This is the third article in a series on common usability and graphical user interface related terms [part I | part II]. On the internet, and especially in forum discussions like we all have here on OSNews, it is almost certain that in any given discussion, someone will most likely bring up usability and GUI related terms – things like spatial memory, widgets, consistency, Fitts’ Law, and more. The aim of this series is to explain these terms, learn something about their origins, and finally rate their importance in the field of usability and (graphical) user interface design. In part III today, we focus on the desk accessory, popularly known as the widget, applet, mini-app, gadget, or whatever the fashionable term is these days.
Thom, I think you’re filling in some odd blanks based on faulty memories: the example you gave of using the word processor, having to use a calculator program, and then using the word processor program is stretching the truth. Certainly, if the user doesn’t know how to record that information into a text file, they’d need to use some intermediate storage, if only their own memory. However, the worst they’d have to do is exit the word processor, start up the calculator application, find the answer, write it down, exit the calculator, and then restart the word processor, but it would not require rebooting the computer: at the very worst, using a cassette tape drive (the earliest IBM PC’s had them) you’d have to swap tapes, or floppies, as the case may be: the reboot is something you added in that was not required, unless the word processor program was something that didn’t exit in a clean DOS-like manner.
Also, being the grammar/spelling nut you are, I’m surprised you posted this with as many spelling/typing errors as there are: I don’t think they’d be caught with a simple spellcheck by itself, but they’re there: I’ll leave that as an exercise to the reader and writer
Otherwise, a good article, do more like this, but don’t invent things that weren’t there
…in the dark ages of stupid single-tasking-systems…
…there was the Framework by Ashton-Tate.
I’ve always been partial to “Replicants” – but disappointed that no one ever wrote a complimentary program called “Decker” (which would be designed to kill replicants, of course).
Speaking of which…
Programmers? Yes… Users? Not so much. I think that part of the “problem” was that it’s generally more effective to use the workspace management tools in BeOS than the window management tools. At least, I’ve always found it easier to just switch to a blank workspace and open an app regularly, rather than shuffle windows out of the way to get at a desktop replicant.