Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 18th Nov 2007 15:46 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces This is the sixth article in a series on common usability and graphical user interface related terms [part I | part II | part III | part IV | part V]. 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 VI, we focus on the dock.
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What I find kind of amusing, Thom
by bogomipz on Mon 19th Nov 2007 07:32 UTC
bogomipz
Member since:
2005-07-11

is that your three major pains with OS X's Dock were more or less solved in the days of NeXT.

Positioning issues
Nothing ever moved by itself in the NeXT Dock. Running applications and minimized windows appeared at the bottom of the screen. Each icon found a free spot, and stayed there until it either disappeared or you dragged it somewhere else. As you can see from the screenshot linked below, removing an icon would not make the others reorganize. The Dock itself contained only what you had chosen to drag there, and things stayed in the exact positions you had placed them.

Trash icon
The Recycler was by default placed in the bottom slot of the Dock, which meant in the lower right corner of the screen. That's Fit's Law kicking in, although Cmd-d is probably faster anyway.

Labels on files and folders
Here the difference becomes bigger because NeXT didn't show open files and folders in any kind of task list. Only minimized windows would have icons, and they would have a black ribbon at the top with the window title in it, except for file viewers which would have the actual folder names. Shortcuts to files and folders were not placed in the Dock, but in a file viewer's Shelf, with proper labels. Strictly speaking, the mini windows were not part of the Dock either.

Here's a screenshot Google was kind enough to come up with; http://homepage.mac.com/troy_stephens/OpenStep/screenShots/OPENSTEP...

I'm not saying the Dock in OPENSTEP was perfect. It could have allowed more than one screen height of icons, and it could have added a layers concept like in the Dock replacement known as the Fiend. But still, I do feel it had some sort of elegance to it, even if it was not spilled with eye candy.

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