OS X... insanely gross.

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Blue Velvet, Jul 5, 2004.

  1. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

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    #1
    According to Jef Raskin... early Mac interface developer. Interview in MacUser magazine (UK / 11 June '04)

    Further quotes include:

    "OS X... from a user's point of view, has become a morass of obscure detail. Increasingly, we are sent to Terminal to find some piece of data or do some task, and users have to become Unix hackers"

    " (OS X)... is bloated, under-documented, and constraining to developers. The old GUI has not scaled well, and Apple tries to fix it by adding, and adding, and adding instead of rethinking. It's gone from insanely great to insanely gross"

    "Apple merely changes colour, moves the furniture around, and accessorises. Instead of interface architects, Apple has been infested with decorators"

    "Steve Jobs has always wanted to be a mogul in the entertainment industry and hobnob with the famous... he has little interest in computers. Perhaps Apple has no future in software or hardware"

    Sour grapes or a kernel of truth?
     
  2. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    #2
    I think it's a touch of both. Mostly sour grapes.

    Yes, there's additional complexity, and it could be designed better. But... there isn't a compelling business case to do so, and OS X works just fine for almost everyone.

    When Raskin was working on Mac GUI design, the Mac handled a much simpler, less complex world than systems must handle now, so of course it was easier to make the GUI and OS simpler.

    On the other hand, I find that OS X tends to hide that which you don't need to see quite well the vast majority of the time.

    Can it be simpler and more intuitive? Of course! But that doesn't mean that it isn't good enough now. It can be improved. But Apple is a business, and it'd be stupid to completely redo the entire OS just because it could be simpler. When OS X fails to handle the demands of systems in a few years, then it'll be redone. Not before then.
     
  3. Sills macrumors newbie

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    #3
    i dont think that osx is very bloated or the terminal is bad at all. the fast that it is based off of unix is good for me because i am very comfortable with linux ( working on me own distro right now ) so it just makes things alot better for me to use it.
     
  4. stevehaslip macrumors 6502a

    stevehaslip

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    #4
    alot of windows users i know think that there is too much hidden in osx, that you cant alter. in windows you can change or destroy pretty much anything you like, but how often do you actually want to do that stuff? for me it was barely often enough to miss it on my mac. i dunno windows gives you lots of control but so does the mac if you know what you're doing, what it does well is safeguard the system against simple mistakes so that its hard for a novice to really mess up the system. whereas in windows you can pretty much screw over you computer in a few steps.

    how is spotlight adding to the system? redecorating etc? they are totally redoing the way we search and organize files, searching with meta data.
     
  5. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    #5
    Wasn't meaning to start a Windows v. OS X war here at all (I love my machine) -- just trying to start a debate based upon what Jef Raskin has to say. Have recently helped a number of users (mostly designers) to transition and a lot of them have found the GUI a bit flashy and overly detailed... drawing attention to irrelevant places on the screen. They don't want 'lickable', they just want 'usable' -- whatever that means to you...
    I also think it's a bit early to draw conclusions on Spotlight until we see 10.4.3 or higher.
     
  6. Flynnstone macrumors 65816

    Flynnstone

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    #6
    Both

    Raskin is idealistic and thats good. But that not the computer systems of today. Some people want to now every little detail. Where do you draw the line? You don't want to know what bits to twiddle on the hardware interface to save a file.
    I think Raskin on the right track, when designing something (anything), think of the user first! I've read (most) of Raskin's book "Humane Interface" and his ideas are right. And they don't apply only to software.

    OS X fails at some things, like "Preview". When you want to print, the print dialog/sheet comes down and blocks the page information. You can specify the current sheet, only all or specific sheets, but the current sheet info is blocked. I find this frustrating and a defect and violates the idea of being a "Humane Interface"!

    I think OS X is the best of the alternatives.
     
  7. ZeppelinArmada macrumors member

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    #7
    If anything I would say that the interface has become more subdued since OS 10.0 in every revision. From my experience the widgets found in OS X are very functional, and those not found in other window managers are a great boon to de-cluttering interfaces. Drawers, circular sliders and circular progress indicators are prime examples. The progress indicator is a tiny widget that takes the place of an entire dialog box. It is a tiny thing, often taken for granted, whose proper use can streamline an interface.

    While all of this has probably been said before and more concisely:

    An important factor in determining the user experience is the ability for programmers to take advantage of the widgets provided to them. If widgets are difficult to integrate into a program, programmers will seek another solution. More often then not this solution involves using less suited widgets, generally in greater quantity, to approximate and effect.
    In my GUI programming experience with Cocoa has been one of easy and elegant transitions from design to implementation. I had just the inverse experience with creating Windows and Swing applications.

    Swing is not complicated, excluding tables and lists, or hard to understand. It is a laborious process to use nested panels for layout. It does involve writing classes implementing ActionListener many times.

    I think Microsoft needs to take a step back and look at the colossus it birthed. It is time to start over. The fates have not spoken as to if this is what MS will truly achieve in Longhorn.
     
  8. Sills macrumors newbie

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    #8
    Bah. Longhorn. that will be a big bust. personally, i've been there done that, and that os ( i've tried most of the betas, including new ones ) run horribly slow on a 2.6 ghz celeron with ~600megs ram. there are no new imporvements in the os, except for maybe the install procedure, it now takes baout 15minutes to install the os, catching up to macosx's 10, but it takes nearly an hour to detect hardware. thios will most likely not be an issue in the final product, but it is crud. people wont want to go out and buy brand new computers just so they can use a very slow and overloaded winblows xp. it doesnt even hardly run on a 1ghz pc, and thats what alot of them out there are. linux and macosx's time is near. soon they will dominate teh world mhuahahah.

    ( sorry, got a little carried away there )

    anyways.... back to the topic :D
     
  9. oingoboingo macrumors 6502a

    oingoboingo

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    #9
    ...and the ones who do buy a new computer will get Longhorn pre-installed, and won't have to bother with the hour-long hardware detect stage.
     
  10. SimDesign macrumors newbie

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    #10
    I'd like to see what Jef thought about Tiger and Spotlight that all but replaces Finder. Would he approve of this revolution in file management as opposed to Finders evolution? I agree with him on many aspects, especially regarding the tired metaphor of the 'desktop' and 'folders', but also think these are comfortable metaphors which could be re-interpreted but possibly at a cost to user understanding.
    The User comes first, this is obvious, but as Flynnstone says, where do you draw the line? Apple has always pushed the boundaries of user/computer interaction and I'm glad to see this re-evaluation of the way we deal with file structures, however I do feel Raskin may be being slightly idealistic. His work on THE (The Humane Environment) is very interesting but the concept of replacing the GUI with it is unrealistic. Even Raskin admits it will never happen. I personally feel OS X is a great evolution, it has put a lot of power into peoples hands without them realising it. If you need to use Terminal and its features they are there, but the average user does not need to bother themselves with such details, yet they too can inadvertently harness Unix's power.
    Just my thoughts...
     
  11. mmmdreg macrumors 65816

    mmmdreg

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    #11
    I reckon that everything is relatively intuitive and easy to find.. the system preferences are a basic example.. it's obvious where everything would be.. whereas on PC's, in my experience, it's all a tad ambiguous and stuff for controlling various things pop up in any number of imaginable places..
     
  12. Anticipat3 macrumors regular

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    #12
    As far as the system prefs are concerned, I'd have to digress... coming from the world of windows, I find that the control panels for OSX are even more ambiguous -- We have "Network" "Sharing" and ".Mac" control panels, and now have what used to be the "Internet" control panel as part of the Safari App! As a former Unix user, I'd have no idea where to go in System Prefs to turn on Apache or sshd -- Sharing is somewhat logical, but really... there ought to, perhaps, be a services entry in the System Prefs.

    As far as interface Design, I think Jef should take a step back and look at exactly what he's complaining about. System 6 may have had a nice UI, but it also severely lacked capability, compared to today's Operating Systems. It's pretty well established that if you want the capability of today's Operating Systems, you have 3 choices - Windows, Linux, or Mac. There's no doubts in my mind that the Mac UI is far superior to the others -- one which is just a jumble of task-based confusion, and the other which literally requires us to be terminal-hackers :).

    You want to have a super clean UI? Go back to system 6 then. You will, of course, lose the capabilities -- but this is necessary in order to clean up the UI.

    If there's anything that's confusing or irritating about Mac UI it's that it's constantly changing -- every 12 months they move the control panels around, change the way the finder works, and add or remove other functionality from one place or another. I get used to it pretty fast, but after giving some relatives a lesson on the Jaguar finder, it's going to take another whole refresher to cue them in as to what's going on in Panther. What I do appreciate, however, is that there's NO REASON for me to move them to panther -- Everything still runs fine on Jaguar, and until they have some reason to upgrade, I don't intend to coonfuse them by upgrading them to Panther.
     
  13. BornAgainMac macrumors 603

    BornAgainMac

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    #13
    Perhaps he can bring his ideas to Linux. Currently nothing touches OS X. Perhaps it could have been a lot better than today. I have been very happy with the product. Steve loves hardware. I always wonder if he still tinkers with an Apple I/II machine for fun. He probably never has time for that anymore.
     
  14. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    #14

    Further quote from same interview:
    "Morality demands that I write for Wintel machines first (Linux comes along free), and port to Macs when there's time"
     
  15. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #15
    Sure, it's a compromise--every GUI system is. However, it's the best compromise. It's also a huge triumph for UNIX.

    The original Macintosh GUI was delicate, sweet, and limited. After 17 years, it got better, but not by much. Mac OS 8 was the biggest change to the GUI and those changes came far too late.

    I appreciate the fact that I can open a Terminal window and grossly :)D) rename files without having to re-sort a window, select, rename and then, set the window back to its original settings. The Terminal window also means that I can use my UNIX knowledge to perform quick adjustments to various others things that are yet to be controlled by a GUI panel.

    Yes, Apple needs to re-think what they've done. It's a mess, but it's far better than the other messes out there.
     
  16. superfunkomatic macrumors regular

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    #16
    i think it's interesting that feedback i've received from designers that use macs to produce creative media like print and multimedia, say the interface is too pretty or too "candy". huh?
    people that design interfaces and layouts think the layout is too pretty?
    that's odd.
     
  17. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    #17
    I think it's because they prefer something informationally clear.

    Same principle as motorway/freeway directional signs -- you don't see those in animated Wedding Script with highlights & embossing with a cute little drop shadow... :)
     
  18. wHo_tHe macrumors regular

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    #18
    The circular 'progress' indicator is nice and compact, but it's informationally vapid because it gives no idea of how much time remains in the task. It's no more informative then "Please wait" which was probably the second phrase displayed on a computer screen ever, maybe after "Hello World."
     
  19. johnnowak macrumors 6502

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    #19
    This is silly. It's really NOT a mess. It works very well. OS X provides only the controls you need, and never gets in your way.

    They only valid complaint is that windows can get in the way. Expose alleviates a lot of this, and so does LaunchBar. Once Spotlight makes it way in, even that criticism won't be valid.

    Has anyone even looked at THE? It's pathetic.

    Yes, OS X's UI needs a little streamlining. That's it. It's no mess.
     
  20. ZeppelinArmada macrumors member

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    #20
    Which is why it is perfect for tasks that take an indefinite amount of time. There are many cases where a task of unknown duration needs to be executed in the background. In these cases why obfuscate a portion of the interface with a dialog asking the user to wait? It is more an indicator of progression than progress.

    Unlike a message dialog the circular indicator is dynamic. Its constant motion conveys constant work. It is a compact, simple and refined way of saying "I am working on it."

    In many cases progress bars have imaginary metrics, and the relation between the progress stated on the bar and time is tenuous at best. Tasks are generally compound, and assigning a weight to each subtask is tricky, generally at best a good guess by programmers. Were this not the case progress bars would always grow at a constant rate.

    Thus, circular indicators are unlike progress bars in that they tell the truth and they do it in a small space.
     
  21. superninjagoat macrumors 6502

    superninjagoat

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    #21
    Raskin is a bit of a kook in my opinion -- a holdover from computing past that doen't hold his tongue well. He's very opinionated. He values keyboard over mouse (in fact, he was COMPLETELY against using a mouse on the Mac.).

    And he's bitter as hell.

    That being said, he's brilliant, and if you filter out the superiority complex and ground axes, there's a moniker of truth. But notice that the only thing he ever offers as an alternative is THE (see above post or Google). And THE is at its best nothing more than a plug-in for Word or Appleworks.

    GUIs are what they are. And they have faults. Until he puts something out there better, he's just a bitter old man.

    But I sound bitter, too, don't I? :D
     
  22. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #22
    That's why I always turn off the eye candy. But the rest is pretty functional.

    No one ever accuses XP of being too pretty, but at work I've set it to be more like 2000 just to get it out of my way so I never see it. Who ever thought orange would be a good color?
     
  23. superfunkomatic macrumors regular

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    #23
    fair enough, but i think this is a bit of an exaggeration. it's well thought out given the complex nature of the operating system and underlying guts of unix.

    to give you an equally exaggerated analogy - the guy/girl you date, do you want to spend your time looking at someone who's sight you can't stand (like windows)? or someone that's easy on the eyes, something you enjoy looking at.

    functional design is not the same as boring/conventional design.
     
  24. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    #24
    It was an exaggeration. Jokily and well meant, though.
    But to reply to your point about looking at dates...
    I don't look at an OS. I use it. It's a means to an end and would prefer it not to get in the way of what I want to do. At work, I have to use OS9.2, OS 10.3 and Win 2000 and I know which I prefer...
    Also, most of the (print) designers I know over here are still wedded to OS9 with their tuned workflows. I saw a colleague rebuilding his desktop the other day and he was so comfortable and right in his element... it's human nature.
    Although in Sept. we're phasing out OS9 completely (it's a headache to implement this and keep our publishing schedule on track). Then, I'll prob. have more to say on the matter -- personally, I can't wait.
    I guess I'm a bit austere -- I have a flat mid-grey desktop to keep things clear (helps with Pshop too)...
     
  25. Sayer macrumors 6502a

    Sayer

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    #25
    For perspective

    For some perspective, the Macintosh originally envisioned by Raskin was a text-based glorified word processor (the old-style all-in-one computer, not the software).

    You would had to type commands for everything, there would have been no mouse or drop-down menus or the like. All the software would be built in and absolutely bare-bones.

    Virtually every modern computing/device interface today harkens back to the Macintosh and the research work done by XEROX PARC (where a lot of people came from to work at Apple to make real products and not just do research).

    This is 95% sour grapes on Raskin's part, he is a forgotten nobody and very much not a "mogul" of anything. Steve Jobs is the King of the industry, even if no one realizes how much credit he is due for being the genesis of all *all* modern GUI-based computer systems.
     

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