×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Tog Takes on Mac OS X 10.3

pudge posted more than 10 years ago | from the go-get-em-tog dept.

OS X 670

Rick Zeman writes "Bruce 'Tog' Tognazzini, founder of Apple's Human Interface Group years ago, has finally pointed his electrons to Mac OS X 10.3. He's been dormant for while, and hasn't said anything since the early days of Mac OS X. His new articles include 'Panther: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly' and 'The Top Nine Reasons why the Dock Sucks,' all coming from A Guy Who Knows."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

670 comments

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975213)

fp. w00t.

macs are for queers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975217)

FP macs are gay!

Okay, so the guy likes OS 9 better. (0, Insightful)

sulli (195030) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975222)

I don't.

Re:Okay, so the guy likes OS 9 better. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975238)

me neither..

Re:Okay, so the guy likes OS 9 better. (-1)

Blacklist Blacklist (629645) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975280)

Me neither.

Re:Okay, so the guy likes OS 9 better. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975529)

Mei nether.

Re:Okay, so the guy likes OS 9 better. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975563)

The WidnowMaker is teh best. Its fast and beautifull. MacOSuX can laern a lott by it.

Finder (1, Informative)

bsharitt (580506) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975223)

I agree with him on the Finder. Apple has followed in Microsoft's footsteps by making finder window was too much space, al though they aren't as bad. At least they didn't turn the finder into a web browser.

Re:Finder (3, Interesting)

WWWWolf (2428) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975423)

Never mind about wasted screen space.

Why oh why they have to stick brushed metal look everywhere? It was sort of tolerable in QuickTime Player and iTunes, since those aren't too "serious" applications, but... Finder???? I didn't know my files and directories were supposed to be eXXtrEME steel-molded things!

Wish the next iteration would look like Nautilus with some tweaks - that is, retractable or possibly even detachable sidebar, possibly with the locations, and the ability to use dynamic window resizing (or zooming) depending on how many items the folder has. And no brushed metal kewliness.

Re:Finder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975537)

It would be even better if they supported widget theming and the like in the core OS. You know, so that I can think differently without getting a headache from that distracting and ugly GUI.

Re:Finder (5, Interesting)

jared_hanson (514797) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975464)

I find the new Finder (10.3) to be better and actually take less space.

In Jaguar, I had to customize the toolbar to put buttons for my Documents, Pictures, Music, etc folders. This made the finder require more room vertically and horizontally. (I could save the horizontal space by clicking the button which shows a fly out menu of hidden tool buttons, but I don't like that)

Now, in Panther, it actually takes less space vertically and horizontally. The vertical space comes from the fact that the toolbar buttons are smaller in size. And, I don't have to have 5 different buttons taking up horizontal room for my most used folders. Those go in a convienient sidebar for access.

Granted, the folder sidebar may take up horizontal room if you don't use it much, but Apple is pushing widescreen displays, so it makes more sense to use horizontal area than vertical area. The finder does this well.

Re:Finder (2, Informative)

BigBir3d (454486) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975572)

Unless you own a 12" powerbook or ibook; as both are strangled by 1024*768 max resolutions.

Re:Finder (4, Insightful)

Golias (176380) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975542)

Apple has followed in Microsoft's footsteps

Actually, the finder's side-bar icons makes OS X 10.3 feel more like NeXT to me than it ever has. It may look kind of goofy, but I find it to be extremely useful. (Certainly more useful than any "explore" navigation window in any flavor of MS-Windows!)

YMMV

Two simple changes to improve the dock (5, Insightful)

ikewillis (586793) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975236)

  1. Make it lockable
  2. When icons are dragged off the dock, instead of going *poof* they should be moved to the desktop, unless they are dragged into the trash (and of course, the trash can't be removed)

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (0)

oscast (653817) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975284)

Lockable? What do you mean?

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (2, Informative)

radicalskeptic (644346) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975347)

If you notice in Windows XP, you can't change the size of the taskbar unless you right click on it and deselect "lock thetaskbar." For the OS X dock this would be a good feature beacuse it is easy to accidentally remove programs from the dock by slightly dragging the mouse when you double click, and it is easy to change the size of the dock by accidentally dragging the mouse on the border.

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (5, Informative)

oscast (653817) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975474)

"If you notice in Windows XP, you can't change the size of the taskbar"

When items get added to it... something's got to give. You either need to make the items smaller or show less image data. Apple chose the wiser of the two options before it. The ability to lock the dock would be a step backwards IMHO.

"For the OS X dock this would be a good feature beacuse it is easy to accidentally remove programs from the dock by slightly dragging the mouse when you double click"

You don't double click items in the dock to launch/activate them. Its all single-click. Second, you have to drag an item relatively far outside the dock to remove it. If you slightly move it... (as per your analogy) the item snaps back to its origional position.

"and it is easy to change the size of the dock by accidentally dragging the mouse on the border."

You don't resize the dock by dragging the mouse on its border. You have to command-click the line-seperator and drag... (a combination you wouldn't be using otherwise when at the dock and so it makes the chance of accidentally re-sizing the dock almost impossible.

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (1)

radicalskeptic (644346) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975602)

First of all, I double click often to open programs in the background. I should have just said "click", but you can double click on the dock. And are you sure that dragging the mouse on the border doesn't do anything? I left my Powerbook at school (I'm on Winter break) so I can't check, but I was pretty sure that was all I did to resize it. Maybe it changed in Panther (which I don't yet have, my school was supposed to give it to me for free but they are dragging their feet.)

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (2, Interesting)

holt (86624) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975490)

Why are you double-clicking anything on the dock? You don't have to. Just click once.

And honestly, in all the time I've used OSX (full-time since 10.0) I've never accidentally dragged something off the dock. Nor have I ever accidentally resized it. The dock isn't perfect, but those complaints are kinda dumb, if you ask me.

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (1)

radicalskeptic (644346) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975547)

I double click sometimes to open stuff in the background. [macosxhints.com] And I have accidentally dragged stuff off the dock, only because sometimes my computer (most recently a 15" TiBook) stops to think right as I'm doing something, so my mouse movements end up not doing what I wanted.

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975598)

Why are you double-clicking anything on the dock? You don't have to. Just click once.

He's not. He's obviously never used OS X, and is just making stuff up. The fact that his post is currently at "+2, Informative" is a clear warning about the risk of moderating while intoxicated.

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (0, Offtopic)

daeley (126313) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975443)

It's like "lickable" ... with the mouth open. ;)

(Sorry, it's the caffeine talking.)

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975504)

Just the caffeine? Do you realize how many slashdotters use that silly excuse? I won't buy it this time.

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (2, Interesting)

WWWWolf (2428) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975496)

Window Maker [windowmaker.org]'s Dock is similar to Apple's, both getting their ideas from NextStep.

Window Maker has this nifty "Lock (prevent accidental removal)" checkbox for each docked program. Dragging so marked stuff out of the dock does not undock them.

I believe this could be extended to cover things like locking whole dock at once, locking the resizing of the dock, etc etc...

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (2, Informative)

sben (71467) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975311)

Actually, the dock is lockable, on a per-user basis, in one of the System Preferences panes named "Account Settings" or something like that. (It might be better to make the dock lockable by right-clicking on it or something, but I don't think it works that way.)

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975420)

Only if the user isn't an administrative user. If the user's got administrative rights, the "Capabilities" option is disabled.

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975316)

3. Encourage people to put useful options on the context menu. For example "New Window" for web browsers.

Also, there should be the option to show all open documents, not just the minimized ones. Microsoft figured this out when they got rid of Windows 3.

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (0)

Phrogz (43803) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975324)

1. Make it lockable

What does this mean? Using something like TinkerTool [bresink.de] (as a convenience interface to writing the preferences) you can anchor it to the left/right edge at the bottom of the screen, so it only grows in one direction...which means applications are always in the same spot, if you anchor it to the left. Is this what you mean by 'lockable'?

2. When icons are dragged off the dock, instead of going *poof* they should be moved to the desktop

This is a poor idea, IMO. The dock is like a favorites list, not a storage location. Items don't get moved 'into' the dock, they just get pointed to from it. What do you want, items dragged out of the dock to create a new alias on the desktop? Ick.

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (1)

radicalskeptic (644346) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975433)

>>2. When icons are dragged off the dock, instead of going *poof* they should be moved to the desktop

>This is a poor idea, IMO.

I agree. One reason not to do this is that almost every time I see an OS X desktop (including mine), it only has one icon on it: the HDD. It seems most people who use OS X don't like to store much of anything on their desktop besides links to hard drives, and maybe one or two other shortcuts. Here's some evidence. [iheartny.com]

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (4, Insightful)

ikewillis (586793) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975541)

What does this mean? Using something like TinkerTool (as a convenience interface to writing the preferences) you can anchor it to the left/right edge at the bottom of the screen, so it only grows in one direction...which means applications are always in the same spot, if you anchor it to the left. Is this what you mean by 'lockable'?

No. A "locked" state would prvent accidental removal of dock icons. It would not be possible for ignorant friends using your laptop without your permission/cats/etc to accidently remove icons.

This is a poor idea, IMO. The dock is like a favorites list, not a storage location. Items don't get moved 'into' the dock, they just get pointed to from it. What do you want, items dragged out of the dock to create a new alias on the desktop? Ick.

Oh please, can we have a little less conceptual zealotry?

The reason why this would be an improvement is that, in its current incarnation, it's very easy to accidently carry out an irreversable operation; removing an item from the dock. When this happens there is no quick intuitive undo... the user is forced to hunt down whatever was accidently removed and readd it if they so desire... and this provided they actually saw what they removed by accident and therefore know immediately what needs to be replaced.

Moving the icons onto the desktop would make for a simple undo... it would also provide a sensible counterpart operation to dragging something onto the dock in the first place.

Or, if you're really such a conceptual fanatic, how about simply having icons return to the dock unless they're dragged explicitly into the trash?

The dock is, in its current incarnation, rather counterintuitive, and Tog certainly agrees:

"The Dock adds a whole new behavior: Object annihilation. Drag an object off the dock and it disappears in a virtual puff of smoke. This is the single scariest idea introduced to the Macintosh since the original bomb icon. How would you feel if you spent eight hours working on your first Macintosh document, only to have it disappear entirely when you try to move it from the dock to the desktop? Pretty disorienting, no? This is a completely unnecessary concept for the user to have to learn, particularly in such a painful way. Makes for a 'hot demo' though, doesn't it?"

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (0, Flamebait)

smack_attack (171144) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975389)

HAHA, I use Aqua Dock on XP and I find it ironic that Apple people have a shittier time with their dock.

Of course my next computer is still going to be a powerbook.

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (2, Insightful)

oscast (653817) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975552)

"Apple people have a shittier time with their dock"

Apple don't have "a shittier time with their dock". You are simply hearing from a vocal minority. The rest of us love the dock.

Curious, how does XP handle icon resizing and such if its a dock clone. I'd imagine it the scaling and the clarity of the icons would look very bad because the UI is not vector based like OS X.

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (5, Interesting)

wankledot (712148) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975431)

The problem with that is the dock icons can represent at least five different things:

Running applications, non-running applications, folders, files, and open windows (minimized.)

So by moving things to the desktop... what are you asking it to do? Move the application? create an alias? move a window to the desktop (can't really do that.) move a document to the desktop? a folder?

Also, you can drag a dock item off to somewhere other than the desktop, such as a document or application window.

A fundamental idea of the dock is that it's not the actual file/program/window. It is just a representation of it, manipulating the dock icon of an object does not actually move, delete, edit, etc. the object. making the dock affect the actual item makes it dangerously powerful.

Re:Two simple changes to improve the dock (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975521)

Make it lockable

No, make it locked period. There is no advantage whatsoever to having a moving doc. Why put in a "make my interface less usable" checkbox? And why make that checkbox checked by default? It is good to put in options when there is trade-off between two factors, because those factors may have different importance to different users. But I see no trade-off here. Just lock the dock (spock).

PS, for those who asked: locked means that the doc is anchored to one corner and does not move. Suppose it was ancored to the bottom right corner. Put all the unremovable items (trash etc) rightmost followed by the user shortcut icons, followed by dynamic items (other launched apps, minimized windows). Oh and put the most used static item (probably trash can) in the far corner. Then the unremovable items would never change position, and the user shortcuts would only change position when you change them. As it is now everything moves everytime you do do anything.

They should've never been let go (3, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975246)

Apple should've never gotten rid of its HCI group, and Tog once again shows why. For all of its advancement in underlying technologies and reliability, Mac OS X has been a huge leap backwards in useability compared to the Classic Mas OS as designed by people who cared more about useability than "lickability."

I really think that Apple forgot why a lot of its users so tenaciously stuck with the platform in the first place despite higher prices and the little irritations of cooperative multitasking. The interface matters as more than just a pretty show. Classic Mac OS pundits have been kicking the Dock for years now, and it's good to hear one of the experts chime in. ...Not that Apple will listen, of course.

Re:They should've never been let go (2, Flamebait)

AgentRavyn (142623) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975299)

And if he'd supported OSX, you'd be supporting it right along with him.

Re:They should've never been let go (2, Interesting)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975422)

Thanks you, no, but I've been a long, long critic of the Mac OS X interface. While some of the problems from the 10.0 release have been fixed over the years, I've always been extremely irritated that Apple didn't just preserve the Mac OS 9 interface like they did in the very early Rhapsody builds (in case you don't remember) rather than drop this whole new mess on us.

No, I still in many ways prefer Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X. However, all my modern application require Mac OS X, and I've permanently forced myself into the newer OS via breaking out of the old 31 character filename limit. Otherwise, I'd still be using Mac OS 9 because it best fits my workflow.

Just because I disagree with you and happen to agree with someone more public doesn't make me a sheep.

Re:They should've never been let go (2, Funny)

pheared (446683) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975326)

But how can you argue with lickability. Adept tongues are valuable assets.

He should have directed those electrons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975268)

...to his web server.

Re:He should have directed those electrons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975365)

...to his web server.

Add this to the list of over-used karma whoreing posts.

Mirror (5, Informative)

delta407 (518868) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975276)

After 1 comment, the site is definitely very slow, but I managed to get a mirror before the server went down in flames.

Re:Mirror (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975327)

Unfortunately, now you appear to be slashdotted. Smooth.

Re:Mirror (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975525)

(text ripped from google cache, the article contains a number of images which are obviously missing. the site is actually responding but very slowly)

Panther: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

14 year Apple veteran (employee #66) and founder of Apple's Human Interface Group speaks out on OS 10.3

Mac is indeed back! For the first time, with a few simple add-ons, you can turn your Mac into a monster machine, capable of outperforming not only an OS 9 Mac, but Windows XP (see: Make Your Mac a Monster Machine in this same issue).

For a long time, people have been writing me, asking that I do an in depth review of OS X. I held off because I really didn't think OS X was ready for prime time. That's all changed. OS X, in the form of the Panther release, is more than ready. This is a review, then, of what Mac is doing right and where they still need to improve.

The Good

Let's begin with a look at what's new and important in Panther, OS 10.3.

Speed

OS X is up to speed at last. It appears as crisp, with a few exceptions, as OS 9.2.2. It's obvious that the team has put in much effort in identifying and optimizing key bits of code, and that effort has paid off handsomely.

Expose

Expose is remarkable. It offers much of the power of virtual desktops, but without the need for users to develop a complex mental model. Sweep all your current windows aside, carry out a new, contained Finder task, then sweep the windows back.

Expose also lets you spread the windows out on the desktop, so you can find the one you want, previously hidden in the "stack." Click on it and the windows will all take their previous positions, but with the chosen window on top.

Expose makes full and proper use of Fitts's Law. Throwing the mouse into your selected corner carries out your selected Expose action.

This is the first instance I've seen of a major OS making purposeful use of corners to carry out major activities. I applaud Apple for this. The corners are the four fastest, easiest targets for users, The point directly below the current position of the mouse is the easiest target for users, prompting the rise of contextual menus. Next in line are the four corners. Throwing the mouse in the general direction of a side will result in the mouse arriving at the exact point of one of its corners. Corners have been languishing, largely unused, for the last 25 years.

Of course, everything can be improved, and Expose is no exception. While you can carry out a complete Finder task, such a moving or copying documents from one folder to another, as soon as you open one of those documents, all the other windows come flying back. It would be nice to carry out a subtask that went beyond the finder while holding the rest of the document in abeyance.

For example, someone calls on the phone and you need to find and email a certain document. How nice to be able to just set everything else aside until that contained task is over, then bring back your previous work. Apple should experiment with a few solutions. Perhaps option-clicking the first document opened in the Finder would let Expose know to stay expanded until explicitly called back. Perhaps the behavior could just simply be changed, requiring a second visit to the corner to open it back up. (This could be made an option, for backward compatibility.)

Expose also needs an exclusion list. Some specialized OS X applications, ones that extend the Finder itself, should remain visible and accessible. These would include things like Drag Thing, which offers System 9-like tab menus and a desktop trash can.

Those of us who have become enamoured of Konfabulator widgets would also like to leave exposed during Expose operations those of these miniature objects we have elected to embed in our desktop.

Cool Konfabulator Clock

Finally, Expose needs to add a tiny delay before opening when the mouse is thrown into a corner. The corners are such pointer-magnets that users often arrive there by accident. Users, under OS 10.3, are now learning to slow up their mouse activities in general to avoid accidentally triggering Expose. A delay of between 1/20th of a second and 1/10th of a second should be sufficient and will result in a significant speed increase in other nearby activities, such as accessing the Apple menu.

File Vault

Apple's marketing message for File Vault is that it will allow a businessman to safely transport his laptop without fear of thieves gaining corporate secrets.

The real significance of File Vault is that it makes the Mac the first OS that protects privacy, rather than just security. For those who have not considered the difference, security is a scheme that ensures that only your corporate masters can find out what you are up to. Privacy means that only you can see what you are up to.

Perhaps the biggest difference between Apple and Microsoft has traditionally been that Microsoft supports corporations and Apple supports individuals. File Vault once again brings that difference into sharp focus. It actually has the potential to hurt sales to corporations that reserve their right to spy on you--hence the marketing spin that this is to protect corporate secrets on the road--but it once again clearly illuminates Apple as one of the good guys, a force in the world to slow down the seemingly inevitable advance of our Brave New World.

The Bad

Yes, there is still bad lurking in Panther, but it is bad that can be overcome. See the companion article, Make Your Mac a Monster Machine.

Dock

I have now changed my opinion about the Dock. Not that it doesn't still suck from a human-productivity point of view--it does--but I think that its ability to help close sales outweighs its general uselessness once users move beyond the naive stage.

The underlying problem with the Dock is that Apple appears to see it as a complete solution. In The Top 9 Reasons the Dock Still Sucks, I break it down for them, problem by problem, and suggest the strategy they need to follow to support users beyond the initial sale.

Information Density

OS X screen objects are as much as seven times bigger than needed. That's dreadful!

Save Dialogs

Save dialogs are so huge that they obscure the work beneath. There's a reason we moved to moveable dialogs a decade ago: Sometimes you need to be able to see your work beneath. Save dialogs need to be easily shrinkable, hiding all the chrome, as well as the side bar, so we can again see enough beneath to enable context.

Finder Windows

Finder windows open in a ridiculously wasteful size. This window, shown at half-size, is just as it appeared when opened for the first time under OS 10.3.

All that room for four measly icons. OS X hates to have icons anywhere near each other. The grid is huge and wasteful. There's also too much chrome, not enough car. Compare the above view with a screenshot of this same window at the same scale when I turned off the chrome and dragged the icons closer to each other:

Yes, this is the exact same content, not crowded in at all, in a window which is one seventh the size of the original! There is nothing you can do in that giant window that you could not do in the classic view with a proper redesign. Still not convinced? Have a look at the "repaired" view inside the dotted outline of the original:

Do you have that much screen real estate to burn? I don't.

Microsoft also has huge, wasteful, low-density windows. They are also horrible, and Apple need not emulate them. Instead, Apple needs to:

1. Design for density. A design team needs to examine this sharp downward turn in information density, identify each element of it, and address it in such a way that OS X at least meets, if not exceeds, the information density of OS 9.
2. Allow users to set the classic view (no chrome) as the default for new windows
3. Tighten the grid and make it dynamic as an option, so it does the best possible job under all circumstances.
4. Augment the compact view so it is as useful as the chrome view. Clicking on the status bar should hide/reveal the toolbar. Users wanting the Windows-like sidebar should be able to turn that on and off easily without all the ponderous chrome surrounding it. Finally, view options stripped from the context menu and placed in the toolbar need to be displayed in the context menu as well.

In the meantime, users should manually switch each window to classic view and drag the icons into a tighter position. (At least you only have to do this once per window.)

Cascading Close

The single-window Finder was not met with great applause, but Apple may have been onto something. So very often, I find myself with a cascading series of windows as I follow a path. We now have the column-view, so such meanderings can be done within a single window, but it is a far more abstract activity than opening windows, uncomfortable to people other than programmers and power users. We also have option-click, which in fact closes windows behind us.

I would like to see a preference option to make close-behind be the default, with option-click then used to leave a parent window open. This action should only happen with parent-child movement, not as a general Finder rule. It should also result in the child window opening in its own size and position, not within the parent window's borders. Inconsistency among different objects is just as important as consistency among identical objects. (The enforced consistency is what is wrong with the Windows cascade solution.)

I have met the enemy, and he is us--Pogo

Developers often fixate on the method of use they personally prefer. This may be why the spatially-oriented finder view is not making much progress now. Developers tend, by and large, to prefer abstractions. The same thing plagued Microsoft for more than a decade, with efforts going into making the keyboard interface as efficient as possible, while the point and click interface languished. (That has been corrected.)

The problem with this kind of imbalance is that, eventually, the approach receiving the most attention indeed becomes superior, fulfilling the wisdom of the developers. What becomes lost in the analysis is that, had the developers put the same effort into the other approach, it might have borne more fruit at an earlier time with less effort. What also becomes lost is that the now more productive approach may be very uncomfortable for the people using it. In the Windows world, this often doesn't matter. People have no choice; their employers have made the choice for them. In the Mac world, user-comfort is just as vital as user-productivity.

Dialog Box Drawer

System X dialog boxes have drawers that pop out to the side of the dialog:

This innovation was brought over from NeXT, and is an excellent way to increase information density on limited-sized screens. The problem is not in the design, but the implementation: The height of the drawer defaults to tracking the height of the parent dialog.

Developers do need to learn better how to control these drawers. Quickeys, for example, has a drawer that borders on the bizarre, making the application very difficult to use. When you use the cursor key to scroll up and down through a list of steps in a drawer in a shortcut, the drawer keeps changing dimensions, hiding, showing, and shifting the list, so that it's all but impossible to move from step to step. It's like trying to program in the fun house.

The problem is that each step in the drawer results in new content in the parent dialog. The tail is wagging the dog. One step may display many options in the dialog, making the dialog and drawer tall like tree. The next step may be short and sweet, so that the drawer all but slams shut. The immediate blame must be placed with Quickeys for shipping their product this way, but OS X should handle this situation better by, for example, disallowing size changes when the focus is in the drawer, rather than the dialog.

Import/Export

Apple is asking people to make a real leap of faith in moving their information into Apple-proprietary applications. In many cases, users are expected to do so with no way to move that data back out without losing all organization. For example, if you use iPhoto, the organization of your photos is in iPhoto. I'm sticking with Canon ImageBrowser. It's not as nice, but ImageBrowser is a view onto the Finder. Your pictures are organized in a series of Finder folders, rather than being in a non-exportable proprietary format. The same problem is plaguing the Safari browser. You can't elect to import bookmarks into Safari, and there's no way to get them back out. No corporation would support a single-source supplier, and no individual should either.

Skeleton Applications

Even after three years, some applications ported over to OS X are still Spartan and weak. For example, Quickeys, in addition to its drunken drawers, also does not permit such advanced techniques as multiple selection. If you want to copy and paste a cluster of four steps in a shortcut, you must select each separately and cut and paste it in turn. This is a capability that Quickeys for the old OS had from the beginning.

Some Apple Computer apps suffer from the same Spartanism, for example, Safari's aforementioned inability to import on demand or export favorites. (The fact that the help system apologizes for its absence indicates it was not a design decision, but a lack of resources.) With Mac's tiny market share, it's apparent that both Apple and its developers are limited in person-power, a continuing reality which must be addressed.

Trash

Give us back our trashcan in a stable location, namely, the desktop. Augment it by adding shredding capability, a nice adjunct to the new File Vault encryption capability. (Shredding should be done on a document-by-document basis, since by its nature it takes a long time.) Couple the shredding with the ability to "clean:" your Mac. It does no good to shred a document if a RAM image persists in virtual memory on the disk. If we're going for privacy, let's make it a complete solution.

Software Update

Four and a half hours of a seven hour Panther update had come across the wire when I really, really needed to send an email with a large attachment. Foolishly, I clicked "Pause" in the Apple Software Update dialog. Update threw away all four and one-half hours of updated code. Why does "pause" actually mean, "self-destruct"? It also raises the question as to why, two months after Panther shipped, they had a seven hour update. Did they rewrite everything in the entire system in two months? Windows handles this much better, offering small, if excessively frequent, patches that load and install themselves in the background. Mac needs to emulate this approach if they want to become competitive.

Help No Help

I initially found myself unable to use the help system. Why? Because there was no search box, even though the app insisted all I had to do was type in my question in the box above. Had there been a search box, I would have looked up information on why there was no search box. I would have discovered that clicking the little button that lies where the System 9 close box lived hides and reveals not only the chrome, but the tool bar. Had I discovered that, I would have clicked the little button on the help window and revealed... the search box.

The Help System search box, obviously, should always be revealed. That goes for every other object that users need all the time. Reserve the toolbar for things users don't really need. It doesn't work as a holder for anything but auxiliary tools.

The Ugly

OS X is, in general, extremely attractive, sometimes to the detriment of the interface. (The Dock is a case in point.) In one instance, however, Panther has both created something truly ugly and struck a blow against good interface in the process. I refer to the newly-implemented colorized label scheme that can make the screen all but unreadable. Instead of coloring the icons, they are wrapping giant colored ovals or stripes around or through the text.

The tinting scheme used in 9.2 didn't work with all icons, specifically those that were of a single color other than that desired for the label, but that was because the algorithm wasn't very sophisticated. It is quite possible and even easy to change the color of any icon without making it monochromatic and without making it look wrong. I laid out such a scheme in Tog On Interface a decade ago, and it was easy to do then, too.

Making things even worse, the team failed to map the OS 9 colors to OS X, so many of the documents are showing up in colors unfamiliar to the existing user base. Finally, they have carefully emulated the worst features of the System 9 system, too few colors, and a lack of ability for users to choose their own colors. This needs fixing.

Conclusion

It may seem I'm damning Apple with faint praise, considering how much bad I have mentioned. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Apple is indeed back. OS X is a fully-usable powerhouse once more, with a free and open future. I'm giving Apple some free advice, from someone whose advice is normally screamingly expensive, on where to go from here. The way is open.

Mirror, anyone? (-1, Offtopic)

ActionPlant (721843) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975283)

Anyone have a mirror? I'm really curious on the dock issue, but the site is already /.ed.

Re:Mirror, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975318)

He hates it. I think he is pining for the days of Microsoft Office Manager and Balloon Help.

Re:Mirror, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975350)

May day, may day! Mirror down too.

Top Nine Reasons the Apple Dock Still Sucks (text) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975532)

Apple Sales is in love with the Dock. You can't go into an Apple store without seeing it splayed across the bottom of the screen, in the very configuration least conducive to computing on a Macintosh. Why? Because it's sexy and it sells. It makes that bright, shiny new Apple look simple, approachable, and beautiful. It makes for a great demo.

The problem does not lie with the Dock itself--if it makes a great demo, leave it in--but with Apple's apparent belief that it is a complete solution. The Dock is akin to a brightly-colored set of children's blocks, ideal for your first words--dog, cat, run, Spot, run--but not too effective for displaying the contents of War and Peace.

Contrary to my previously-held position, I no longer believe Apple should get rid of the Dock. It's just too pretty there in the store, and it does help set Mac apart from the more utilitarian appearance of Windows (although Windows grows more attractive with every release). You want that in sales. You want a visibly-apparent manifestation of the personality of the underlying technology. That's why automakers spend milliions making the outside of the car project an image of what's underneath the skin.

A certain class of Apple users--those who check their email once or twice a week and sometimes need to print an attached photo--may need nothing more than the Dock.

The rest of us need more powerful tools, so, Apple, leave the Dock as the smashing demo it is, but also supply some serious, information-dense tools. You have the talent and wherewithal to make such tools as attractive as the Dock if only you will cease seeing this one single object as a complete solution.

Apple has made a few improvements to the Dock in the last three years. Items no longer jump around seemingly at random, although the size of the Dock continues to "wheeze" in and out without user control.. Items alsoi act like buttons, so clicking anywhere within their confines will open them. Apple also quickly gave us the ability to turn off magnification, a major improvement in day-to-day usability.

The other good news is that independent solutions now exist for getting around every limitation of the Dock. Read Make Your Mac a Monster Machine to learn how to turn your Mac into a high-productivity, but still fun workhorse. Meanwhile, here are eight continuing problems with the Dock, plus a new one, a decided lack of color. Most of these are inherent, and the solution is more and varied tools. A few can be directly addressed by design tweaks.

9. The Dock is big and clumsy
The Dock by default sucks up around 70 pixels square minimum, more than four times as much vertical space as either the Windows task bar or the Macintosh menu bar. (Yes, you can set it much smaller, but then you make it progressively more difficult to identify an icon without "scrubbing" the screen with your mouse to reveal its label.) Couple that with Apple's move to 16:9 wide screens (read: short screens), and you have a real problem. For good measure, add in the Dock's habit of floating on top of working windows, and you have little choice but to hide it.

8. Identical icons look identical
This was originally entitled "Identical pictures look identical." I pointed out that the Dock's use of thumnails in small sizes made all normal text documents look pretty much alike. Apple has now dumped thumbnails in return for identical icons. My original advice still holds: "We need information on data types, file sizes (as represented by the thickness of the icon), age, etc." They've now given us data type. We need more--any attribute that can help differentiate one object from another.
The better solution to this and many of these other limitations is to supplant the Dock with additional objects that are designed for representing groups of non-application objects, so that people aren't even attempting to put folders and documents in this already overloaded single object.

7. Dock objects have no labels
The objects in the dock do not have labels.
That works fine in the demo, since every object shown is completely unlike every other object. However, put in three or four folders next to each other and the user becomes clueless.
Yes, the user can "scrub" the length of the Dock, forcing one label at a time to appear as they root around for the right folder. However, that takes time and, when dragging a document, ensures a high rate of serious error.
Again, the best solution is to provide something other than the Dock specifically designed to show such objects.

6. Dock objects need color
Here's a different set of Word documents. (Well, you knew that from the picture, didn't you?) I have applied to each a different, bright color. (I particularly like the green one.)
One attribute newly (re)introduced for objects in OS 10.3, Panther, was user-settable color. In OS 9, this color was applied to the icon. Because of limitation in the algorithm, it produced mixed results, doing well with most icons, but failing badly for icons that had one strong predominant color already. Instead of addressing this problem, the OS X Finder team instead colored the text. Well, more precisely, they colored the general area around the text.
The Dock team apparently did not hear about any of these goings-on, because color is completely ignored by the Dock, both in the icon and the text, eliminating yet another attribute.
Color needs to be restored, with a more sophisticated algorithm, to the icons in general, and the Dock icons in particular.

5. The Trash Can belongs in the corner
This decision was so wrong that several replacement desktop trash cans have appeared to address it. Dock diehards point out that they always use Command-Delete anyway. Of course they do! That's because having a hidden, constantly-shifting trash can sucks!

4. The Dock's locations are unpredictable
Apple's solution to the early fire storm of protest over the Dock was to allow the user to hide it. That way, it doesn't float over all your applications. Slide below the screen with your mouse and the Dock appears.
This Windows copy job, unfortunately, suffers from the same defect as the Windows Task Bar: You can't predict where a given object is until you reach the bottom of the screen and cause the Dock to appear. Worse than with Windows, your job is not over. Now, you begin the task of scrubbing the length of the Dock, trying to force the labels to appear, hoping you won't go far enough out of range in the process to cause the bar to disappear on you. (The Dock is linear; the human hand was designed to move in an arc. We don't do well with scrubbing.)

3. The Dock is a sprawler
The corners and edges of the screen are proven by Fitts's Law to be the most easily reached targets. The low-information-density Apple Dock takes up a variable, but large measure of one entire side of the screen, leaving little or no room for high-density docks, such as those of DragThing. It's target region sprawls even beyond, covering one entire side of the screen.
This excessively-large target also ensures many mistakes, where people are simply sweeping the mouse too far while engaged in their application, suddenly triggering the hidden Dock.
The Dock needs to have a visible target. Hit the target and the Dock opens. Miss the target and the Dock won't open. Then supply a very slight delay, measured perhaps one twentieth or one tenth of a second to prevent accidental triggering. (The Dock, at the time of 10.3's release, has an excessively long delay, probably in response to the invisible, unpredictable sprawl problem herein discussed.)
This tab could be dynamic, one or two pixels deep and running the full length of the Dock, with the Dock acting much as it does now except in a more predictable manner. Or the user could elect to set a labelled tab of user-defined width, freeing up a lot of precious edge space. Still another option might have the Dock triggered by throwing the mouse in a corner. This could relieve much of the frustration of the variable-location trash can. Throw the mouse in the lower right-hand corner to grow the Dock up the display from that point, leaving the trash can in a consistent, predictable location.
(This by the way, is the way the Windows XP task bar should be triggered, instead of having any touch of the bottom of the screen display it.)

2. The Dock replaced better objects
Both OS 9's Tab Menus and the Applications Menu are being forced into the dock. Tab menus were formed by dragging a Finder folder to the bottom of the screen, where it turned into a multi-level hierarchical menu. Tab menus in OS 9 had problems, not the least of which was that, every few weeks, the Mac crashed in such a way that they all moved to the center of the screen, opened as normal windows in random positions, and each had to be dragged to the bottom of the screen and placed in the desired position again.
A Dock-like device would be of great value in upgrading the current tab menu scheme. Unfortunately, since dropping Finder folders in the Dock results in a whole line of unlabeled folders, the Dock is useless for such a function. One such device does exist, however, as discussed in, Make Your Mac a Monster Machine. In the old days at Apple, when we saw something like DragThing on the market, we would go buy it and incorporate it into the system. Let's hope someone at Apple is still watching out.
(We once had a couple of Berkeley students come down on the bus to Apple to demo what was to become Multifinder, the first instance of the modern Finder we've all come to love. We sent them back to Berkeley in a nice, shiny limo, along with a big, fat check.)
The Applications menu, in OS 9, sat in the upper right hand corner of the screen, giving people reasonable access to running applications. It had its problems; for example, it neatly avoided high-speed access by not accepting a click from the absolute corner of the screen. Nonetheless, it worked well enough and took up little space.
When we invented pull-down menus for the Lisa computer, back in the late-seventies, the concept was that you wanted to create information-dense objects that took up minimal screen space. The result was a single label that would instantly reveal a whole bunch of objects when touched. The Applications menu did that. The Dock, on the other hand, is as big when "closed" as it is when "open," unless you have magnification turned on, which causes some of us to become sea-sick. (Again, a great demo, but a poor daily performer.)
The Dock is also throwing the application menu's items in with everything else in the Dock, forming just one big jumble. (The applications are now arranged on one end, but that doesn't seem much of a win; it is still one big jumble.) Again, as revealed in Make Your Mac a Monster Machine a solution once again exists: The Applications menu is back, though from a third party. Apple needs to incorporate it once again into the interface, making it triggerable from a corner touch.

1. The Dock adds bad behavior
The Dock adds a whole new behavior: Object annihilation. Drag an object off the dock and it disappears in a virtual puff of smoke. This is the single scariest idea introduced to the Macintosh since the original bomb icon. How would you feel if you spent eight hours working on your first Macintosh document, only to have it disappear entirely when you try to move it from the dock to the desktop? Pretty disorienting, no? This is a completely unnecessary concept for the user to have to learn, particularly in such a painful way. Makes for a "hot demo" though, doesn't it?

Conclusions

The Dock's sole positive attribute lies in its improving the Mac's "curb appeal" and demoability.

Apple would appear to be after two separate and distinct market segments. First, the naive consumer who isn't going to do much with his or her computer anyway. OS X, with its suite of simple apps would appear to be a good fit.

The other extreme they appear to want are self-identified power users. Why else all the talk about the UNIX underpinning, about "munitions-grade" computing power?

OS X is a powerful operating system. It deserves a top-level interface that matches. The old Mac handled both sets of users handily. OS X, with its powerful underpinnings and slick graphics support has the potential to do much better. However, the focus on this single object to the exclusion of the kind of information tools power users need must stop. Keep the Dock as long as it helps close sales, but provide the real tools needed by people with serious work.

Dock (3, Informative)

_PimpDaddy7_ (415866) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975286)

I agree with him on the Dock issues on almost all of them. Some may be too nit picky.

But for the most part he is right. All documents look the same, no tagging, trash can in the dock, dragging from the dock erases what you drag. It's dangerous.

I don't agree with the dock taking too much space. If you make it the smallest you can still make out what programs are which.

Plus, if the dock bothers you so much, HIDE it :)

Re:Dock (5, Informative)

oscast (653817) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975330)

"All documents look the same" Um, no they don't. "But for the most part he is right. All documents look the same, no tagging, trash can in the dock, dragging from the dock erases what you drag. It's dangerous." No it doesn't. Dragging to the dock creates an alias (shortcut for you Windows users). Dragging away from the dock simply d-letes the alias

Re:Dock (1)

cellocgw (617879) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975520)

>>"All documents look the same"
>Um, no they don't.
Um, yes they do. Don't go getting snitty because a Word doc looks different from a Photoshop doc. What we need is a quick&easy way to tell *which* Word doc it is. This is a bigger issue w/ folders -- I've been petulantly creating custom icons for folders just so they are distinguishable in the Dock.
And no, the fact that the folder name shows up when you mouse-over doesn't count.

Re:All documents Look The Same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975362)

Maybe you didn't notice, but when you point to one, you DO get a floating label above to tell which window/document it is.

Re:All documents Look The Same (1)

laird (2705) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975502)

The problem is that you can't just look at the dock and know what's in it. You have to "scrub" the mouse over the icons in the dock in order to cause them to display their names.

WindowShade's approach, where they create an icon that is an image of the document's contents, with the application icon superimposed, is much better. You can easily see all Photoshop documents, and tell the difference between them, in a natural, intuitive way.

Check out http://www.unsanity.com/haxies/wsx/.

Re:All documents Look The Same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975579)

hmm...on my iBook running 10.3.2 when I minimize a window to the dock it displays that Window's contents as the icon on the Dock. This looks esp. cool when I minimize a movie and it keeps playing visibly on the Dock.

P.S. I've already tried that program, looks neat, but I have a neurotic compulsion to have aa barren desktop, so all those mini-windows would bug me, but it is a nice solution.

Re:Dock (2, Insightful)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975411)

Hiding it doesn't take away the wasted space. Instead, it pops up and pokes you in the ass when you least expect it.

The only way to deal with the Dock is two monitors, with the Dock on the far left..or at least, the only way for me.

Personally I think they should separate the app launching from the task switching. Put the apps to be launched on a Shelf...where is the shelf...ahhgghh I want shelf.

another story, another /. (-1)

Honor (695145) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975290)

and the tides of /.ers roll over the site and immedietly /. it...bwahahahahaha! we will take over the world site by site!

smallmind (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975291)

daniel parsons has no wang.

The Dock Sucking, and how it doesn't suck. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975298)

Now I find this curious. I've been told by quite a few people (some of whom use OSX, some who don't) and many who're opinionated about it state it as -fact-.

"The Dock Sucks trust me I know, the KDE/Windows/BeOS/AmigaOS solution is better."

Now, that's well and good for them. Really good in fact, that they have the choice between one thing and the other. Personally, I find the dock simple, transparent, to me it sits invisibly, I never notice I'm using it, and it performs admirably. For others obviously, it's sucky. Duh. we're not all clones.

But to say, as many do, "This is why it sucks and why X, Y or Z is better and your opinion is wrong" is priceless, when clearly for me that isn't the case. It's like saying "You're such a fuckwit if you think Chocolate is better than caramel, here's why"

(Just so y'all know, when it comes to MY computing experience I do like to go with what works for me, and I WILL be opinionated about what works for me)

Re:The Dock Sucking, and how it doesn't suck. (4, Insightful)

transient (232842) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975494)

That's the thing about HCI people. They're part of an entire field devoted to telling you that your opinion is wrong. The trouble is, by their measures, you are wrong -- they just don't realize that their measures are an incomplete picture of the computing experience. There are people in HCI who are trying to change this and I applaud them, but until they succeed, you are absolutely right.

Or, to quote one of John Cusack's characters, "How can it be bullshit to state a preference?"

This guys knows.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975314)

That Win XP is still the most powerful OS out there. The Mac is still playing "I'm still cool, just not useful" game.

Re:This guys knows.. (-1, Offtopic)

oscast (653817) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975384)

If the mods don't pump this guy's post up to (Score:5, Insightful) then there is certinly no justice in this world...

[roll eyes]

Re:This guys knows.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975430)

Only if by powerful you mean power over the end user. I especially love the way XP neatly reboots itself ever so often. I'll be working along when all of a sudden the OS will decide it wants to reboot and I'm completely powerless to stop the all powerful OS from doing as it pleases. That's power!

Re:This guys knows.. (-1, Offtopic)

smack_attack (171144) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975455)

Just an FYI for the moderators...

There are three kinds of tools:
1) Those that perform a function (ie- an OS, environment, applications, etc).
2) The one in your pants.
3) Those that post inane comments on forums talking smack about #1 because it makes them feel like their #2 is big.

Re:This guys knows.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975582)

-WinXP has most of the programs and games out there
-linux/unix has the most customizable gui (40+ different window managers, each having 'very customizable' as a feature)
-MacClassic has the easiest to use interface (if you didn't have much windows experiance)
-MacOSX - like unix (is unix) but with only one WM choice...

WinXP 'most powerful OS' meaning?
desktop market share? - you would be correct
cpu market share? - incorrect
stability? - getting better
cpu overhead? - getting worse (but so is everyone else)
fewest tools/programs per install CD - clear winner

If the dock had been introduced back in the day... (2, Insightful)

corebreech (469871) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975320)

...of System's 7, 8 or 9, it wouldn't have made it, not even as freeware.

Tog's right. It is the most inane UI feature to have made it in *any* OS, let alone Macintosh.

And what's especially frustrating is that they replaced two very workable UI gadgets, the Application Menu and the Process Menu (which Tog confuses with the former) without so much as bothering to elicit feedback from the users.

I found this to be really arrogant. It was like the boys from NeXT came in and simply assumed they knew better than everybody else, that a UI that had survived for over a decade-and-a-half and have been continually honed during that time was something to just throw away.

I mean, to not even give us the option of having those menus... inexcusable.

Before OS X I had to switch over to Windows for my development work, but it was the OS X dock that made me switch to Windows (and alternately, Linux) for my personal stuff.

Bad.

Re:If the dock had been introduced back in the day (2, Insightful)

oscast (653817) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975410)

"I found this to be really arrogant. It was like the boys from NeXT came in and simply assumed they knew better than everybody else"

Not arrogant at all. The guys at NeXT DID know better and so therefore it was right to take over Apple's former UI staff. Guys like TOG are just bitter about it.

You did what? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975427)

You actually swiched OS's because of the Dock? Seriously? I'm impressed.

Tog knew a lot in his day, but his complaints about the dock are clearly from a I-wish-it-were-still-the-old-way mentality.

The beauty of the Dock is that normal people can use it right away. Power users that need more should just use something else. No one complains that iMovie is limited or that iPhoto is slow, they just get a clue and use something else. (Actually, people do complain, but anyhow...) Yes, the Dock is part of the OS, but it can be substituted/replaced at the will of the user.

Re:You did what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975481)

Conversely to the original poster, I switched to OS X because of the gui, and the dock is part of that. It is purely the most elegant UI element I've used in a long time. I found using the old MacOS a bit of a clumsy messy affair where I was constantly jumping between the apple menu, the app switcher and the finder, and doing one hell of a lot of mousing to do so. It never became intuitive to me. Now everything I used to need is in the dock. It's rolled up so invisibly I didn't realise for a long time how bad the old MacOS was until I tried going back to it. Bleh

Re:If the dock had been introduced back in the day (3, Funny)

phrasebook (740834) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975466)

Sigh. System 6! I love you!

Re:If the dock had been introduced back in the day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975566)

No way man, System 5 [www.tlp.cz] is where it's at!

Yea for the death of the application menu!!! (1)

Steveftoth (78419) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975562)

You can have your application menu. To me it was a complete failure as a good UI device.

I'm assuming that you mean the menu that the multi-finder brought us, the menu in the upper right hand corner that lets you switch applications.

It was a pain then and still is a pain.

The dock is much better for switching applications, as you only need to click once on an icon to switch applications rather then click->drag. And the order of the applications was dependent on the order in which you opened your applications which generated many rituals I'm sure of opening your applications in the same order so they would always appear in the same order on that menu.

The only problem with the dock is that it can'h handle more then 15-20 applications.

smallmind (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975323)

daniel parsons has no wang.

One thing Panther gets right... (3, Insightful)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975351)

is that you don't have to trip through countless menus and windows to get to something a few keystrokes in a terminal window will do faster.

Pretty pictures for those who want it done easily, a terminal for those who want it done now (or more easily by a program). I like graphical interfaces for what they do well. I like command lines for what they do well.

With OS X, as with most other *nix implementations, I can have the best of both worlds.

WindowShade Rocks (4, Informative)

laird (2705) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975383)

Most of TOG's suggestions weren't my cup of tea ( I like the Dock, but hey, I used to be a NEXTSTEP developer), but WindowShade is a wonderful program.

http://www.unsanity.com/haxies/wsx/

Actually, these guys make a lot of cool, useful little app's, but WindowShade's "minimize in place" is wonderful. When you click on the 'minimize' control for a window, it's minimized down to an icon. But unlike the dock it's minimized right where the window was, so you can arrange the icons yourself. Also, the icon is a live version of the document's contents (so you can see a progress bar's progress, differentiate between two different Photoshop images, etc.) and has the application icon superimposed (so you know what kind of window it is). Apple should at least use these icons in the Dock.

Re:WindowShade Rocks (1)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975554)

I'll have to check when I go home, but I'm almost positive that a minimized, say, PDF, in the dock, has a little Acrobat Reader badge on it... is that what you're talking about?

JFC! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975395)

Jesus Christ! Somebody talking bad about Apple! Mod him down! I don't care what Human Interface Department he started!

Tog's solution to Dock problems worth checking out (3, Informative)

lysium (644252) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975432)

This article [asktog.com] on his site reviews a few pieces of software that fix the problems associated with the Dock.

From an Old Mac User (4, Informative)

Becho62282 (172807) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975435)

I have used every single Mac OS since system 7.1 in 1993 and I think that Torg does have several good points.

1. I have to agree that the open and save dialogs are a bit obstrusive, I remember being able to move around the open and save dialog to see what was going on behind it at times. Now when I get an ICQ add request I can't see the request because the dialog box is sticking in the way. Perhaps Apple needs to implent ment a "Rip" button that gives you the option of ripping the dialog box off the window on a case by case basis.

2. I disagree with the trash can issue. I like it in the Dock and find it pretty usefull there. Not to mention the fact that I just rather hit apple+delete to trash things anyway.

3. Ok, so the UI is differant, but honestly I think it is the best one that apple has designed since I have used the mac. They removed a lot of the issues that plagued it in it's infancy. I love the single window option and I have not had an issue with screen density at all. Quite frankly I think the new finder is the most functional they have had since 7.5 (yeah it's flame bait but II loved 7.5). It provides everything that you would want to access quickly right there for you with minimal problems. Yeah things may be bigger, but I like that.

Hmmmm (1, Funny)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975439)

So I take it the Mac community FORGOT to send Tog the memo that his views on UI design are wholly irrelevant and have been for some years now?

Question (-1, Offtopic)

tedgyz (515156) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975445)

This will probably get modded as flamebait, but here goes...

Why is it that everyone rips up Microsoft for being a monopoly, yet in the same breath praises Apple? As I see it, Apple is an even bigger monopoly, since they control the hardware, as well as the software. Also, they are way over-priced. It seems like OS-X is more like the OS for the rich.

I'm a well-paid software engineer, but I can't stomach paying so much for their gear. I am no fan of Microsoft. I just am baffled by the apparent double-standard. Any Apple fans care to comment?

Re:Question (1)

twocoasttb (601290) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975534)

Perhaps you should learn what a monopoly is. Apple has a monopoly on Apple hardware and software. Nothing wrong with that. Microsoft has a monopoly on PCs because of the overwhelming market share of their OS. Not necessarily bad, except that Microsoft has on numerous occasions chosen to abuse their monopoly.

I like OS X's interface (5, Insightful)

flabbergast (620919) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975453)

*putting my flame proof jacket on* I like OS X's user interface, and I hated OS 9's user interface. I bought my iBook because OS X is based on FreeBSD (and I need a shell prompt and assorted other goodies), but I enjoy the user interface now that I've had time to adjust.

I think most of the problem is centered around "But the Dock is stupid because OS 9 did this instead." We have a natural tendency to resist change, and Finder and the Dock are huge changes to the Mac interface.

And yes, I did RTFA, and I do agree that there are some missteps (like all the Dock widgets looking the same) but a lot of the complaints here are "OS 9 is better! OS X sux!"

He left out the top add-ins (1)

cellocgw (617879) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975458)

I can't believe he didn't list DefaultFolder and Ittec with his "superduper gotta have" shareware. Nobody can live without DefaultFolder; Ittec replaces FinderPop, and sure speeds up folder surfing.

As to his Dock comments: yeah it could have been done better (to say the least). In particular, when you pull an icon out of the dock, I'd like to see it "minimize" its way back into the target file's folder or hard drive icon. Then it looks like a "put away" instead of a "oops, you just destroyed that app."

Tog's Complaints (1, Insightful)

MrBlackBand (715820) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975463)

His argument is "It's not the way *I* want it to be! Therefore, it sucks!"
My counterargument: "It's the way *I* want it to be! Therefore, it is God!"

You don't hate God, do you?

Re:Tog's Complaints (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7975600)

Figures that a mac user is religious.

Clearly best at interface design (4, Insightful)

Alrescha (50745) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975506)

When he talks about interface design, it's clear that TOG is in his element. When he starts talking about what applications should do, he seems more like he's just ranting.

I think this comments about the new Finder are right on target. When he complains about needing export from iPhoto, It makes me wonder if he's ever bothered to select a bunch of pictures and just drag them somewhere.

A.

Article text (3, Informative)

smellystudent (663516) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975511)

Top Nine Reasons the Apple Dock Still Sucks

Apple Sales is in love with the Dock. You can't go into an Apple store without seeing it splayed across the bottom of the screen, in the very configuration least conducive to computing on a Macintosh. Why? Because it's sexy and it sells. It makes that bright, shiny new Apple look simple, approachable, and beautiful. It makes for a great demo.




The problem does not lie with the Dock itself?if it makes a great demo, leave it in?but with Apple's apparent belief that it is a complete solution. The Dock is akin to a brightly-colored set of children's blocks, ideal for your first words?dog, cat, run, Spot, run?but not too effective for displaying the contents of War and Peace.

Contrary to my previously-held position, I no longer believe Apple should get rid of the Dock. It's just too pretty there in the store, and it does help set Mac apart from the more utilitarian appearance of Windows (although Windows grows more attractive with every release). You want that in sales. You want a visibly-apparent manifestation of the personality of the underlying technology. That's why automakers spend milliions making the outside of the car project an image of what's underneath the skin.

A certain class of Apple users?those who check their email once or twice a week and sometimes need to print an attached photo?may need nothing more than the Dock.

The rest of us need more powerful tools, so, Apple, leave the Dock as the smashing demo it is, but also supply some serious, information-dense tools. You have the talent and wherewithal to make such tools as attractive as the Dock if only you will cease seeing this one single object as a complete solution.

Apple has made a few improvements to the Dock in the last three years. Items no longer jump around seemingly at random, although the size of the Dock continues to "wheeze" in and out without user control.. Items alsoi act like buttons, so clicking anywhere within their confines will open them. Apple also quickly gave us the ability to turn off magnification, a major improvement in day-to-day usability.

The other good news is that independent solutions now exist for getting around every limitation of the Dock. Read Make Your Mac a Monster Machine to learn how to turn your Mac into a high-productivity, but still fun workhorse. Meanwhile, here are eight continuing problems with the Dock, plus a new one, a decided lack of color. Most of these are inherent, and the solution is more and varied tools. A few can be directly addressed by design tweaks.

9. The Dock is big and clumsy
The Dock by default sucks up around 70 pixels square minimum, more than four times as much vertical space as either the Windows task bar or the Macintosh menu bar. (Yes, you can set it much smaller, but then you make it progressively more difficult to identify an icon without "scrubbing" the screen with your mouse to reveal its label.) Couple that with Apple's move to 16:9 wide screens (read: short screens), and you have a real problem. For good measure, add in the Dock's habit of floating on top of working windows, and you have little choice but to hide it.

8. Identical icons look identical
This was originally entitled "Identical pictures look identical." I pointed out that the Dock's use of thumnails in small sizes made all normal text documents look pretty much alike. Apple has now dumped thumbnails in return for identical icons. My original advice still holds: "We need information on data types, file sizes (as represented by the thickness of the icon), age, etc." They've now given us data type. We need more?any attribute that can help differentiate one object from another.
The better solution to this and many of these other limitations is to supplant the Dock with additional objects that are designed for representing groups of non-application objects, so that people aren't even attempting to put folders and documents in this already overloaded single object.

7. Dock objects have no labels
The objects in the dock do not have labels.
That works fine in the demo, since every object shown is completely unlike every other object. However, put in three or four folders next to each other and the user becomes clueless.
Yes, the user can "scrub" the length of the Dock, forcing one label at a time to appear as they root around for the right folder. However, that takes time and, when dragging a document, ensures a high rate of serious error.
Again, the best solution is to provide something other than the Dock specifically designed to show such objects.

6. Dock objects need color
Here's a different set of Word documents. (Well, you knew that from the picture, didn't you?) I have applied to each a different, bright color. (I particularly like the green one.)
One attribute newly (re)introduced for objects in OS 10.3, Panther, was user-settable color. In OS 9, this color was applied to the icon. Because of limitation in the algorithm, it produced mixed results, doing well with most icons, but failing badly for icons that had one strong predominant color already. Instead of addressing this problem, the OS X Finder team instead colored the text. Well, more precisely, they colored the general area around the text.
The Dock team apparently did not hear about any of these goings-on, because color is completely ignored by the Dock, both in the icon and the text, eliminating yet another attribute.
Color needs to be restored, with a more sophisticated algorithm, to the icons in general, and the Dock icons in particular.

5. The Trash Can belongs in the corner
This decision was so wrong that several replacement desktop trash cans have appeared to address it. Dock diehards point out that they always use Command-Delete anyway. Of course they do! That's because having a hidden, constantly-shifting trash can sucks!

4. The Dock's locations are unpredictable
Apple's solution to the early fire storm of protest over the Dock was to allow the user to hide it. That way, it doesn't float over all your applications. Slide below the screen with your mouse and the Dock appears.
This Windows copy job, unfortunately, suffers from the same defect as the Windows Task Bar: You can't predict where a given object is until you reach the bottom of the screen and cause the Dock to appear. Worse than with Windows, your job is not over. Now, you begin the task of scrubbing the length of the Dock, trying to force the labels to appear, hoping you won't go far enough out of range in the process to cause the bar to disappear on you. (The Dock is linear; the human hand was designed to move in an arc. We don't do well with scrubbing.)

3. The Dock is a sprawler
The corners and edges of the screen are proven by Fitts?s Law to be the most easily reached targets. The low-information-density Apple Dock takes up a variable, but large measure of one entire side of the screen, leaving little or no room for high-density docks, such as those of DragThing. It's target region sprawls even beyond, covering one entire side of the screen.
This excessively-large target also ensures many mistakes, where people are simply sweeping the mouse too far while engaged in their application, suddenly triggering the hidden Dock.
The Dock needs to have a visible target. Hit the target and the Dock opens. Miss the target and the Dock won't open. Then supply a very slight delay, measured perhaps one twentieth or one tenth of a second to prevent accidental triggering. (The Dock, at the time of 10.3's release, has an excessively long delay, probably in response to the invisible, unpredictable sprawl problem herein discussed.)
This tab could be dynamic, one or two pixels deep and running the full length of the Dock, with the Dock acting much as it does now except in a more predictable manner. Or the user could elect to set a labelled tab of user-defined width, freeing up a lot of precious edge space. Still another option might have the Dock triggered by throwing the mouse in a corner. This could relieve much of the frustration of the variable-location trash can. Throw the mouse in the lower right-hand corner to grow the Dock up the display from that point, leaving the trash can in a consistent, predictable location.
(This by the way, is the way the Windows XP task bar should be triggered, instead of having any touch of the bottom of the screen display it.)

2. The Dock replaced better objects
Both OS 9's Tab Menus and the Applications Menu are being forced into the dock. Tab menus were formed by dragging a Finder folder to the bottom of the screen, where it turned into a multi-level hierarchical menu. Tab menus in OS 9 had problems, not the least of which was that, every few weeks, the Mac crashed in such a way that they all moved to the center of the screen, opened as normal windows in random positions, and each had to be dragged to the bottom of the screen and placed in the desired position again.
A Dock-like device would be of great value in upgrading the current tab menu scheme. Unfortunately, since dropping Finder folders in the Dock results in a whole line of unlabeled folders, the Dock is useless for such a function. One such device does exist, however, as discussed in, Make Your Mac a Monster Machine. In the old days at Apple, when we saw something like DragThing on the market, we would go buy it and incorporate it into the system. Let's hope someone at Apple is still watching out.
(We once had a couple of Berkeley students come down on the bus to Apple to demo what was to become Multifinder, the first instance of the modern Finder we've all come to love. We sent them back to Berkeley in a nice, shiny limo, along with a big, fat check.)
The Applications menu, in OS 9, sat in the upper right hand corner of the screen, giving people reasonable access to running applications. It had its problems; for example, it neatly avoided high-speed access by not accepting a click from the absolute corner of the screen. Nonetheless, it worked well enough and took up little space.
When we invented pull-down menus for the Lisa computer, back in the late-seventies, the concept was that you wanted to create information-dense objects that took up minimal screen space. The result was a single label that would instantly reveal a whole bunch of objects when touched. The Applications menu did that. The Dock, on the other hand, is as big when "closed" as it is when "open," unless you have magnification turned on, which causes some of us to become sea-sick. (Again, a great demo, but a poor daily performer.)
The Dock is also throwing the application menu's items in with everything else in the Dock, forming just one big jumble. (The applications are now arranged on one end, but that doesn't seem much of a win; it is still one big jumble.) Again, as revealed in Make Your Mac a Monster Machine a solution once again exists: The Applications menu is back, though from a third party. Apple needs to incorporate it once again into the interface, making it triggerable from a corner touch.

1. The Dock adds bad behavior
The Dock adds a whole new behavior: Object annihilation. Drag an object off the dock and it disappears in a virtual puff of smoke. This is the single scariest idea introduced to the Macintosh since the original bomb icon. How would you feel if you spent eight hours working on your first Macintosh document, only to have it disappear entirely when you try to move it from the dock to the desktop? Pretty disorienting, no? This is a completely unnecessary concept for the user to have to learn, particularly in such a painful way. Makes for a "hot demo" though, doesn't it?

Conclusions

The Dock's sole positive attribute lies in its improving the Mac's "curb appeal" and demoability.
Apple would appear to be after two separate and distinct market segments. First, the naive consumer who isn't going to do much with his or her computer anyway. OS X, with its suite of simple apps would appear to be a good fit.
The other extreme they appear to want are self-identified power users. Why else all the talk about the UNIX underpinning, about "munitions-grade" computing power?
OS X is a powerful operating system. It deserves a top-level interface that matches. The old Mac handled both sets of users handily. OS X, with its powerful underpinnings and slick graphics support has the potential to do much better. However, the focus on this single object to the exclusion of the kind of information tools power users need must stop. Keep the Dock as long as it helps close sales, but provide the real tools needed by people with serious work.

I must be missing something (1)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975519)

I never used OS 9; I pretty much went from Desktop Linux to Desktop OS X so that I could run some apps (like MS Office and Warcraft) without a lot of muss and fuss.

I've been using OS X for about, oh, 12 months or so now. Never saw the OS 9 tabs and the like - went straight to Finder and Dock world.

I use Another Launcher [petermaurer.de] 99% of the time - Control-Space, type in a few letters, and I'm done. The Dock hardly ever gets used, but I've never really hated it - if anything, I liked it more than most of the other "Windows Application Line" solutions I've seen.

Combined with Expose, and I can get to pretty much any window on the screen I need. Now, I do agree with the gentleman in his article about how it would be nice if the Dock featured a way to have more unique displays for files.

But I can't help but wonder: How much of this is "Well, we liked OS 9 and it did it this way, and now you change it!" Not to say he doesn't have some good point - but as a guy who uses his keyboard a lot more than his mouse (Terminal and Another Launcher get a huge workout from me daily), maybe I'm just missing a lot of the complaints.

The Dock - It's Great!! (1)

velkr0 (649610) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975522)

The best feature about the dock, is the ability to drag a file to an application that sits in the dock. Even if the app is not currently running, the drag and drop action will load the app and the file that was dropped on top of it. I found my self doing this in Windows with apps on the quick launch... but... it doesn't work... :) Long live the Dock!!! PS. It's also fun to run the mouse quickly back and forth on it when you are extremely bored, but not as fun as shift+F9 (by default).

Opinion... (4, Insightful)

jpellino (202698) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975557)

OK...
Bruce is historically very right about lots of things - mostly about how damaged Windows had to be to not infringe upon Apple's look-and-feel too much in those heady lawsuit-happy years...

But...
I'm not in agreement with his prolonged high-horse about Aqua/Finder and especially Dock.
If there were prime directive(s?) in those days, it was that modes are bad, and a good GUI is permissive and forgiving. OSX expands those and 99% abides by them.

However...
Yes, Aqua interface details do need to be smaller - Classic screen space seems gigantic compared to OSX, largely due to smaller controls. We hit them just fine before, and it's creeping towards Xp cartooniness;
The dock is still better than the Launcher or the Taskbar in that it does solve the problems of (1) real estate of floating things and (2) kinesthetic problems of aiming inherent in window-bound menus;
Dragging from the dock doesn't erase what you drag in the newbie/panic sense, it deletes the alias (which yes, is enough to invoke a newbie/panic) - your original is fine, MAYBE dragging it should place it on the desktop (or an alias or copy? what is wanted here?

I've been using MacOS since the 128K and have 17 years experinece in pre-OSX and three in OSX - I have to say that Classic now feels like Bambi-on-ice compared to what now can be done easier and with more forgiveness in OSX.

*sigh* ok - I do miss the Chooser.

Minor issue - Bookmarks (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#7975584)

I'm not even a mac guy, but I've run OSX (10.2.3) and Safari, and I know that Safari stores its bookmarks in XML. Thus any asshole who can write a little perl can get the bookmarks out, and exchange them with (say) Netscape, which stores them in an HTML file - nearly the same thing, as far as we're concerned.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...