History of The Beachball

dops7107

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 19, 2005
995
0
Perth, Oztrailya
I've had little experience with Mac OS prior to OS X, but I do recall the little wristwatch mouse-pointer indicating "think time". In OS X, this has largely been replaced by the delightful spinning beachball. However, sometimes the wristwatch rears its ugly head.

What's the relationship between the two? Is there a historical or programming reason why the wristwatch appears? I thought OS X was completely new wrt OS 9 and earlier - why contine with the relic wristwatch?

Just curious! :rolleyes:
 

dops7107

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 19, 2005
995
0
Perth, Oztrailya
Mitthrawnuruodo said:
Wikipedia had surprisingly much on the subject... ;)
Good old Wikipedia! - thanks for the tip Mitth :eek: - never occurred to me to look there... though to be honest it doesn't explain to me why the wrist watch still appears. unless it's for "thinking" (application still responsive) whereas beachball is for unresponsive.
 
Comment

kalisphoenix

macrumors 65816
Jul 26, 2005
1,231
1
I didn't read that carefully, but it didn't seem to mention NeXTSTEP/OPENSTEP. The beachball was there (in 2D) way back in the day, though it was obviously gray on the mono boxes.

Edit: Aha! It mentions it here. Didn't know that 10.1's cursor was identical to the old school one (ie, not Aqua-fied).
 
Comment

Applespider

macrumors G4
dops7107 said:
Good old Wikipedia! - thanks for the tip Mitth :eek: - never occurred to me to look there... though to be honest it doesn't explain to me why the wrist watch still appears. unless it's for "thinking" (application still responsive) whereas beachball is for unresponsive.
I haven't read the Wiki thread but I thought that the beachball appeared for Cocoa apps while the wristwatch appeared for Carbon ones.
 
Comment

dops7107

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 19, 2005
995
0
Perth, Oztrailya
Applespider said:
I haven't read the Wiki thread but I thought that the beachball appeared for Cocoa apps while the wristwatch appeared for Carbon ones.
Could be true, I don't know enough. For Photoshop 7, the watch appears while it is processing, but if I use my external HD for scratch and the disk has to wake up, I get the spinning ball. Though I suppose that's an OS function, waiting for a disk to wake, rather than Photoshop's.
 
Comment

joepunk

macrumors 68030
Aug 5, 2004
2,554
13
a profane existence
Mitthrawnuruodo said:
Wikipedia had surprisingly much on the subject... ;)
Thanks for saving precious few seconds of my time by providing the link Mitthrawnuruodo . I still like to call it the "spinning beach ball of death" for those unfortunate times :p even though it happens much less now.
 
Comment

HiRez

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2004
5,845
1,799
Western US
The difference is that the spinning beach ball is triggered automatically by the operating system (OS X's Window Server) watching over the application, whereas a wristwatch icon or spinning progress indicator or other cursor is put up by the application when it expects something it's doing to take a while. Applications are supposed to detect lengthy operations and change the cursor themselves, but if they are bad little applications and don't (or can't because they've hung), the operating system may step in and do it for them (with the beach ball). It will also put up the beach ball when an application cannot respond to events anymore (such as mouse clicks, typing, etc.). In this case the application may be unable to put up a cursor itself.
 
Comment

Makosuke

macrumors 603
Aug 15, 2001
6,173
363
The Cool Part of CA, USA
HiRez has it covered, but I'll add that applications that use the old-fashioned watch cursor are generally very old Mac apps that never bothered to update their "wait" cursor since way back when. Most modern apps either use the better multithreading of OSX to allow you to do something else while an operation is occurring, or at least give you a progress window sans-beachball. Those that don't will end up with the default beachball unless they've specifically overridden it with something else.

Eudora, for example, still uses the ancient pendulum cursor when it's doing something. They apparently never properly set the speed it "ticks" at under later OSes, though, so it now thrashes back and forth at frightening speed during some operations.
 
Comment

Plymouthbreezer

macrumors 601
Feb 27, 2005
4,238
77
Massachusetts
HiRez said:
The difference is that the spinning beach ball is triggered automatically by the operating system (OS X's Window Server) watching over the application, whereas a wristwatch icon or spinning progress indicator or other cursor is put up by the application when it expects something it's doing to take a while. Applications are supposed to detect lengthy operations and change the cursor themselves, but if they are bad little applications and don't (or can't because they've hung), the operating system may step in and do it for them (with the beach ball). It will also put up the beach ball when an application cannot respond to events anymore (such as mouse clicks, typing, etc.). In this case the application may be unable to put up a cursor itself.
Good info.
 
Comment

dops7107

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 19, 2005
995
0
Perth, Oztrailya
HiRez said:
The difference is that the spinning beach ball is triggered automatically by the operating system (OS X's Window Server) watching over the application, whereas a wristwatch icon... </snip>
My question is answered! Thanks Hirez et al.
 
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.