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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I agree that Acorn had the first dock, but they used a different term for it.

I agree that RISC OS had a dock at least two years before NeXTSTEP, however, I say that the first dock was the strip along the bottom of the Windows 1.01 screen, in 1985. That strip contained the icons of minimized applications, and application windows could not overlap onto the strip. Of course, it would have been obvious to also include permanent icons on the strip, but, for some strange reason, the dock feature was immediately ditched by Microsoft before permanent icons were added.

Claiming that WindowMaker had a dock before OS X makes no sense since wmaker is actually trying its best to copy the look and feel of NeXT.

Okay. Let's not argue semantics. There were several *nix window managers that had docks/task-bars, before NeXTSTEP "became" OSX.

***My experience is that Windows 95 and Windows 98 fit this description -- I could drag application icons to the task-bar and if an application was running a rectangle with an icon and the application's title would appear. The Gnome and KDE task-bars exhibit the same behavior.***

I don't understand any of this. Sorry.

The task-bars in Windows 95 and 98 and in Gnome and KDE provide the same function as the docks in NeXTSTEP and OSX.

Apple changed this by putting in the Dock not only the fixed elements, but also the ones that ran across the bottom edge in NeXTSTEP. This looks like a small change perhaps, but it means that the Dock now changes all by itself, while in the old system the user had 100% control. It also blurs the concept slightly since you have gone from "docking" something to selecting "Keep in dock" on stuff that is already in there.

The task-bars just mentioned (and many not mentioned) provide both the NeXTSTEP and OSX functions you describe, and more: one can drag any icon (from both active and inactive applications) onto a reserved place on the edge of the screen, and the icons will stay there until they are manually removed. In addition, the titles and/or icons of active applications can appear on their own in this reserved space, *but the user can disable this function*. As an extra benefit, clicking on the active titles/icons one can manipulate "modes" of their applications (now I am beginning to see what google_ninja meant by "modes").

Edited 2007-11-19 18:33

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