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

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:

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[4]: All guis the same
by dagw on Mon 16th Feb 2009 22:42 in reply to "RE[3]: All guis the same"
dagw Member since:

Shake's interface could be done using native widgets and HIG conventions.

Which native widgets? Motif? Shake using native Motif widgets would not have been the same app. I realize we're probably not going to agree on this, but suffice to say I think Shake made exactly the right choice going with their own UI widgets. Sure the file selector, for example, was different from the native one, but it was also far more flexible and powerful, something which very quickly made up for the few minutes you spent getting the hang of it. In fact if I was forced to name the app with the best UI I've ever used Shake would definitely be on the top three.

Sure for small utility apps like browser, mail, chat and text editor it is important that cut and paste works the same in all apps, but for apps like Shake internal ease of use is far more important than external consistency.

Reply Parent Score: 3