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Jef Raskin On The Mac 539

der Kopf writes "Jeff Raskin, one of the creators of the Macintosh and inventor of the click-and-drag interface, states in an interview for the British newspaper The Guardian that "the Mac is now a mess. A third party manual (Pogue's The Missing Manual) is nearly 1,000 pages, and far from complete. Apple now does development by accretion, and there is only a little difference between using a Mac and a Windows machine."" While I think Raskin has some good points, I think there's a far cry between the Mac & XP.
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Jef Raskin On The Mac

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  • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <> on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:35AM (#10620514) Homepage Journal
    And in this corner, we have Macus Nastolgious; a species of computer user who misses the way Macintoshes were before The Great Migration to a modern and flexible operating system. Be very cautious around this beast as it will use any information, no matter how irrelevant to the topic, to prove its supposed "point" about Mac OS being "superior" to Mac OS X. It is also very good at selective hearing, often ignoring words and phrases such as "modern", "virtual memory", "true multitasking", "protected memory", and "brushed metal".

    If you are attacked by one of these creatures, your best course of action is to appease it with a lollipop and a Cherry iMac running Mac OS 9. Ignore the sobbing that may result, as it is only an opening for renewed attack.

    In case anyone's interested, Wikipedia [] knows who Jef Raskin is.
    • Mac OS X "Manual" (Score:5, Informative)

      by green pizza ( 159161 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:51AM (#10620678) Homepage
      It's easy to write a concise Mac OS "Classic" manual when there's no command-line interface, nor are there any Unix underpinnings.

      A default install of Mac OS X contains a full Unix environment. (You can opt to not install the "BSD Subsystem", which just doesn't install and several Unix userland applications).

      I've seen emacs books that are 400+ pages and I've seen a 700 page sendmail manual. There are entire volumes of perl manuals. One could easily write a 10,000 page Mac OS X "Manual".

      Maybe Apple should team up with ORA to write a 100 page getting started / user manual, like NeXT did in 1988. The Mac OS X interface is actually pretty simple, and an average user can only initially see about 20 control panels, about 15 applications, and about 15 utility applications. As long as you ignore the command-line world and don't write chapters on file sharing fundamentals or netbooting, I'll bet a 100 page manual would be quite sufficent.
      • Re:Mac OS X "Manual" (Score:5, Informative)

        by CODiNE ( 27417 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:10AM (#10620850) Homepage
        Actually Macs DO come with a Manual... there's at least two of them... maybe 20 pages or so, I don't have one around here. The Mac OS X manual was enough to get grandma more comfortable with using iPhoto and Mail. They are printed on nice paper in full color with huge screenshots on every page. Very nice noobie-talk guiding a user through basic stuff. The other manual is specific to the model you bought... shows how to add memory and an airport card, things like that.
    • Re:Not jaded at all (Score:5, Interesting)

      by William Tanksley ( 1752 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:58AM (#10620737)
      Jef didn't like the old MacOS either, so your argument is beside the point. His problem with it was user interface, not technology. His complaint about the new interface is that it's more of the same, with a few inconsistencies thrown in just for good measure.

    • Different crowd (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:08AM (#10620831)
      You're absolutely right - there's quite a divide between the OS 9 and OS X crowds. For instance, before OS X, I'd rather have chopped off my hands than own a mac. I made fun of mac people as dimwitted idiots who didn't really want to use a computer, or artsy-touchy-feely types I'd rather not hang around with. Not too mature, but I did.

      Now, I own a powerbook. ;)

      • by zogger ( 617870 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:52AM (#10621314) Homepage Journal
        ... it was quite pleasant to day after day, year after year get on the computer and not care much about getting owned, or the latest windows bug du juor. Some folks never drank that MS kool aid to begin with, because they could see it was just lame. MS power users became that way from necessity a lot more than from desire, because their stuff was broken and prone to getting viruses and trojans all the time, let alone constant crashing. For every 100 times my friends had to deal with registry corruption, etc, I had 100 times of booting, getting to computing, and nothing much happening besides what I wanted to happen. It wasn't perfect, that's a gimmee, but you got to admit reality, it was way easier to use for joe average and a lot more secure. Why that would want to make someone cut of their hands is beyond me, unless you actually LIKED having broken and overly complex for no appaarent reason stuff just to give you some busywork to do with your spare time. Some folks like that for a hobby, obviously, others don't.

        It's only relatively recently in the past few years, that a home consumer could get an offering from any OS vendor that was at least half assed stable and half assed secure and functional from raw noobs to advanced professional level users. Before that time, Macs had at least the security part correct, along with the GUI, and were 1/2 way to functionality across the board. that's a 2.5 rating out of 3. MS barely gets a 1.5 until recently, same with linux.. Now I would say that the top 3 OSes are tied at 2.5 still, but Mac got there a lot sooner. And if GUI isn't important, then why has it become an industry standard, across all vendors of the major OSes? Could it be because it's a good idea, that people appreciate the ease of use of GUI? I think so, so do all the folks who have developed and distributed such OSes. I'd say that's some fairly good proof.

        There's a REASON that there is something beyond a CLI offered by EVERYONE now. And Apple knew this quite a long time ago and specialised in it, it wasn't an afterthought or a "me too" offering.

        With that said, I switched fulltime to Linux once it hit a 2.5 rating on my personal home joe user scale, because it's freer, runs on cheaper hardware I can afford, and at least achieved parity with what I had before. I wouldn't have if it hadn't been developed to that point.

        • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <> on Monday October 25, 2004 @12:27PM (#10621683) Homepage Journal
          because their stuff was broken and prone to getting viruses and trojans all the time,

          The 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall Virus. I didn't hear any Windows machines belting out that song through a voice synth.

          For every 100 times my friends had to deal with registry corruption

          For every 100 times my friends had to rebuild their desktop/extensions...

          let alone constant crashing.

          My favorite Mac user quote: "Don't go so fast! You'll lock it up!"

          It wasn't perfect, that's a gimmee, but you got to admit reality

          Indeed. The reality was that Microsoft beat Apple to building a modern OS for consumers. The real question is why did that happen? The answer is probably that Jobs forced innovation, while the Apple Corp. of the time simply tried to milk its existing investments. As a result, what was once a very beautiful design, became rusted and ugly. It desperately needed an overhaul to retrofit the proper tech for 500+ MHz machines, and multimedia programs that consumed memory like candy.

          Now Jobs is back, NeXTSTEP lives on, and life is good. :-)
  • GUI design (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:36AM (#10620530) Homepage Journal
    Raskin has been suggesting for years now that the MacOS has failed the interface test. My impression is that he would prefer an entirely different machine that may perhaps be radically different than what we have now. If this is so, Raskin should go out and create his OS of choice. At that point, I will evaluate it but for now, I will stick with OS X. Sorry Jeff, but you appear to be concerned with designing interfaces for folks that do not know how to use computers. I know how to use computers and have found very efficient workflows that allow tremendous amounts of work to be accomplished (except when posting to Slashdot of course) using current computer interface designs. The current way of doing business with GUI's is somewhat efficient for noobies, quite efficient for intermediate users, and the GUI combined with the CLI is very efficient for advanced users. By the way, the combined GUI and CLI is done quite nicely in OS X.

    Also, Raskin's complaints about Windows and OS X being similar could come down to other explanations: 1) convergent evolution or 2) Microsoft blatantly ripped off Apple in look and feel and continues to do so. I am inclined to believe both options as there are simply efficient ways of interfacing with computers in a GUI paradigm. That said, how many times have we seen MacOS features show up in Windows some time later? I am by no means suggesting they are equivalent however. OS X is so much better than Windows in terms of function and interface, but Windows has made huge strides in the last few years, although I do find myself applying the "standard" Windows scheme on my XP machines.

    • Re:GUI design (Score:5, Insightful)

      by IAmTheDave ( 746256 ) <> on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:43AM (#10620598) Homepage Journal
      Raskin has been suggesting for years now that the MacOS has failed the interface test. My impression is that he would prefer an entirely different machine that may perhaps be radically different than what we have now.

      This is an interesting point - we have had, in essence, the same UI experience since Windows 3.x, GeoWindows, and the original Apple user interfaces - it's all, at this point - increased productivity features and eye candy.

      Moving away from this UI-locked experience requires radically different thought. While not touting the technology-forward-seeing abilities of movie producers and directors, you'll notice that most "UI" in future computers stand more for "User Interaction" than "User Interface" - that is, interaction becomes more integrated with daily life. Computers track eye movements, "read" thoughts, anticipate needs, and almost always have overly-simplistic and well thought out data displays (my favorites are displays on panes of glass.)

      Point is, as pretty as the Mac OSX interface is (and it is...) making it prettier and reevaluating the decades-old principals of PC user interfaces and user interactions are completely different topics.
      • GeoWindows?? (Score:3, Informative)

        by dbirchall ( 191839 )
        Do you mean the GEOS-64/128/Apple II GUIs from Berkeley Softworks, and the later PC-GEOS GUI from the same company, then named GeoWorks? PC-GEOS didn't have a GUI of its own; it had a flexible interface model (pretty advanced for PC stuff at that point) that used a system library (SPUI class, I think - specific UI) to apply look and feel. It shipped with a MOTIF SPUI by default, but there was some school-targeted version that had an OS/2-like (CUA?) SPUI as well. Interestingly, the PC-GEOS SDK called GOC
    • by 59Bassman ( 749855 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:44AM (#10620609) Journal
      Remember, Windows has had the command line from the beginning. Apple only ripped it off recently!

      /end feeble attempt at humor on a Monday morning

    • Re:GUI design (Score:2, Insightful)

      by GR1NCH ( 671035 )
      Personally, I think all the arguements about user interfaces and ease of use are stupid. I think its more of a matter of what you have used in the past and are comfortable with in the long run. Personally I started off with DOS and Windows 3.1 and for me the migration to Win95 and WinXP were pretty easy. At this point I find most Mac GUI's confusing. But it's not because WinXP is more user friendly, its just because I'm used to all the things I've become comfortable with in WinXP. Same thing goes for linux,
    • Re:GUI design (Score:5, Informative)

      by Duke Thomas ( 684070 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:46AM (#10620633)
      Raskin has been suggesting for years now that the MacOS has failed the interface test. My impression is that he would prefer an entirely different machine that may perhaps be radically different than what we have now. If this is so, Raskin should go out and create his OS of choice.

      He did, though it was a long time ago. See information on Raskin's Canon Cat []. It would be interesting to see him make a more modern computer interface, but he seems content to just make vague complaints nowadays.

    • Raskin parades on about a few things, one is his newer UI theories on making things simple and easy to use, and another is complaining about systems that are "bloated", where a simple text editor is half a meg, for example.

      I think the credibility of his opinions comes into questions when he's put his theories into code, and they just end up a clumsy mess of UI that's painfully difficult to use, and he actually develops these ideas as code so damn slowly, because he's still using the archaic development met
    • Re:GUI design (Score:4, Informative)

      by William Tanksley ( 1752 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:56AM (#10620724)
      You don't have to rely on your impression of him, or consider a *possibility* that his ideal machine might be different than what we have now. You could instead read what he's written, but for free on his website and in his book; you could download his "The Humane Editor" and play with the second draft of his ideal interface.

      And your claim that Jef designs interfaces for novices is purely ignorant. Jef designs interfaces almost completely without regard for novices; all of his calculations are designed to ensure ease of use, NOT ease of learning. He does give lip service (and work) to ease of learning, but all the math calculates and optimizes actual ongoing ease of _use_.

    • Re:GUI design (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Chief Typist ( 110285 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:01AM (#10620777) Homepage
      Sorry Jeff, but you appear to be concerned with designing interfaces for folks that do not know how to use computers.

      This is an important thing that I think Jef and many other UI researchers are missing. There aiming at an old target -- back in the 80's there were a lot of people who didn't know how to use a computer. Having a PC at home or school was rare.

      These days, there are kids who have never known what it's like to live in a house without a computer. Or a school that has a computer lab. Like learning a language, it becomes second nature as you grow up. You get to the point where you don't even know that you know it.

      As time passes, the proportion of the population that "gets it" becomes much larger than the part that needs a simpler UI.

      Of course, there will always be people that need dead simple UI, and it's appropriate for many specialized interfaces (e.g. the iPod.) But it seems to me that research towards more complicated UIs (and how to manage the complexity) would be a better course -- that's where the "computing population" is headed.

      • Re:GUI design (Score:3, Informative)

        by TuringTest ( 533084 )
        But it seems to me that research towards more complicated UIs (and how to manage the complexity)

        And that's just what Jef Raskin's doing in his daily job. Your point is?
    • Re:GUI design (Score:5, Informative)

      by TuringTest ( 533084 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:06AM (#10620809) Journal
      That's bullshit. Try reading about Raskin's opinions on user interfaces [] before critizising him. A guy who invented the Mac interface deserves at least that.

      My impression is that he would prefer an entirely different machine that may perhaps be radically different than what we have now. If this is so, Raskin should go out and create his OS of choice.

      He is doing it. It's called The Humane Interface, and you can download it from sourceforge and give it a try.

      Given that some strengths of this interface are the same which make the CLI a good tool for advanced users, you should at ponder about it for a while.

      If you believe that the current GUIs is "quite efficient" for intermediate users then you have not seen many of then doing something even a little bit complex. This quote from the interview perfectly resumes the real situation:

      " There has been immense progress, primarily in the richness of applications. But all this power is lost on many people, and impedes the utility of it for the rest, because of the unnecessary complexity of using computers. "

      You have to bear in mind that the human brain is a processor with limited power, it's main bottleneck being it's small short-term memory. Also the Input/Output protocols are constrained by perceptive capabilities. A guy who promotes design ing software optimized for this restrictions is worthy of some respect, moreover given that he is able to provide some actual solutions.
      • Re:GUI design (Score:5, Interesting)

        by nlper ( 638076 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:51AM (#10621299)
        A guy who invented the Mac interface deserves at least that.

        Are you freakin' nuts? What Raskin wanted to create in the original Macintosh project was, essentially, the Canon Cat. No mouse, no GUI, no 32-bit CPU. In short, an information appliance rather than a computer, and something no one would ever recognize as a Macintosh. He lost a power struggle with Jobs early on, when his Mac team was a half-dozen people, and left Apple.

        Viz, []

        I think history has pretty much spoken on the viability of his design choices, especially the relative success of the Cat vs the Mac's GUI. Ask yourself this, if those leap keys were such a breakthrough in the UI, why hasn't something analogous caught on in the last two decades?

    • Re:GUI design (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pavon ( 30274 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:33AM (#10621059)
      Sorry Jeff, but you appear to be concerned with designing interfaces for folks that do not know how to use computers.

      Having read his book, I don't think that that is the case at all. The main thrust of his dream OS is to get rid of a certain class of errors (modal errors) which cause problems, regardless of your skill level. Infact the more you become familiar with the system the worse they get. A perfect example of this is shortcut keys. I have to use a half dozen text editors in windows, (for various IDEs etc), each of which has keyboard shortcuts. After using an interface for a while you get used to it and the actions become reflexive. So I find myself constantly hitting the wrong shortcut key in the wrong program. Is find Ctrl-F, Ctrl-S, or Ctrl-E, F3, or Shift-F3? I reflexively hit Ctrl-F, to find myself with a forwarded email or error message. The Mac is better because more of the shortcuts are standardized and more applications actually follow them, but I still run into the error. These errors decrease my productivity slightly, but more importantly they make using the computer frustrating. It is impossible not to develop a reflex when you use an interface often, and when that reflex betrays me, and the computer does not do what I expected because someone swapped the gas and brake pedals out from under me, it makes me agrivated. So that is his primary vision - not necisarrily to make computers easier or more efficient but more pleasant. Concidering how much stress there is concerning computers even among people who know how to use them, I think that this is a laudable goal.

      But in addition to that I also get the impression that he is overly obsessed with perfection in interface efficiency and elegence. Think of the kind of person who will spend days hand coding assembly, even when the same program written in python still has tons of CPU cycles to spare. His current prototype project to implement his OS seems bogged down in optimizing the low level atomic user interactions. Theortically, some of these changes will let me work faster, but in reality, my limiting factor when typeing is not how fast my fingers move, but how fast my brain words and rewords what I want to say. The same for 2D and 3D graphics.

      His arguments in this article are also primarily esthetic - OS X is very complicated and no-one will every understand it all. It is the age old argument between an elegant, small well-designed system, and an amalgemation of existing parts which does the same tasks, but is 10 times more complex because it carries the baggage of compatibility.

      I sympathize with his desires, but I don't know that complete elegance will ever win out over ugly practibility. Elegant systems are a joy to use for tasks that mesh with the flexibility built into the system, but once one needs to do something that doesn't quite fit the system, the grand design becomes an obsticle instead of a help, and those loosely bound, ugly amalgamations begin to look more appealing for the absolute freedom that they provide.
    • Ugh. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by solios ( 53048 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @12:24PM (#10621654) Homepage
      More importantly, how many times have we seen Windows features show up in MacOS?

      1. Meta-Tab : a Windows first. Swiped by Apple for OS 8.5.
      2. Windows that minimize to a dock/taskbar, rather than windowshade in place : a Windows first, and the Windows-like behaviour I hate the most about OS X. 9 Windowshades, goddammit. It's a third party hack on Windows and OS X.*
      3. Preview-in-filebrowser : A feature that had been standard with Explorer and missing on the Mac until OS X.

      There's others, but it's been awhile since I've been a regular Windows user, so I'd be hard pressed to recall others.

      Raskin had almost nothing to do with the Mac as it's known now, or as it's been known for years- his own computer design concepts called for a command line interface, not a GUI. He gets a lot of credit for the Mac but the fact is that he left Apple long before it was ever released. MacOS System 1 was shaped much more by Andy Hertzfeld, Steve Jobs and Burell Smith than it was by Raskin.

      As for Windows useability.... ugh. Apple's ripped some features, but they're mostly good ones. Minus that whole "losing the windowshading" thing, which I'm still pissed about. If you want Windowshading without third party hacks, your only option these days is an X11 window manager. :|

      Of course, that could lead me to ranting about the state of X11 "desktops" and how much of a letdown it is to see the big DMs turning into shit Win32 clones with bad implementations of all of the worst features of OS X jammed on top- and I've already strayed too far into troll territory, so I'll just stfu. :P

      * You would think that with the zero-pixel borders around sides and bottom of non-Brushed Metal windows in OS X that they would have included windowshading or at least allowed applications to implement it on a per-app basis... but since ALL windows minimize to the dock, it's easy to make one hell of a mess out of it really, really fast in the process of working with Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Photoshop and Fireworks... not the cleanest solution in the world, thank you.
  • Um, Yeah, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BlkPanther ( 515751 )
    Yeah, sure there are differences between OSX and WinXP, when you really pick it apart. But basically they have the same components, perform the same functions, and even look somewhat similar. The biggest difference I see is the underlying engine OSX uses *nix, where as XP uses an NT core, but this is mostly invisible to the users.
    • Re:Um, Yeah, but... (Score:4, Informative)

      by green pizza ( 159161 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:59AM (#10620751) Homepage
      where as XP uses an NT core

      XP *is* NT.

      Well, OK, XP is NT 5.1.

      Windows 2000 (NT 5.0) is NT 4 with minor kernel updates and modern DirectX support. (I think NT 4 was limited to DX4!) There are also some minor control panel and admin application updates.

      Windows XP is NT 5.0 with minor kernel updates and a new appearance manager. There are also some minor control panel and admin application updates.

      Interestingly, XP SP2 has a very significant update: out-of-the-box support for multiple simultaneous users, via the local console and/or remote desktop.
      • Re:Um, Yeah, but... (Score:3, Informative)

        by qodfathr ( 255387 )

        Interestingly, XP SP2 has a very significant update: out-of-the-box support for multiple simultaneous users, via the local console and/or remote desktop.

        I'd use mod points, but there is no "uninformative" choice.

        XP SP2 has no such feature! Granted, early betas of SP2 did have this feature, but it disappeared at least 6 month ago. This feature may live on in XP Media Center Edition 2004, as I hear it may be used to handle some multi-room a/v features, but it is certainly not a feature of XP Home SP2 or X

    • Re:Um, Yeah, but... (Score:4, Informative)

      by TAGmclaren ( 820485 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:05AM (#10620799)
      well, if you're talking about computer human interface (which we are, because this is about Jef Raskin), what you've said is not true. that's not what a review by Anand said when he reviewed his new PowerMac G5.

      p.3 [] and p. 4 [] are particularly pertinent:

      The fundamental difference between OS X and Windows is how applications and windows are handled. What OS X has going for it is uniformity between applications and windows; for example, the keyboard shortcut for the preferences dialog in any OS X application is Command and the "," key. So, regardless of what application you're in, the same keystroke combination will have the same expected effect - pretty useful.

      Check the whole article out. There are some things he's got wrong, but not surprising for anyone whose just switched to a totally new platform.
  • by stecoop ( 759508 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:38AM (#10620551) Journal
    The quest for CPU power has been largely defeated by bloated software in applications and operating systems. Some programs I wrote in Basic on an Apple II ran faster than when written in a modern language on a G4 Dual-processor Mac with hardware 1,000 times faster.

    That is quite odd of him to say. I just checked on seti@home [], climate prediction [] and predictor@home [] via boinc, I don't see any Apple IIs on top of any lists. Well maybe the distributed computings teams should hire Jef Raskin and his Amazing Basic programming abilities - right?

    I think sometimes, you wake up for an interview and haven't had coffee yet and say things that are not quite what you intended - it happens to me all the time ya know...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      and you missed his point. Jeff is talking about BLOATED software, not seti, and not CPU performance. Jeff is talking about a simple program that now takes much longer to open files because they are filled with all sorts of information the user does not care about, etc. What he is saying is that a similar program that used to run on his Apple II executed it's much simpler tasks faster than today's counterpart. For a guy who focuses on simplicity, it comes as no surprise that he doesn't feel he needs faster C
    • Yeah, I'm not buying it either. Certainly we all know where he's coming from - the boot up time on an old Apple II was faster than the boot up time on a modern Mac or PC. However, I cannot imagine how a useful program can be faster on an Apple II than any modern language on any modern hardware. I suspect he's taken the boot-up analogy and way over extended it.

      I remember having an old program that calculated bifurcation trees that used to take 24 hours to complete on my old Compucolor II (which as you all know, was made by that wildly successful company Intecolor). When we got an Apple II, I ported it over to Apple Basic (from Compucolor Basic, the graphic commands of which are horrifyingly delicious) and got about a 20-fold increase in speed. Now I only had to wait a couple hours. If I run that same program today on a modern computer (using a modern language and a modern compiler) it finishes too quickly to time without using a timing macro. (I haven't run it in 5 years or so, and even then it was too fast to accurately time - less than a couple seconds, as I recall.) Granted, I might be misremembering some details, and I might have improved the efficiency of the program myself. However, it was a fairly simple program, so I'm not sure how I could have written it that inefficiently.

    • by russellh ( 547685 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:01AM (#10620779) Homepage
      Remember hotjava? Sun's first introductino to java? we all made fun of it because hey, tic-tac-toe on expensive 1996 Sun hardware, at 1979 speeds. And it still looks like crap. Yet another new interface. What the hell have we done in the meantime? That's what Jef is talking about. Not scientific number crunching and transistor count.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:09AM (#10620842)
      Congratulations. You missed his point entirely. He's talking about the relative speed of operating systems, applications and processors, vs. the absolute growth in processor speed. It's quite obvious to any of us who've been around for a while, that, for example, this web-based text entry box is much slower than typing on a vic-20's console.
  • He sounds like me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HBI ( 604924 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:39AM (#10620560) Journal
    Old, cynical, unhappy with what the world has become, or more specifically the Macintosh.

    It makes me wonder how much of my negative view on computing is perception.

    • by bstarrfield ( 761726 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:55AM (#10620717)

      Jef Raskin has good reason to have been bitter about the way the Macintosh has turned out. His description of the Mac's history ( provides a good introduction.

      However, UI's have had to change as computing technologies have become more complicated. When the Mac was introduced, the Internet was still in its developmental stage; computer graphics were limited; and hardware devices were essentially permanently connected to the computer (no plug-and-play type technologies). The world changed, and the interface had to change with it.

      It would be great to follow Raskin's advice and reevaluate the Mac GUI - however, it's apparent that Apple is constantly trying to do this. The X GUI has had changes (remember the purple window-shade type button in the X beta's?), and will no doubt continue to change. Right now we're looking at a (I'd say) fairly succesfuly merger of Mac OS 9 and NeXT UIs. But things can always get better.

      I respect Raskin tremendously, but I would take his opinions with a grain of salt. His comments should be appreciated and considered, but I certainly don't believe that Apple has abandoned its quest for usability.

  • Is This Personal? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cyngus ( 753668 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:40AM (#10620579)
    People on other websites have pointed out that Jef may be a bit off the mark and is still taking things personally from back when he was on the original Macintosh design team. Reportedly he was against the mouse driven interface and other things we've grown quite used to. It seems to me that Jef is very much an interface purest, promoting the most highly efficient and cleanest interface possible. Unfortunately, this doesn't necessarily translate to the most user friendly experience. I've tried his humane computing environment and while I'm certain that my productivity would jump once I got into the proper thinking mode, I don't really have time to learn the mental model for proper interaction with it. At the end of the day his opinions on interface design tend to me far more academic and far less pragmatic. What he says may be *right*, but impractical for mainstream computing.
    • Re:Is This Personal? (Score:3, Informative)

      by lysander ( 31017 )

      Reportedly he was against the mouse driven interface and other things we've grown quite used to.

      If you take a look at The Humane Interface book, you'll see that this is wrong. He spends one section talking about how the Mac's application pulldowns at the very top of the screen are superior to pulldowns at the tops of each window.

      It seems to me that Jef is very much an interface purest, promoting the most highly efficient and cleanest interface possible. Unfortunately, this doesn't necessarily translat

      • by cyngus ( 753668 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:12AM (#10620870)
        Thank you for the correction. On the topic of menu systems I just have to rant a bit on Microsoft's new whiz-bang idea for menus...only displaying the most recently used menu items. This drives me insane and I pray it doesn't find its way into Office for Mac. It also breaks just about every UI rule of thumb you can find. Now menu items appear in variable positions in the screen. Additionally you don't see options that you haven't used recently which makes it harder for you to learn what options are available. You may not use Format Page very often, but seeing it there a hundred times on the way to Format Paragraph lets you know its available. While LRU elimination may work for some caching systems it should not be applied to program menus! In short ARGGGG.
      • "He doesn't believe in "intuitive" interfaces"

        Then I disagree with him 100%. I think creativity should be everywhere, even in UIs. Why would I want a system that I can't customize the way I want? I guess he wants computers to be more like appliances or something, but I like that fact that I can customize mine (hardware and software), and the fact that Firefox, Office, WMP, winamp, and Limewire all are a little different does not bother me a bit.

        Furthermore, the more interfaces you learn the easier i
  • by laird ( 2705 ) <lairdp@gmail.cMOSCOWom minus city> on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:42AM (#10620594) Journal
    That is a nice blade sharpener [].

    I think that he's right that MacOS X is too complex to be a simple appliance. But I think that general purpose computers are by definition complex, because they can be used for *anything*, and his vision holds more true for specialized devices. For example, the iPod is elegant and transparent to use.

    That being said, I'm sure that usability could always be improved. But I don't agree that there's not much difference between XP and MacOS X -- while they're similar at a very high level (mouse/windows/icons over multi-tasking OS, etc.), MacOS X is better in almost every detail. But it's best not to get into a religious war here. I can only guess that Jeff has such a radical vision for how computers could be that from his perspective XP and MacOS X aren't too different.

    Hmm, kinda like Nader! :-)
    • MacOS X is better in almost every detail

      and that's the kicker really. the devil is in the details. many user environments have made a desktop that resembles a mac, but no one has created an environment that has fixed all the minor details yet. whether by virtue of it's longer existance, or maybe just better designers and developers, apple's user environment is always one step ahead of most the others.
  • Jef Raskin has been at this for years. Every 18 months or so we see an interview with him in which he poo-poos the current Mac talking about how it diverged from its original tenets of usability. Well no shit, Apple has learned a lot since 1980. They're realizing that now is a time to experiment and change the interface even if it means chaos for a while.

    If he's so damn pissed that he got fired and the Mac UI is in the toilet, maybe he should go and work on some Open Sores desktop project and get it right
  • Apple today is NeXT (Score:5, Informative)

    by green pizza ( 159161 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:44AM (#10620613) Homepage
    When Apple bought NeXT (and Steve Jobs) in 1997, the joke was "NeXT was paid to take over Apple". Indeed, Apple today is just a consumer/prosumer version of NeXT.

    The original Macintosh and the original Macintosh OS had input from Raskin, but also from a whole score of designers working to make a GUI-based computer for "the rest of us". ( Over time, Apple added more and more features to Mac OS until it became the Mac OS 9 horrible mess.

    Mac OS X **IS NOT** the "Classic" Mac OS by any stretch of the imgination, the GUI and system design are 90% NeXT. Even most of the codebase is derrived from OpenStep 4.x. (And updated, obviously, also borrowing from newer versions of Mach and BSD). If you run across something about Mac OS X that seems un-mac-like or just plain weird (and isn't a true bug), it's probably an intentional NeXTism.

    Raskin didn't like the NeXT in 1988, there's no reason why he'd like Mac OS X in 2004.
    • Mac OS X **IS NOT** the "Classic" Mac OS by any stretch of the imgination, the GUI and system design are 90% NeXT. Even most of the codebase is derrived from OpenStep 4.x. (And updated, obviously, also borrowing from newer versions of Mach and BSD).

      While the general principle applies, I think you're somewhat underestimating the role classic Mac OS concepts play in Mac OS X (90%). At the highest levels, you have things like the menu bar at the top of the screen, Mac keyboard shortcuts, aliases, QuickTime,
  • I admire his work on the original Macintosh and recognize that he was instrumental in creating the modern GUI as we know it.

    However, by failing to recognize the changes in HCI introducted by the pervasive, multi-modal, non-linear interface known as the world wide web, along with the slow but steady increase in users' basic knowledge, his comments have become more and more out of touch with reality.

    It is worth noting as a postscript that his theory for a Humane Interface was strikingly similar to vi: interact with the computer by memorizing an array of keystroke commands.
    • Nah, vi is modal, Raskin hates that (THE is pseudo-modal). In addition, THE commands are English words, not (generally) esoteric control-sequences.

      I believe Raskin's approach also differs in that once the command pseudo-mode is entered, a list of available operations is presented, a feature I can't say vi would be worse off to implement. (I might be wrong about this, I don't have Classic installed right now to run THE and apparently he isn't offering it for download anymore...? [])

      I admit that I wish som
  • Not worth it. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jonathanduty ( 541508 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:46AM (#10620631) Homepage
    I can't believe we are giving this much press to a six question interview. It really sounds to me like he is more interested in expressing his grudge torwards the direction Apple has gone (much the same way /.ers do towards Microsoft posts).

    Apple is making money again selling their new products. They must be doing something the public wants.
  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:46AM (#10620632) Journal
    While I think Raskin has some good points, I think there's a far cry between the Mac & XP.

    Agreed, OS X has a usable shell.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:48AM (#10620654)
    With the success of OSX and XP, it really seems like people want a mess. So KDE and Gnome are doing the right thing ;-)
  • by allanc ( 25681 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:51AM (#10620673) Homepage
    Jef Raskin is always introduced as "one of the creators of the Macintosh" when in fact the only lasting contribution he made was the name. He wanted to make a machine that was basically a brain-damaged Apple II--something that would only be able to run the applications built into its ROM, couldn't be expanded, and basically limited the hell out of its own usefulness.

    He was strongly against giving it a GUI at all, that was Steve Jobs' influence.

    The closest widely-marketed computer to Jef Raskin's vision of How Computing Should Be was the Commodore Plus/4.

    • (Source, Insanely Great [] by Steven Levy)

    • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:22AM (#10620949) Homepage Journal
      The closest widely-marketed computer to Jef Raskin's vision of How Computing Should Be was the Commodore Plus/4.
      From what I've read, the closest would probably be those Royale PDAs. He was proposing a simple to use machine that run a small, fixed, set of applications.

      Where did you read he was against a GUI? He was against a mouse, but everything I've read has implied the interface would, nonetheless, be graphical:

      Jef did not want to incorporate [] what became the two most definitive aspects of Macintosh technology - the Motorola 68000 microprocessor and the mouse pointing device. Jef preferred the 6809, a cheaper but weaker processor which only had 16 bits of address space and would have been obsolete in just a year or two, since it couldn't address more than 64Kbytes. He was dead set against the mouse as well, preferring dedicated meta-keys called "leap keys" to do the pointing. He became increasingly alienated from the team, eventually leaving entirely in the summer of 1981, when we were still just getting started, and the final product utilitized very few of the ideas in the Book of Macintosh. In fact, if the name of the project had changed after Steve took over in January 1981, and it almost did (see Bicycle) , there wouldn't be much reason to correlate it with his ideas at all.
      Remember, at the time of development, mice were unheard of. A graphic user interface wouldn't have implied a mouse, and many people - presumably including Raskin himself - would have considered it a complication, an extra device that would have required user learning.
  • Die, mice, die! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nonmaskable ( 452595 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:51AM (#10620674)
    Um before anyone follows Jef's vision of the future of human-computing interfaces, you might want to consider that he was opposed to the use of a mouse on the Macintosh.

    If he hadn't been replaced by Jobs as the team lead, the Macintosh would have no mouse, using keyboard function keys instead.
  • by R.Caley ( 126968 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:53AM (#10620693)
    I wonder if he didn't actually say anything, or if the journalist/editor just cut out all the content.

    The result is pretty much nothing but `Jef Raskin is a grumpy old man'.

  • by overmeer ( 823768 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:06AM (#10620813)
    Jeff Raskin, Inventor of the click-and-brag interface.
  • NPR interview (Score:4, Informative)

    by cmodcmodcmod ( 689729 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:07AM (#10620826)
    This NPR interview (audio) is much more interesting / in-depth: Id=1606665 []
  • Not buying it. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by macthulhu ( 603399 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:09AM (#10620845)
    I'm too lazy to go digging for it, but I thought there was a longer version of this article floating around last week... In it, he mentions that he's currently working on a better interface. So, are we going to ignore the fact that he's getting a head start on trashing the product he's about to compete with?

    As to the interfaces that we're trapped in... I use OSX, OS9, NT, and XP pretty much every day. I'm the kind of Mac user that will break a bottle on the bar and cut you for trashing my preferred OS. Even so, I will say that I am perfectly functional in Windows, and don't mind using it. I prefer OSX. I have fewer problems with it and I find it to be organized in a way that works better for me.

    They are similar enough now, that if a Windows user sits down at a Mac, and their IQ is above room temperature, they should be able to navigate it just fine. Same goes for Mac users sitting down at an XP box.

    What I don't get, is how the UI is supposedly so oppressive... The desktop metaphor was a good one because it related to real-world environments that we were familiar with... files go in folders, things go on your desktop... pretty simple. Behind the scenes, there are improvements that could be made, like using metadata to help you relate files to one another, etc. Other than things like that, I'm just not seeing how there needs to be such a huge revolutionary change in user interfaces. Maybe I lack 'vision', but I just don't see what the big hassle is. If the work you're doing is held up by the fact that you have to open two folders to get at it, maybe you're in the wrong line of work.

    As to the never ending 1 button vs. 2 button debate... give it a rest. Macs can use just as many buttons on their mice as Windows. If you need more buttons, as many of us do, GO BUY A 3RD PARTY MOUSE. It just isn't an issue anymore.

  • HyperCard (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ahg ( 134088 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:12AM (#10620872)
    "[Bill Atkinson's] Hypercard did not have the properties to make its use unconscious. It was wonderful in many ways, however, and it would have been wise to keep it working on Apple's newer systems."

    HyperCard was wonderful. I did a lot of programming in HyperCard, embedded sounds and movies, and controlled an externel Laser Video Disc (the 12" variety) with XCMD "plugins".

    However, the basic functions of HyperCard can be simulated with web technologies and are available to any platform, not just a HyperCard playing Mac. In a Net connected World (and most Macs users have Internet access) the old HyperCard stacks lose their appeal. This probably was a large factor in Apple's decision to give up HyperCard.

    There are still two downsides to HyperCard's demise. (1) You can't distribute Apache/Mysql/PHP environment on a floppy/CD/thumb drive and just have a user double click on your creation, without an internet connection, and run your "stack"/Application. (2) The ease of development and debugging offered by HyperCard is till unparalled by any app/web development environment today, IMHO.

  • Notoriously whiny (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MacGod ( 320762 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:30AM (#10621027)

    Jef Raskin, who is often mis-labelled as "The Father of the Macintosh" (despite the fact that he left the Mac team three years before the Mac's unveiling) has been a notorious critic of Apple. He bashes the leadership, the GUI, and the hardware. The more he does this, the harder it gets to construe it as anything other than sour grapes. Especially since his only real attempt at designing "his" computer interface was the complete flop of the Canon Cat []

    Note to Jef: if your design is so awesome, make it happen! If it's that much better, I'm sure you'll get more than enough sales to rake in the bucks! I know that I, for one, would love to see what it is you consider to be the ideal interface!

  • by d0n quix0te ( 304783 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:33AM (#10621072)
    Design a Canon Cat. Jef's time to make an impact with his interface ideas came and went. His idea for the original Mac was implemented whole sale with the Canon Cat. It had everything Jef wanted including his stupid "LEAP" keys and an invisible interface.

    The result an utter failure, Canon dropped the product in 6 months. Jef claimed that he did not get the support he wanted and had to make compromises on his vision. Bullshit, this man had his time to impress us with his interface expertise and product design skills. It was an utter failure.

    Remember, Jef was a professor by training... his ideas are at best academic. If Jef had his way, the Mac would have been a glorified typewriter. It took the the genius of Bill Atkinson, Bruce Horn, Steve Jobs among many others to give us the Macintosh. These guys are the true fathers of the Mac.

    Jef has a case of sour grapes, being kicked out of the Mac team by Steve Jobs, and then having his beloved Cat being canned by Canon at Steve's insistence. Jobs, insisted the Canon drop the Cat, if they were to invest in NeXT. Canon invested close to $100M in NeXT!

    What we are left with is an academic who time has passed by.
  • by Mac Degger ( 576336 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:44AM (#10621208) Journal
    "Jeff Raskin, ... and /inventor of the click-and-drag interface/"

    If anyone can be credited with that invention, it would have to be Vannevar Bush with his prescient thoughts on the memex (ie pc). And if not him, then the guys at Xerox-Parc most definitely preceed this Raskin guy.
  • by falcon5768 ( 629591 ) <> on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:47AM (#10621262) Journal
    He is not the father, or one of the co-creators or anything... he left the project in 1981, before they even had begun major development BECAUSE his view of the Macintosh wasnt the rest of the teams view.

    Likewise if HIS view of the macintosh had made it, it would be on our kitchen table, not run any of the mahor programs it does, not have a mouse, and in all honest probably not even exist today.

  • by sjonke ( 457707 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:49AM (#10621277) Journal
    OS X is great, but it certainly isn't perfect. For one thing it is still (and was in OS <=9, so no joy for Jeff) difficult to tell when an application is running and which application is top most. The user may be looking at some window but it may not be a window of the currently topmost application and so the behavior is not what they expect. It all started way back when with the advent of "Multifinder". Oh to wish for the good ol' days of one-app-at-a-time Single Finder.... ;)

    I can't count the number of times I have had to explain, for example, that first you have to click in the AppleWorks document window and then the so-and-so menu will appear, because they had closed the last window in some other application and they are looking at an AppleWorks document, but AppleWorks is not the top application. The slightly grayed out title bar isn't much of a hint. Maybe background applications' entire windows should be grayed out/dimmed and more so (the content not just the title bar) to distinguish them from the frontmost app. Or translucent, although I find translucency to be wildly busy looking so I prefer the idea of graying out the entire window.
  • *snore* (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HarveyBirdman ( 627248 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @12:08PM (#10621494) Journal
    Q: And the iMac G5? Was the original iMac a step on the correct path?

    A: The unfoldable portable-shaped box on a stalk? It is a practical and space-saving design. But the interface needs fixing.

    Well, it's been 23 years since you left Apple, Jeff. Where's *your* fix?

    One only cares about getting something done.

    And a simple to use, no muss, no fuss, all in one computer fails on that front... how, exactly?

    Apple has forgotten this key concept. The beautiful packaging is ho-hum and insignificant in the long run.

    Insignificant to Jeff Raskin, that is.

    You know, there's a reason people hide their gray boxen PCs under their desks, and a reason there exists an aftermarket case mod industry.

  • by csoto ( 220540 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @12:08PM (#10621496)
    Never mind that there is much to love about OSX's framework architecture and underlying modularity. Raskin, as anyone else, has strong opinions about user interfaces. I have my own. I don't love everything about the OSX interfaces, but I've owned Macs since the 80s and could say the same about any version of the Mac OS.

    The real test of an interface is its adoption in the public. This being said, OSX is a hit.
  • by mcdtracy ( 180768 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @12:20PM (#10621606)
    In the good old days, we booted from system disks and we couldn't even copy them... and we LIKED it."

    The world changes and raskin won't... Jobs gets it.
    Out perform the competition and delight the user.

    Raskin hasn't made a contribution in over 20 years.

    Rage on old fart... It was better before... sure.
    A friggin' free cellphone has better software than those "good ol days".

  • My Litmus Test... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by feloneous cat ( 564318 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @01:30PM (#10622329)
    When my wife doesn't yell in this long, loud, and rather strangulated way (one cannot adequately do it justice), then I know that the human interface works.

    She is not a programmer. She is a user. Worse a user who sez "why can't it just do this". She is brilliant in that her view has nothing to do with programming and everything to do with human interface.

    She is quite happy with her Mac. Oh, sure, there are things she would prefer to be different (and she NEVER touches the command line interface). But, for the most part, she is happy.

    She uses Peecees at works and find them utterly baffling (not that she doesn't use them, but finds them to be an affront to the user).

    Raskin may find XP to be the same as OS 10. Fine, he is entitled to his opinion. But real users know the difference.
  • by DulcetTone ( 601692 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @02:05PM (#10622708) Homepage
    MacOS was ugly and poorly organized before OS X, what with extensions and many tack-on technologies on an OS built for yesterday. In 1984, it really could not do much (as I recall my original 128K Mac... though my use was soon marred by a bad motherboard as soon as the warranty expired), and it sure did it simply. Flexibility is what makes a computer useful to the clever person, but it always comes with a concomitant need for the users to understand how to express their desires to the machine. Making the computer just "do what I mean" is nice, and can take your surprisingly far, but it overlooks that "the right thing" is often ambiguous to those designers who are not constraining the users from "thinking different'. I use XP and OS X in even doses these days, and find that both platforms have come a long way in the past several years. But most of the things I wish were done better on the Mac are longstanding deficiencies.... not new ones. To put the short list together, I'd cite these usability blunders: 1. The flower or cloverleaf key. It has an Apple on it too. Why don't they LOSE the cloverleaf, so people can clearly and succinctly name it in verbal dialog without having to EXPLAIN which key they mean? It might also help to toss even the Apple and just call this what it is: the command key (of course, that word would have to be painted on it). 2. Similarly... the control key. The iconic label for indicating its use in shortcuts is some weird diagonalized hatch which does not appear on the key itself and is used nowhere else in the world. What rocket scientist thought up THAT one, and decided that this was the right choice for 'the rest of us'? That icon should be what is printed on the damn key, too: 'ctrl'. Failing that, at least go to ^ !! And, sadly, one must wonder who at Apple thinks the users can't understand a second mousebutton after all these years. It must be by extrapolation that they withold scroll wheels. Before you ask, YES I have a mouse I use that has these, but why is the basics of simple computing kept from the basic experience Apple presents to the user? tone
  • Well DUH! (Score:3, Funny)

    by kuzb ( 724081 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @11:54PM (#10628278)
    I think there's a far cry between the Mac & XP.

    especially since one is an operating system and one isn't.

I owe the public nothing. -- J.P. Morgan