PC to Mac port

30 May 2006 - 4:08pm
8 years ago
4 replies
906 reads
Cynthia Toryu
2005

Hello,

We are planning to port our PC-based application to the Mac. The target audience includes SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) users as well as corporate Mac users.

If you’re a Mac user, I’d appreciate hearing rants and raves about software you’ve used that was originally written for the PC. What worked well? What drove you crazy?

Thanks,
Cynthia

Comments

31 May 2006 - 8:08am
ldebett
2004

Hi Cynthia,

I have worked with a few applications in the past that fall into this
category, and I think the things that bothered me most were little things
that just showed an inattention to detail on the part of the developers. The
Apple OS has some specific GUI conventions and interaction styles and often
the developers ignored those to save time and use the ones from the PC
version. These things include the grey square buttons, PC fonts, window
styles, how many "are you really sure you want to do this?" popups, etc.
It's one of those things where as soon as you launch the app, you can tell
immediately that it was ported over from the PC.

This can be unsettling because it truly sets the expectation - for me - that
there will be trouble ahead. I immediately expect it to crash or be
unstable. I expect random things to break, to get the "pinwheel of death"
and to spend lots of time troubleshooting it; that is, if I continue to use
it. If it looks like it is a Mac app built from the ground up instead of one
ported over from the PC, I feel more confident about its stability and more
likely to continue to use it.

I hope that's helpful to you.

Cheers,
Lisa

If you're a Mac user, I'd appreciate hearing rants and raves about software
> you've used that was originally written for the PC. What worked well? What
> drove you crazy?
>
> Thanks,
> Cynthia

31 May 2006 - 8:33am
Jack L. Moffett
2005

Printed user guides. When I see a user guide that has Windows OS
screenshots and refers to the "alt" key or right mouse button without
a keyboard equivalent, it's a clear indication that the application
is a port, and that the developer didn't care enough to spend the
time/money to do it right.

The other big thing is integration with Apple software. If you take a
look at the best software developed specifically for OS X, Delicious
Library (http://www.delicious-monster.com/) for example, it takes
advantage of the other software that is on the Mac (e.g. Address
Book, iCal, Spotlight, etc.). Ports are much less likely to do this,
as it is additional functionality. Of course, the opposite case is
that many ports are delivered without certain functionality that the
Windows version has (and without a reduction in price).

Jack

On May 30, 2006, at 5:08 PM, ctoryu at comcast.net wrote:

> If you’re a Mac user, I’d appreciate hearing rants and raves about
> software you’ve used that was originally written for the PC. What
> worked well? What drove you crazy?

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.690.2360 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

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31 May 2006 - 8:59am
John Gr√łtting
2006

Hi Cynthia,

There are some points that I would mention that go to some of the
conventions of the Mac OS that have sometimes been poorly translated
in earlier applications.

Floating palettes
From Windows95 there is a legacy of applications that have all
palettes within the window of the main application. So that, for
example, a tool palette when it touched the border of the application
windows would be cropped. This is in contrast to a Macintosh
application, where there isn't a container window for all windows in
an application. This concept is taken further, when you notice that
usually only a key window is visible from non-active applications.
The key window is often the "workspace" window and not any of the
tool palettes.

Tabs
Windows is known for windows with tabs (and tabs within rows of
tabs). Macintosh users are used to applications that have no more
than one level of navigation within their dialogs. There are
exceptions, but they should be avoided.

Direct manipulation
The concept of direct manipulation is very Mac. Look for
opportunities to further this notion. Make objects scalable, by
direct selection and dragging of manipulators.

Simple language
Dialogs and alerts need to avoid any cryptic technical terms. Make
sure that all text is easily understood by the typical user of your
application. Avoid any reference to computer terms and secret codes.
If there is an error, be polite, explain the errors in layman's terms
and suggest alternatives. For example, if a document is too large for
the printable area of the paper selected, don't talk about overrun
errors, but do suggest that they either adjust the document size or
select another paper size to print on.

Copy/past, drag & drop, etc.
Mac users expect that all applications will work seamlessly with each
other without some odd data translations. If someone wants to paste
text or images into your application from another one, then they
should be able to copy in that other application and directly paste
into yours. The same goes for drag & drop. If, for example, an image
can be added by dragging the image into your application window from
the desktop or from a web browser, then they will be quite happy.

John Grøtting

Grøtting + Sauter
Barnerstr. 14B
22765 Hamburg
Germany

Tel +49.40.398.34342
SkypeIn +1.818.574.8440
Fax +49.40.398.34340
Mobile +49.172.4246.976
www.g-s.de
g at g-s.de

>
> If you're a Mac user, I'd appreciate hearing rants and raves about
> software
>> you've used that was originally written for the PC. What worked
>> well? What
>> drove you crazy?
>>
>> Thanks,
>> Cynthia
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31 May 2006 - 10:52am
peter sikking
2006

<my first post here, btw>

Cynthia,

I assume you are the interaction architect on this project.

> We are planning to port our PC-based application to the Mac. The
> target audience includes SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) users as
> well as corporate Mac users.

Apart from the fundamental differences in look + feel that have
already been pointed out, there is also the fact that the mac is
(again) years ahead in UI design innovation compared to windows.

You will have to do that catching-up. Start working on a mac,
full-time. Study the iLife and iWork apps, and their integration.
After a month or two you will be able to go through a load of
screenshots at macUpdate and spot each windows port in half
a second flat. And know why they turn off every mac user
within that same time-span.

By then you will know exactly what makes an mac application,
and that all of the assumptions made for the windows app need
to be reconsidered.

Actually 'port' may be a a bit optimistic. It will take a
fresh new team of OS-X/objective-C/cacao developers to
write the the code from scratch the macintosh way. It
is your chance to make sure that the resulting fresh new
UI is also the macintosh way.

If you want examples: the adobe apps look old and tired on
the mac, simply because they are stuck in the past being
windows ports.

Good luck,

--ps

principal user interaction architect
man + machine interface works
functional interaction solutions
http://www.mmiworks.net

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