ArsTechnica, Siracusa's Definitive Mac OS X 10.3 Review

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
It's thorough, to say the least:



Mac OS X 10.3 - the definitive Panther review



First question: Didn't one of our own forum members make the humorous alternative title he shows?



His discussion of the interface is pretty well done. He touched on the changes like tabs very well. I will admit, though, that I was surprised he didn't make a bigger fuss about the new "circular slider" control. This widget is interface design at its worst. Apple made a similar blunder back with QuickTime 4's much-dismayed interface. It takes the problems of the "thumb wheel" volume slider and compounds them by making the user move the mouse in an unnatural small circular motion. See an explanation from the Interface Hall of Shame's in-depth article on ReadPlease 2000, a title which uses a similar widget:



Quote:

The main interface of ReadPlease 2000 also allows the user to change the speed of playback. Unfortunately, rather than using a slider control, the designers selected a shuttle-type control, similar to those found on high-end video equipment. The designer could not have selected a control that would be any more unusable than the shuttle control. The designer was aware that the speed control would be problematic, as indicated in the following statement in the Help file



One thing that will take a bit of getting used to is the Speed control.



The Help file author, however, felt that the only problem was that the speed control has a built-in 3-second delay before the speed is changed. The delay is but a minor problem with the control, especially when one considers that almost all of the controls have a lag. The real problems with the speed control are that:



* it does not provide an indication of the minimum or maximum values

* it does not provide an indication of the current position relative to the minimum and maximum values

* it does not indicate the extent of movement necessary to effect a desired change

* it requires a circular movement of the mouse, something mice are particular ill-equipped to do.



I am glad that Siracusa reiterates Apple's need to properly define what brushed metal is supposed to be. Applications like Mellel become unusable and make me sick with their flagrant abuse of metal. UGH.



The explanation of Exposé and window management history is fantastic.



I'm still deciding whether I agree or disagree with his various points about the Finder...



Your thoughts?
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    eugeneeugene Posts: 8,254member
    I personally agree that the circular slider sucks donkey balls, but they are quite popular in professional sound editing/mixing apps. These pros probably "like them better" than sane controls.



    Apple pro apps just don't look very Apple-ish at the moment. Final Cut Pro has been under the Apple wind for how long? It should look like an Apple app. Logic Audio should eventually look like an Apple app. I'm guessing the circular slider is destined for Logic and similar apps even though it's an abomination of good OS UI design.



    It's sort of like how browser tab advocates just like tabs better without thinking long and hard about the subject. Pros will definitely prefer using traditional knobs instead of linear sliders that would replace them.



    And I'm so glad he mentioned the Labels menu. God, who's brilliant idea was adding the need for horizontal motor reflexes in pull-down menus?
  • Reply 2 of 38
    lundylundy Posts: 4,466member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Brad

    It's thorough, to say the least:



    I'm still deciding whether I agree or disagree with his various points about the Finder...



    Your thoughts?




    The bit about not being able to add folders to the Finder Toolbar, as pointed out already in the Ars discussion, was a mistake. I think he ran into the same problem I did initially, in that it is hella hard to make the Toolbar "open up" to receive a folder and he concluded that it was not possible.





    I was hoping he'd get to the bottom of why a 1ghz bandwidth dual 2ghz processor can't resize a window as fast as the user can move a mouse, but he dropped the issue after mentioning it.
  • Reply 3 of 38
    Quote:

    Originally posted by lundy

    The bit about not being able to add folders to the Finder Toolbar, as pointed out already in the Ars discussion, was a mistake.



    Actually, I wasn't referring to that part. Though, I did send off an e-mail to him with a correction when I read that yesterday evening. I think I may have even caught it before the forum guy did.
  • Reply 4 of 38
    kanekane Posts: 392member
    You're not alone doing that Brad. I sent him an email on typos and he responded with asking me how I found the article since it was not yet public. Here's how:



    John Siracusa's Ars Technica Articles
  • Reply 5 of 38
    Eugene risks re-igniting the Great Tab Wars of 2003....
  • Reply 6 of 38
    Quote:

    I was hoping he'd get to the bottom of why a 1ghz bandwidth dual 2ghz processor can't resize a window as fast as the user can move a mouse, but he dropped the issue after mentioning it



    That's because I just don't know the answer!



    As for the circular slider, it can be used for good as well as evil and therefore isn't an inherently bad control. An example of a good use is using it to choose the angle of a text shadow. I do think it is too small in the "small" and "mini" sizes, but users of "pro apps" are apparently willing to deal with that.



    Files and folders in the toolbar: I was fooled by the lack of immediate visual feedback that the drag would work. Fixed now.
  • Reply 7 of 38
    jlljll Posts: 2,709member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Brad

    His discussion of the interface is pretty well done. He touched on the changes like tabs very well. I will admit, though, that I was surprised he didn't make a bigger fuss about the new "circular slider" control. This widget is interface design at its worst. Apple made a similar blunder back with QuickTime 4's much-dismayed interface. It takes the problems of the "thumb wheel" volume slider and compounds them by making the user move the mouse in an unnatural small circular motion



    Just move the mouse away from the knob and the movement you have to make to go a degree gets larger.



    In QT4 they made a knob to adjust the sound level. This time it adjusts a degree, which makes much more sense.
  • Reply 8 of 38
    After ars got ./ed the site's review page is crawling.



    I will post my thoughts on the review when (if ever) the site speeds up.
  • Reply 9 of 38
    lundylundy Posts: 4,466member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by John

    That's because I just don't know the answer!







    Thanks again John for a great read.



    If you get to interview the Finder team, let us know
  • Reply 10 of 38
    placeboplacebo Posts: 5,767member
    The circular slider allows you to move your mouse in a HUGE motion. Just hold down on the "dimple" of the slider, and rotate your mouse around the slider. You don't need to actually move your mouse in that 50 pixel circle.
  • Reply 11 of 38
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    Good read, indeed.



    Some very good parts including and leading up to the Expose pages, the new Finder of course, and some interesting filesystem and under-the-hood stuff.



    Very balanced thoughts about the window management thing. Since there is no perfect solution for everyone, it does make it sound like Apple has lots of options or maybe even too many! I do kind of like the idea of expanding Expose to be more like Raskin's "zoom" UI spatial concept, applicable to all windows and apps rather than having a spatial Finder per se. That idea came up elsewhere, just to be clear.



    Not as much talk about open/save dialogs and such navigation/file managemnet aspect (do we need these? is a reproduced Finder windows the best solution?), though the whole Fidner spiel takes care of that to a fair extent. I disagree to some extent about the value of the sidebar to the Finder, plus I rather prefer having the toolbar and sidebar divide duties between tools and places respectively. I sometimes wish the Dock were a bit more segregated like this, a la NeXTstep and OpenStep. I also wish the Finder were better equipped at handling batch operations without the need for scripts or folder actions. I still don't think the Finder handles large amounts of info well, speed issues not withstanding.



    As far as the wheel widget, it would be ideal if it were accompanied by a text input box, a la Create and a few other apps. As someone else mentioned, as you click and drag the cursor away from the widget, it becomes easier to fine-tune the angle.



    I'd love the mini-widgets on my small monitor.
  • Reply 12 of 38
    re: use of knobs



    circular control widget for directional shadow is the only sensible interface for that task



    (no mention of Textedit now offering this formerly premium textshadow tool)



    re: labels on knobs



    then we'd have to have the Spinal Tap hack.



    (resetting the overlay to read 11 at maximum)



    a text entry box would probably require adding a pulldown menu for units (degrees, radians, tufnels)



    --



    John, one thing you might mention with regard to Improved Font handling in Panther...



    not just Fontbook offers feedback on what installed glyphs look like

    (although this is improved with double-clickable-prior-to-install previews)

    Fontbook offers custom text previews in addition to repertoire and alphabetic,

    but the bottom of the edit menu in Finder and Cocoa apps now holds a "Special Characters" palette



    More than just Key Caps or an alternative keyboard input method,

    at the base of the Special Characters palette is a disclosure triangle for Font Variations which will display your selected glyph in every font on the system in a single panel... great for clients and designers who know the look but can't recall the name of a favourite font.



    otherwise, nice review
  • Reply 13 of 38
    placeboplacebo Posts: 5,767member
    Like BuonRotto said: the rotating slider should be accompanied by a text field in which to enter degrees.
  • Reply 14 of 38
    709709 Posts: 2,016member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Brad

    First question: Didn't one of our own forum members make the humorous alternative title he shows?



    Yup.
  • Reply 15 of 38
    It was a great review, probably one of the more thorough, comprehensive, and balanced yet. I agree with him on the Finder, there needs to be some major work done under the hood, and hopefully soon. The yearly OS X updates are a good, and bad thing, IMO, but it might get to the point where developers are having to spend more resources in updating their apps. just to catch up with the new releases, and I guess this doesn't help when it's not only the underlying OS that is evolving so greatly, but also the GUI. FWIW, I'm really happy with the Panther GUI, the new tabs, the colours, sunken wells, etc. I even grew to like the BM Finder, but only just, adn there's some little glitches that should be sorted.

    What I'd like, is for Apple to nail down the GUI, keep it for a couple of years, make it rock solid, and then concentrate on such things as the Finder.
  • Reply 16 of 38
    kecksykecksy Posts: 1,002member
    Well I would join in the discussion, but I've only been able to read four pages of the article. The Ars' site is still being ./ed as mentioned earlier.
  • Reply 17 of 38
    lundylundy Posts: 4,466member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Kecksy

    Well I would join in the discussion, but I've only been able to read four pages of the article. The Ars' site is still being ./ed as mentioned earlier.



    Seems OK now. Wow, that was a full-blown slashdotting though - it was D-E-D dead for awhile.
  • Reply 18 of 38
    kanekane Posts: 392member
    It's /. (slashdot), not ./ (dotslash)



    Aiit?
  • Reply 19 of 38
    Someone finally explained why the I can't figure out how to make finder windows look the way I want them too. To think all this time, I thought it was just me. Really, is it that hard to do?



    [my eyes are still crossed from reading all that white on black text. What's up with that god-awful color scheme on Ars?]
  • Reply 20 of 38
    Quote:

    Originally posted by KANE

    It's /. (slashdot), not ./ (dotslash)



    Aiit?




    Yah... I know. Sorry.



    I have just spent a little too much time in a term inviroment. You know... ./ the command... my bad.
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