Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 19th Dec 2011 20:11 UTC
Google Once upon a time, in a land, far, far away, there were two mobile operating systems. One of them was designed for mobile from the ground up; the other was trying really hard to copy its older, desktop brother. One was limited in functionality, inflexible and lacked multitasking, but was very efficient, fast, and easy to use. The other had everything and the kitchen sink, was very flexible and could multitask, but had a steep learning curve, was inconsistent, and not particularly pretty.
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RE[4]: Comment by frderi
by frderi on Sat 24th Dec 2011 11:43 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by frderi"
frderi
Member since:
2011-06-17

Well, it seems to me the aforementioned principles are very general and could apply to non-software UIs such as that of coffee machines or dish washers.


Do you really want dishwashers and coffee machines with resizable windows, double clickable icons and a pointer device?


Being commercially successful is not strongly related to usability or technical merits.


True, but in this case of an emerging customer driven smartphone market, I tend to disagree.



So, how did keypad-based cellphones running s40 and friends manage to use this very paradigm for years without confusing anyone ?


Certainly not by using a WIMP paradigm.



A big problem which I have with this design trend is that it seems to believe that past designs were perfect and that shoehorning them on a computer is automatically the best solution.


Oh, I'm not saying skeuomorphic designs are the answer to everything. I'm saying that for quite a few applications on a Post-PC device, they make a lot more sense than a traditional WIMP paradigm would.


When you turn a virtual knob on a touchscreen, you need to constantly focus a part of your attention on keeping your hand on the virtual knob


How many times do you keep your hand on a knob?



As soon as you get into a workflow that is a tiny bit complex, you need to cut it in smaller steps, preferably steps that are easy to learn.


As all physical devices, WIMP and Post-WIMP devices do, so no difference there.


What you are talking about is feature bloat, which is not an intrinsic problem of WIMP.


Well, it kinda is, by design. It wasn't anticipated when they first came up with it, so it has become a problem for the paradigm. Solvable by conventions, yes, but conventions are more a bandaid than a real fix are they.


The reason why desktop computers did not get those is that they were designed for work rather than for fun.


Then what were all those PC's doing in our homes in the nineties?


it is not obvious what the answer of "post-WIMP" to common computer problems


Of course is not obvious. Do you think coming up with a working WIMP paradigm was all that obvious to begin with? Just look at the multitude of WIMP-based GUI solutions that were out there in the eighties. Nowadays pretty much everyone is emulating the Mac. Its still early days for post-pc.


This kind of paradigm works for simple tasks, but breaks down as soon as you want to do stuff that is a tiny bit complex.


Then aren't we the luckiest guys on earth that smartphones are a perfect fit for simple tasks?



How about printing that PDF, as an example ? Or jumping between chapters and reading a summary when you deal with technical documentation that's hundreds of pages long ? Or finding a specific paragraph in such a long PDF ? Or selectively copying and pasting pictures or text ?


These are all possible on present day devices, so i fail to see your point here.



And on one application, a tap will zoom, on another application, it will activate an undiscoverable on-screen control, on a third application will require a double-tap, whereas on a fourth application said double tap will open a context menu...


I have yet to run into this issue with my iOS device, maybe because in iOS its an API feature and its consistent over all applications.


They are not a magical way to increase the control density of an application up to infinity without adding a bit of discoverable chrome to this end.


Nothing is perfect. I disagree though that its a much better idea to use a classical WIMP design instead. Customers seem to agree, and since they are voting with their wallets and make developers like you come to work everyday, i think that's what matters in the end.


This was a valid criticism when microcomputers were all new, but nowadays most of what we do involves a computer screen in some way.


You'd be surprised. In the comfortable confinements of the world you live in, that might be the case, but my experience tells me something completely different in that regard, and I'm not even really "out there" like some others are.


Adding millions of nonstandard widgets to increase an application's vocabulary is possible in a WIMP design, good programmers only avoid it because they know how much of a usability disaster that turns out to be.


That might be the case on a desktop or laptop, but is not so much the case on a post-pc device for already mentioned reasons.


Such as ?


One could use color, sound, vibrations, ...


A common argument that has never been proven to hold in the real world.


Oh, thats strange. I hear DJ's and sound engineers do it all the time.


Introducing ZynAddSubFX


The application you mention uses a mixture of WIMP controls and Skeuomorphic elements, its hardly a synthesizer designed in the traditional WIMP paradigm. If it was, it wouldn't have the knobs or presets. If it were, it would have save files and sliders instead. Have you ever worked with real audio equipment? You'll notice that they also use knobs and come with presets.


The QSDF key row is used for white piano keys, whereas the AZERTY row is used for black piano keys.


My Commodore back in the day already did that. What an awkward way to play notes! Hardly usable at all. One of the worst ideas ever.



Why would one need a touchscreen for software synthesis that works like on a real-world synthesizer ?


For the same reason as why we needed general purpose computers in the first place. Versatility of function. No need to carry around heavy boxes of devices which only do one thing. Instead we can cope with only a few devices which can each do a multitude of things.


No, it won't be any more intuitive than a well-done regular synthesizer GUI.


For a lot of musicians, it will.


That touchscreens are just as much of a mess as mices for blind people (even more so, because they cannot embrace a spoken hover feedback as current touchscreens are not capable of hover feedback), but actually cater to a much smaller range of users.


Autism patients seem to disagree with you, touch based tablets are transforming their lives and have allowed them to communicate with the world around them, something traditional computers never did. Also, using voiceover to control a GUI a very broken concept, its just a bandaid, it doesn't fix what's broken in the first place in these use cases.

Siri is a command-based voice interface designed for very specific use cases that are hard-coded at the OS level, I thought we were talking about general-purpose touchscreen GUIs so far ?


Why would we limit the user interface of a device to the visual aspect? Its not because traditional WIMP interfaces were only visual because of technology constraints at the time, that we should keep this limitation in the future devices that get built.

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