iChat design quirk: windows migrate up the screen

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Doctor Q, Jul 30, 2004.

  1. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    Sep 19, 2002
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    Los Angeles
    #1
    I noticed that my iChat windows were migrating up the screen. At first I thought I was imagining things, since it happened only occasionally. I finally paid attention and realized what was going on. Now that I understand it, I can't decide if this is a handy feature, a quirk with no better choice, or a bug that Apple should fix.

    When you type a message long enough to cause one or more linewraps, iChat does one of three things:

    (1) If there is room below the iChat window, the window gets taller (top stays the same, bottom moves down) to make room for each extra line of text. When you finish typing your text, the window returns to its previous size and position.

    (2) Otherwise (i.e., when the bottom of the window is at the bottom of your screen): If there is room above the iChat window, the window gets taller (bottom stays the same, top moves up) to make room for each extra line of text. When you finish typing your text, the window returns to its previous size with the top in its new (higher) position.

    (3) Otherwise (i.e., the iChat window is the full height of your screen): The window stays the same and the text entry area becomes scrollable by moving the cursor up and down (but no scrollbars). When you finish typing your text, the window retains its previous size and position since they didn't change.​

    What surprised me is in italics above. I keep iChat windows around the outside of my screen (top, bottom, and left, with the dock on the right), and my iChat windows at the bottom kept ending up a little higher because I had typed a few sentences. I would move the window down and find it higher up after a few more minutes.

    Obviously, this is a minor issue, and I could live with it, reposition my windows, change chat applications, or stop typing such long sentences! But it brings up interesting questions about good GUI design and a chance to second-guess Apple on a product that is still young. That's why I'm posting.

    Having an application do what you expect it to do (which of course can vary from person to person) is a hallmark of making it feel natural (easy to use), and easy-to-use software is Apple's speciality.

    I can think of a few other choices of behavior iChat could have in situation (2):

    (2a) Have the window return to its original size and position when you finish typing, i.e., the window moves back down the screen.

    (2b) Have the display area (above the text entry area) shrink by one line each time you need a new line in the text entry area, i.e., the previously displayed part of the conversation moves up and you lose a bit off the top. In other words, the border between the upper and lower halves of the window moves up. It would move back down (leaving one line below) after you finish typing.

    (2c) Have the text entry area become cursor-scrollable as soon as there are more lines than fit. The window never changes height or position. If this was the behavior, it would make sense for the text entry area to be a few lines high always (whether the extra space was needed or not) because it's confusing to cursor-scroll through text with a 1-line display. By making it, say, 3 lines high all the time, you wouldn't have to scroll until you had 4 or more lines.​

    I think I'd prefer any of (2a), (2b), (2c) to (2).

    I'd like to know if anybody else has noticed this, thought about this, or would like to help me think it through logically (deciding what it SHOULD do), so I can send Apple feedback if there is a good case for tinkering with the iChat design.
     
  2. King Cobra macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2002
    #2
    I don't think it's a bug, and here's why: If you type one long sentence to cause option (2) so you can see what you're typing, then you'll probably end up typing another long sentence, and I feel that Apple designed iChat so that upon typing up another long sentence, you wouldn't have to worry about the chat window dancing around, unless you typed a longer sentence.
     
  3. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #3
    Are there any other Apple applications that change their own window size or position in any way similar to iChat. I'm talking about changes you didn't explicitly request.
     
  4. jtgotsjets macrumors 6502

    jtgotsjets

    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
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    Lawrence, KS
    #4
    Almost any OSX window will move if they are on the side and have a save or open or options dialog get spat out of the top of them. its a difficult animation to describe, but it happens, i promise.
     
  5. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #5
    I never noticed that before, but you are correct.

    Here is an example: Make a Safari window tiny, put it in the bottom right corner of the screen, and select File->Save As. The window moves up and to the left. When you finish with the pane that appears, the window returns to its previous position.

    That leads me to conlude that my proposed feature (2a) would solve the problem I described and still be in keeping with Apple's handling of out-of-room windows in other applications.
     
  6. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    Gone but not forgotten.
    #6
    I've been noticing that far too long. My windows end up bunched together for no reason at all, or so I thought.

    I've also noticed that with only a couple of lines of text the windows will go behind the dock, which is definitely a no-no and tells me that textured windows don't follow all the rules.
     
  7. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #7
    I've waited over 3 years for Apple to fix this bug.

    So here's the Leopard report: still a bug.
     

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