Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 4th Nov 2007 19:24 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces This is the third article in a series on common usability and graphical user interface related terms [part I | part II]. On the internet, and especially in forum discussions like we all have here on OSNews, it is almost certain that in any given discussion, someone will most likely bring up usability and GUI related terms - things like spatial memory, widgets, consistency, Fitts' Law, and more. The aim of this series is to explain these terms, learn something about their origins, and finally rate their importance in the field of usability and (graphical) user interface design. In part III today, we focus on the desk accessory, popularly known as the widget, applet, mini-app, gadget, or whatever the fashionable term is these days.
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DAs served different purposes ...
by MacTO on Mon 5th Nov 2007 18:46 UTC
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Thanks to Thom for recognizing that the early DAs offered "multitasking" capabilities on older operating systems. But I would argue that modern DAs have nothing to do with that heritage or even usability.

I would argue that modern DAs serve two purposes:

Eye-candy sells modern operating systems or add-ons (like DesktopX). For whatever reason, people want something that looks good rather than something that just does the job.

While I cannot really speak for Vista or DesktopX, I think it is safe to say that Dashboard provides a development framework that is more accessible to non-programmers because it uses web-development technologies. Sure you end up doing some programming at the end of the day, but HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are things that people actually want to learn.

If is was a usability issue (i.e. people need the functionality wrapped up in DAs), then I would argue that all of these modern DAs would be pointless. A vanilla C application would do the job just as well. All you have to do is tweak the UI and avoid adding a glut of features.

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