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Independent Human Interface Guidelines

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the because-somebody-has-to dept.

OS X 245

An anonymous reader alerts us to the IndieHIG Wiki, which is an independent effort to pick up the ball that Apple has dropped on human interface guidelines (can you spell FTFF?). From the wiki: "The IndieHIG project is an initiative created out of the necessity to document the new look and feel aspects of the Mac OS X experience, outside of the supervision of Apple itself. The project is not intended to replace, but rather to supplement the somewhat dated Apple Human Interface Guidelines (HIG). There are many instances of Apple using new and experimental interface styles, spurring developers to emulate these styles in their own applications. Unfortunately, because Apple provides neither guidelines nor code for developers to work with, the implementation of these interface styles and features by third parties can be lopsided and directionless. The IndieHIG intends to change this by providing a comprehensive set of guidelines governing the use and appearance of new, undocumented interface elements so that their implementation by third party developers adheres to the unwritten standards that Apple has set."

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245 comments

FP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19139821)

FP FTW!!!!!!!!11one

Re:FP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140265)

Fred! Pwns: http://www.breitbart.tv/?p=611 [breitbart.tv]

UI standards wouldn't hurt (5, Insightful)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 7 years ago | (#19139871)

As in the auto industry, placement of standard controls in the user interface make everyone comfortable enough with the technology to promote universal usage. How they connect, their feel etc. leaves everyone a bit of leeway to play with the design, but there are those first moments when you immerse yourself into a technology where you neither want nor need to think about how to begin. The initial controls should be familiar to all.

Re:UI standards wouldn't hurt (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140135)

In all seriousness, I don't want to start a holy war here, but what is the deal with you Mac fanatics? I've been sitting here at my freelance gig in front of a Mac (a g5 w/2 gigs of RAM) for about 20 minutes now while it attempts to copy a 17 Meg file from one folder on the hard drive to another folder. 20 minutes. At home, on my Pentium Pro 200 running NT 4, which by all standards should be a lot slower than this Mac, the same operation would take about 2 minutes. If that.

In addition, during this file transfer, Safari will not work. And everything else has ground to a halt. Even links is straining to keep up as I type this.

I won't bore you with the laundry list of other problems that I've encountered while working on various Macs, but suffice it to say there have been many, not the least of which is I've never seen a Mac that has run faster than its Wintel counterpart, despite the Macs' faster chip architecture. My 486/66 with 8 megs of ram runs faster than this machine at times. From a productivity standpoint, I don't get how people can claim that the Macintosh is a superior machine.

Mac addicts, flame me if you'd like, but I'd rather hear some intelligent reasons why anyone would choose to use a Mac over other faster, cheaper, more stable systems...

Re:UI standards wouldn't hurt (3, Funny)

Divebus (860563) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140673)

Maybe the paper punch tape has too much drag on it. Loosen the supply reel brake a little.

Re:UI standards wouldn't hurt (1)

billsoxs (637329) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140807)

Maybe the paper punch tape has too much drag on it. Loosen the supply reel brake a little.

Wow - you got one of the NEW Macs! I can't wait till I can get one too!

Thanks for the laugh!

Re:UI standards wouldn't hurt (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140333)

Cars all have the same function. Cars take you places.

Computer programs do not all have the same function. Photoshop does not do remotely the same job that gcc does, and neither are much like Doom. There's no reason for all programs to be force-fit into identical interfaces.

Re:UI standards wouldn't hurt (1)

kinabrew (1053930) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140539)

That doesn't mean that you should re-invent the wheel for every program you create.

Consistency between most Mac apps means having less to learn when using a new program. That's a big plus.

OK, but a wiki is exactly the *wrong* approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140499)

This will not work. For guidelines to get to a consistency there has to be someone in charge, able to put the boot down and say "now we do THIS, because THIS is how good it gets with what we can do today".

Sorry to be pessimistic, but in design there are too many different voices and opinions that want to be final. Locke returns, Tom dies, and Charlie sacrifices himself to save his friends. I have tried the wiki approach on a few projects before, but it all came down to first getting a consensus off the site to later update the wiki when something had been decided.

Re:UI standards wouldn't hurt (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140805)

I find the opposite to be true. Locking, unlocking, and opening doors, buckling and unbuckling seatbelts, adjusting the seats, releasing the brakes, etc, etc vary widely from car to car. Even which side the steering wheel is on varies. Cars are incredibly idiosycratic.

Re:UI standards wouldn't hurt (0, Offtopic)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140831)

That should be "idiosyncratic" not "idiosycratic".

Dumb mistake, Apple (5, Insightful)

Spunkemeyer (805072) | more than 7 years ago | (#19139889)

Why would they let the Human Interface Guidelines langush? The consistency of the experience in using a Mac is a big plus. But, given the number of inconsistencies that have crept into OSX the past few versions, it's completely obvious to see it hasn't been a priority to them.

Re:Dumb mistake, Apple (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140121)

Well I am guessing you are talking about The Different Window Borders? Aqua, Brushed Metal, Plastic...
But that doesn't really effect the UI it is just an an appearance thing. The Close, Minimize, Expand buttons are in the same place. Same with the Menu bars. The Menu sub systems is always in the same place. If a Person will have a hard time using a Mac because some of the windows look a bit different then they have more problems then just Apples UI. Apple is trying to expand what it can offer us and as well keeping it consistent is much harder then you think.

Re:Dumb mistake, Apple (1, Insightful)

datapharmer (1099455) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140205)

No, it is bigger than that... Take for instance the latest version of iphoto: when you click the red circle on a window, it should close the window but leave the program running. This has been true of OSX since the beginning, but in iphoto and a number of recent apple apps when you click the red circle it actually exits the program. This confused me the first couple times I used it and is only true with the latest version of iphoto. I assume this change and some others are aimed to make the programs act more similar to windows so converts feel more comfortable after then change-over, but this is a serious UI problem since it causes inconsistencies between programs. There are other problems, but I thought I would point this one out as it can be very annoying.

Re:Dumb mistake, Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140253)

I assume this change and some others are aimed to make the programs act more similar to windows so converts feel more comfortable after then change-over, but this is a serious UI problem...
Indeed. This is yet another reason to resist the plague of switcheurs.

Re:Dumb mistake, Apple (5, Informative)

RustNeverSleeps (846857) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140305)

No, actually this behavior is not new to the latest version of iPhoto and it is specifically covered in Apples (now dated) Human Interface Guidelines. Quoting from the HIG [apple.com] :

"In most cases, applications that are not document-based should quit when the main window is closed. For Example, System Preferences quits if the user closes the window. If an application continues to perform some function when the main window is closed, however, it may be appropriate to leave it running when the main window is closed. For example, iTunes continues to play when the user closes the main window."
As iPhoto is not document based nor does it do anything with the main window closed, it should (and does) quit when you close the main window. That said, I agree that there are some inconsistencies that Apple should fix in OS X and Apple first-party applications, just that the example you gave is not one of them.

Re:Dumb mistake, Apple (1)

datapharmer (1099455) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140351)

Thanks for pointing this out! I guess there are so many other programs that fail to follow this that iphoto was the one that felt wrong.

Re:Dumb mistake, Apple (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140979)

Actually, if you want to share your photos with someone else, you must have the app running. Of course I can hide the app, but it still shows that the application is inconsistent with the spec, due to the spec being too ambiguous.

Re:Dumb mistake, Apple (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 7 years ago | (#19141117)

No, you got that wrong.
Red circle closes nextstep programs.
Red circle closes mac window but leaves program eating up memory.

Re:Dumb mistake, Apple (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#19141049)

This has been true of OSX since the beginning, but in iphoto and a number of recent apple apps when you click the red circle it actually exits the program. This confused me the first couple times I used it and is only true with the latest version of iphoto.

That's how single-document apps are supposed to behave. There's no point to keep iPhoto running after you close its main window, so it exits. If it was a document-based app, there would be a reason to keep running because you might want to open a new document.

Re:Dumb mistake, Apple (1)

prockcore (543967) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140225)

That's just one aspect. How about how some apps quit when the last window was closed, and others don't?

Re:Dumb mistake, Apple (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140231)

Yes, but what does the expand widget do? Tell me? Beacuse every window handles it differently. For some, it is the same as a windows "Maximize", for others, it expands the window out to encompass all content, and for others, it does even other things, or even nothing at all. And tell me what the gray oval button does? For some programs it shows/hides a drawer, others it does strange things to the windows.

Just because all the windows have the same buttons doesn't mean that they all function consistantly.

I will say this, though, most of the problems with the OS X interface began in the original OS X, and over time, they gradually have improved. I can't think of one instance where things have gotten worse from one version from another. Finally, brushed metal has been realed in, content placement has become more standardized, and generally things have become more uniform. But they still have a long way to go from the absolute mess they made of the original OS X UI.

Re:Dumb mistake, Apple (2, Informative)

kinabrew (1053930) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140605)

The normal behavior of the resize(+) button is to make the window just large enough to view all of the content in the window. Clicking that button again would resize the window to its original size.

In programs where the display of the content depends on the size of the window, that button resizes the window between two sizes that the user can set.

Re:Dumb mistake, Apple (2, Interesting)

gobbo (567674) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140833)

The normal behavior of the resize(+) button is to make the window just large enough to view all of the content in the window. Clicking that button again would resize the window to its original size.

In programs where the display of the content depends on the size of the window, that button resizes the window between two sizes that the user can set.

Yes, and to add to this: Where the content doesn't have a set size, such as in a web browser, the zoom (resize) button actually maximizes the window to fill the screen. This is confusing to Windows users, as it is very context dependent and an attempt to direct the use of the window. Some developers don't seem to grasp this, either, and so there is occasional deviance from this very useful feature.

Windows users complain about the window not maximizing because they don't get the notion of overlapping and interleaved (between apps) windows; I go nuts using windows because for once I would just like a window to snap-to-content.

Re:Dumb mistake, Apple (1)

Tickletaint (1088359) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140905)

Where the content doesn't have a set size, such as in a web browser, the zoom (resize) button actually maximizes the window to fill the screen.
It doesn't, actually—at least not in a decent web browser like Safari, which resizes the window to precisely fit the content.

Seriously, in this day and age of 30-inch displays, who maximizes anything anymore outside the rare instances where a "Full Screen" option would be better?

Re:Dumb mistake, Apple (1)

prockcore (543967) | more than 7 years ago | (#19141087)

The normal behavior of the resize(+) button is to make the window just large enough to view all of the content in the window. Clicking that button again would resize the window to its original size.


In theory anyway. Try it in the finder. Every time you click + the finder chooses a different size.

In iTunes it toggles between a mini mode and the regular window.. hardly matching the spec.

Re:Dumb mistake, Apple (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140819)

If you don't know what Cmd-Shift-1 and Cmd-Shift-2 are for, GTFO.
If you think Firefox is a decent Mac application, GTFO.
If you're still looking for the "maximize" button, GTFO.
If the name "Clarus" means nothing to you, GTFO.

Bandwagon jumpers are not welcome among real [imageshack.us] Mac [imageshack.us] users [imageshack.us] . Keep your filthy, beige [imageshack.us] PC fingers to yourself.

Re:Dumb mistake, Apple (2, Interesting)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140515)

Actually, the Close button used to be on the other side of the window. Remember? Far away from the others so you wouldn't click it by accident while trying to Zoom? That's the kind of detail Apple used to get right.

The Ars article "About the Finder" describes exactly how Apple could have expanded what it can offer us without losing any consistency. Apple just plain didn't try.

But forget the interface consistency, what about the blatant bugs? How about the crappy network support, so that if I have the audacity to open my iBook somewhere other than "the network its used to" it literally freezes Finder for minutes at a time. Then you go to open something on your (offline) iDisk, and you're frozen for another minute. It's ridiculous. How about when I drag a file from my FTP program to the desktop, Finder seizes up and I have to force-quit it? How about the fact that it takes over three hours to delete 1,000 files from iDisk? Or that iDisk bookmark syncing will suddenly and unexplainably stop working, requiring you to turn the feature off and back on before it works again?

Apple has seriously lost their way since OS X comes back. I want the old Apple back.

Re:Dumb mistake, Apple (1)

gobbo (567674) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140917)

Actually, the Close button used to be on the other side of the window. Remember? Far away from the others so you wouldn't click it by accident while trying to Zoom?

Hear, hear! But then, save your wrist and use the keyboard. Oh, wait, there is no keyboard command for 'zoom window,' so I have to jump hoops to assign one on every OS X machine I work on. Shame shame, Apple, as resizing windows is designed to be a common action.

But forget the interface consistency, what about the blatant bugs? How about the crappy network support, so that if I have the audacity to open my iBook somewhere other than "the network its used to" it literally freezes Finder for minutes at a time. Then you go to open something on your (offline) iDisk, and you're frozen for another minute.

I have a bitter, bile-tasting feeling about Finder network performance and iDisk. Why should a BSD style machine have crappy ftp performance in the base GUI? Then there's refusing to offer a LAN or roll-yer-own iDisk option, yet sticking it in my face at various points in the OS, which amounts to junkware similar to something out of Redmond.

Re:Dumb mistake, Apple (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#19141213)

Then there's refusing to offer a LAN or roll-yer-own iDisk option, yet sticking it in my face at various points in the OS, which amounts to junkware similar to something out of Redmond.

Except the software out of Redmond lets you map a WebDAV share as a drive, and then turn on "Offline Files" for it... thereby offering exactly what iDisk is, except free and without the fanfare Apple gives it. Sure; OS X technically has the capability, as iDisk proves, Apple just doesn't let you use it on an arbitrary WebDAV share, only on .Mac WebDAV shares. Even Microsoft doesn't pull crap like that on its users.

People malign Microsoft, but honestly, given the choice between a mediocre Windows box that can use a network and Finder, I'll take the Windows box for my next computer. I'm sick of OS X getting worse every year. Windows might not be all that great, but at least each version is an improvement over the one that came before. OS X still doesn't even have feature parity with 8-year-old System 9.

Re:Dumb mistake, Apple (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140963)

A good example is address book, which is now totally separate from mail which is not actually HI but it is very annoying yo launch a second app to edit email addresses. Also in Address book to add an address or group you press the [+] button on the bottom of the list (no nice easy to understand "add" button - but to delete and address or group there is no [-] button (like other similarly interfaced Apple apps), in Address book you have to highlight the item and press Backspace or Delete - very non-intuitive.

Don't get me started about printer management in OSX.

Apple lost a lot of it's over-all intuitiveness when they dropped OS9 and it is pretty much a mishmash of different interface styles as they seem to be more concerned about having cool widgets than a cool user experience.

Typical (4, Insightful)

ThePub2000 (974698) | more than 7 years ago | (#19139893)

Guess someone has to pickup where Apple leaves off, it's just too bad that Apple is so set in not continuing all those years of solid UI studies they funded and documented themselves.

Giddyup! (5, Interesting)

jddj (1085169) | more than 7 years ago | (#19139915)

Human Interface Guidelines have been languishing for far too long at Apple (basically since OS 9 if not a little before).

This is sorely needed for the OS X platform, and Microsoft, all of the Linux Manager projects and the web as a whole could stand to take a few notes.

Re:Giddyup! (3, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 7 years ago | (#19139951)

Microsoft has had design and UI guidelines out forever. An awful lot of 'developers' do not know, or fail to heed..but they've been out there.

Re:Giddyup! (2, Insightful)

PenguSven (988769) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140073)

By "an awful lot" you're including 98% of Microsoft staff, right?

Re:Giddyup! (3, Interesting)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140185)

As the other replier hints, the reason developers outside Microsoft ignore Microsoft's UI guidelines is because the developers inside Microsoft ignore them.

Re:Giddyup! (1)

jddj (1085169) | more than 7 years ago | (#19139969)

- uh - that was supposed to be "Linux Window Manager projects"

Apple is unreliable (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19139931)

I don't want to start a holy war here, but what is the deal with you Mac fanatics? I've been sitting here at my freelance gig in front of a Mac (a g5 w/2 gigs of RAM) for about 20 minutes now while it attempts to copy a 17 Meg file from one folder on the hard drive to another folder. 20 minutes. At home, on my Pentium Pro 200 running NT 4, which by all standards should be a lot slower than this Mac, the same operation would take about 2 minutes. If that.

In addition, during this file transfer, Safari will not work. And everything else has ground to a halt. Even links is straining to keep up as I type this.

I won't bore you with the laundry list of other problems that I've encountered while working on various Macs, but suffice it to say there have been many, not the least of which is I've never seen a Mac that has run faster than its Wintel counterpart, despite the Macs' faster chip architecture. My 486/66 with 8 megs of ram runs faster than this 300 mhz machine at times. From a productivity standpoint, I don't get how people can claim that the Macintosh is a superior machine.

Mac addicts, flame me if you'd like, but I'd rather hear some intelligent reasons why anyone would choose to use a Mac over other faster, cheaper, more stable systems.

1997 called (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140009)

and it wants it troll back.

1897 called (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140065)

and it wants it's joke back.

Re:Apple is unreliable (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140183)

Either you have horribly abused that Mac and its software configuration, or you are lying. Actually, I think both are probably true. You are probably one of the few Mac users who has managed to install a virus, or else your hard drive is hours away from dying completely.

Also, your comment serves no purpose because it is so obvious that your problems are atypical. If you were to comment on common problems, preferable design flaws, then you would be on topic. I encourage you to elaborate on some of the other problems you claim to have had, so that we can have a productive discussion about a real problem.

Re:Apple is unreliable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140315)

how do i got virus?

Re:Apple is unreliable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140915)

Bitches don't know about my spyware.

Re:Apple is unreliable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140407)

yhbt yhl hand

What a jumbled mess of a site (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19139949)

I'm not saying that this site is not needed in the UI community at large, but it seriously needs some work and input from designers. Probably the most useful entry is the "UI Elements to Avoid". Unfortunately, their number 1 avoidance is to avoid "Brushed Metal". However, the majority of their examples throughout the wiki make use of the Brushed Metal theme in all of their positive examples.

Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19139977)

Can anyone explain how both KDE and Gnome have been working for years with the entire open source development world supporting them and they can't make anything even remotely close to the polish and UI level of this:

http://images.apple.com/macosx/leopard/images/inde xdesktop20060807.jpg [apple.com]

Do the toolkits just suck that much?
Do the developers just suck that much?

Shit brown desktop colours.
Jarring font alignments, positioning, and rendering.
Amateurish UI element spacing and layouts.

And the first person to say the worlds 'pretty' or 'skin' gets a beating...

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140015)

I don't want to start a holy war here, but what is the deal with you Mac fanatics? I've been sitting here at my freelance gig in front of a Mac (a g5 w/2 gigs of RAM) for about 20 minutes now while it attempts to copy a 17 Meg file from one folder on the hard drive to another folder. 20 minutes. At home, on my Pentium Pro 200 running NT 4, which by all standards should be a lot slower than this Mac, the same operation would take about 2 minutes. If that.

In addition, during this file transfer, Safari will not work. And everything else has ground to a halt. Even links is straining to keep up as I type this.

I won't bore you with the laundry list of other problems that I've encountered while working on various Macs, but suffice it to say there have been many, not the least of which is I've never seen a Mac that has run faster than its Wintel counterpart, despite the Macs' faster chip architecture. My 486/66 with 8 megs of ram runs faster than this machine at times. From a productivity standpoint, I don't get how people can claim that the Macintosh is a superior machine.

Mac addicts, flame me if you'd like, but I'd rather hear some intelligent reasons why anyone would choose to use a Mac over other faster, cheaper, more stable systems.

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140069)

So posting the same copy/paste troll twice in the same thread will cause more people to bite? WTF?

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140209)

Worked on you, didn't it?

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140023)

It has a pretty skin.

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140045)

Can anyone explain how both KDE and Gnome have been working for years with the entire open source development world supporting them and they can't make anything even remotely close to the polish and UI level of this

I'm going to state the obvious and get flamed for it: "bazaar-style" open source works for developing things developers want, and not so well for developing things they don't personally care about. Since novice users are--almost by definition--not developers, UIs suitable for novices don't get developed very quickly. Various Linux distros are finally catching up, but that's only because you're starting to see more corporate/organized interest in open source development. "Scratching an itch" just doesn't work as a motivation for developing a polished UI, except for that rare developer with an overriding sense of aesthetic responsibility.

This isn't intended as a slight against FOSS developers--I've developed Open Source software my self (and not done a very good job on the interface because I didn't need it to be polished)--just an observation that people are most likely to volunteer their time to do things that interest them personally.

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (2, Insightful)

zsau (266209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140067)

-1 Troll. You can't use that picture as a comparison of free desktops and Mac OS X. It's so low-res, the only thing you can see in that picture of any consequence is OMG SHINY AND BRIGHT COLORS which are really quite irrelevant.

If you could provide specific examples of how, for instance, Gnome or KDE have "amateurish UI element spacing and layouts", that'd be useful. Otherwise, why talk?

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19141059)

"OMG SHINY AND BRIGHT COLORS"

*laughs* you really have no clue how non-technical humans operate do you? You're saying you really look at that low-res image of the mac desktop and can't see anything there of any value? I've been using linux for years and I'll still acknowledge that the interface is piss-poor. And when they try to make it "pretty" they can only see the same thing that you see when you look at that image and they add some shiny bright colors and create even more garish interfaces than the original skins.

Perhaps the Mac interface should be a litmus test for people who wish to design human interfaces. And not whether they like it or not, that's irrelevant. I happen to dislike it, but I can see how it is several orders of magnitude above any desktop I've used on Linux. It's whether they just see "SHINY AND BRIGHT COLORS" like when Charlie first looks at the Rorschach and sees an inkblot.

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140109)

The underlying toolkits for KDE and Gnome are garbage compared to OS X's UI toolkit. I'm sure there are people who point out stuff OS X can't do compared to KDE/Gnome or some other argument, but the fact remains that the results of how OS X desktop apps look and feel speak for themselves.

When I throw together something in IB with the auto alignment I am always amazed at what took me five minutes and almost no skill looks and acts better than almost everything I've ever used under Linux desktop apps.

Honestly, there is stuff I do on my own when I write custom UIs that looks an feels better than KDE/Gnome. The only favorable, other than the developers just stink, rational is that the division of labor between the various parts of KDE/Gnome lead to no one ever being able to make the hard choices that lead to over amazing polish OS X has.

Every time I try to switch to Linux the amateur quality of the UI tech is a shocking wakeup to just how far Linux desktops are from commercial versions.

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (4, Informative)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140149)


While I'm sure that Gnome and KDE developers can get something out of HIG docs, I'm sure they already are! As a user of both Gnome and MacOS Tiger, I think that Gnome is in many ways _more_ consistent!

On my Mac, Finder, Address Book, and iCal are brushed metal, whereas Mail and iTunes are uniform grey. Preview is different again. What the hell?!? Over the last 3 years, MacOS has become _less_ consistent, whereas Gnome has become much more so.

So you don't like the default colours on Ubuntu - change them. It's very easy to do, even for newbies - personally I find them refreshing from the over-pervasive blueness of most desktops, but you can make it blue if you want!

I'm not saying Gnome is perfect (I haven't used KDE much for a while) - I doubt anyone would say that - but it's certainly not as inferior as you're making out.

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (3, Interesting)

Tickletaint (1088359) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140363)

Where you see inconsistency, I see useful visual cues. Regular windows are for single documents. Brushed metal is for utilities and goal-directed tools. There are gray areas that demand individual judgment, of course, but the general guideline is there.

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (3, Interesting)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140387)

On my Mac, Finder, Address Book, and iCal are brushed metal, whereas Mail and iTunes are uniform grey. Preview is different again. What the hell?!? Over the last 3 years, MacOS has become _less_ consistent, whereas Gnome has become much more so.

Duh. That's the entire point of this story... independent Apple fans are attempting to document Apple's horrible slide into UI mediocrity so third-party apps can at least be consistent with the system, since Apple doesn't feel the need to actually document any of these stupid themes on their own. This is the kind of thing that makes people remember the unstable, quirky Mac OS 7 with tears forming in their eyes... Apple used to give half-a-shit, they don't anymore.

I'm not saying Gnome is perfect (I haven't used KDE much for a while) - I doubt anyone would say that - but it's certainly not as inferior as you're making out.

Welcome to my favorite screenshots:

http://schend.net/images/screenshots/gaim_2_is_ugl y.png [schend.net]

http://schend.net/images/screenshots/gaim_2_is_bug gy.png [schend.net]

GAIM is a GNOME app, is it not? It's so hideous, it makes Microsoft's Luna theme look beautiful by comparison. You seriously think that competes even slightly with what Apple's putting out? Even the crummy stuff Apple's put out recently?

(BTW, your example about changing colors is particularly apt, since you can see that GNOME apps on Windows completely and utterly ignore the Windows theme and do their own thing.)

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (1)

niteice (793961) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140439)

1) Windows is not Gaim's native platform.

2) There's a theme (included with Gaim) that draws the UI through Windows.

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140707)

1) Windows is not Gaim's native platform.

How does that makes it ok?

If I were a developer on the GAIM project, I'd be ashamed of releasing something that hideous and buggy. For some reason, being an open source project makes it ok to not take any pride in your work and release things that the public should never be subjected to.

Look at the second screenshot, the "is buggy" one. Are you seriously telling me that not one single person tested GAIM on Windows XP with the default settings at 1024x768? Not one single person? And they released it to the public this way? It's shameful.

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (1)

ArcticFlood (863255) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140913)

Wait, you're complaining about Gaim 2? There's no such version [pidgin.im] . That's a beta build you're showing. Furthermore, Gaim was not a Gnome application. Gaim was (and Pidgin is) a GTK application, but not Gnome.

I can agree that GTK looks bad on Windows. However, the WIMP theme for GTK makes things look more Windows-like. Pidgin also looks nicer than Gaim did, especially in the buddy list.

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (1)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140537)

BTW, your example about changing colors is particularly apt, since you can see that GNOME apps on Windows completely and utterly ignore the Windows theme and do their own thing.
Because Apple's software for windows [winplanet.com] just blends in seamlessly with the native toolkit [russellbeattie.com] , right? At least GTK+ lets you change themes -- and even has themes that do blend in with windows [sourceforge.net] , mimicking both Win2k and WinXP appropriately. Apple's stuff just sticks out like a sore thumb.

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140621)

Look at the menubar in the buddy list window. Due to the 3-d effects on the left/right sides, it looks like a button rather than a menu bar. That entire window looks like a mess.

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (1)

Mr. Picklesworth (931427) | more than 7 years ago | (#19141267)

3) Gaim no longer exists. It is now Pidgin, which uses much more pretty icons and has undergone some subtle UI cleanups.

4) Gnome apps do not look right in Windows because Windows is not Gnome. Tried running Windows applications in Mac OS lately?

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140451)

My god, you are like the poster child for what is wrong with any hope Linux ever getting a wider audience from Windows.

"So you don't like the default colours on Ubuntu - change them."

Look at the idiotic crap you just wrote. Let me guess your one of those dopes who loves to hang out on Slashdot posting "RTFM" or "Did you submit a bug" garbage that ruins any attempt at bringing Linux apps up to the same level as on Windows or OS X.

Guy, you just brushed off the major Linux desktop choosing to make turd brown their colour scheme. Linux/Ubunut developers made the conscious choice that the first thing their 'desktop for the masses' should see is a turd brown colour scheme.

Forget getting into all the intricate details of font rendering and layout in UI elements, intelligent colour coding of UI elements, human visual perceptions of spacing and proportions that lead to effective layout of information. Linux developers are still at the fundamental rule of desktop UIs...

don't make TURD BROWN your default colour scheme if you want anyone but open source kooks to use your desktop!

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (1)

not-enough-info (526586) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140899)

Command-comma

'nuf said.

You're making a bad assumption (1)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140179)

Your expectation is that more cooks will help the broth. It's only because of that expectation that you're confused.

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140213)

Pretty skin-deep analysis there.

stuck up ... (2, Insightful)

typidemon (729497) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140319)

It's the entire 'fuck non-technical users" attitude that spews forth from highly technical users that has hurt nix distributions hard.

Re:stuck up ...Excellently put. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140383)

John Surowiecki wrote "The Wisdom of Groups" because they are often smarter than any one individual member. However show a group how to go wrong and it will.

There is also the danger of groupthink where a group will behave in an idiotic fashion just beacuse it can. Think of any stock market bubble and crash.

(Agh! Had qny up there instead of qnx, I mean any)

Re:stuck up ...Excellently put. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140469)

> There is also the danger of groupthink where a group will behave in an idiotic fashion just beacuse it can

Oh, like say for example...naming everything related to your desktop with a K...and wondering why the grownups in the rest of the computing world don't take you seriously...

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140339)

The reasons I can think of are:

* 99 percent of Linux developers are former and/or current Windows users. The boggling fact that Linux desktops have such inane features as the archaic Windows 'maximize' button on windows should be a giant red flag that none of these guys should be writing consumer grade desktops. The maximize button is a relic of the Win 3 days and the nightmare child windows junk...

* The "just slap a skin on it" excuse from Linux desktop developers. There has been a "macho" real Linux men don't give a shit about making things pretty bullshit going on for years. Almost no one cares about skins who use OS X because all those Apple engineers put in the hard hours and work to make OS X what it is today and they were n't posting anon flames on Slashdot whenever someone badmouthed their work.

I've pretty much given up on Linux desktops and am just waiting for a commercial company to come in and do all the hard work putting together something like OS X takes. I've read and listened to many Linux desktop developers. They have always given off an air of smug incompetence. I don't think anyone should wait around for these guys to get their shit together. To actually come up with something comparable to OS X would require long grueling hours - kind of like a real job...

Goes back to TextMate and shudders at what text editors are like on Linux...

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140437)

"I apologize that this letter is so long. I did not have the time to make it short." -- attributed to many people.

Maybe the issue is that Apple spends time simplifying and removing unneeded UI cruft. I looked through some gnome screenshots and UI guidelines to try and find specific reasons gnome isn't as polished. Looking at gedit [gnome.org] , for example, the window has a menu bar, large icon toolbar, tab bar, then, a full inch and a half below from the top, is the actual text. Oh, and there's also an information bar at the bottom.

This just looks cluttered to me..

  • The tab bar: does nothing but waste space when only 1 file is open.
  • The toolbar: large icons waste space. Also, they seem to be for such common actions (open, save, cut, copy, paste, etc) that the well known key combos are faster than trying to mouse around. The text names for the icons waste even more space. Use a tooltip (or does that violate an MS patent?)
  • The text edit area: the text edit is indented. (For that matter, so is the menu bar and the toolbar). The Apple approach would be to have them go straight to the edge. Or maybe that's due to the window border being too thick. Either way, i think it clutters up the appearance.

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (1)

Mr. Picklesworth (931427) | more than 7 years ago | (#19141247)

The toolbar can be configured quite nicely. It (as well as the menu) can be detached from the window. The text labels can be set to any position around toolbar icons or removed altogether. I do not see much padding around the text area, but then again I haven't looked closely at how OS X does it.

Kind of a shame that they are using such an ugly screenshot there. GTK can look extremely pretty, but most of the (either outdated or just unloved) images out there do not show it.

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140531)

Whoa, look at that modboming. Sounds like word got out to the Gnome and KDE guys!

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (4, Informative)

Mr. Picklesworth (931427) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140863)

Firstly, for the love of God, Ubuntu is not dark brown! It's orange. (And mine is sharp black). If you think this [ubuntu.com] colour looks like poop, you should visit your optometrist.

The fact that you don't like Ubuntu's default theme gives you a perfect opportunity to explore why this UI is indeed a good thing. Try changing that theme, and be amazed that every single program on your desktop - including, often, their toolbar icons, menu icons and generic button icons - changes with it.

The only programs I have had problems with are programs that try to support multiple platforms by delivering minimal attention to the problems of any single platform. This often means disasters like arbitrary pixel coordinates for GTK widgets, or programs that just don't fit (Firefox, OpenOffice to an extent).

Actually, the Gnome desktop environment does have human interface guidelines [gnome.org] . They are practically worshipped by Gnome developers and followed by nearly every Gnome program I have come across. (especially the myriad of official ones).

To make this nicer, Gnome uses GTK, which is by all means not a "sucky" toolkit. Indeed, it is the best UI library I have ever used both as a developer and as an end user! (Largely thanks to Glade, although even on its own it is excellent).

Instantly configurable menu accelerators (I don't like it that Find in a program is Ctrl+G! Thus I highlight the menu entry and it Ctrl+F. It never bothers me again), tabbing without having to tell the UI library to "make it possible to tab between these", searching in list boxes with a full text entry that appears (a great accessibility feature)...

GTK uses a layout system that one could say works a bit like an HTML table. Instead of using arbitrary pixel coordinates, you give what is essentially a relative position and size for the widget based on your layout. Thus: Instant, sensible, automatic resizing of practically any window on the desktop with no hassle for the developer.
In fact, that table layout is easier for developers; it helps to create consistent padding and spacing without the need to pull out a calculator to figure out exactly where that next widget to the right should go.
This is good for the user, too. With Windows, one reason you have hardly any control over font size (prompting people to lower screen resolution on the idiotic assumption that it makes small text easier to read) is that if you make your fonts too big then every program's GUI will not fit it because every Windows program has hard-coded pixel values for everything. With GTK, since the sizes for widgets are handled on the fly by the UI library, you could have a font size of 50 and it would still work. (And yes, that font would apply to every program across the desktop. Why do I have such trust that every program on a desktop would use the native GUI? Because GTK, like Mac OS's GUI, is actually good to work with).

Re:Maybe KDE & Gnome Folk Will Read... (5, Funny)

mushadv (909107) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140947)

If you think this [ubuntu.com] colour looks like poop, you should visit your optometrist.

Or your proctologist.

Yuo fai7[ it... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140011)

coJntam1nated while

Standardized UI platforms? (2, Interesting)

TheRealAnonymousCowa (1056190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140021)

This is pretty interesting. I think that developers could use this as guidelines for developing UIs for other platforms.

Leopard May Obviate This Project (4, Interesting)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140051)

If the rumors are true, new unified interface standards will be debuted with Leopard. I think we may well see major developments on that front. There's a new unified grey theme that is going to replace Metal. Resolution independence is another big item, and we know that's coming. Hopefully Leopard will be the release to fix most, if not all, of the minor UI inconsistencies found in Apple's applications, which will in turn spur developers to follow suit.

Re:Leopard May Obviate This Project (1)

Spunkemeyer (805072) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140089)

Do you have a link for where these rumors have been discussed before? News to me... welcome news if it's true.

Re:Leopard May Obviate This Project (1)

acvh (120205) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140157)

a new theme color isn't what this is about. it's about creating an interface that is consistent with how humans think and work. i used a mac in business 15 years ago (system 6?) and once i got used to it could make it fly. os x is pretty and i like it much more than windows, but it's horribly clunky in comparison to older version of the os. windows open in random positions and views, making me spend way too much time to resize them (using the lower right corner to grab it of course). ars has some insightful writeups on what's wrong with os x.

Re:Leopard May Obviate This Project (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 7 years ago | (#19141095)

I hate the "application" view of their version of alt-tab. It breaks my concentration because I have to change my task view. An example of this is say I have 2 word processing documents open. One I'm writing in and one I'm plagiarising stuff from. Then I'll have a few web pages open with pages for research. To switch from the document I'm editing to the other word processing document is an apple-~ but switching to the browser is an apple-tab. And in this scheme the whole breaks a "most recently used" stack with apple-number. That is the only major UI flaw that I keep running into.

The other major request is a way to get the current active window title. There is no efficient documented way to tell me that my current window is application Safari with title "Slashdot Independent Human Interface Guidelines"... that feature is handy for employer spying but even more useful for automatic billing based on projects I'm working on.

Re:Leopard May Obviate This Project (1)

Tickletaint (1088359) | more than 7 years ago | (#19141223)

In Applescript:
tell application (name of (info for (path to frontmost application))) to get the name of front window

That's the first thing I came up with, I'm sure someone else can come up with something more elegant.

Re:Leopard May Obviate This Project (1)

Tickletaint (1088359) | more than 7 years ago | (#19141283)

This is more readable:
tell application "System Events" to get the name of the front window of (the first process whose frontmost is true)

Re:Leopard May Obviate This Project (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#19141175)

Leopard's unified interface isn't just about a new theme color. Brushed metal is gone, and Aqua is almost gone, replaced with the darker gray of iTunes 7 in titlebars. Eventually the rest of the widgets will look like iTunes 7 in the WWDC build, like scroll bars and buttons.

I don't see how grabbing the lower-right of a window makes resizing a window take too long. Being able to grab from any border would require a 5-pixel border of wasted space around every window, like in Windows Vista. The unified theme in Leopard will remove all borders, which are a waste of space as the window's edge shadow provides ample contrast.

Apple, X & GUIs... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19140079)

In all seriousness, I don't want to start a holy war here, but what is the deal with you Mac fanatics? I've been sitting here at my freelance gig in front of a Mac (a g5 w/2 gigs of RAM) for about 20 minutes now while it attempts to copy a 17 Meg file from one folder on the hard drive to another folder. 20 minutes. At home, on my Pentium Pro 200 running NT 4, which by all standards should be a lot slower than this Mac, the same operation would take about 2 minutes. If that.

In addition, during this file transfer, Safari will not work. And everything else has ground to a halt. Even links is straining to keep up as I type this.

I won't bore you with the laundry list of other problems that I've encountered while working on various Macs, but suffice it to say there have been many, not the least of which is I've never seen a Mac that has run faster than its Wintel counterpart, despite the Macs' faster chip architecture. My 486/66 with 8 megs of ram runs faster than this machine at times. From a productivity standpoint, I don't get how people can claim that the Macintosh is a superior machine.

Mac addicts, flame me if you'd like, but I'd rather hear some intelligent reasons why anyone would choose to use a Mac over other faster, cheaper, more stable systems.

They're guidelines, not commandments. (4, Insightful)

Tickletaint (1088359) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140105)

When you start applying them as though they were cold, autistic rules, you start degrading usability. Emerson said it better than I ever could, but I will say this: Judicious use of dissimilar UI paradigms can emphasize the aspects of your application that are dissimilar to others, the aspects that need special attention from the user. Not everything should be treated the same.

That said, there are plenty of amazingly talented programmers who turn out to be rather shitty UI designers. While guidelines like the Mac OS X HIG are most useful in the hands of designers who already know what they're doing, I suppose as a cheat sheet for coders who have nowhere else to seek advice, they're better than nothing.

Re:They're guidelines, not commandments. (1)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140567)

When you start applying them as though they were cold, autistic rules, you start degrading usability.


Would you explain what "autistic" means in this context?

Re:They're guidelines, not commandments. (1)

Tickletaint (1088359) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140635)

I read that phrase in a Cormac McCarthy novel and it stuck with me. I don't know—I could see what he meant to describe, and I think it fits here.

Re:They're guidelines, not commandments. (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140599)

"Autistic?"

I see it something like the rules for anything. When you're the expert, when you've mastered the field, then you can work on changing the fundamentals. If you start inventing new widgets without researching how and why the current widgets exist, then you're going to cause problems. Like those applications you see that consist of nothing but 40 tabs in a tab-panel, they didn't understand the purpose of tabs, and now they've made something with poor usability.

Languish? (1)

Enrique1218 (603187) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140151)

Isn't the major point of an good gui is consistency. What may be called languishing here could be just as easily interpreted as not reinventing the wheel. Anyways, Apple is putting more research into developing human interface guidelines for embedded OSX and small touch-devices like the iPhone.

Re:Languish? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140657)

"Languishing" in this context means making the OS less consistent. They're not enforcing the standards they themselves wrote.

FTFF? (1)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140399)

fsck the fscking fsck?

Re:FTFF? (1)

Redacted (1101591) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140859)

Fix the fucking finder.

Can be extended in many ways: FFTFF; fucking fix the fucking finder, etc.

Mod Parent Up (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 7 years ago | (#19141243)

Mod parent up, I really getting tired of that "multicolored pinwheel of wait".

A Proud Tradition (2, Funny)

Smight (1099639) | more than 7 years ago | (#19140669)

I'm so happy a group of enthusiasts has come together to make sure everyone thinking of making programs will put form before function. One time I was thinking about putting five buttons on a mouse, but then the Human Interface Guideline Coalition shut me down and informed me that humans sometimes have all of their fingers on one hand mashed into a pulp with a hammer and burnt with cigarettes so they can only effectively use one button. I can tell you I never made THAT mistake again!

Re:A Proud Tradition (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19141199)

You're actually confusing several things.

You've got accessibility guidelines which help people with disabilities use computers, as well as human-interface guidelines which make computers easier for regular humans (as opposed to programmers) use computers. These are generally good things so that all humans can use computers.

Finally, I see you're still clinging to the outdated assumption that form and function are separate entities. I'm wondering if you know that it's been shown that attractive things actually work better. Seriously. I'm not just talking about CEOs, politicians, or sex partners, but physical and digital interfaces as well. You're welcome to rant and rage all you like about how it's not true for you, and how much you love things that you believe are purely functional (never mind that the command line is at its core the most accessible and beautifully simple form of computer interface)... but the world will keep turning whether you believe what I say or not.

3rd Party Apple Developer? (0, Flamebait)

joemontoya (704695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19141135)

I thought those died in the 80s.

Actually it's cool to see someone cares. I think I saw one in a museum once.

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