Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 24th Jun 2007 13:44 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces Federkiel writes: "People working with Apple computers are used to a very consistent user experience. For a large part this stems from the fact that the Lisa type of GUI does not have the fight between MDI and SDI. The question simply never arises, because the Lisa type of GUI does not offer the choice to create either of both; it's something different all along. I usually think of it as 'MDI on steroids unified with a window manager'. It virtually includes all benefits of a SDI and and the benefits of an MDI." Read on for how I feel about this age-old discussion.
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The Fifth Point, Ion/RP, etc
by jonas on Sun 24th Jun 2007 14:19 UTC
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I am not an Ion/RatPoison user, and I don't know if I *could* become one, because for some reason I prefer to have control over the exact size and position of my windows (this size is seldom "maximized", except on very small screens). But it is interesting and I think relevant that they follow a sort of meta-fitt's law/rule: when using the keyboard (as we usually are), the fastest point to reach on screen still involves your keyboard.

That said, I've observed that conversations of Fitt's law and the archetypal windows/mac interfaces concentrate on the corners and top of the screen. I think this is probably because mac users are more aware of the design philosophy of their platform, or even just more aware of design philosophy itself (as a whole) than windows users. This isn't really a criticism of either camp, and since I don't really know a lot about either anymore, is probably based on inaccurate stereotypes.

Still, the discussion almost always ignores or merely mentions in passing the fastest point to reach on the screen, the fifth point of fitt's law/rule, your pointers current position.

Windows and the applications that run on it (and most Linux applications, too) heavily use this position for contextual menus. In my linux environments of choice, the context of the root window is a list of my programs, which when my pointer is not inside the context of an application further makes use of this point. On interfaces coming from apple, they still use it, but less heavily, and usually less contextually (because they always include these options elsewhere on the interface).

I think that mouse gestures were an attempt at bypassing the limitations of "aiming", but I feel that people with physical handicaps or people who are just plain not practiced with a mouse will probably struggle to do any but the simplest mouse gestures. Does anyone know of any studies done on this that prove or disprove my guess? Have there been any other ideas in user interface history to utilize the fifth point?

Reply Score: 5

RE: The Fifth Point, Ion/RP, etc
by cerbie on Mon 25th Jun 2007 03:34 in reply to "The Fifth Point, Ion/RP, etc"
cerbie Member since:

Some of us also move our hands when we talk, and move our mouse as we read. One more type of person to go on the list of people that can't get the hang of mouse gestures.

Personally, I think context menus are a great way t use the fifth point, because they allow you to do stuff to what's at that point, which is easy to put into a mental model. I right-click on a nut, I want to see wrench in the list.

IMO, getting farther from the desktop metaphor (like OS X does, XFCE 4, KDE 3, and Gnome 2 allow, E basically forces, and KDE 4 is doing) is more important than worrying about Fitts, except in so far as figuring out exact placement (like the stupidity of leaving a useless 2px border at the bottom edge of the Windows taskbar until Windows XP, or similar borders in KDE, XFCE, and Gnome themes, and other borders that get in the way of otherwise big targets).

Edited 2007-06-25 03:36

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: The Fifth Point, Ion/RP, etc
by vimh on Wed 27th Jun 2007 00:02 in reply to "The Fifth Point, Ion/RP, etc"
vimh Member since:

Personally I find having all elements of the application (file menu ect.) within the context of that applications window.

I dislike on a Mac having to first bring focus to the appropriate application on the desktop and then having to move to the file menu at the top of the screen to do something with it.

When the file menu is part of that main window, I can bring focus to the application and access the file menu with one action instead of two. Seems to be more efficient to me.

As others have pointed out, there is a matter of training. I'm a long time Windows user. I don't use a Mac as a main machine but it wouldn't surprise me that if I did, the change in interface wouldn't bother me for long. The reason being is that those functions more typically accessible within elements of the document interface or within contextual menus and keyboard shortcuts.

Now as far as "aiming" goes, I suppose mouse gestures could be an attempt bypassing that limitation, but it doesn't have much to do with one design philosophy from another as the forward back keys buttons are within the main application window regardless.

I don't know about any studies, but what might be useful to users who have difficulties with gestures as well as aiming is actual forward back keys. For example Opera. You have the choice between buttons, mouse gestures and the z and x keys to go forward and back between pages.

Reply Parent Score: 2