Graphics Archive

pt. X: the Window

This is the tenth article in a series on common usability and graphical user interface related terms. 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. Fitting for this rounded number, part X will detail the window.

GIMP 2.6.0 Released

The GIMP Project has released GIMP 2.6.0. Among some UI-based changes and additional fixes, it comes the long promised integration of the GEGL library. The promise of 16 bit per-pixel non-destructive editing goes back to 2002, but it's at last here. This means that GIMP is now ready for prosumer (and in some cases even professional) photographer's usage, and this can only be big news and a big win for the F/OSS movement. GEGL will also help in future releases with proper support of CMYK. UPDATE: I guess things are not as good as the release notes want us to think. GEGL was turned "on" in the Color menu as per instructions, but I still got a no-support message for high depth TIFF pictures. If GIMP can't read existing 16bpp pictures, the feature I earlier gave them so much credit for, is useless.

pt. IX: the Menu

This is the ninth article in a series on common usability and graphical user interface related terms . 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 IX, we are going to talk about the menu.

Patent: Application-Specific Windows Colourisation

The US patent might be a bit daft, especially when it comes to software, but it does offer some interesting insights into what crazy things the big companies might be working on for future products. One such patent emerged today: Microsoft applied in 2005 (and was granted in 2008) a patent which describes how different windows may be coloured differently, or that they may have different transparency settings. This sounds a bit weird, but it may actually prove to be quite useful.

The Amazing Artwork of Fedora 10

Now that the second deadline for Fedora 10 themes has been reached, the remaining theme proposals have matured and gotten much, much better. At this point, it is clear that no matter what theme is chosen, Fedora 10 will look great. Still, all themes are not equal. These are some of the best, though.

pt. VIII: Tabs

This is the eighth article in a series on common usability and graphical user interface related terms . 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 VIII, we focus on the tab.

Why Free Software Has Poor Usability, and How to Improve It

"The best open source applications and operating systems are more usable now than they were then. But this is largely from slow incremental improvements, and low-level competition between projects and distributors. Major problems with the design process itself remain largely unfixed." Personal Note: I am not sure how many people feel that Free Software has poor usability. As far as the desktop environment, I find most of linux window managers to be the more user-friendly than Windows and OS X.

Windows UI Taskforce: Your Help Wanted

As I already explained in the first Usability Terms article, consistency goes a long way in ensuring a pleasurable user experience in graphical user interfaces. While some user interfaces appear to be more graphically consistent than others, Windows has always appeared to be worse than most others - probably because it carries with it stuff that dates back to the 16bit era. IStartedSomething agrees with this, and started the Windows UI TaskForce.

Multitouch, New Taskbar in Motion

Yesterday, during the opening hours of the D6 conference, Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher jointly interviewed Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates. While the interview dealt mostly with the past, Yahoo, and a bit of Vista, by far the most interesting part was the first ever public appearance of Vista's successor: Windows 7. Earlier today, the team behind D6 posted a video of the demonstration, which was conducted by Microsoft's Julie Larson-Green. From a graphical user interface point of view, there were some interesting things in there.

Anatomy of Linux Flash File Systems

You'll find flash file systems used in personal digital assistants (PDAs), cellphones, MP3 players, digital cameras, USB flash drives (UFDs), and even laptop computers. This article looks at a couple of the read-only file systems and also reviews the various read/write file systems available today and how they work. Explore what the flash devices are all about and the challenges that they introduce.

The Rise of Contextual User Interfaces

Read Write Web has an interesting article on the concept of the contextual user interface. A contextual user interface - as the name implies - is an interface which adapts to the current wishes of its users, the context. The interface will change according to the actions the user takes; present a set of minimal options, and show other options as the user goes along. While the article makes some good points, it also contains some generalisations that I find rather debatable.

Grape: a New Desktop

Rethinking the desktop metaphor, or even improving it in any significant way, is a daunting task, and few dare to take the risk. The end result is that the desktop metaphor that we use today barely changed over the years - which is quite unique for the computing industry, as normally, things change very rapidly.

The Popup Scrollbar Concept

As you may remember from our series on common usability terms, I have a lot of interest in graphical user interface concepts. In addition, I applaud anyone trying to improve existing concepts, people that try to think beyond set conventions to come up with an improved version of that concept, or a new concept altogether. Thorsten Wilms took on the well-established concept of the scrollbar, and came up with a few interesting tweaks.

Fixing the Trash Can: Automated Deletion?

The trash can metaphor in computing is as old as the desktop metaphor itself. It was first introduced with the Apple Lisa user interface, and found its way to the Macintosh. Apple patented the whole idea, and sued anyone who tried to use the same name, resulting in other user interfaces implementing the exact same principle but just named differently. Despite its old age, and the fact it barely changed over the decades, many people have issues with the traditional concept.