Linked by kvaruni on Mon 11th Jul 2005 14:48 UTC
Linux The true reason for this article is to point out some sensitive points and to start a discussion. Hopefully, this discussion will produce some useful outcome and if some people in the Linux community are willing to listen to them, I would already be very enthusiastic. Let's start, shall we?
Thread beginning with comment 2596
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
UI Consistency
by Thom_Holwerda on Mon 11th Jul 2005 17:45 UTC
Member since:

A lot of people here seem to think that "UI consistency" only relates to looks. Let me burst that bubble: UI consistency is about a lot more than just looks.

UI stands for "User Interface". This means that this also includes, but is not limited to, drag & drop, keyb. shortcuts, menubar order, menuitem order, etc. When looking at it that way, Windows and especially OSX, are a lot more consistent than Linux + DE. Heck, even BeOS is.

MS Office might sport a different look than other Windows apps (.Net, it's called), but that means fcuk all for the menubar order, menuitem order, keyb. shortcuts, etc. They're the same throughout the entire OS.

Same for OSX. OSX has three looks now (Aqua, Brushed, and that awful 'Plastic'), but the *behaviour* is the same, no matter which look is used for an app.

*That's* real consistency. I hope we can then give the author his point.

Reply Score: 5

RE: UI Consistency
by rayiner on Mon 11th Jul 2005 18:01 in reply to "UI Consistency"
rayiner Member since:

The last version of Office I used seriously was 2002, but IIRC, it didn't put menu items in the same place as everything else. Its "preferences" menu was not only not under the usual "Tools -> Options", but "preferences" were kind of scattered around the app. Visual Studio was the same way.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: UI Consistency
by archiesteel on Mon 11th Jul 2005 18:26 in reply to "UI Consistency"
archiesteel Member since:

I'm sorry, but no, we cannot give the author his point.

For once, menubar item order is not the same in Windows because apps simply don't all have the same menubar items. The most common ones (File and Edit) are always there, but the rest varies. Guess what: both KDE and GNOME apps are as consistent in this manner as Windows is (in fact, compare the menubar items of Abiword and Kword, and you'll see that they're almost identical). Therefore, on menubar items, there is no significant consistency advantage for Windows.

Keyboard shortcuts: are you kidding me? Except for the main functions (Alt+F4, Ctrl+Q, Ctrl+Z, Ctrl+X, Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V), these are usually unique for each Windows apps. Sure, there are common ones, such as Ctrl+W for closing a document, but guess what: even some MS apps, such as Visio, don't use it. Again, all the main shortcuts named above are consistent in KDE and Gnome apps, so again no advantage for Windows here.

Drag'n'drop: again, while this works in most Windows apps, not all apps feature it in every direction. Meanwhile, drag'n'drop keeps improving in Linux, across desktops: I can now drag an image off of Konqueror and drop it in Gimp. Of course there's some work to do here. I'll give a slight advantage to Windows here, if you're not using only apps associated with a single DE in Linux. However, that's hardly reason to call Linux UIs inconsistent.

You left out my personal favorites: open/save dialogs. Ok, so KDE and Gnome have different open/save dialogs (I don't really like the Gnome one, but I've learned to use it). However, in Windows, basically every program has its own dialog. On my work PC, I have different dialogs for MS Office apps, Photoshop, Lotus Notes, and basically every other program I use. Some even have annoyingly different behavior, such as Photoshop: if you click in the filename box, it automatically selects the entire filename. I really dislike that, as I'm often doing "Save As..." but I don't want the name to be "filename copy.jpg". I'm forced to click again and erase the "copy" from the filename. No biggie, but annoying.

Compared to this, ALL KDE apps have the same open/save dialogs (except sometimes for some additional features called on by the app itself). Same holds true for Gnome. So if in fact you use only KDE apps, the open/file dialogs are way more consistent than in Windows.

So rayiner's critic still stands: there is no longer any significant UI consistency advantage for Windows over Linux. UI consistency is simply not a valid point of criticism for the modern Linux/*nix Desktop anymore.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: UI Consistency
by on Tue 12th Jul 2005 08:46 in reply to "RE: UI Consistency"
Member since:

Agreed on everything. Also the drag and drop thing is getting so much better.

I, for one, as an avid KDE user actually prefer to use XMMS (a GTK-1 app) instead of Amarok (A truly KDE app). Guess what?

When I create new playlists, all that I do is open a Konqueror window on my Music directory, select all the music that I want to hear *now*, drag the selection and drop on the XMMS Playlist window.

Really, people should let this one go because it really is becoming a lame excuse.

Reply Parent Score: 0

RE: UI Consistency
by Emiel on Mon 11th Jul 2005 18:49 in reply to "UI Consistency"
Emiel Member since:

John Gruber's "Ronco Spray-On Usability" is still one of the best articles on the whole Mac vs Linux (vs Windows) UI debate:

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: UI Consistency
by rhavyn on Tue 12th Jul 2005 18:07 in reply to "UI Consistency"
rhavyn Member since:

Other people have already commented on how you're wrong about menu order and whatnot. And by the way, Office has it's own look, it's not called .Net. .Net apps have the .Net look and that is different than the Office look.

But for a big UI inconsistency, go and use the 3 different themes of OS X. There are huge inconsistencies about how they interact with the user. For example, you can move the window by clicking anywhere in the chrome of Plastic and Brushed Metal but can only move the window using the title bar in Aqua. The Finder is one of the most inconsistent apps out there (there is an entire ArsTechnica article detailing what a piece of garbage the finder if for consistenency and usability).

Linux is no better or worse in general and much better if you only use applications from a single DE. The authors point (and yours) are wrong.

Reply Parent Score: 2