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View Full Version : The History of Jef Raskin's 'Syntax' Poster, 1979-80


MacBytes
Jun 5, 2004, 11:41 PM
Category: Reviews
Link: The History of Jef Raskin\'s \'Syntax\' Poster, 1979-80 (http://www.macbytes.com/link.php?sid=20040606004131)
Posted on MacBytes.com (http://www.macbytes.com)

Approved by Mudbug

redAPPLE
Jun 6, 2004, 02:14 AM
interesting read. should i say thank God SJ was so difficult to teach? otherwise, we would not have the Apple simpleness as we know it today.

but to remove jef's name is completely wrong (if true. the story did not state any evidence, how and why this was done "intentionally").

nubero
Jun 6, 2004, 06:16 PM
Category: Reviews
Link: The History of Jef Raskin\'s \'Syntax\' Poster, 1979-80 (http://www.macbytes.com/link.php?sid=20040606004131)
Posted on MacBytes.com (http://www.macbytes.com)

Approved by Mudbug

Cool Artwork. But if I hear the name Jef Raskin again I'm gonna puke...

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MacFan26
Jun 6, 2004, 06:23 PM
But if I hear the name Jef Raskin again I'm gonna puke...
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why?

smorr
Jun 6, 2004, 10:12 PM
why?

Jef Raskin makes claim about being real source of creation. Say God intentionally wrote him out of scriptures.

Sorry -- But Raskin has a highly overambitious opinion of himself. If we had followed Raskin's "vision" we would be using a highly complex keyboard instead of a mouse with our macs. Sure Jobs probably was an ******* (would that be uncharacteristic?) but Jobs was definitely more instrumental in bringing the mac to life than Raskin everwas.

MacFan26
Jun 7, 2004, 01:43 AM
I kind of feel the same way. For some reason I wasn't ever a big fan of his, and now it seems like stuff keeps coming up about him. They even had a short interview with him in June's Wired.

shamino
Jun 7, 2004, 06:14 PM
But Raskin has a highly overambitious opinion of himself. If we had followed Raskin's "vision" we would be using a highly complex keyboard instead of a mouse with our macs. Sure Jobs probably was an ******* (would that be uncharacteristic?) but Jobs was definitely more instrumental in bringing the mac to life than Raskin ever was.
I have to agree here.

I recently read Raskin's The Humane Interface (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0201379376/102-5266313-3695301). While the book makes a lot of very good points, Raskin takes them all the way to their extremes, where they cease to be good ideas for commercial products and end up the stuff of long-forgotten research papers.

For example, he starts from a basic principle that humans can't actively remember more than a very small number of things at any given time. A statement he backs up with research and is probably true. He goes on to explain why modes (where a single action may do two different things at different times) are bad for software - a premise I also agree with. He then evangelizes the idea that software designers should seek to eliminate modes wherever and whenever possible.

It's here he goes over the deep end. While some elimination of modes is useful (like not having to exit text-insertion mode in order to perform edits, the way vi (http://www.thomer.com/vi/vi.html) does), complete elimination of modes results in madness. Some things Raskin advocates, for instance, is the elimination of file systems - there are no documents, just your data and some search features to find the parts you want to use. And there are no applications - you just insert/edit your data without launching anything (which sounds cool until you realize that you can't make this work without every new feature being a plugin for one all-encompasing uber-application that does everything.) He even goes so far as to eliminate the power switch, because "on/off" is just another mode that he sees no need for.

In the end, what purports to be a UI design book ends up being little more than an evangelistic rant for the Canon Cat (http://www.digibarn.com/collections/systems/canon-cat/page_01.htm) a dedicated word-processor that Raskin designed around these principles - with specialized keyboard keys for everything and virtually no modes of any kind in it. An incredible proof of concept device for a PhD thesis, but a rather poor concept for a commercial product. The market seems to have agreed.

According to quotes at Jagwerks Media (http://www.jagshouse.com/swyft.html), Bruce Tognazzi (http://www.asktog.com/) attributes the Cat's failure to slow hardware and Canon's misguided attempt to market a professional writer's tool to low-level clerical typists that don't have the time or the desire to learn something as different as this. Raskin, however, attributes its failure to a world that is unwilling to accept his vision - sort of like what the mad scientist says in a cheap 1950's monster movie.

While I respect the guy for having a clear vision, developing a product from it, and making substantial contributions to the field of computer science, there's no way I can agree with his conclusions. Nor can I ever agree with those people who treat his ideas as what the future of all computing devices should become.

Brazmunkee
Aug 22, 2007, 11:18 PM
I recently inherited an original Apple Pascal Syntax poster and I'd like to find a good home for it. It's one of the originals and has never been out of its frame.
If you know of anyone that would like this poster, please pass them along to me. I'd like to sell the piece or donate it to a good cause.
Thanks

nubero
Aug 23, 2007, 02:31 AM
I recently inherited an original Apple Pascal Syntax poster and I'd like to find a good home for it. It's one of the originals and has never been out of its frame.
If you know of anyone that would like this poster, please pass them along to me. I'd like to sell the piece or donate it to a good cause.
Thanks

I'd like it very much... :-)