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One View on the Finder...

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
51,562
13,187
Ars Technica posted an article by John Siracusa detailing his thoughts on the Mac OS X Finder:

In the past, my thoughts on the Finder have been scattered throughout several articles. The topic has never been given the thorough treatment that I believe it deserves. In this article, I will attempt to rectify the situation. In the process, I will try to answer one of the most common Finder-related questions asked by readers: "Okay Mister Smartypants, how should the Mac OS X Finder work?"
 

barkmonster

macrumors 68020
Dec 3, 2001
2,126
12
Lancashire
At last someone who doesn't worship OS X!!!

It's about time there was an article that neither pulled it to bits or said it was the best thing since sliced bread.
 
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noverflow

macrumors regular
Jul 4, 2002
188
0
Yeah, what is with that (best thing since sliced bread)

that is so stupid... why?

because i would give up sliced bread for my OSX... i can cut the bread my self, i cant program to save my life
 
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UpQuark

macrumors member
Jan 8, 2002
83
0
Zushi, Japan
Interface etc..

The article is long, but he is right on. Regardless of platform, if a user can see and touch and then perform an action on a file/icon etc and perform that action in the same manner anywhere - that is magic.

I like command line. I do - but when I am in a rush, I 'feel' like I can click - drag - drop much faster than typing the command line to do the same action.

I think that people are intrinsicly <sp?> 'unorganized' with respect to efficiency.

For instance - take a look at any company and the way they handle paper processes. Invoicing, procurment etc. Even if they have a place for everything and everyithing is in that place, if I were to walk in, I would be lost - my view would be filled with rows and rows of filing cabinets, folders etc. However, I would understand (or wish to believe) that all this physical information was in some kind of organization which I could eventually understand and learn. Each folder has a name and related content, which is in each filing cabinet, which is on each floor etc... you get the idea... So, if every department did this the same way, once I got the 'interface', I got it.


The danger is when we change how that interface works, based on how we walked in the room. If I use the stairwell, the filing cabinets look like this.. if I come through the lobby.. they look like this.

This is analogous to the current finder and way to see the information. Depending on how open/set your finder, depends on how it is organized. Very confusing to me - it is all the same data, but appears to be organized differently.

Even above performance enhancments - I would love to see a return to the cleaner more intuitive finder.
 
Comment

kansaigaijin

macrumors 6502
Jan 7, 2002
386
0
the great ether
man, I just could not get through all that article, lost it somewhere in the file browser thing, sounds too much like that othe os. why not just use the browser then?

or just make your own finder, like Pathfinder, and let us check it out. No doubt Apple has something up its sleave, with the rumors of BeOS type filesystem circulating.
 
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zedwards

macrumors member
Jul 8, 2002
59
0
France
Filesystems and Finder

Originally posted by kansaigaijin
No doubt Apple has something up its sleave, with the rumors of BeOS type filesystem circulating.

Having another filesytem has nothing to do with the Finder. I think you are confused that by using the BFS your Finder is going to look different. :rolleyes: Which is not the case, you wont notice a difference.
 
Comment

bikertwin

macrumors regular
Nov 6, 2002
198
0
This Old House
So the whole point of the article was that there shouldn't be paths?

The current finder is set up to use the simple/single folder view. The average user never even knows about the alternate views (multicolumn, etc.), much less actually tries to use them. So what's the big deal? He wants to remove the alternative views because he doesn't like them?

I kept waiting for him to get to some special point, but he never did.

What's so horrible about having multiple options for viewing files & folders? If you don't like the column view, don't use it.
 
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UpQuark

macrumors member
Jan 8, 2002
83
0
Zushi, Japan
Originally posted by bikertwin
So the whole point of the article was that there shouldn't be paths?

The current finder is set up to use the simple/single folder view. The average user never even knows about the alternate views (multicolumn, etc.), much less actually tries to use them. So what's the big deal? He wants to remove the alternative views because he doesn't like them?

I kept waiting for him to get to some special point, but he never did.

What's so horrible about having multiple options for viewing files & folders? If you don't like the column view, don't use it.

The issue is for the average users - think your Mom/Dad - would have to know how to turn them on/off. Also, with the current finder in OS X, it seems to disregard those settings as well, depending on where you go.

I like the GUI - just wish it was a bit cleaner, faster as well. Do a file open in word, fild a folder with hundreds of word documents, and try to scroll.

However, you are very right - this is about choice.. :) and preference.

If this GUI conversation is moot to you, then that is your answer.
 
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Rincewind42

macrumors 6502a
Mar 3, 2003
620
0
Orlando, FL
Originally posted by NavyIntel007
We just need a cocoa based finder...

If I may ask... Why? In excruiciating detail please. I want to know what you think the advantages of a Cocoa Finder would be. Please, indulge me.
 
Comment

Catfish_Man

macrumors 68030
Sep 13, 2001
2,579
1
Portland, OR
Originally posted by NavyIntel007
We just need a cocoa based finder... bottom line. None of that other fancy crap.

I second the question above, and wonder why taking stuff out is "fancy crap" (although I agree that the file browser idea is fancy crap. Duplicated stuff is worse than slightly confusing stuff).

In response to Zedwards, if you read the article, you'll find out why BFS style metadata and fast searches are extremely important to his ideas.

I really really like the saved searches ideas, and have been trying to work out how to implement it for a few weeks now.
 
Comment

mk_in_mke

macrumors regular
Jan 2, 2003
192
19
Milwaukee, WI
You all seem reasonable people

Before commenting the article, allow me to say how surprised I have been by the reactions in this forum. I would have expected most of the contributors to yell at ARS TECNICA and... It did not happen. This is how I think Mac Users should be: tolerant with other's opinions and clever enough to acknowledge critics and to build on it... Thanks guys!!!

OK back to the article...

ARS TECNICA article is very well documented and certainly Apple should use it to rethink some of the features they implemented. It is true that most of the mac user community is used to how the finder works but on plenty of aspects, it requires improvement. This is especially valid when you know that Apple always claimed that they wanted the users to have the best experience (ergonomics, one button mouse...). This article is right on target: Apple should go to the drawing board... Where I disagree with the guy is :

- when you know that OSX is a recent OS and based on the number of years of existence, I think Apple did a DAMN good job.

- Apple certainly preferred keeping the focus on a very solid OS and maybe analyze the minor issues, such as the finder, after...

Anyways, guys you rock!

Michel
 
Comment

jouster

macrumors 65816
Jan 21, 2002
1,204
161
Connecticut
My 0.02:

The column view is an excellent feature.

I find it the most efficient way to navigate using the finder.

Jeez, I even used to run a Column view finder in OS 8.6. It was a free/shareware thing.....ah, what was its name? Used to make my Mac crash....like....all the time.....
 
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Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 19, 2002
38,444
4,953
Los Angeles
Finder issue:

I've always been puzzled about a characteristic of the GUI desktop operating systems: When you navigate to first open a file or application, you use the visual elements of the file system display to click anywhere, open and close folders and subfolders, change views, follow aliases/shortcuts, move and resize windows, maybe even use a Find command, and eventually double-click on the item to open. Within each folder, I can arrange icons any way I like. Yet when you use the File->Open or File->Save As menu choice within an application, the process of identifying the file to open or the folder in which to save is completely different: I must navigate to the file/folder while confined to a dialog box listing files within each folder alphabetically. Why can't I find the file or directory starting from my desktop and have full Finder-style freedom?

I don't pretend to be a great interface designer, but as a user (and someone who has taught computers to many beginners) I always feel that my actions are artificially confined when I'm opening or saving. I know that file References.cwk is in that Job Hunt folder on the right side of my screen, so why do I have to find it alphabetically in a dialog box just because I'm working within AppleWorks?

I'm not sure what the best design would be to remove this interface distinction. Perhaps, when I'm opening or saving a file, I'd have a different cursor to remind me that I'm in a different mode even though I can navigate as in the Finder. Perhaps, instead, I would really be in the Finder, but having said File->Save As in AppleWorks would allow me to right click on any folder I come to and pick Save AppleWorks File Here from the context menu. If these are dumb solutions, I'll be happy with a smarter one.

Has anyone else noticed this or been bothered by it? Has anyone made a good suggestion for what to do about it?
 
Comment

Fukui

macrumors 68000
Jul 19, 2002
1,619
7
If I may ask... Why? In excruiciating detail please. I want to know what you think the advantages of a Cocoa Finder would be. Please, indulge me
Faster and eaiser to program for one.
They could easily update the finder and include so many features for free if they would atleast utilize the cocoa api's in the finder.
They can also make changes to the UI faster because of the way Objective C works hand-in-hand with user interfaces (keeping UI and Logic separate)...

My question is, why are so many people AGAINST cocoa???

P.S What I really want is access to my iPhoto, iTunes, and iMovie libraries from the finder and Open/Save dialogs....
 
Comment

FelixDerKater

macrumors 68030
Apr 12, 2002
2,981
1,095
Nirgendwo in Amerika
On the subject of Column Views, this is an are where OS X absolutely sucks. The only time I use this view on the Mac is for media previews. MS got it right here and Apple dropped the ball. Under XP, the media preview pane is much better designed. Under X, it seems like a last minute addition that compromises the overall experience of Aqua. Why can't Apple include such a preview pane as XP allows in standard icon mode?
 
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Rincewind42

macrumors 6502a
Mar 3, 2003
620
0
Orlando, FL
Originally posted by Fukui
Faster and eaiser to program for one.

Subjective. The Finder team currently uses a private implementation of PowerPlant for the Finder, and thus they can rapidly add features to the Finder as well. If they move to Cocoa, then have to rip that all out and reimplement it in Cocoa, which to me seems like a waste of time.

They could easily update the finder and include so many features for free if they would atleast utilize the cocoa api's in the finder.

The Finder Team can likely easily update the Finder now. It depends on what features you want. As for the features they would get for 'free' with Cocoa, tell me what features you want. I said I wanted excruiciating detail :)

They can also make changes to the UI faster because of the way Objective C works hand-in-hand with user interfaces (keeping UI and Logic separate)...

Objective C doesn't give a rats butt about user interfaces, it's just a programming language. You could implement all of the same stuff that Objective C does in any other programming language. Remember, Objective C started life as a C preprocessor.

As for the UI & Logic seperate issue, PowerPlant has been doing this for a long time now too. Most UI Frameworks encourage this pattern, Cocoa included. Don't confuse the framework with the language it was designed in.

My question is, why are so many people AGAINST cocoa???

I'm not against Cocoa. I'm against broad sweeping statements that imply that some particular way is the One True Way. Far too many people have come to believe that Cocoa is the One True Way and reject anything not made in Cocoa out of hand. I hate to draw the analogy, but they are doing the same thing to Cocoa is done to RealBasic. People automatically assume something in Cocoa is good (as they often assume something in RealBasic is bad). But the reality is that it is the programmer that makes something usable, not the tool. Cocoa, like RealBasic, makes it easier for people who have no clue to inflict something massively horrible on the world.

In all the time since MOSR originally inflicted the Cocoa Finder rumor on the world, I have yet to see anyone give a good reason why this should or would ever come to pass. If you are going to state that the Finder should be re-written in Cocoa, then please back up your statement with hard facts of the advantages of moving to Cocoa, and why this could never be done in Carbon. Be sure to remember that Carbon is a rapidly moving target and that features that today exist only in Cocoa are just a system revision from existing in Carbon as well.

edit: fixed small stupid but annoying text issues.
 
Comment

Masker

macrumors newbie
Oct 18, 2001
13
0
I guess I'll be the dissenting voice here. I cannot stand the "Folder is the window, the window is a Folder" metaphor. Then, when I navigate from my Home directory to Projects/Test/English.lproj/, the end result will be 4 open windows. Then, when I'm done with whatever I had to do to get to the English.lproj folder, I have to close 4 windows. That is TOTAL CRAP. I've always hated that aspect of System 7-9, and IMO, that methaphor is totally broken. I have to agree with Steve Jobs: the user should NOT NEED to be the janitor of a system. This is why we have and use computers: they take the tedium out of our lives. Why should using a computer BE TEDIOUS?

Another comment: Why have the Spatial Finder _and_ the Browser Finder? That's inane. There are some times when I find that a folder is best seen in list view and column view makes finding some files easier (though generally not). However, I find that it's a _per folder_ distinction. I don't want to, and shouldn't have to, remember which freaking Finder I want to use when I want to look at a folder. Just be flexible and elegant enough of a solution that I can use whatever portion of the functionality that I want at the time that I want to and remember for later so that I can just go back to the same folder and see it how it was when I left it. This is something that the Mac OS X Finder does very well.

Now, the save search results thing? How useful would it really be? I NEVER search for the same thing more than once, so for me this would just be a waste. I can see other people doing something different with their computers and needing this, or finding it useful, but it's certainly not very useful for general searches, IMO.

All-in-all, I find that this article lacks any convincing argument for changing the way that the metaphor(s) behind the current Mac OS X Finder. I think that the ideas that this guy brings up are old and tired, and were rejected with GOOD REASON. I believe that Apple actually made some serious improvements to the old OS 7/8/9 Finder in the Mac OS X Finder, and I, for one, love it the way it is. I look forward to seeing what the interface experts (that is, Apple) come up with next in 10.3.
 
Comment

soosy

macrumors regular
May 6, 2002
215
1
Originally posted by Doctor Q
Finder issue:

I've always been puzzled about a characteristic of the GUI desktop operating systems: When you navigate to first open a file or application, you use the visual elements of the file system display to click anywhere, open and close folders and subfolders, change views, follow aliases/shortcuts, move and resize windows, maybe even use a Find command, and eventually double-click on the item to open. Within each folder, I can arrange icons any way I like. Yet when you use the File->Open or File->Save As menu choice within an application, the process of identifying the file to open or the folder in which to save is completely different: I must navigate to the file/folder while confined to a dialog box listing files within each folder alphabetically. Why can't I find the file or directory starting from my desktop and have full Finder-style freedom?

wow, there's a good idea. Open/Save really is completely different. My mother for instance, still doesn't really get them. Why shouldn't they be a lot more like the regular finder?

I usually like this guys articles, but I'm not too sure about his ideas this time. Having two views of the same folder is bad--okay I can agree with that. But I really like Column view and having to launch a seperate browser app seems so Windows Explorer-esque. I always found it so strange that you had to launch a seperate app to get some of the view styles you get built in on the Mac.

The current OS X does attempt to allow both browser style and spatial windows. Perhaps it just needs to make a greater distinction by adding the word "browser" to the end of the window's title as you turn on/off the toolbar in a window. ....okay it would take more tweaks than that.

The metadata/BFS databasey thing I'm all for though. Hopefully, if rumors are true, Apple is implementing it as we speak!
 
Comment

superfunkomatic

macrumors regular
Jan 6, 2003
230
0
calgary, ab canada
i'm really surprised that this is a big deal. if you like clicking icon by icon and think visually great. if you like to move through column view to get previews and files great. either should be acceptable, it's about options. why not use the option that suits your needs best.

personally i think column view is a dramatic improvement over the finder in the older mac os's. simple easy to navigate and for new users it's easy to develop a quick understanding of the unix underpinnings.
 
Comment

C14ru5

macrumors member
Originally posted by jouster
Jeez, I even used to run a Column view finder in OS 8.6. It was a free/shareware thing.....ah, what was its name? Used to make my Mac crash....like....all the time.....
You're probably thinking of Greg's Browser.

Personally, I use the Mac OS X column view in one large window. I think Path Finder's view is nice, but it's a bit too advanced for my use. I prefer snappyness above everything. A hybrid between column view, smart playlists and LaunchBar is what I wish, but I guess this would require a lot of system-wide caching.
 
Comment

Fukui

macrumors 68000
Jul 19, 2002
1,619
7
I'm not against Cocoa. I'm against broad sweeping statements that imply that some particular way is the One True Way. Far too many people have come to believe that Cocoa is the One True Way and reject anything not made in Cocoa out of hand. I hate to draw the analogy, but they are doing the same thing to Cocoa is done to RealBasic. People automatically assume something in Cocoa is good (as they often assume something in RealBasic is bad). But the reality is that it is the programmer that makes something usable, not the tool. Cocoa, like RealBasic, makes it easier for people who have no clue to inflict something massively horrible on the world.

I agree with what your saying, but I think what most people are talking about is that what they really want is a Cocoa UI to the finder.

I know apple has nothing to do with Real Basic, but apps in Real Basic just look horrible for the most part, and most "Ported" carbon apps have schizophrenic UI's...to be honest, I dont care if someone uses carbon API's , cocoa API's or Java, I just want them to use the Cocoa UI features at least!!!

And since the cocoa API's are accessible from mach-o carbon apps, I don't care if the core is carbon...either.


RealBasic is bad

Every app that I have ever downloaded that was made with RealBasic I have thrown in the trash after about 30 seconds...RealBasic is actually a pretty cool development environment, but every app made with it, that I have ever used is not worth it IMO...sorry :confused: I don't mean to make flames...
 
Comment

Maclicious

macrumors regular
Oct 10, 2002
106
0
Seattle
Originally posted by jouster
My 0.02:

The column view is an excellent feature.

I find it the most efficient way to navigate using the finder.

Jeez, I even used to run a Column view finder in OS 8.6. It was a free/shareware thing.....ah, what was its name? Used to make my Mac crash....like....all the time.....

Me, too. I see column view as one of best things about os X. I have hundreds of word and excel documents on my machine, some more related, some less (as in one chapter per doc, excel files for figuring stats for each chapter, etc.), and this gives me sort of a birds eye view. This has become especialy true with the extra length of a 17 inch screen.

But, each to his own :)
 
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