Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 16th Feb 2009 14:07 UTC
Editorial Late last week we ran a story on how the Google Chrome team had decided to use Gtk+ as the graphical toolkit for the Linux version of the Chrome web browser. It was a story that caused some serious debate on a variety of aspects, but in this short editorial, I want to focus on one aspect that came forward: the longing for consistency. Several people in the thread stated they were happy with Google's choice for purely selfish reasons: they use only Gtk+ applications on their GNOME desktops. Several people chimed in to say that Qt integrates nicely in a Gtk+ environment. While that may be true from a graphical point of view, that really isn't my problem with mixing toolkits. The issue goes a lot deeper than that.
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RE: All guis the same
by abraxas on Mon 16th Feb 2009 20:05 UTC in reply to "All guis the same"
abraxas
Member since:
2005-07-07

All guis are the same, inconsistent. Just look at Windows. You have different widgets between apps. Some apps have floating menus, some have huge ribbons across the top. Some have most of the options hidden in pop up screens. There is no consistency anywhere. And really, do we need it? Are we willing to give up creativity and artistic license to appease people who just don't want to think?


I don't want creativity in an application interface and I don't think anyone else does either! The novelty of a creative interface generally wears of rather quickly. A great example is Nero smart start on Windows. It's the ugliest, most useless, gaudy interface I have ever seen. There are many other examples of this and it never enhances the usability of the application and personally I think it looks a lot worse than having a standard application that works with the rest of the desktop more seamlessly.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: All guis the same
by dagw on Mon 16th Feb 2009 20:35 in reply to "RE: All guis the same"
dagw Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't want creativity in an application interface and I don't think anyone else does either!

I do. Many great apps have a creative interface. Take the video composting app Shake for example. It has (at least had, I haven't used the latest two versions) a very creative and unique interface. It is also, in my opinion by far the best and most easy to use compositor I've ever used.

Another example is Office 2007. I'll admit i was mighty skeptical the first time I used. But I have to say that after getting used to it I really appreciate what they've done and I consider it a clear improvement over what went before.

There are also countless examples throughout the history of computing where a novel and creative approach to user interfaces have changed the way we interact with applications.

Now of course not all creative endeavors lead to something useful, but if we never try anything new we'll never advance. New and creative may be unfamiliar, but unfamiliar doesn't have to equate to bad (it obviously doesn't have to equate to good either but I don't think anyone is arguing that).

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[3]: All guis the same
by abraxas on Mon 16th Feb 2009 21:42 in reply to "RE[2]: All guis the same"
abraxas Member since:
2005-07-07

Shake's interface could be done using native widgets and HIG conventions. There is nothing spectaculary different about it. I'm not arguing that there are not times when you need to stray from strict guidelines but unecessary non-standard widgets, and menus not only look out of place but make it much more difficult to transfer knowledge from application to application. Sometimes it's just the little things that makes all the difference. For example I know that on any GNOME application I can go to Edit->Preferences to change preferences, but other applications have preferences under File, View, Tools, or some other menu location. I know what a button will do when I click it without additional text because icons are used across the system. The learning curve for a new application is much lower when you already have half the menus and buttons figured out the first time you launch it. If everyone decided that they have a better way to do it we would end up with thousands of applications that all worked differently and we would need to learn all the strange conventions of each individual program. No thanks. I'll take a consistent toolkit and HIG over a whiz-bang solution any day of the week. Sure, there are downsides but I don't have enough time and patience to re-adjust habits for every different application I use.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: All guis the same
by sorpigal on Tue 17th Feb 2009 12:44 in reply to "RE: All guis the same"
sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

I don't want creativity in an application interface and I don't think anyone else does either!


And you'd be wrong. I want it. What now?

The novelty of a creative interface generally wears of rather quickly.


If by 'creative interface' you mean 'glaringly ugly custom skinned crap' then I agree. What you and other UI consistency wonks seem to forget is that all that is not consistent is not bad.

I /want/ the developer to offer the best UI for his application, I do /not/ want the developer to shoehorn his app into an existing convention just because it's consistent. Consistency is not the be-all and end-all of interface design! Sometimes it makes /sense/ to not follow the guidelines, so you /should/.

Reply Parent Score: 3