Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 22nd Dec 2006 11:16 UTC, submitted by bababooie
Mac OS X "The IndieHIG Wiki is a place where developers and UI designers can come together to create a new set of Human Interface Guidelines to supplement Apple's guidelines. Apple has neglected to update their HIG with modern UI designs and controls, so developers have been forced to replicate these UI elements on their own to keep their applications from looking dated. Since each developer has slightly different implementations of these elements, it has resulted in a fairly inconsistent look and feel for Mac OS users." Meanwhile, for the first time in over three months, Apple is asking its developer community to begin testing and providing feedback on a forthcoming update to Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.
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RE
by Kroc on Fri 22nd Dec 2006 11:41 UTC
Kroc
Member since:
2005-11-10

For me, I've never been too irked by Apple's varying UI. It's easier to identify an application in exposé when there's a little variance, plus it's fun. GarageBand's wood strips are appropriate and never hurt nobody.

However, two things I could do without - Brushed Metal & iTunes7. Brushed metal reminds me of Quicktime 4. I don't want to be reminded of Quicktime 4. I resort to Uno to fix it up to the new polished metal look. iTunes7 got rid of the aqua buttons, got rid of the fun burn button and basically took all the joy out of the UI. Bad Apple, bad *pout*

Reply Score: 2

RE
by remenic on Fri 22nd Dec 2006 12:17 UTC in reply to "RE"
remenic Member since:
2005-07-06

I agree with Kroc, it never hurts when apps have an own "identity". The problem with GNOME apps, especially every app in the same category (IM, audio, browser), is that they all look mostly the same. GNOME tries so hard to be "consistent" that it becomes boring.

Reply Score: 5

RE
by deb2006 on Fri 22nd Dec 2006 12:23 UTC in reply to "RE"
deb2006 Member since:
2006-06-26

That's being productive ;) Aqua as such is seen be a growing number of people as a negative influence for ones productivity. Too much game, too much candy, too many different styles.

Reply Score: 3

RE
by Kroc on Fri 22nd Dec 2006 12:32 UTC in reply to "RE"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Almost all OS X apps respond the same though. They may look slightly different, but they are very consistent when it comes to productivity. You can press Cmd+Q on any app to quit it, Cmd+H to hide, Cmd+, to view preferences (my favourite), the Edit and Window menus are consistent. When you go back to Windows, one thing that really bugs you is that this behavioural consistency is lacking: Whilst you can use Alt+F4 (mostly) and Win+M, is preferences under Tools > Options, View > Preferences, or worse File > Preferences? Why is there no shortcut for it? Then there's the whole system-menus, Office-XP menus, Office 2003 menus, the soon to come Office 2007 menus, and every half baked owner-drawn menus to emulate them...

Edited 2006-12-22 12:37

Reply Score: 5

RE: RE
by ThanhLy on Fri 22nd Dec 2006 15:31 UTC in reply to "RE"
ThanhLy Member since:
2006-03-14

You can press Cmd+Q on any app to quit it, Cmd+H to hide, Cmd+, to view preferences (my favourite), the Edit and Window menus are consistent. When you go back to Windows, one thing that really bugs you is that this behavioural consistency is lacking: Whilst you can use Alt+F4 (mostly) and Win+M, is preferences under Tools > Options, View > Preferences, or worse File > Preferences?

I don't think you made a good example here. The quit and hide commands in OS X are handled by the OS, a software developer didn't have to code it to behave that way. Similarly, ALT+F4 in Windows behaves that way naturally.

MacOS X software can have the same pitfalls of menu inconsistencies the same way Windows programs are flawed as you described. For instance, most OS X programs have the "preferences" menu item in the menu that has the program name. Firefox for OS X use to put the options menu item under Tools, I think they finally moved it to the proper place. Mozilla has the preferences menu item in Edit.

Closing and hiding app windows is a universal action, that's why both OSes have keyboard shortcuts that are universal to all programs. However not all programs handle user options/preferences the same way, or any action beyond the basics. That's where menu inconsistencies occur, and you haven't really proved that menus are better organized in OS X versus Windows. The OS has no control over how developers arrange their menus or keyboard shortcuts. In some cases those natural functions can be overridden by the software developer.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: RE
by Kroc on Fri 22nd Dec 2006 15:44 UTC in reply to "RE: RE"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

I'm sorry but that is just innaccurate. I just downloaded Firefox 1.0 for Mac and Preferences is in the Application menu where it should be. When you create a program in XCode, a default menu layout is provided for you (no such thing in VS) with the Application, Edit, Window and Help menu. In general, and overal, Mac applications have far less menu inconsistancies than Windows counterparts - fact.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: RE
by ThanhLy on Fri 22nd Dec 2006 16:13 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: RE"
ThanhLy Member since:
2006-03-14

I did point out that Firefox has updated the menus, I guess I was thinking of a really old pre-1.0 version. My bad. There was a time when I did notice that cross-platform applications tried to keep their menus consistent across both OSes. Oh well, no big deal now.


P.S.
VS does give you a default pre-made menu if you created a new project using the project wizard. This isn't something new, I just fired up Visual C++ 6.0 (cerca 1998).

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: RE
by MikeGA on Fri 22nd Dec 2006 18:01 UTC in reply to "RE: RE"
MikeGA Member since:
2005-07-22

These menus are not provided by the OS. It is simply that these are the rules and most developers stick to them. Plus, Apple providing a decent template in IB doesn't hurt either ;)

Reply Score: 3

RE
by StephenBeDoper on Sat 23rd Dec 2006 19:23 UTC in reply to "RE"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

When you go back to Windows, one thing that really bugs you is that this behavioural consistency is lacking: Whilst you can use Alt+F4 (mostly) and Win+M, is preferences under Tools > Options, View > Preferences, or worse File > Preferences? Why is there no shortcut for it?

Neither OS is a panacea of consistency, both have some huge areas-of-omission. For Windows, it's the keyboard shortcuts and menu locations of common items. With MacOS X, it's the text manipulation commands - admittedly something that only power users care about, but the lack of consistency makes it quite frustrating to do extended text editing in OS X. In some text fields, holding down shift and pressing an arrow key extends the selection in that direction; in others, it doesn't. Sometimes the Home and End keys take you to the beginning or end of a line (or beginning/end of the document, if using a modifier); sometimes the up/down arrows perform that role. Some apps have additional modifiers that can be used with Shift to select an entire word to the right/left of the insertion point (or to select to the beginning/end of a line), but it's far from consistent. Whereas in Windows, those keyboard shortcuts tend to work the exact same way, in nearly all programs.

Reply Score: 2

RE
by Duffman on Fri 22nd Dec 2006 14:09 UTC in reply to "RE"
Duffman Member since:
2005-11-23

lol. A linux user telling us that diversity is bad.

What we should just say about open source software/linux kernel ...

Reply Score: 1

RE
by bsharitt on Fri 22nd Dec 2006 12:35 UTC in reply to "RE"
bsharitt Member since:
2005-07-07

I have to agree that too much consistency can start to get dull and blend together, making the UI less useful. I find slight UI inconsitency useful in many cases, just to easier differentiate between apps without too close of a look.

Reply Score: 1

RE
by arielb on Fri 22nd Dec 2006 19:47 UTC in reply to "RE"
arielb Member since:
2006-11-15

"I have to agree that too much consistency can start to get dull and blend together, making the UI less useful. I find slight UI inconsistency useful in many cases, just to easier differentiate between apps without too close of a look."

In Windows, every app has an icon next to the title. That makes it much easier to pick out different apps.

Reply Score: 1

The "inconsistency" is so minimal...
by remenic on Fri 22nd Dec 2006 12:13 UTC
remenic
Member since:
2005-07-06

...that no one would notice with normal usage. Yes, when putting all those differences next to each other, the differences will show. But seriously, I've never noticed it in the past 3 months that I've been a mac owner. Still, a project like this is nice, especially if there's code available to implement these 'controls'.

Reply Score: 3

UI Consistency no longer matters much
by MollyC on Fri 22nd Dec 2006 16:24 UTC
MollyC
Member since:
2006-07-04

UI consistency among apps used to matter (when PCs were first becoming mainstream) but not so much anymore. Because nowadays people are used to using web sites with wildly differing UIs.

Take, for example, the different looks of UIs used for web site message boards and topic threads. I frequent various message boards/forums, all with different look-and-feels: OSNews, slashdot, digg, channel9, ign, gamespot, avsforum, espn forums, sout.com, usenet groups via google groups, etc. Yet the differing looks and UIs pose not much of a problem.

If people can handle wildly different UIs at web sites, a few minor skinning issues or altered menu positions won't matter in a desktop app.

Reply Score: 5

looncraz Member since:
2005-07-24

I agree with you whole-heartedly, with the exception of menus.

If it makes sense to use a standard menu for the application, then it should be done in a very standard way, to prevent confusion ( menu choices are hidden, until you do clicks (which should be avoided like the plaque while developing an ergonomic interface) ).

I would prefer a Preferences menu if the app has a lot of settings that can be made, or preferences should be under a menu that most people look into first in the search for Options.

Which brings me to another point... is it Options, Settings, or Preferences? Choices, choices, choices... the answer SHOULD be given by the system your own, ideally. BeOS says Preferences, Windows - you never know ( even within Windows, not counting apps ). Of course, when you add programs, to any system, that convention is likely to not always be followed. Sometimes it is better ( a lone Preferences Menu with simple on/off options, and a More... menu item ), sometimes worse ( Placing item 'Choose Things' in the 'Cadabra' menu to access settings ).

The only way to know if it is more ergonomic is to build a few tests with options, and have a complete n00b try and navigate to the program settings in a given set of programs ( and they must find those programs, et al, on their own ).

Timing between the different systems tested ( out-of-any-order ) would be compared to a control group. A group of people who know the interface extremely well. And groups of people who primarily use OS X or Windows, or Linux, tested against 'competing' methodologies to test effort required for user interface paradigm switches, on behalf of the user.

Studies on eye-strain (colors/fonts) and mouse travel ( the less the better, given same resolution and tasks ), and much more, would need to be conducted to know if the interface is more 'ideal' than any other, for the masses.

--The loon

Reply Score: 1

MikeGA Member since:
2005-07-22

"Preferences…" goes in the Application menu.
Uses command+, as a shortcut.
Works in every app.
End of OS X story.

Reply Score: 2

zbrimhall Member since:
2006-08-21

Command+...? As of 10.4, it's Command-,...

This is mentioned in other posts, but the Preferences menu item (and every other menu and menu item except the Apple menu) is controlled by the application, not the operating system. It is perfectly easy to make an application that responds to some other set of shortcuts, or that can't be exited by normal means, or whatever. The main reason for the consistency that you see between apps is that Interface Builder, Apple's application for (among many other things) creating the user interface, provides a good menu bar template. Developers have to go out of their way to change the default menu items and shortcuts, and since their userbase is used to these norms, why bother?

As an aside, am I crazy or does the shortcut for preferences change, like, every release? I've never really gotten used to using it, because it seems like its constantly changing. Didn't it used to be Command-;? In the "good old days" of Classic, wasn't it usually Command-y? Hmm.

Reply Score: 1

Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

While I understand what you are saying, I am not sure I agree. Websites are different so that they stand out, so that they are unique and make an impression on the user.

Applications should (my opinion of course) lean more to the consistent interface (menu option layout, shortcuts, UI element styles) side of things so that their use becomes almost instinctual, and they do not present an "unknown" to the user.

Reply Score: 2

arielb Member since:
2006-11-15

websites also want you to stay there longer so that you look at more ads. If their website UI slows you down as you adjust, they win.

Reply Score: 2

LobalSurgery Member since:
2006-09-07

True, to a point. If their website UI (or the content) is bad enough, there's a good chance you won't visit the site again.

Reply Score: 2

arielb Member since:
2006-11-15

if that's the case then how do you explain tomshardware.com looking like total $^^# and still remains popular? ;)

Reply Score: 1

Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

"If people can handle wildly different UIs at web sites, a few minor skinning issues or altered menu positions won't matter in a desktop app."

That's correct in general, but there are users who expect things to be in a certain location, no matter what program or even what program version they use. If "File / Page settings..." or even "Extras / Options..." is not available where they think it should be, they get confused and cannot continue whatever they wanted to do. These people furthermore don't want (or aren't able) to look around the menus where the functionality is located that they were in search of. So they assume the functionality is not present. So they won't use the program anymore and go back to what they used before.

Usually media players "violate" the UI guidelines, but "real" applications such as office suites do so as well. A minimally educated user should not have any problem with this. These "inconsistencies" often were criticised among the UNIX/X11 world where different toolkits were used to fulfill the respective needs of an application. Now you can see these "inconsistencies" in OS X and of course in MICROS~1 UIs, while different X11 apps (in fact, KDE and Gnome apps) tend to look "the same". Is this a problem? I think it isn't.

As you stated, nearly everyone is able to use web pages that look differnt (boards, forums, shops etc.), so there should be no such problem with applications, no matter what OS / GUI / toolkit is used, as long as it's a bit intuitive and accessible.

Reply Score: 0

arielb Member since:
2006-11-15

bad UI doesn't just confuse "newbies"-it just slows everyone down. Developers work on optimizing to take advantage of every cpu cycle but you also have to take the human interaction into account because that's the biggest bottleneck. A good UI means people get their work done faster.

Reply Score: 3

Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

"bad UI doesn't just confuse "newbies"-it just slows everyone down. "

If you're talking about UI design in general, you're right.

"Developers work on optimizing to take advantage of every cpu cycle [...]"

Really? They still do, now that they have multicore CPUs with tons of gigabytes of RAM? :-)

"[...] but you also have to take the human interaction into account because that's the biggest bottleneck. A good UI means people get their work done faster."

That's correct if you mention work (not gaming); at our "Federal Agency of Works" (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) here in Germany the UI of the used software system changes from month to month so the officials working with it get their work done slower and slower, because everything seems to get more complicated with every update. I think a good bunch of common sense is very useful when a developer is working on the UI for his program. So, in my opinion, it's nice to have some guidelines. It doesn't mean you have to follow them in every point, but in most points as long as it fits to your project resp. the users who will use it.

But as far as I recognized, optimization of working processes is not the goal of using a computer to get the work done. In many cases, it's just because a computer is "cool" or "the neighbor has one, too". So the users don't take advantage of the optimized UI (and the CPU cycles) because they know it better all the time and do their stuff as they did it 10 years ago. Can you imagine how less users are familiar with the concept of (document) templates?

Reply Score: 1

don't see the problem with aqua
by kittynipples on Sat 23rd Dec 2006 00:23 UTC
kittynipples
Member since:
2006-08-02

I'll never understand why people complain so much about the blue buttons and scrollbars that are a trademark of aqua. Just like the with the traffic light control box at the top left corner of windows, the colors serve as a visual aid to distinguish the currently active window from others.

One of the gripes I've seen people make about Vista is that the glass theme doesn't provide very many visual clues about which window is active.

Reply Score: 1

So very twentieth century
by alcibiades on Sat 23rd Dec 2006 06:48 UTC
alcibiades
Member since:
2005-10-12

It strikes one as so very twentieth century, this discussion.

The problem is, people have too little experience of different OS UIs. Some here will have tried different window managers. Some may even have shown different window managers and DTEs to users. But many are still stuck in the rut of thinking there is 'a good' UI, and that Human Interface Guidelines can somehow embody it. It simply is not true. What is good varies from person to person, and from use to use of the machine. Do the experimentation, and you will see. Something as far removed from the conventional Windows/Mac/KDE/Gnome look as Windowmaker can be instantly acceptable to naive users - a welcome relief in fact - in the right usage environment.

The big innovation in HIG guidelines would be the statement: there should be alternative window managers/DTE's available to the user.

Let me give a concrete example. Windows and Mac don't have multiple virtual desktops - you can get them through addins, but hardly anyone does. I use an IDE on a development package which in its Unix version, despite having alll those desktops available, confines all the open windows to just one. There is no amount of HIG that is going to make this thing as usable as competitors which handle multiple virtual desktops properly and let you distribute your open windows across them.

Yet where in these famous HIGs is it stated that its essential to be able to distribute open windows from one application across as many VDs as you want? Where can you get an alternative Window Manager for either Windows or Mac that will implement proper VDs?

Its just an example, but there are probably many more.

Fact is, HIGs have one essential use for both Windows and MacOS, and it is not to benefit the user. They are for the marketing department in its ongoing efforts to enforce consistent brand image and differentiation in look and feel. This is far more important to both OSs than delivering end user functionality. Its marketed as ease of use.

But it has, nowadays, little or nothing to do with it.

Reply Score: 1

RE: So very twentieth century
by kittynipples on Sat 23rd Dec 2006 08:24 UTC in reply to "So very twentieth century"
kittynipples Member since:
2006-08-02

So you are saying that it is of no benefit to users that applications look and behave consistently within a single graphical environment? That's what I'm getting from your post.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: So very twentieth century
by alcibiades on Sat 23rd Dec 2006 09:03 UTC in reply to "RE: So very twentieth century"
alcibiades Member since:
2005-10-12

I'm saying one size does not fit all. And that the role of HIGs, so valuable in 1986 because they made the desktop approachable for newish users, has changed. They have become barriers to innovation. And they have actively prevented the emergence of a variety of solutions for different preferences. They are solving a twentieth century problem. There is no such thing as "benefit to users" because users are a very heterogenous bunch nowadays, and what benefits some does not benefit all.

The 21st century problem is quite different. I want to spread my ide across 3 desktops. I want to eliminate the use of the mouse. How are you going to let me do it? You are not, as long as you spend all your time issuing guidelines to developers on how to make all their icons stylistically similar and meeting someone else idea of harmonious.

Imagine a world in which there were HIGs on editors and text processors. Do you suppose we would have gedit, nano, vi, emacs? Could there possibly be one set of HIGs which would accomodate them all? Yet there are people who swear by one of them. It is only because we are firmly looking backward that we do not see the same is true of the desktop environment. The current HIGs embody one particular way of using computers - desktop, one of them. Mouse. Folders. Its fine, but its not the only way. Any more than modal editors are the only way.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: So very twentieth century
by arielb on Sun 24th Dec 2006 01:28 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: So very twentieth century"
arielb Member since:
2006-11-15

the whole point of HIG is not to make computers usable for idiots. It's to make it more ergonomic so that you get the most work done with the least physical strain and effort. Save one mouse click per task that used to require 2 and you've reduced carpal tunnel syndrome dramatically. Less eyestrain if you don't have to focus to find something on an extremely cluttered and "busy" desktop.

Reply Score: 1