're at 10.4.9

Here's to hoping for a seriously updated Finder in Leopard

Well, being that the one of the biggest complaints throughout the history of OS X was the inconsistencies and general unfriendliness/uselessness of the Finder (and I'm already ignoring all commentary about how its no longer a 'spatial' finder, or the talk that the OS 9 finder was the greatest of all time, none of which I particularly believe), and all Apple has done over the years is change superfluous UI elements (look, no more tool bar icons, they're now on the side!), I don't hold out too much hope. Unless this is going to be one of OS X's "secret features" we've heard so much about.

My prediction is that, of all the things apple does, the changes to the finder will all be in the areas that work well now and screwing them up, not touching the stuff that was already screwed up (we can send robots to mars but we can't set column widths to cover all windows in list mode? Or, even easier, have the stupid computer remember that you actually did check "Display all file sizes"?), and basically be told by the faithful that its even better then before.
post #33 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by zenwaves View Post

What if you could set a preference for the icons to be sized proportionally to the number of times application X was launched or folder Y was opened?

That's *exactly* what I was thinking. It would be like a tag cloud The most important items that you access the most could be given dominance over the others. It wouldn't be as dynamic as a tag cloud since it's just one user using it, and you might also have an issue with a new *very important* file being left to the bottom because it's new and hasn't been clicked on a lot. Unless the sizes would change depending on their most recent activity. Or if a change is detected in activity it would automatically adjust. It could become a complicated algorithm, but if it worked reliably I can see how it would be useful.
post #34 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by Louzer View Post

we can't set column widths to cover all windows in list mode?

huh? I'm trying to make sense of what that means. Can you elaborate please?
post #35 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeaPeaJay View Post

That's *exactly* what I was thinking. It would be like a tag cloud The most important items that you access the most could be given dominance over the others. It wouldn't be as dynamic as a tag cloud since it's just one user using it, and you might also have an issue with a new *very important* file being left to the bottom because it's new and hasn't been clicked on a lot. Unless the sizes would change depending on their most recent activity. Or if a change is detected in activity it would automatically adjust. It could become a complicated algorithm, but if it worked reliably I can see how it would be useful.

Or the scrolling menus in Windows XP/2000. Just kidding, but that did come to mind.
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post #36 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeaPeaJay View Post

huh? I'm trying to make sense of what that means. Can you elaborate please?

If Louzer means what I think he means, if you alter the width of one column while in list mode, it doesn't keep that setting for future use or auto-adjust the other columns automatically.

It's really a pain in the ass. I'm going to some very negative feelings about Apple if the Finder isn't updated by the time Leopard ships.
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post #37 of 87
I for one don't want Finder to be like Path Finder. It could use some enhancements here and there, but for goodness sake. Path Finder is an ugly, horrible, bloated mess. Not attractive at all and provides way too much "features" for my liking. I don't care what Merlin Mann and Leo Laporte say.

Some things I'd like to see in Finder

Better use of meta data, similar to how iTunes will provide different fields for movies than it does for music or for podcsts. Do the same in finder, and let people set custom tags.

Have "browse" functionality similar to iTunes.

That's all I can think of really.

EDIT: Fixed the application I was talking about. I meant Path Finder, not Quicksilver.
post #38 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeaPeaJay View Post

That's all I can think of really.

That is it?
  • I'd like to be able to set Finder windows up once and have them remain where I put them the next time.
  • I'd like for my entire system not to freeze when it can't find a previously used network share.
  • I'd like the ability to remove old network shares without having to use the Terminal.
  • I'd like to see the total size of selected items at the bottom of the Finder windows instead of the number of items selected and the available space left on the disk.
  • I'd like to have a Cut option like in windows, instead of having to drag and drop to achieve this functionality.
  • I'd like not to have to "yo-yo the mouse at the top or bottom of the Finder window to get it to scroll far enough for me to move a file/folder.
  • I'd like Finder not use .DS_Store files, which may not be possible; but at the very least, I'd like Finder not to use them on non-HFS+ partitions.
  • I'd like Finder to be able to read Windows shortcuts. After all, all it needs to do is parse the fie for the location.
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post #39 of 87
I agree that there is a problem with Finder keeping certain prefs. Otherwise, Finder is excellent in my opinion. There are so many different ways you can use it. I always find new ways other people use it completely different from my own. Personally, I almost always use column views unless I really need to see info about a list of items and my Finder always keeps things in columns unless I double-click the item. Generally, I think Apple is good about not changing things too much when they add new features so they can go unoticed if you don't use them.

EDIT: I also agree with solipsism
post #40 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

If Louzer means what I think he means, if you alter the width of one column while in list mode, it doesn't keep that setting for future use or auto-adjust the other columns automatically.

Yeah, that's a pretty annoying problem. You figure with all of the .DS_Store files Finder poops out everywhere, it'd be able to keep that setting.

And I love column view for navigating quickly through filesystems, but I've had the auto-preview cause Finder to beachball on a number of occasions. Multi-threading for Finder would be nice.

Also of annoyance: if you use Apple-K to connect to a network share, sometimes the little window which shows "Connecting to ..." doesn't close when you finally connect to the network share. And you can't close the window at all. The only way to get rid of it is to relaunch Finder.

And as mentioned above, Finder is pretty brain-dead when it comes to network shares which disappear.
 
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