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Tog Takes on Mac OS X 10.3 670

Rick Zeman writes "Bruce 'Tog' Tognazzini, founder of Apple's Human Interface Group years ago, has finally pointed his electrons to Mac OS X 10.3. He's been dormant for while, and hasn't said anything since the early days of Mac OS X. His new articles include 'Panther: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly' and 'The Top Nine Reasons why the Dock Sucks,' all coming from A Guy Who Knows."
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Tog Takes on Mac OS X 10.3

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  • by sulli ( 195030 ) * on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @01:51PM (#7975222) Journal
    I don't.
  • by ikewillis ( 586793 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @01:53PM (#7975236) Homepage
    1. Make it lockable
    2. When icons are dragged off the dock, instead of going *poof* they should be moved to the desktop, unless they are dragged into the trash (and of course, the trash can't be removed)
  • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @01:54PM (#7975246)
    Apple should've never gotten rid of its HCI group, and Tog once again shows why. For all of its advancement in underlying technologies and reliability, Mac OS X has been a huge leap backwards in useability compared to the Classic Mas OS as designed by people who cared more about useability than "lickability."

    I really think that Apple forgot why a lot of its users so tenaciously stuck with the platform in the first place despite higher prices and the little irritations of cooperative multitasking. The interface matters as more than just a pretty show. Classic Mac OS pundits have been kicking the Dock for years now, and it's good to hear one of the experts chime in. ...Not that Apple will listen, of course.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @01:57PM (#7975298)
    Now I find this curious. I've been told by quite a few people (some of whom use OSX, some who don't) and many who're opinionated about it state it as -fact-.

    "The Dock Sucks trust me I know, the KDE/Windows/BeOS/AmigaOS solution is better."

    Now, that's well and good for them. Really good in fact, that they have the choice between one thing and the other. Personally, I find the dock simple, transparent, to me it sits invisibly, I never notice I'm using it, and it performs admirably. For others obviously, it's sucky. Duh. we're not all clones.

    But to say, as many do, "This is why it sucks and why X, Y or Z is better and your opinion is wrong" is priceless, when clearly for me that isn't the case. It's like saying "You're such a fuckwit if you think Chocolate is better than caramel, here's why"

    (Just so y'all know, when it comes to MY computing experience I do like to go with what works for me, and I WILL be opinionated about what works for me)
  • by corebreech ( 469871 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @01:59PM (#7975320) Journal
    ...of System's 7, 8 or 9, it wouldn't have made it, not even as freeware.

    Tog's right. It is the most inane UI feature to have made it in *any* OS, let alone Macintosh.

    And what's especially frustrating is that they replaced two very workable UI gadgets, the Application Menu and the Process Menu (which Tog confuses with the former) without so much as bothering to elicit feedback from the users.

    I found this to be really arrogant. It was like the boys from NeXT came in and simply assumed they knew better than everybody else, that a UI that had survived for over a decade-and-a-half and have been continually honed during that time was something to just throw away.

    I mean, to not even give us the option of having those menus... inexcusable.

    Before OS X I had to switch over to Windows for my development work, but it was the OS X dock that made me switch to Windows (and alternately, Linux) for my personal stuff.

  • by mr_mischief ( 456295 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:01PM (#7975351) Journal
    is that you don't have to trip through countless menus and windows to get to something a few keystrokes in a terminal window will do faster.

    Pretty pictures for those who want it done easily, a terminal for those who want it done now (or more easily by a program). I like graphical interfaces for what they do well. I like command lines for what they do well.

    With OS X, as with most other *nix implementations, I can have the best of both worlds.
  • by oscast ( 653817 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:06PM (#7975410) Homepage
    "I found this to be really arrogant. It was like the boys from NeXT came in and simply assumed they knew better than everybody else"

    Not arrogant at all. The guys at NeXT DID know better and so therefore it was right to take over Apple's former UI staff. Guys like TOG are just bitter about it.
  • Re:Dock (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gizzmonic ( 412910 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:06PM (#7975411) Homepage Journal
    Hiding it doesn't take away the wasted space. Instead, it pops up and pokes you in the ass when you least expect it.

    The only way to deal with the Dock is two monitors, with the Dock on the far left..or at least, the only way for me.

    Personally I think they should separate the app launching from the task switching. Put the apps to be launched on a Shelf...where is the shelf...ahhgghh I want shelf.
  • You did what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:08PM (#7975427)
    You actually swiched OS's because of the Dock? Seriously? I'm impressed.

    Tog knew a lot in his day, but his complaints about the dock are clearly from a I-wish-it-were-still-the-old-way mentality.

    The beauty of the Dock is that normal people can use it right away. Power users that need more should just use something else. No one complains that iMovie is limited or that iPhoto is slow, they just get a clue and use something else. (Actually, people do complain, but anyhow...) Yes, the Dock is part of the OS, but it can be substituted/replaced at the will of the user.
  • by flabbergast ( 620919 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:10PM (#7975453)
    *putting my flame proof jacket on* I like OS X's user interface, and I hated OS 9's user interface. I bought my iBook because OS X is based on FreeBSD (and I need a shell prompt and assorted other goodies), but I enjoy the user interface now that I've had time to adjust.

    I think most of the problem is centered around "But the Dock is stupid because OS 9 did this instead." We have a natural tendency to resist change, and Finder and the Dock are huge changes to the Mac interface.

    And yes, I did RTFA, and I do agree that there are some missteps (like all the Dock widgets looking the same) but a lot of the complaints here are "OS 9 is better! OS X sux!"
  • Tog's Complaints (Score:1, Insightful)

    by MrBlackBand ( 715820 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:11PM (#7975463)
    His argument is "It's not the way *I* want it to be! Therefore, it sucks!"
    My counterargument: "It's the way *I* want it to be! Therefore, it is God!"

    You don't hate God, do you?

  • by transient ( 232842 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:13PM (#7975494)
    That's the thing about HCI people. They're part of an entire field devoted to telling you that your opinion is wrong. The trouble is, by their measures, you are wrong -- they just don't realize that their measures are an incomplete picture of the computing experience. There are people in HCI who are trying to change this and I applaud them, but until they succeed, you are absolutely right.

    Or, to quote one of John Cusack's characters, "How can it be bullshit to state a preference?"

  • by Alrescha ( 50745 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:14PM (#7975506)
    When he talks about interface design, it's clear that TOG is in his element. When he starts talking about what applications should do, he seems more like he's just ranting.

    I think this comments about the new Finder are right on target. When he complains about needing export from iPhoto, It makes me wonder if he's ever bothered to select a bunch of pictures and just drag them somewhere.

  • by ikewillis ( 586793 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:17PM (#7975541) Homepage
    What does this mean? Using something like TinkerTool (as a convenience interface to writing the preferences) you can anchor it to the left/right edge at the bottom of the screen, so it only grows in one direction...which means applications are always in the same spot, if you anchor it to the left. Is this what you mean by 'lockable'?

    No. A "locked" state would prvent accidental removal of dock icons. It would not be possible for ignorant friends using your laptop without your permission/cats/etc to accidently remove icons.

    This is a poor idea, IMO. The dock is like a favorites list, not a storage location. Items don't get moved 'into' the dock, they just get pointed to from it. What do you want, items dragged out of the dock to create a new alias on the desktop? Ick.

    Oh please, can we have a little less conceptual zealotry?

    The reason why this would be an improvement is that, in its current incarnation, it's very easy to accidently carry out an irreversable operation; removing an item from the dock. When this happens there is no quick intuitive undo... the user is forced to hunt down whatever was accidently removed and readd it if they so desire... and this provided they actually saw what they removed by accident and therefore know immediately what needs to be replaced.

    Moving the icons onto the desktop would make for a simple undo... it would also provide a sensible counterpart operation to dragging something onto the dock in the first place.

    Or, if you're really such a conceptual fanatic, how about simply having icons return to the dock unless they're dragged explicitly into the trash?

    The dock is, in its current incarnation, rather counterintuitive, and Tog certainly agrees:

    "The Dock adds a whole new behavior: Object annihilation. Drag an object off the dock and it disappears in a virtual puff of smoke. This is the single scariest idea introduced to the Macintosh since the original bomb icon. How would you feel if you spent eight hours working on your first Macintosh document, only to have it disappear entirely when you try to move it from the dock to the desktop? Pretty disorienting, no? This is a completely unnecessary concept for the user to have to learn, particularly in such a painful way. Makes for a 'hot demo' though, doesn't it?"
  • Re:Finder (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Golias ( 176380 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:17PM (#7975542)
    Apple has followed in Microsoft's footsteps

    Actually, the finder's side-bar icons makes OS X 10.3 feel more like NeXT to me than it ever has. It may look kind of goofy, but I find it to be extremely useful. (Certainly more useful than any "explore" navigation window in any flavor of MS-Windows!)


  • by oscast ( 653817 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:18PM (#7975552) Homepage
    "Apple people have a shittier time with their dock"

    Apple don't have "a shittier time with their dock". You are simply hearing from a vocal minority. The rest of us love the dock.

    Curious, how does XP handle icon resizing and such if its a dock clone. I'd imagine it the scaling and the clarity of the icons would look very bad because the UI is not vector based like OS X.
  • Opinion... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jpellino ( 202698 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:18PM (#7975557)
    Bruce is historically very right about lots of things - mostly about how damaged Windows had to be to not infringe upon Apple's look-and-feel too much in those heady lawsuit-happy years...

    I'm not in agreement with his prolonged high-horse about Aqua/Finder and especially Dock.
    If there were prime directive(s?) in those days, it was that modes are bad, and a good GUI is permissive and forgiving. OSX expands those and 99% abides by them.

    Yes, Aqua interface details do need to be smaller - Classic screen space seems gigantic compared to OSX, largely due to smaller controls. We hit them just fine before, and it's creeping towards Xp cartooniness;
    The dock is still better than the Launcher or the Taskbar in that it does solve the problems of (1) real estate of floating things and (2) kinesthetic problems of aiming inherent in window-bound menus;
    Dragging from the dock doesn't erase what you drag in the newbie/panic sense, it deletes the alias (which yes, is enough to invoke a newbie/panic) - your original is fine, MAYBE dragging it should place it on the desktop (or an alias or copy? what is wanted here?

    I've been using MacOS since the 128K and have 17 years experinece in pre-OSX and three in OSX - I have to say that Classic now feels like Bambi-on-ice compared to what now can be done easier and with more forgiveness in OSX.

    *sigh* ok - I do miss the Chooser.
  • Re:Question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jason.hall ( 640247 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:23PM (#7975621)
    Do you drive the absolute cheapest car you can find? Buy the cheapest house? Get the cheapest video card and monitor? For some of us, Apple is higher quality than Wintel, and we're more than willing to pay more for it.
  • Apple Ice Cream (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:23PM (#7975623)
    It's like saying "You're such a fuckwit if you think Chocolate is better than caramel, here's why"

    To further extend and utterly mangle your analogy, it's more like Apple took away the Mint, Strawberry, and Chocolate that users had come to love and use regularly and replaced it with a big block of food-colored Vanilla, saying that the rainbow swirls of dyed Vanilla more than adequately serves all the functions of Mint, Strawberry, and Chocolate despite losing a lot of the specific flavors the former solutions that made them so loved by their former users for getting the same things done differently.

    Then, they make it so that you can never really get rid of Vanilla despite running third party Chocolate on your computer so that the big block of Vanilla keeps splatting itself against your screen everytime you move your spoon to the wrong place.

    The analogy then falls apart because there's no good ice cream metaphor for the fact that they threw several years of HCI research out the window by ignoring the effects of muscle memory and Fitt's Law by having elements slide around as you opened and closed new applications and by no longer using the corners of the screen as a useful fixed reference. Nor can I really relate the fact that it's impossible to tell similar items apart without hunting and pecking to a banana split or to whipped cream topping.

    (Just so y'all know, when it comes to MY computing experience I do like to go with what works for me, and I WILL be opinionated about what works for me)

    Yeah, so what are you complaning about when others do the same? The Dock DOESN'T work for most of us. I've just gotten resigned to keyboard navigation between apps and to hunting and pecking for new applications when I want them.
  • by questamor ( 653018 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:25PM (#7975652)
    I think the entire Human Interface field is so completely different to the Early 80s, that it could be almost irrelevant in that form. Comparing a trashcan on desktop and a trashcan in the dock is getting a bit pedantic when both work, and to a new computer user they are both A Trashcan.

    "Ahhh! That must be how you get rid of something!". That, and a trashcan with a 'full' or 'empty' look is as far as the "intuitive" level of an interface goes, all the rest is learned. As Steve jobs said in his MWSF keynote - "We had to teach people how to use a mouse". That was the time when initial UI intuitiveness was truly an absolute necessity, and what followed on from there was familiarity and consistency.

    With children being taught how to use windowing systems, keyboards and mice from kindergarten (Age 3 or lower, if they're at home) the initial "intuitive" aspect of a UI is becoming less and less relevant, and for Joe Everydayuser, the most important part is consistency. After all, he's probably been using a computer of some kind for 10 years or more, probably 15.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:31PM (#7975727)
    The same OS 9 users who will complain about the dock are often the same people who use Dragthing, or other dock-like utilities.

    I'm sorry to say, but OS9 & before are not the ease of use, organized paradise people think - Putting things in the Apple menu often caused users to install their programs in the system folder (Because that's where the "Apple Menu Items" lives, natch), which is needless to say, not a good practice.

    Take a look at the average OS 9 user's desktop (Or recent OS X convert from OS 9) and see the dozens of icons and apps installed there, for lack of a better, more organized place to put them.

    OS 9's habit of always opening a new window for every folder only adds to the confusion. No expose either.

    The "open arrow" method of using the List View in Finder windows is a mess too. Nothing like scrolling through every item in a folder, including prefs, plug ins, libraries, etc, just to find the icon you are looking for, including the listing of folders that have nothing to do with your current search - They just happenf to be listed earlier in the directory.

    I think "Tog" is upset just because his ideas have been brushed aside and he's watching from the sidelines.

    Anonymous Joe
  • by gamgee5273 ( 410326 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:33PM (#7975748) Homepage Journal
    You know, though, Apple has been very responsive to feedback with the introduction of OS X. If the users make enough noise, Apple does pay heed to that.

    Think about it: we yelled about those damn docklings in OS X PB - 10.0 and things moved back into the menu bar; the configuration apps are now accessible from the Apple Menu; there are numerous ways to configure the Dock and the Finder now, allowing a user to have the machine he/she wants.

    I, personally, use the Dock as a waystation for: apps that I use regularly, or use regularly right now (like Keynote, which I use every six or seven weeks or so); for my staff schedule spreadsheet; and for my desktop printers.

    Do I think it needs to evolve? Hell, yes. I want to see multiple desktops or workspaces (no, Expose is nice, but it doesn't serve my needs). On spanned displays I would like to see multiple Docks. Basically, I think Apple needs to make the Dock much more configurable so we can make the Dock our Dock...

  • by petrotraficante ( 668927 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:39PM (#7975808)
    If you don't like it, then don't use it.
    Can't you like something, but still want it to improve?
  • by Gizzmonic ( 412910 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:48PM (#7975913) Homepage Journal
    Are you kidding me? You don't think think that there's a body of research that goes into HCI?

    Back in the day, when this dude worked for Apple, they had HCI research going on all the time. Nowadays at Apple, HCI has been replaced by "ego-driven design." I.E. Steve Jobs thinks brushed metal is cool, so it's taking over Quicktime, then iTunes, now the whole OS.

    The point of HCI with regards to an OS is to make very complex tasks as simple and consistent as possible. Stating it's "just a matter of preference" is coming at it from the wrong angle. When it's gotten that high-level, it's beyond the HCI people.

    For example, if I asked you "what type of door interface do you prefer-a copper knob or a steel one," unless you were neurotic, you probably wouldn't care. When it gets to that point, it's a matter of aesthetics, which is not really the point of HCI.

    The HCI people work so you don't have to think about a doorknob, which one you prefer, or why it's there. They decided to put the doorknob there instead of a large sharp hook. If they went with the hook instead, you'd have to put too much thought into opening the door (watch those fingers) and then it would be an HCI issue.

    And the underlying assumption with HCI is: There IS a better way to do something. There might not be a Right with a capital R but there is definitely a wrong and even more wrong way to do everything. The point is improvement, and "It works just fine," is damning by faint praise if I ever heard it.

    Now I doubt this article has a body of research behind it, but it's not like the guy hasn't spent 20 years or whatever in his field. I think he's entitled to shoot from the hip about it, and I agree with most of what he says, even if it is too nitpicky. You're right about web pundits focusing too much on the negative and enjoying to point out UI missteps just a little too much.
  • Finder vs Browser (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jaaron ( 551839 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:49PM (#7975945) Homepage
    It completely depends on the functionality you're trying to achieve. One of my favorite applications is konqueror. I don't care much for the rest of KDE (no offense), but I love konqueror. I wish I could run it natively on windows (which I have to use at work) but I sometimes run it through cygwin simply because it's a better browser. And it browsers EVERYTHING. It's probably a bit too much of a "power tool" for the average user, but for me, it's great. Of course, this is coming from someone who prefers emacs over just about everything else too. :)
  • Re:Apple Ice Cream (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iSwitched ( 609716 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:49PM (#7975949)

    Dude, he's not complaining when others do the same, the guy basically says each to his own. What he's complaining about is exactly what you're doing when you say:

    "The Dock DOESN'T work for most of us."

    This is simply not a defensible statement, do you have proof of it's validity? Have you done independent studies?

    The only thing you can say for certain is the dock DOESN't work for you. If this is the case, try some of the suggested apps Tog mentions in his article.

    I respect your opinion (and Tog's) on the shortcomings of the dock, and wholeheartedly agree with several of his points, but to me and most of the OS X users I know, the dock just isn't that big a deal, certainly not enough to warrant the amount of hatred and vitriol spewed on the subject.

  • by cmoney ( 216557 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:50PM (#7975973)
    Tog: Get over it. Start living in the present. Classic OS is gone, kaput. 3 years ago, I had many of the same reservations about OS X as the majority of long-time Mac users.

    However, having solely used OS X for the past 2 years or so, I can safely say my reservations have been 95% unfounded. As it turned out, it was more a case of "I fear change" than anything substantial. My overall productivity is still much higher as a result of the whole of OS X's new features.

    His Panther review reads more like a list of rants simply because Apple didn't do it exactly like he wanted.
  • by belloc ( 37430 ) <> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:54PM (#7976024) Homepage
    Or, to quote one of John Cusack's characters, "How can it be bullshit to state a preference?"

    Because your "preference" may be uninformed, and therefore not really a preference at all. You might have what a connoisseur would call "bad taste" in something because you've never experienced the best. That's what Barry was talking about in the quote (to which Cusack's character responded the above); he had good taste in music. I know that concept sounds terribly undemocratic and elitist to our modern ears, but here's an example that many of us can relate to:

    Several years ago, mid-nineties, I read about Linux. I thought, "what could some other operating system do that Windows doesn't do for me now? I'm perfectly happy here in Windows." A few years later, someone with better "taste" in operating systems suggested that I try Linux. He said I'd be convinced if I just tried it. So I did, and my computing world was transformed. I got out of my MS box, and explored, and found that I didn't really "prefer" Windows to the others, because I was uninformed about the others. So, my preference was bullshit. Or rather, it wasn't a preference at all.

    Similar thing happened with good wine. I used to "prefer" to drink shit wine because the other stuff was expensive and I couldn't tell the difference. But someone with good taste in wine introduced me to how to tell the difference between good and bad wine, and now I mostly drink good stuff, and I'm damn glad about it.

    Of course, granted there are endless arguments among connoisseurs about what the best is. But I'm just answering the question, "how can it be bullshit to state a preference?"

    That said, Dick was right about Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. :)

  • by FireBreathingDog ( 559649 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:04PM (#7976170)
    I have some problems with the Dock, BUT...

    If you force the Dock metaphor into a "process menu" versus "application menu" dichotomy, then you will be disappointed. The Dock looks at the world differently.

    If a user wants to use a given app, he usually doesn't care whether the app is running or not. The user just wants the app. That's the metaphor of the Dock: "I want to use this app, so I click on the icon". Period.

    Think of it this way: why should the user have to figure out: "I want to use this already-running app, therefore I look in the process menu" versus "I want to use this not-yet-running app, therefore I have to look in the application menu".

    Most users don't think this way! They just want to use Application X, so they click the icon in the dock. That's it.

    An equally powerful case can be made that splitting between running and non-running applications is an artificial separation.

  • by petrotraficante ( 668927 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:05PM (#7976175)
    Sure. It is can be super annoying when people get nit-picky and criticize any aspect of an amazing product, as X is. Suddenly, everyone is a world-class designer. I get annoyed when people routinely critize microsoft for building "unreliable software". MS Office is one of the most amazing suites of applications anyone has built, in that it empowers so many business to create and share information far better than anything else in its class. It may not be foolproof, but hey, it's the product of the competitive market where timelines and the power of precident often cut into quality. But, I wouldn't suggest "haters" stop using it. Instead, build a healthy and constructive conversation to improve version .next.
  • by jellisky ( 211018 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:06PM (#7976195) Journal
    I have found few of the changes to the Mac OS GUI to even be steps backwards compared to Classic. In fact, I find OSX's GUI to be much more usable than Classic's. I cringe at using Classic's GUI in the few times I've had to boot back to Classic.

    I've been a fan of the Dock since I first saw it. For me, it's an indispensible piece of the GUI that really works. I always felt that the window-shading was a terrible solution in that each window STILL took up space, even when you didn't want it to. OSX, click the yellow minimize button to send the window to the Dock, and the whole window is out of sight until I want to see it again. (I have the Dock set to hide, obviously.) Granted, I could use the Hide Application option, but that always felt bad to me since I often have multiple documents open with each application.

    Yes, OSX has some usability issues that I'd like resolved, but at least, from what I've seen, I find OSX to be the most usable of all the GUIs I've used (or am using on a daily basis like OSX, Gnome, Windows XP, KDE, and Windows 98). OSX looks good, works well and fairly consistently, and does things in a way that feels comfortable to me.

    As for the articles, here's my rebuttal to Tog's nine points against the Dock:

    9. The Dock is big and clumsy: Considering what it does, wouldn't it HAVE to be? And set to hide, it takes up no screen space until I want it to. The old Application menu still does that!

    8. Identical icons look identical: DUH! Aren't they supposed to? New things are new, after all... and red things are red. The point he makes is easily countered by the fact that the dock will pop up textual information about the icon once you roll over it. And, sorry, few other GUI tools do any better, including the majority (maybe, all?) of the Classic ones.

    7. Dock icons have no labels: This is an actual concern, but, again, rather than complain, how about propose a solution that works in the setup? I have little trouble with this, since I set up my Dock to such a point that I never have that problem. I have custom folder icons on important folders (which SHOULD BE the only folders to be in the Dock!). It's simple, and you'd have to use the same work-around in almost every other tool out there.

    6. Dock objects need color: This would be a solution to #7, and, in fact, when you think about it, is only a more specific argument for #7. Thus, he should consolidate #6 and #7, then attack that. Again, this is a point that I agree with.

    5. Trash Can belongs in the corner: Excuse me while I play a sad song on the world's smallest violin. My Trash Can, even in Classic days, was NEVER in the corner. I hated that position for it. Still do to this day. And, Tog... I use Command-Delete because it's FASTER and EASIER and makes more sense than the iconic Trash-drag to my mind... not because the Trash is in a "bad" position.

    4. The Dock's locations are unpredictable: Excuse me, what? You minimize a document, it minimizes as the RIGHTMOST icon in the document side of the Dock (for a bottom Dock, that is). What's so hard about THAT? A little use of the Dock shows exactly how predictable things are there. And a new application that isn't in the Dock will pop up in the RIGHTMOST spot of the Application side of it. Is this THAT hard to comprehend?

    3. The Dock is a sprawler: Yes, it is. Is that a truly bad thing? Instead of having to tell people that they have to move to a specific set of spots, I can just say, "Move your mouse to the bottom of the screen." Simple instructions, simple idea, simple implementation, and simple response. I don't have to tell them to sweep along the bottom until the Dock appears, or aim for a corner. Just go to one side and everything comes up.

    2. The Dock replaced better objects: Huh? Tab menus were nice, but what did I do with them? Yeah, I had a folder with links to all my programs and document folders. It worked much like a static Dock. Only, it was a bit more of a p
  • by danaris ( 525051 ) <danaris.mac@com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:29PM (#7976469) Homepage

    Why put in a "make my interface less usable" checkbox?

    Because, hard as it may be to believe, not all of us have the same opinions as you!! (shock, horror) For some of us, far from making the dock less useful, having the dock move makes it more usable. You seem to have missed the point of "options"--they are there so that people with different tastes can make their computers work the way they please. Currently, there is, in fact, a way to get your dock to do that (I think): set the dock's magnification to "off", and use TinkerTool to pin it to a corner. Yes, the latter is not accessible through Apple's GUI, and I don't know why, but you can do it.

    What you are advocating is pushing your particular view on the rest of the Mac-using world. Why should we want to do things your way? Make it customizable! Give me checkboxes! That way, we can all be happy.

    Except for you, apparently, since you don't want anyone else to have any choice.

    Dan Aris

  • by WebMasterJoe ( 253077 ) <> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:30PM (#7976479) Homepage Journal
    I know that Safari stores its bookmarks in XML. Thus any asshole who can write a little perl can get the bookmarks out, and exchange them with (say) Netscape, which stores them in an HTML file - nearly the same thing, as far as we're concerned.
    That will surely be listed on the FAQ page...
    Q: How do I transfer my bookmarks from Safari to Netscape?
    A: It's quite simple. Just write a small perl script to parse the xml file that Safari uses (dtd can be found here [http]) and, upon parsing the file into an associative array, walk through the array and create a Netscape-compliant HTML file. Things couldn't be easier.

    I can't get the articles up, so I'm just taking your post in its own context, but I think you're expecting too many people to be able to write perl.
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:38PM (#7976605) Homepage Journal
    "This is why it sucks and why X, Y or Z is better and your opinion is wrong" is priceless, when clearly for me that isn't the case.

    Isn't that exactly what you are doing here?

    This is a big problem in any kind of product design: the immovable, cement-headed assumption that if not everyone, at least all the people that matter are just like you.

    If the Dock works perfectly for you, bully for you. But remember, it's only one data point. However, a design based on principles that are empirically determined is going to be better for more people than one based on what a single person likes.

    I agree that HCI nitpickers are often misguided. They like to apply rules without necessarily understanding the big picture. As Terry Pratchett once said, "Rules are there to make you think before you break them." real excellence in craft, be it engineering or art, involves trading off conflicting principles and requirements. However Tog doesn't fall into the nattering nabob category. He has a real understanding of the big picture and an actual track record of participating in ground breaking design.
  • Re:Sorry (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:44PM (#7976711)

    It's Fitt's Law, which is as immutable and perfect as the Laws Of Thermodynamics, dammit!

    You are so wrong it's not even funny. Take two pieces of wood and accomplish these tasks:

    • arrange them so that they have 0 inches of empty space between them
    • arrange them so they have 1.3 inches of empty space between them

    I bet you'll find the first one a lot easier than the second (unless you are some kind of machine).

    Now go on your computer and put the cursor at the top of the screen. Pretty easy right? Just move the mouse up until the cursor stops moving. Now put it at (134,204). Oops, pretty tough. In fact even if you have a coordinate readout it's pretty tough.

    If you see the difference, congratulations, you comprehend Fitt's law.

    But I guess you are some superhuman who can move the mouse to an arbitrary point in exactly the same time you can move it to a memorized point in the corner of the screen. In that case, never mind, all this cognative research doesn't apply to you.

    I love the attitude on slashdot that people are "stupid" or "retarded" because they want things to be *easier*. I don't know about you , but I want to be treated like a fucking baby when I'm at the computer, so I can do my WORK quickly and not waste time trying to hit the fuckin' trash can on my hidden 50-item dock.

  • No. The article was "The Top Nine Reasons the Dock Sucks," and consists of nine petty things. Petty things don't make a control "suck. Maybe they make it less useful, but come on. After the first time you drag an icon representing a program out of the dock, you never again think that you just deleted it. Instead, you realize that there's a difference between the program and its representation, and without a long winded dialog (try deleting a shortcut in Windows to see the opposite). Plus, the grandparent post was waxing poetic about the APPLICATION MENU. If the dock is a Yugo, this guy's pining for the halcyon days of the rickshaw.

    I don't think the Dock is a yugo...if anything, its flaws are a cause of its ambition and usefulness. Using the Dock, if anything, is like drivinga Cadillac with a 4/6/8. And Tog is sitting on the sidewalk complaining about my cruise controls.
  • by macdaddy ( 38372 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:52PM (#7976834) Homepage Journal
    No, I'm not referring to something from NeXT. I'm referring to the Dock's predecessor from previous MacOS releases. I'm referring to the Launcher. *puts on flame-retardent long underwear!* Now I know many of you didn't like the Launcher but for me as a diehard Mac guru I found it indespensible. My Launcher was highly organized. It had a dozen categories at a minimum. I ran more than one Launcher on a number of systems (the hack was trivial and the outcome was most useful IMHO). The Launcher was perfect for me. Apple, however, made a change to the Launcher that I never will forgive them for. I'm trying to remember when exactly they made this change. I believe it was with OS 9 or there abouts but I'd have to do some serious reflecting to be certain. Around the time of OS 9 Apple started changing many of their long-time control panels into full-fledged applications. As we all know running applications show up separately under the Application menu, whereas control panels don't show up at all (they are considered part of the Finder process). One of the control panels they changed was the Launcher. This had a very unfortunate and annoying side effect for me. I used to quickly access the Launcher by clicking outside of whatever application I was in and onto the Desktop. All Finder windows (including control panels) popped to the foreground and my Launcher window(s) was readily accessible at the bottom of my screen. When they changed the Launcher from control panel to full-fledged application (with no additional features I might add) clicking on the desktop no longer brought the Launcher window(s) forward. Now this may seem like a very trivial thing to you but to me it was a major pain in the ass. I'd have to go hunting through the Application menu (or the Application window once they introduced that) for the Launcher. I used every trick in the book to squeeze the absolute most out of my Macs. I knew every time-saving key stroke by heart. This change was very annoying to me.

    I personally find the Dock to be very annoying. I positioned mine on the right hand side of the screen, shrank it to the smallest possible size, only enabled a tiny amount of magnifcation, and made the dock automatically disappear. That's the only way I can make it somewhat useful. I still find that it's always in my way when I have a couple dozen windows open. I'll mouse over to the right hand side of the screen to scroll up or down in a window only to have the dock popup under my arrow. If I'm not paying attention or moving to fast I may switch to another running application or launch a new instance of an app in my dock. This is annoying as hell. It's almost as annoying as the bastardized Apple menu which now has no function whatsoever. With the Classic Mac OS I fly. I can out work even my G4. With OS X I find I have to hunt and peck around all the little annoyances that I can't get used to.

    IMHO OS X is a great OS for a newbie, or at least someone that's not terribly familiar with the ways of the Classic Mac OS. OS X is a royal pain in the ass for a Classic Mac OS guru though.

  • Point-by-point (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:01PM (#7976965)
    Point by point:

    9. It is possible to do the same things as the Dock with less screen real-estate taken up. Take a look at the Windows task bar. Wasting space in the Dock only compounds the problem of wasted space in larger widgets for all apps and widely spaced Finder windows.

    7 & 8. A single data point to distinguish files from one another is bad. More information can be presented there, but Apple doesn't take advantage of it. This forces users to hunt and peck for seemingly randomly reordered documents in the Dock which is inherently bad because it forces them to waste time mousing over icons. With more information, they could zero in on the proper target with a glance. Minimal action by the user to accomplish any task is the number one goal of UI design. The Dock violates this by making people hunt.

    6. Actually, this is only one solution to 7-8, and it's not a complete one since Mac OS X only allows a handful of colors. This doesn't help distinguish between similar documents (which should often be labelled the same color if you're using a sane classification scheme). His point, really, is that they didn't fully implement a new feature like they should've.

    5. The purpose of putting the Trash in the corner instead of the Dock is twofold. First, you want to have it in a consistent place so that you always know how to perform a common operation without a need for hunting as on the ever-shifting dock. This allows you to do it unconsciously without having to devote attention to it -- another good UI goal. Second, you want to use the corner because it's one of the easiest points on the screen to get to. You can't overshoot it easily since two edges of the screen act as a guide to direct your movement towards it.

    Using Command-Delete shows that you are dependent on a keyboard/mouse interface rather than a purely mouse-based one. A system with multiple redundant ways of accomplishing the same task is more useful, and a system that allows a task to be done quickly using only a single input device is more useable because it does not require your hands to travel from one input device to another. Apple should've had a keyboard method for doing the Trash a long time ago, but having one now does not excuse making the purely mouse-based navigation system more difficult.

    4. That's good if you are only having to deal with a mental stack size of 1. However, as you work with minimizing and maximizing multiple documents, you constantly reorder the Dock. Unless you have perfect memory of what order you last touched all the documents, you have to go hunting. Also, the documents and applications do not consistently follow the same order between different work session. This prevents you from unconsciously taking advantage of "muscle memory" to navigate to the icons without looking at them. This slows one down and is thusly bad UI design.

    3. Wait -- you use the Dock in hidden mode all the time, and you never ever have to deal with it popping up when you drag your mouse down towards the bottom of an app that you're working with? I call BS. That or else you work with a far larger desktop than my pitiful 1280 X 1024. The Dock could accomplish the auto-hide feature the same way the Windows task bar does -- it could provide a small, visible zone to hover over to get access to. That would accomplish the same goal with far less irritation and far less screen real estate walled-off by its pop-up behavior.

    2. I honestly can't see how tabbed folders were harder to work with than the dock. They were drag-and-drop just like any other folder window and just like the Dock. Plus, by being static, you could once again take advantage of muscle memory. The fixed, alphabetical order of the Apple menu was a flaw, but it was at least CONSISTENT. All the icons were where they were the last time you used them, irregardless of what apps you currently have open. This allowed people to effectively memorize their locations and not have to hunt. Your common apps in th
  • That depends on your point of view. Although what the original post described as "irreversible" isn't, there isn't an "undo" that returns that app to the dock. You _can_ find the app, and re-establish it on the desktop as you describe, but to a user unused to finding their way around folders, it's not _easily_ fixed.

    Consider the three things a user is most likely to do on a desktop of nearly any flavor: double-click (start an app on the desktop), single-click (start an app on the dock), and click-n-drag (trash something or simply relocate an icon). Clicking/dragging is exactly what the original post describes to remove something from the dock - I've seen users do this when learning the new OS, so I'd have to take issue that it's "...not an easy mistake to make...".

    A wiser approach would be to keep the entire desktop in a saved state like that of a word processor doc. I can underline something, then hit "undo", and it returns to the way it was in the word processor...why not include something like that for the desktop as well?

    Granted, powerusers won't get a lot of mileage out of such a thing, but others might find it a worthwile failsafe.
  • by Kaki Nix Sain ( 124686 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:31PM (#7977337)
    Except that an application that is already running may be have been left in a desired state which is not the same as the startup state. I.e., when you want to look at the todo list you made this morning, not start a new list. That isn't an artificial distinction at all; it is a simple, functionally important one.
  • by Sophrosyne ( 630428 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @04:46PM (#7977608) Homepage
    Tog wants the dock to be OS X- he wants it to give you lots of info, and be the virtual swiss army knife of the mac. But perhaps that is not it's purpose- it is not the center of computing on the mac and it shouldn't be- it's just a simple retrieval tool for commonly used apps.
    It is not the replacement for the finder, and it is not the replacement for the apple menu. I personally do not want to see the dock become this bloated piece of crap that Tog wants it to become- that is the problem with most modern user interfaces- information overload.
    I like using keyboard commands, I don't mind going into the Apple menu and clicking file and save- and I'm glad that Apple has been consistent on what the dock can and cannot do- as well as what the apple menu does like save and open documents.
    Tog- use the finder more, use the apple menu more, bloat is bad.
  • by inkswamp ( 233692 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @05:53PM (#7978528)
    I've said it before and I'll say it again: the concept of the GUI (and in fact, the concept of the personal computer) is still so new that it's ludicrous to start codifying any rules about what makes good design or bad design for GUIs. All you can go by is what works and what doesn't and let the process work itself out on its own in the baby steps that it inevitably requires. GUI Luddites like Tog are boring. I don't see the point. If something doesn't work, it will be obvious and it will change. Apple's already made countless small and large changes to the Aqua interface, the Finder and the Dock and each revision feels more and more "correct."

    I've read countless critiques of the various esoteric design "problems" of OS X and whatnot and none of them have proven useful to me, nor have many of them turned out to be true. I recall reading (probably Tog) that the position of the destructive close button, next to the non-destructive minimize and expand buttons in OS X windows would lead to constant confusion and data loss. I've never once clicked the wrong button. Silly.

  • Re:Point-by-point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jellisky ( 211018 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @06:41PM (#7979114) Journal
    5. The purpose of putting the Trash in the corner instead of the Dock is twofold. First, you want to have it in a consistent place so that you always know how to perform a common operation without a need for hunting as on the ever-shifting dock. This allows you to do it unconsciously without having to devote attention to it -- another good UI goal. Second, you want to use the corner because it's one of the easiest points on the screen to get to. You can't overshoot it easily since two edges of the screen act as a guide to direct your movement towards it.


    Piffle! (I always did like using that word in an argument. It always lightens it.)

    The corner is the easiest to get to, yes. However, the Trash was NEVER in the exact corner. You always had to come back to it, thus devoting visual resources to make sure that you hadn't missed. (And missing it was really annoying in Classic when you did miss and you had "Stick to grid" on... then your misplaced icon would end up ON TOP of the Trash, hiding it and further adding to the frustration by usually forcing two MORE drag-and-drops.) You have to do the same with the Dock Trash... move to the corner then correct from there. Yes, it's not in the same EXACT place, but the access is the same group of movements in the scenario you present.

    The only time that a static Trash is actually more useful than the Dock's is when the Dock is perpetually small because of a lack of a user-defined static list (and if you're really using your Dock, it should almost always be the entire length of the screen most of the session, unless you're an extreme neatnik) or when you had the exact muscle memory to drag exactly to the static Trash every time. The chances of the latter are extremely small... the former, though, depends on how much the Dock gets used and customized. Mine is almost entirely the length of the screen thanks to a large number of frequently used programs that inhabit it.


    4. That's good if you are only having to deal with a mental stack size of 1. However, as you work with minimizing and maximizing multiple documents, you constantly reorder the Dock.


    No, it's fine for most people. Why? 'Cause you quickly learn that if you were JUST working on the document, it should be on the right-hand side. Any user with half-a-brain should be able to figure out which of the icons is the one they want without any trouble.


    3. Wait -- you use the Dock in hidden mode all the time, and you never ever have to deal with it popping up when you drag your mouse down towards the bottom of an app that you're working with? I call BS.


    Maybe because I never go down to the bottom of the screen because I manage my windows such that they're all near the top since I USE the Dock's minimization functions? Don't call BS unless you know it to be true. And I work with a smaller desktop: 1152 X 768, or whatever that one is... I've only once had trouble with the Dock's pop-up and that was after a monitor resolution switch which left my iTunes small window under the Dock. That was fixed quickly by clicking on the iTunes icon in the Dock to bring it to the forefront.


    2. I honestly can't see how tabbed folders were harder to work with than the dock.


    Well, first of all, it comes down to the way the thing is used. ALL of my common apps are in the Dock already, and the only way they reorganize is when I drag them to other places in the Dock. Thus, the Dock performs exactly the same function to me as the tabbed folder. However, the ability to take something off the "list" that the Dock provides by, literally, TAKING it off the list makes more sense than deleting an alias. Yes, you could do the same with the folder, but then you have the alias floating around elsewhere.


    1. The point is that the Dock is the only thing in Mac OS X where you drag and item from it to destroy it (instead of moving or copying it).

  • by Devlin-du-GEnie ( 512506 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @07:08PM (#7979396)
    People are whinging about Tog's remarks because "the Dock works and has never done anything wrong to me."

    That's not his point. Every behavior he criticizes requires you to take your mind off your work and concentrate on the UI for a few seconds. That time away is a painless little vampire sucking on your productivity. It's nontrivial.

    Tog isn't daydreaming or bitter. HCI isn't voodoo. Many of its precepts are supported by empiric research. Go. Read some of it!
  • by bonaldi ( 90129 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @07:45PM (#7979757)
    Balloon Help was a fantastic invention, badly served by those who misunderstood its true value.

    Brain-dead balloons like those now served by tooltips (This is your hard disk. This is a window. This saves your work) might have been OK for Grandma, but were of no use to the power user and weren't the real advantage.

    What was of use to the power user was the fact that it gave stateful feedback in a stateless environment. Like say the button to add a new File sharing user was greyed out. You couldn't click it, and there's no obvious reason why. Balloon Help on, mouse over ... "You cannot add a user now because File Sharing is not turned on. Turn it on in the Chooser" or the like.

    Gave you the feedback of CLi-style error messages with the do-anything statelessness of GUI. I miss it.
  • Re:Point-by-point (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Keeper ( 56691 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:10PM (#7979971)
    I disagree with your assesment. When I drag something off the dock, I am "moving" it out of the dock. Since nothing is actually destroyed, how can it be anything else? Perhaps the puff is a poor indicator of what is happening, but that does not make the action itself wrong.

    Right, you're moving it off of the dock. Onto what? Whatever it's at when you 'let go' of the icon. If you let go on the desktop, you expect the icon to move out of the dock onto the desktop.

    It doesn't. Instead, it disappears.

    The fact that, internally, the icon doesn't represent anything doesn't matter -- because to a user, it is something. From a user perspective, a 'move' operation turned into a 'delete' operation.
  • by Keeper ( 56691 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:47PM (#7980400)
    The whole point is that you HAVE to hit the command key to get the desired/expected behavior. The desired/expected behavior should be the default.
  • by majid ( 306017 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:38PM (#7980862) Homepage
    I disagree. Tog makes for a very entertaining writer, but usability is not the cut and dried quantitative engineering discipline he and his buddies at Nielsen-Norman Group make it out to be, no matter how much they fetichize pseudo-scientific laws like Fitt's law.

    Tog also tends to be very doctrinaire. He was always in denial over the notion the keyboard might be a more efficient UI for experienced users (see this Ask Tog column) []), and he bears much responsibility for the fact the Mac is not as easy to use from the keyboard as Windows or OS/2 with their CUA guidelines. The Mac doesn't implement tabbing order correctly for pull-down menus, as anyone who has used Mozilla or Safari on the Mac to fill out forms can attest.

  • by nathanh ( 1214 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:44PM (#7980915) Homepage
    However, having solely used OS X for the past 2 years or so, I can safely say my reservations have been 95% unfounded. As it turned out, it was more a case of "I fear change" than anything substantial. My overall productivity is still much higher as a result of the whole of OS X's new features.

    I think this "higher productivity" is one of the most pervasive myths in computing. Every year somebody announces that the latest software has made them "more productive". By my reckoning, a modern office worker should be able to produce an entire report with a single keystroke, if all these productivity increases were true.

    I think the reality is that productivity is about the same but it's much more pleasant to work with modern computers. It's also more accessible to the wider populace. But I'm not convinced that it's more productive.

May all your PUSHes be POPped.