It's just a tiny example, but it illustrates a far bigger problem. Adam Becker: "So what's the problem? It's that this innocuous little guy is now being used for all sorts of disparate purposes, and every time it's used for another action, it loses more and more of its meaning." This is what happens when consistency is thrown out the door, and developers get little to no guidance from operating systems' parent companies. Mobile applications and the web are a UX free-for-all, and as a result, established iconography and concepts are used out of context and in wildly varying ways. Just because you can code a mobile application doesn't mean you know anything about user interface design - this lack of guidance is where both Apple and Google have failed miserably.
One of my recent endeavours involves surreal digital collage, which currently has its own, rejuvanated, underground movement. In my search for inspiration I came across a talented artist, _meta_ ("Kim" in real world). At the time Kim happened to only publish his works for his followers on Instagram, so few people has seen his works. The biggest surprise for me was that Kim's artwork doesn't come to life via Photoshop or The Gimp, but via an iPhone 4s. Modern collage works require quite some cutting precision, so I found this fascinating-enough to ask Kim to walk us through his creation process.
It's here: the GIMP 2.8. Its biggest feature is something that many, many people have been requesting for as long as I can remember: single-window mode. No longer do you have to fiddle with a gazillion palette and dialog windows (unless you choose to do so, of course). Great work by the team.
Tobias Bjerrome Ahlin, an interface designer at Spotify, is a big believer in skeuomorphism. Whereas Apple is a strong advocate of this design concept, Microsoft is clearly moving in the exact opposite direction, while Android is in the process of moving away from skeuomorphism entirely, to a more digital experience. As a passionate hater of skeuomorphism in UIs, I found Ahlin's examples to be a bit weak.
"GIMP 2.10's core will be 100% ported to GEGL, and all of the legacy pixel fiddling API for plug-ins is going to be deprecated." I'll honestly admit I have no idea what they're on about (I can't know everything about everything), but it appears to be quite a big deal.
"Adobe has been dropping preview links to its upcoming version of Photoshop CS6 for months now, even hyping it up with a Rainn Wilson cameo at MAX 2011. Photoshop CS6 marks one of the app's most drastic visual changes, with a darker visual redesign and streamlined toolbars, and it has all sorts of changes to cursors, filters, video editing, and more in tow. We got some quick hands on time with the app, so read on for our take on Adobe's next-gen installation of Photoshop."
What your interface communicates to users can be just as important as what your software does, writes Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister in discussing the latest edition of the 'Microsoft Manual of Style,' a style guide aimed at designers and developers who create Microsoft software, as well as those who write about it. 'The gist of much of Microsoft's advice is that a user's relationship with computer software is a unique one, and it's important to craft the language of software UIs accordingly,' McAllister writes. 'Occasionally, Microsoft's recommendations verge on the absurd. For example, you might not think it necessary to admonish developers to "not use slang that may be considered profane or derogatory, such as 'pimp' or 'bitch,'" but apparently it is.'
This weekend at FOSDEM 2012 what Kristian Hogsberg is expected to say in Brussels will surprise many of you: Wayland 1.0 is gearing up for release as their first stable release. Wayland is supposed to be ready to take on the Linux desktop world.
In the commercial software world, user interfaces are generally designed by one group. Like Microsoft for Windows or Apple for Mac OS. Those desktop environments were designed by one company who did things like user testing and statistical analysis to try and make the desktop they thought would work best. Linux is different. Large groups definitely DO perform user testing and statistical analysis, but one group can also say "Here's what we want" and, if they have the ability to code it, their idea comes into being. It's pretty amazing, when you think about it. Linux lets people create what they want. If you don't like what's out there, fork it! Or start from scratch! You're in control!
Within the last few days we read the news about Apple's Siri AI personal assistant, and about a brain implant that lets monkeys control virtual limps & feel virtual objects. I believe that if someone is to also combine a few more technologies (e.g. high-res eyeware, appropriate operating system changes), we will be looking at the next user interface revolution, after the inventions of the computer mouse and touch interfaces.
"Like for the previous survey, there aren't much answers anymore after about one week, so I think it's time to thank everyone and close the survey, in order to publish the results along with some interpretation." As before, everything is released under Creative Commons CC0 license.
"As mentioned before, the original multi-monitor survey had some serious flaws, which means that its results should be used with caution. I don't know if I can gather people around this again, but I wanted to try an updated, much cleaned up version of the survey, with results distributed in public domain just as before. Here it is." (from The OS-periment)
"Okay, it's been about one week and there are not much answers anymore, so it's time to thank everyone who participated, close this survey, and publish the results, along with some interpretation." Everything is released under Creative Commons CC0 license, so anyone interested, please help yourself.
"Recently, Brendan and I have been arguing about what can reasonably be expected from a multi-monitor OS (among other graphical stack things). We've reached the conclusion that nothing replaces real-world user data. So anyone interested, please answer this survey about multi-monitor setups and expectations ! (Results will be published here once the amount of answers has reached a steady state, I'd say in a month at worst)" (Source)
While the BFS scheduler is getting ready to celebrate its second birthday, in just three weeks AMD's open-source Radeon graphics driver strategy for Linux will be turning four years old . . . which has ended up being a game-changer in the Linux world. AMD continues to support open-source hardware enablement on their latest graphics processors and recently even hired more developers to work on the code and documentation. How far have they come though in four years?
Since we're on a CLI kick today, here's an "attempt at presenting some of the most important guidelines for CLI design."
A couple of days ago I read a blog post by Stephen Ramsay, a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Fellow at the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. In it, he mentions that he has all but abandoned the GUI and finds the command line to be "faster, easier to understand, easier to integrate, more scalable, more portable, more sustainable, more consistent, and many, many times more flexible than even the most well-thought-out graphical apps." I found this very thought-provoking, because, like Ramsay, I spend a lot of time thinking about "The Future of Computing," and I think that the CLI, an interface from the past, might have a place in the interface of the future.
Back in the 80s, a GUI paradigm called WIMP (Windows, Icons, Mouse, Pointer) began to establish itself as the new way in which most people interacted with a computer. When it comes to one of the most significant elements of that system, overlapping windows, I'm beginning to wonder, has it had its day?
"Pinta, a 'lightweight' open source raster image editor, turned 1.0 on April 27, offering Linux users another choice for simple image editing. Pinta is intended to be a clone of Paint.NET, the Windows-only raster editor written in .NET. As such, it uses Mono under the hood, but it gains the ability to run equally well on Linux, Mac OS X, or Windows. Is it a replacement for GIMP or Krita? That depends on what you need to do." What I like about Pinta is that I actually caused its creation in the first place.
Samsung has developed a completely transparent solar-powered monitor that's designed to be used with ambient light. Though they're marketing it as a television, it's almost certainly going to be used initially as displays in commercial areas, and it apparently is also a touch-screen, opening it up for the coolest kind of kiosk you've ever used. See a video after the jump.