Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 7th Mar 2012 22:59 UTC
Apple And it was that time of the year again - Apple held one of its product announcements. This one focussed on the iPad mostly, and while some will call it a disappointment merely because virtually everything had already been leaked, I'm still in awe over the fact the newly announced iPad has a 2048x1536 display. My mind is blown.
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RE[7]: Not interesting
by galvanash on Fri 9th Mar 2012 05:11 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Not interesting"
galvanash
Member since:
2006-01-25

IOW, since (some) people can't be bothered to organise their files, we should remove all capabilities to organise files? How backward is that.


I know I'll get modded down, but what the hell...

There are historically two common interface paradigms in GUI design - document centric and application centric. In document centric systems centralized file management is not only desirable, but pretty much mandatory - you need some kind of generalized file management UI.

Almost all GUIs in common use combine both systems at the same time. iOS on the other hand is completely application centric - it was designed to work that way.

Whether you like it or not, adding file management to an application centric UI corrodes it - the whole point is to avoid it entirely. It is a trade-off. It simplifies things for the user dramatically because, if done right, file management simply becomes unnecessary.

Is iOS done right? it certainly has its flaws... But at this point if Apple breaks down and implements a "Finder" on iOS, they may as well admit defeat. I'm not saying there aren't things that need to be fixed to improve usability, but adding file management is the last thing they should be doing. That's like adding a steering wheel to a train - once you do it you no longer have a train...

I'm just saying, it's not backwards - its simply different. You may not think it is better, but some people at least think it can be better if done right.

Reply Parent Score: 6

RE[8]: Not interesting
by pandronic on Fri 9th Mar 2012 06:55 in reply to "RE[7]: Not interesting"
pandronic Member since:
2006-05-18

Well, first of all, Apple makes things more and more simple, to attract an increasing number of people, clueless about computing, to their products. But, what is good for the clueless is really bad for people who do have a clue and will quickly feel the limits of Apple's paradigm. What's even worse is that other manufacturers see the piles of cash that Apple is gathering and want a piece of that. So, they start to copy Apple's closed world. If this trend continues, I believe that in a few years there won't be any devices that are not dumbed down appliances.

Of course, if you let people do a few very specific things, while holding their hand, you'll be able to provide them with a highly specialized tool that does those things very well, but then don't sell said specialized tool as a general computing device, because it isn't, it's just a device that can do a limited number of tasks, in a carefully selected and limited, number of ways.

It's like if you had a kid and you'd tie him with a leash to a cable that ran to only a few nearby places in town. Of course, he won't get lost and nothing bad will happen to him, because you carefully selected the route the cable will follow, but what life would that be?

And now back to the app centric paradigm ... I think it sucks, compared to the document centric one, no matter how good it's implemented. It sucks, because it emphasizes the mean and not the purpose. As a user, I shouldn't care about the tool I use (of course, Apple hypes users into caring), I should care that I need to do something. In fact that's how the real world works. Imagine all the nails tied to certain brand of hammer, all the planks tied to a special saw etc. It's madness.

I've not used the iDevices much, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that a lot of apps reinvent file management in their own little bubble and their own different way. So you might see an app that doesn't group it's documents at all, one that uses folders, one that uses tags and so on ... In a way they still do file management, but crippled and limited. The classic approach is clearly more flexible and consistent, but, sure, it gives the user the opportunity to mess things up.

Which brings us to the point that Nefer was trying to make - that the app centric approach saves people from their own messiness and I would add ... stupidity (when it comes to computing). I'd argue that helping people to persist in their ignorance will no help them. Sure, it may make you a lot of money if your name is Apple. And let's not forget that not all people are stupid, unwilling to learn or clueless about technology. What they are doing is lowering the bar even for those people and in time you might even see them disappear, because considering the current trends, there might not be a place where they can manifest themselves.

Which brings me to the conclusion ... an user oriented software ecosystem should be about the tasks and documents, because that's what the user needs and focuses on, while Apple's ecosystem is about the apps, the tools, because that's what Apple (and soon Microsoft) focuses on - to sell more of them. I'll go with the user, instead of the money-hungry corporation any day.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[9]: Not interesting
by galvanash on Fri 9th Mar 2012 08:37 in reply to "RE[8]: Not interesting"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

Well, first of all, Apple makes things more and more simple, to attract an increasing number of people, clueless about computing, to their products.


I'm not clueless about computing... I have been involved with application/web development for nearly 20 years, and I am attracted to the notion of making things simpler. Just because people have a different viewpoint from yours does not make them "clueless". I don't want to carry around a 10 inch tablet if it works just like the PC on my desk, because the PC on my desk needs a damn keyboard to be remotely usable... I have a portable PC already, its called a laptop.

And now back to the app centric paradigm ... I think it sucks, compared to the document centric one, no matter how good it's implemented. It sucks, because it emphasizes the mean and not the purpose.


I routinely use 4 or 5 different programs that all operate on raster graphics files. Each one is different and has different capabilities - I need all of them at one time or another. Sure, I can work with these apps in a document-centric fashion on Windows - it supports it just fine, very well in fact. But I still have to tell it which app I want to run when I right-click the file, because it can't read my mind. At that point the paradigm is no longer transparent (and in fact illustrates that it can't be transparent, unless you always have a 1:1 relationship between application and file type).

Application centric UIs essentially concede the fact that they can't read your mind to determine intent. They make file management transparent instead. The difference is that file management can be transparent, it serves no actual purpose in computing and can be engineered away. Applications inherently know what kind of file they work on...

As a user, I shouldn't care about the tool I use (of course, Apple hypes users into caring), I should care that I need to do something. In fact that's how the real world works. Imagine all the nails tied to certain brand of hammer, all the planks tied to a special saw etc. It's madness.


Nails ARE tied to certain types of hammers... A nail gun uses a different type of nail than a standard hammer. And there are different types of hammers, it depends on what kind of nail your hammering... Same with saws, there are different types of saw blades depending on what kind of wood you are cutting. As the old saying goes "pick the right tool for the job". Notice it doesn't say "pick the right job for the tool"...

I'm sorry but your argument here is just simply wrong. application centricity IS modeled after the real world, that is how people actually work.

I've not used the iDevices much, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that a lot of apps reinvent file management in their own little bubble and their own different way.


Yes, that is kind of the entire point.

So you might see an app that doesn't group it's documents at all, one that uses folders, one that uses tags and so on ... In a way they still do file management, but crippled and limited.


You see "crippled and limited", I see "optimized for the tool".

The classic approach is clearly more flexible and consistent, but, sure, it gives the user the opportunity to mess things up.


Its not about keeping the user from "messing things up". Making file management application centric simply allows the application to determine the best way to interact with the types of files it operates on. Most applications abstract file management away completely, some still retain it but in targeted ways.

Yes, there is definitely a tradeoff as far as consistency goes. But it is arguable more flexible, as it can be made to work with virtually anything, even things that are not traditionally considered files at all (purpose built web services, dropbox, etc.).

Which brings me to the conclusion ... an user oriented software ecosystem should be about the tasks and documents, because that's what the user needs and focuses on, while Apple's ecosystem is about the apps, the tools, because that's what Apple (and soon Microsoft) focuses on - to sell more of them. I'll go with the user, instead of the money-hungry corporation any day.


I don't know why you are bringing corporate motive into this - I'm strictly talking about UI design. Sure, Apple wants to sell more stuff - Microsoft too. They do that by giving people what they want, and they want things to be simpler. Your argument is basically that they shouldn't give users simplicity because it is bad for them. All those people buying iPads seem to not agree with you...

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[9]: Not interesting
by akrosdbay on Fri 9th Mar 2012 15:16 in reply to "RE[8]: Not interesting"
akrosdbay Member since:
2008-06-09

Well, first of all, Apple makes things more and more simple, to attract an increasing number of people, clueless about computing, to their products. But, what is good for the clueless is really bad for people who do have a clue and will quickly feel the limits of Apple's paradigm. What's even worse is that other manufacturers see the piles of cash that Apple is gathering and want a piece of that. So, they start to copy Apple's closed world. If this trend continues, I believe that in a few years there won't be any devices that are not dumbed down appliances.


It has nothing to do with having a clue or not. Apple treats Smartphones and Tablets as appliances. I don't give a crap about how my TV/DVR/Blu-ray player etc manage their internal state as long as they do what I want them to do.

Even people with a clue sometimes just want an appliance. For example, data centers are moving to using appliances and SaaS. They want some thing that works and is managed for them to reduce complexity.

Most people want to create a document, email it, print it etc. They don't really care to know about .docx, .sxw extensions and which app those things belong to.

Apple is catering to the 95% of the population that just wants to use their devices as appliances. Their sales numbers speak for themselves. People want their tablet to be appliances.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[9]: Not interesting
by nefer on Fri 9th Mar 2012 23:24 in reply to "RE[8]: Not interesting"
nefer Member since:
2012-02-15

Which brings us to the point that Nefer was trying to make - that the app centric approach saves people from their own messiness and I would add ... stupidity (when it comes to computing). I'd argue that helping people to persist in their ignorance will no help them. Sure, it may make you a lot of money if your name is Apple. And let's not forget that not all people are stupid, unwilling to learn or clueless about technology. What they are doing is lowering the bar even for those people and in time you might even see them disappear, because considering the current trends, there might not be a place where they can manifest themselves.


You could just as well argue that using C makes programmers lazy... Using assembly offers you just so much more control over the hardware!

The point I'm trying to make is that traditional file systems have served their time. Computing systems these days are powerful enough to just present us directly with whats interesting about them in the first place, the information enclosed within them, instead of generic looking icons, only having a file name to identify them with. Why continue take this detour which originated from when system speeds were defined in megahertzes and not just let the data speak for itself instead?

Why bother with managing folders, versions, etc, when the system can handle being powerful enough to do it for you? Even on previous paradigm machines, you generally don't bother with managing your itunes libary, iphoto data, etc. When we check our mail in GMail, we don't put things in folders like we used to in Outlook. We use search, and tags. We use things like metadata to categorize. Information can be in more than one "collection" on the same time, or be omitted, depending on the context.

On Post-PC devices, we don't bother with opening named .vcard files in an address app manually to be able to call a person we saved his details from. Instead, the system handles the storage of this information transparantly and presents it to the user the way the application formats it regardless of it being the contacts, telephone, or third party applications like Viber.

You are right that computing is becoming more appliance-like. Arguing that removing any notion of a file system is a bad way to reduce this complexity and people should learn them instead is besides the point. Managing modern multigigabyte filesystems takes effort. If the user is going to do any effort, he's better off in putting that effort towards a task he's set up to do, not towards a task he needs to accomplish before he can start the task he's set up to do. Technology is mainly valid if it succeeds in accelerating the task we are set out to do. Managing file systems isn't one of them.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[8]: Not interesting
by _txf_ on Fri 9th Mar 2012 12:11 in reply to "RE[7]: Not interesting"
_txf_ Member since:
2008-03-17

I'm just saying, it's not backwards - its simply different. You may not think it is better, but some people at least think it can be better if done right.


Nah...It is different and worse. Just like the one button mouse or the puck ...

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[8]: Not interesting
by softdrat on Sat 10th Mar 2012 00:21 in reply to "RE[7]: Not interesting"
softdrat Member since:
2008-09-17

There are historically two common interface paradigms in GUI design - document centric and application centric.

For that matter, IBM's Job Control Language for OS/360 on mainframes was also application centric, even though it didn't have a GUI - just punched cards. Want to delete a file? You have to run an app. That is why IEFBR14 was invented.

So I guess you can say that iOS is the JCL of the post-PC world!

Reply Parent Score: 1