Menu bar on Macintoshes.

30 Jun 2004 - 5:49pm
9 years ago
45 replies
1130 reads
Marcin Wichary
2004

Since 1983 Apple has kept its menu bar stuck to the top of the
screen, as opposed to the top of the window like (almost) everyone else.
There are some pros and cons of this solution, but so far I believed the
former are in majority (Tog explained it more lively than I ever will in
his 1999's column "A Quiz Designed to Give You Fitts" [1])

However, this week Apple unveiled a new set of LCD displays, among them
a big 30" monster. And just a glimpse at this otherwise nicely looking
display [2] is enough to notice the tiny white menu bar almost invisible
at the top of the screen.

Since the huge display has the same density as the smaller displays currently
on market (100 ppi), and Mac OS does only support one size of interface
controls, I assume that the 30" display should be put in the same distance
from the user than the smaller models.

I can then imagine that the top menu will sometimes be a really long
distance away from user's current perception space. Won't that be a problem?
Am I missing something here? Will Top O' The Screen Menu become Apple's
another dreaded legacy similar to One Button Mouse?

[1] www.asktog.com/columns/022DesignedToGiveFitts.html
[2] www.apple.com/displays

Marcin Wichary
e:\> mwichary at aci.com.pl
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/GUIdebook >> Graphical User Interface gallery
w:\> www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring
w:\> www.usability.pl >> Usability.pl

Comments

30 Jun 2004 - 5:59pm
Chris Ryan
2004

On Jun 30, 2004, at 3:49 PM, Marcin Wichary wrote:

> Since 1983 Apple has kept its menu bar stuck to the top of the
> screen, as opposed to the top of the window like (almost) everyone
> else.
> There are some pros and cons of this solution, but so far I believed
> the
> former are in majority (Tog explained it more lively than I ever will
> in
> his 1999's column "A Quiz Designed to Give You Fitts" [1])
>
> However, this week Apple unveiled a new set of LCD displays, among them
> a big 30" monster. And just a glimpse at this otherwise nicely looking
> display [2] is enough to notice the tiny white menu bar almost
> invisible
> at the top of the screen.
>
> Since the huge display has the same density as the smaller displays
> currently
> on market (100 ppi), and Mac OS does only support one size of interface
> controls, I assume that the 30" display should be put in the same
> distance
> from the user than the smaller models.
>
> I can then imagine that the top menu will sometimes be a really long
> distance away from user's current perception space. Won't that be a
> problem?
> Am I missing something here? Will Top O' The Screen Menu become Apple's
> another dreaded legacy similar to One Button Mouse?

I have an informal theory about the mouse issue. I'm a long time Mac
(and before that, Apple II) user. Whenever I've tried to use a
two-button mouse, I've quite quickly developed RSI-like symptoms. I
find that my hand is much more stressed when holding my fingers in
position to click second (or third, when used a SPARCstation while at
Sun) mouse button.

At any rate, I wouldn't call a one-button mouse a "dreaded legacy." If
you want a two-button mouse, just buy one. I can work circles around
the Windows users I know, even "hobbled" with my one-button mouse.

With respect to the 30-inch screen, I think the biggest issue is that
all the controls will be smaller targets, unless Apple introduces
larger widget sizes. This would apply equally to a menu bar displayed
within a window. However, the top-of-the-screen menu bar is still, as
Tog pointed out, an "infinitely large" target. Better mouse
acceleration may be required in order to move around to any target on
such a screen.

Chris
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30 Jun 2004 - 6:15pm
Marcin Wichary
2004

: At any rate, I wouldn't call a one-button mouse a "dreaded
: legacy." If you want a two-button mouse, just buy one. I can
: work circles around the Windows users I know, even "hobbled"
: with my one-button mouse.

That comment was obviously tongue-in-cheek, even though I can't
help but dream of a two-button mouse (with a wheel?), but
manufactured by Apple. Part of why I like Macs is their design
and I don't want to spoil it by using another vendor's mouse.

(Funnily enough, Apple has patented a mouse with an iPod-like
rotary element on top of it, and probably also other solutions,
but we have yet to see them put to use.)

Also, this is getting slightly off-topic, but I still can't
understand why can't be given a choice? (one-button vs. two-button
mouse)

: With respect to the 30-inch screen, I think the biggest issue
: is that all the controls will be smaller targets, unless
: Apple introduces larger widget sizes. This would apply
: equally to a menu bar displayed within a window. However, the
: top-of-the-screen menu bar is still, as Tog pointed out, an
: "infinitely large" target. Better mouse acceleration may be
: required in order to move around to any target on such a screen.

Compared to the now-standard 15" displays, if the pixel density is
the same, and the distance from the user is the same, I would guess
that the mouse speed would have to be halved in each direction [1], in
order for the total experience to remain identical...

...except for having 4x as much screen space. The top menu might
then be not only far away in terms of the screen distance, but also
physical distance. I don't know if "infinitely large" target would
be much of a help if you would have to a) roll your mouse three times
on your pad to get to it, b) move your head and the eyes to the opposite
corner of the huge screen in front of you.

[1] Microsoft had a paper at CHI 2004 about "mouse ether," which touches
these topics... regretfully, I haven't yet read it.

Marcin Wichary
e:\> mwichary at aci.com.pl
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/GUIdebook >> Graphical User Interface gallery
w:\> www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring
w:\> www.usability.pl >> Usability.pl

30 Jun 2004 - 6:23pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jun 30, 2004, at 3:59 PM, Chris Ryan wrote:

> At any rate, I wouldn't call a one-button mouse a "dreaded legacy." If
> you want a two-button mouse, just buy one. I can work circles around
> the Windows users I know, even "hobbled" with my one-button mouse.

Honestly? I doubt that. Sorry.. I just don't believe you. No advanced
user I know or have seen work a program can work with a single button
mouse for anything. Not to mention that using a CAD, 3D or Video
program with a single button mouse is next to impossible.

> With respect to the 30-inch screen, I think the biggest issue is that
> all the controls will be smaller targets, unless Apple introduces
> larger widget sizes. This would apply equally to a menu bar displayed
> within a window. However, the top-of-the-screen menu bar is still, as
> Tog pointed out, an "infinitely large" target. Better mouse
> acceleration may be required in order to move around to any target on
> such a screen.

I think we'll all start to discover that as real screen resolution --
of which the 30" display is only the beginning -- starts to become a
reality, the general principles in ID that we've all come to expect to
hold as "truth," like Fitts Law, will not be so truthful or as
important as we have been taught. To me... I think of it in the same
way as asking myself what would Jefferson have done had he been able to
predict the result of his work on the constitution would result in
rampant capitalism running amok and funneling obscene amounts of cash
into the political system to control power? I'd like to think Jefferson
would have thought through the exercise more to try and stop it.

I think the importance of Fitts Law in interface design is ready to be
re-evaluarted in light of things like the 30" monitor. Further, as a
user, I don't want significantly larger widgets to compensate for
getting a bigger screen. I want maybe *slightly* large widgets, but the
point of getting that big screen is so I can have more space, not so I
can have the same space with bigger widgets.

The 30" might prove without a doubt that the single menu bar across the
top of the screen, even with "better mouse acceleration," really makes
using a Mac a pain for certain tasks when compared to the menu on each
window model of Windows and UNIX variants. (As if the accidental
clicking and switching apps wasn't enough all these years.) Fitts Law
might not be what its all cracked up to be as the technology advances.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

30 Jun 2004 - 6:24pm
Chris Ryan
2004

On Jun 30, 2004, at 4:15 PM, Marcin Wichary wrote:

> Also, this is getting slightly off-topic, but I still can't
> understand why can't be given a choice? (one-button vs. two-button
> mouse)

Many people seem to think it's simply because Steve Jobs has decided
against.

> Compared to the now-standard 15" displays, if the pixel density is
> the same, and the distance from the user is the same, I would guess
> that the mouse speed would have to be halved in each direction [1], in
> order for the total experience to remain identical...

Maybe. Or might acceleration be increased, so that the result of finer
movements remained the same, but quicker movements leaped further?

> ...except for having 4x as much screen space. The top menu might
> then be not only far away in terms of the screen distance, but also
> physical distance. I don't know if "infinitely large" target would
> be much of a help if you would have to a) roll your mouse three times
> on your pad to get to it, b) move your head and the eyes to the
> opposite
> corner of the huge screen in front of you.

I just did a quick test and Dock to menu bar on my 1600x1200 display
takes about 3cm of mouse movement. The 30-inch screen offers a maximum
resolution of 1600 pixels vertically, which, given that by the end of
my 3cm "stroke" the mouse is moving at maximum speed (hitting the
"infinite target"), might require a centimetre or so more, I'd guess. I
still don't have to pick up the mouse.

Head movement is another issue!

Chris

30 Jun 2004 - 6:35pm
Dave Collins
2004

: ... However, the
: top-of-the-screen menu bar is still, as Tog pointed out, an
: "infinitely large" target. Better mouse acceleration may be
: required in order to move around to any target on such a screen.

While the top-o-screen may be an inifinitely large target to hit, it
does not mean that *getting back* from that infinitely large target is
just as easy. You'll have a huge screen area to cross to return to your
original "only-normal-sized" target.

Also, mice are only one type of pointing hardware. Other types such as
pens, touchpads and joysticks (joynubs?) can have very different ways of
dealing with large cursor movements (imagine: you stroke your touchpad
so much, you expect it to purr :) ).

Personally, I think local menu items are going to be way more usable as
screens expand.

Dave

30 Jun 2004 - 6:37pm
Chris Ryan
2004

On Jun 30, 2004, at 4:23 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

>> At any rate, I wouldn't call a one-button mouse a "dreaded legacy."
>> If you want a two-button mouse, just buy one. I can work circles
>> around the Windows users I know, even "hobbled" with my one-button
>> mouse.
>
> Honestly? I doubt that. Sorry.. I just don't believe you. No advanced
> user I know or have seen work a program can work with a single button
> mouse for anything. Not to mention that using a CAD, 3D or Video
> program with a single button mouse is next to impossible.

Sure, maybe for more advanced apps. Most of the Windows users around me
just use Word. I should have been more precise: using the keyboard and
mouse I easily outperform the average Windows users around me who
depend on the (two-button) mouse for most of their selections and
actions.

I still wonder whether anyone has done a study of RSI on one- versus
multi-button mice.

Incidentally, one of the apps I use at home, Logic Pro [1], has menu
bars in the windows as well as the global Mac menu bar. It's the only
such app I use and the menus drive me nuts.

> I think we'll all start to discover that as real screen resolution --
> of which the 30" display is only the beginning -- starts to become a
> reality, the general principles in ID that we've all come to expect to
> hold as "truth," like Fitts Law, will not be so truthful or as
> important as we have been taught. To me... I think of it in the same
> way as asking myself what would Jefferson have done had he been able
> to predict the result of his work on the constitution would result in
> rampant capitalism running amok and funneling obscene amounts of cash
> into the political system to control power? I'd like to think
> Jefferson would have thought through the exercise more to try and stop
> it.

I'm not American so not as familiar with the U.S. constitution, but I
assume that one can (mis)interpret or ignore any such document to suit
one's aims. I'd think Fitts Law will be as truthful, if not as
important. I do think that OS vendors will have to at least offer the
ability for users to choose the size of user interface controls,
especially as display resolutions diverge, as opposed to simply
uniformly increase.

> I think the importance of Fitts Law in interface design is ready to be
> re-evaluarted in light of things like the 30" monitor. Further, as a
> user, I don't want significantly larger widgets to compensate for
> getting a bigger screen. I want maybe *slightly* large widgets, but
> the point of getting that big screen is so I can have more space, not
> so I can have the same space with bigger widgets.

I think OS X works exactly this way. The widgets are too big at
1024x768, but seem "just right" on my 1280x854 PowerBook and 1600x1200
desktop display. 2560x1600? Not sure yet!

Also, making the widgets slightly bigger at larger resolutions doesn't
nearly negate increases in resolution. If vertical resolution goes from
768 to 1600, even if the menu bar doubles in size from 22 to 44 pixels
I still have (1556 - 746 = ) 810 more pixels.

> The 30" might prove without a doubt that the single menu bar across
> the top of the screen, even with "better mouse acceleration," really
> makes using a Mac a pain for certain tasks when compared to the menu
> on each window model of Windows and UNIX variants. (As if the
> accidental clicking and switching apps wasn't enough all these years.)
> Fitts Law might not be what its all cracked up to be as the technology
> advances.

There are also contextual menus; I tend to use them at least as much as
the main menu bar.

"Accidental clicking and switching apps"?

Chris

[1] http://www.apple.com/logic/
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30 Jun 2004 - 7:11pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I'm not a big mac user, but when I've had used them the top menus have been
my nemisis.
The reason (besides discomfort) is that the context is never that clear to
me and this to me seems to be a problem no matter my window size. What I
like about menu/toobars being part of the application I am running as
opposed to part of the OS level is that I always know where am I and what
I'm doing.

As for the 1-3 button mouse issue. I LOVE 2 buttons, and am an avid context
menu user, so I'm using both fingers quite a bit (actually my mouse has more
buttons and I use those too; ie. back and forward buttons for navigating ...
why did MS take away the page-down/up options?) ... My hands don't hurt at
all. ;)

-- dave
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30 Jun 2004 - 7:20pm
Chris Ryan
2004

On Jun 30, 2004, at 5:11 PM, David Heller wrote:

> I'm not a big mac user, but when I've had used them the top menus have
> been my nemisis.
> The reason (besides discomfort) is that the context is never that
> clear to me and this to me seems to be a problem no matter my window
> size. What I like about menu/toobars being part of the application I
> am running as opposed to part of the OS level is that I always know
> where am I and what I'm doing.

This is exactly one of the reasons I don't like Windows. This OS seems
to be a one-app-at-a-time environment, at least by default, as the
windows always want to take over the entire screen. Sure, it's clear
which app I'm in, but I typically can't see anything else. So what
difference does it make whether the menu bar is at the very top of the
screen or below the menu bar? Maybe this isn't the case on larger
screens? Or is it a setting?

> As for the 1-3 button mouse issue. I LOVE 2 buttons, and am an avid
> context menu user, so I'm using both fingers quite a bit

I'm an avid contextual menu user as well, with a one-button mouse.

Chris
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30 Jun 2004 - 7:29pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jun 30, 2004, at 5:20 PM, Chris Ryan wrote:

> This is exactly one of the reasons I don't like Windows. This OS seems
> to be a one-app-at-a-time environment, at least by default, as the
> windows always want to take over the entire screen. Sure, it's clear
> which app I'm in, but I typically can't see anything else.

Hunh? This is entirely user dependent. Some users prefer to work with
windows always maximized (which achieves this singular app effect), but
just as many don't, using windows all over the place.

> So what difference does it make whether the menu bar is at the very
> top of the screen or below the menu bar? Maybe this isn't the case on
> larger screens? Or is it a setting?

The behavior I was referring, long known to anyone has been involved
with interface or interaction design over the past fifteen years, is
the fact that on the Mac, users accidentally click the desktop or other
application window, effectively switching the app that has focus and
changing the menu bar.

This has been a well documented and long time usability problem on the
Mac. It's also been the basis for many a religious war over things like
if the Mac menu system is better versus Windows, since Mac OS follows a
portion of Fitts Law, accidental app switching be damned. Outside of
that, I think the larger screens will make it harder to justify the use
of a single menu bar across the top for a whole hosts of reasons that
are beginning to be touched upon here. (Like moving back to target,
head movement, etc.)

> I'm an avid contextual menu user as well, with a one-button mouse.

Which requires two hands. A two button mouse requires one, which frees
up the second hand to do other things while executing certain mousing
functions. Which is why I was skeptical of your speed claim versus two
button users.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

30 Jun 2004 - 7:31pm
Dave Malouf
2005

huh?

I right now have 4 applications open and I still see the clouds on my
desktop.
I see my docked buddy list, got my browser visible lookin' for movie times
and writing this e-mail and the inbox of my outlook all open.

Whether it is maxed or not is totally up to me.

But, lets not get into a war ... your point I was just pointing out is
inaccurate. Windows does no such thing as you describe below.

I think though that my point still stands. It is always clear that the menu
I'm looking at is connected to the application that is connected to. Context
is maintained. Mac's do not do this well at all.

I.e. I can have a window open, click on my desktop so I'm in the "finder"
(The idea that the desktop has a menu I always found confusing too), so the
menu I'm looking at and the application I'm looking at have nothing in
common. THEN you have a different menu for the dock ... oy!

My OS shouldn't have menus, just applications then run in windows, IMHO. It
is a lot more focused.

-- dave

_____

From: Chris Ryan [mailto:chris.ryan at telus.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 30, 2004 8:20 PM
To: 'Interaction Designers'
Cc: David Heller
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Menu bar on Macintoshes.

On Jun 30, 2004, at 5:11 PM, David Heller wrote:

I'm not a big mac user, but when I've had used them the top menus have been
my nemisis.

The reason (besides discomfort) is that the context is never that clear to
me and this to me seems to be a problem no matter my window size. What I
like about menu/toobars being part of the application I am running as
opposed to part of the OS level is that I always know where am I and what
I'm doing.

This is exactly one of the reasons I don't like Windows. This OS seems to be
a one-app-at-a-time environment, at least by default, as the windows always
want to take over the entire screen. Sure, it's clear which app I'm in, but
I typically can't see anything else. So what difference does it make whether
the menu bar is at the very top of the screen or below the menu bar? Maybe
this isn't the case on larger screens? Or is it a setting?

As for the 1-3 button mouse issue. I LOVE 2 buttons, and am an avid context
menu user, so I'm using both fingers quite a bit

I'm an avid contextual menu user as well, with a one-button mouse.

Chris

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30 Jun 2004 - 7:39pm
Chris Ryan
2004

On Jun 30, 2004, at 5:29 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> The behavior I was referring, long known to anyone has been involved
> with interface or interaction design over the past fifteen years, is
> the fact that on the Mac, users accidentally click the desktop or
> other application window, effectively switching the app that has focus
> and changing the menu bar.

Why attack like this? I've been involved with interaction design for
fifteen years, and a Mac user for longer than that. Isn't this list
about learning from each other?

> Which requires two hands. A two button mouse requires one, which frees
> up the second hand to do other things while executing certain mousing
> functions. Which is why I was skeptical of your speed claim versus two
> button users.

I'm curious: what do you typically do, or what is possible, with one
hand on the keyboard while right-mouse-clicking with the other? Maybe
on some Windows apps there are additional keyboard modifiers for right
clicks? How are these modified for left-handed versus right-handed
users?

Chris

30 Jun 2004 - 7:46pm
Chris Ryan
2004

On Jun 30, 2004, at 5:31 PM, David Heller wrote:

> huh?
>  
> I right now have 4 applications open and I still see the clouds on my
> desktop.
> I see my docked buddy list, got my browser visible lookin' for movie
> times and writing this e-mail and the inbox of my outlook all open.
>  
> Whether it is maxed or not is totally up to me.
>  
> But, lets not get into a war ... your point I was just pointing out is
> inaccurate. Windows does no such thing as you describe below.

Is it a default behaviour? Or do you think it is it something that
novice Windows users (or those with smaller screens) tend to choose?
One of the problems I often see in usability tests is when Web page
links open new browser windows--on Windows with maximized windows, it's
very difficult to notice that a new window has been opened (as opposed
to tiling).

> I think though that my point still stands. It is always clear that the
> menu I'm looking at is connected to the application that is connected
> to. Context is maintained. Mac's do not do this well at all.
>  
> I.e. I can have a window open, click on my desktop so I'm in the
> "finder" (The idea that the desktop has a menu I always found
> confusing too), so the menu I'm looking at and the application I'm
> looking at have nothing in common. THEN you have a different menu for
> the dock ... oy!

No, there's no menu for the Dock.

Chris
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30 Jun 2004 - 7:58pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jun 30, 2004, at 5:46 PM, Chris Ryan wrote:

>> I right now have 4 applications open and I still see the clouds on my
>> desktop.
>> I see my docked buddy list, got my browser visible lookin' for movie
>> times and writing this e-mail and the inbox of my outlook all open. 
>> Whether it is maxed or not is totally up to me.
>> But, lets not get into a war ... your point I was just pointing out
>> is inaccurate. Windows does no such thing as you describe below.
>
> Is it a default behaviour?

The default behavior out of the box on most PC has been to *not* have
windows maximized. Once the user changes the setting, most well-behaved
Windows apps remember the last window state. Further, developers can
set a default when an app is launched. Most well-behaved Windows apps
default to not maximized.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

30 Jun 2004 - 8:08pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jun 30, 2004, at 5:39 PM, Chris Ryan wrote:

> I'm curious: what do you typically do, or what is possible, with one
> hand on the keyboard while right-mouse-clicking with the other? Maybe
> on some Windows apps there are additional keyboard modifiers for right
> clicks? How are these modified for left-handed versus right-handed
> users?

To me it has more to do with daisy-chained behaviors. Things like
change brushes with context menu in Photoshop, then option click for a
color sample, then shift click and draw a straight line with the brush.
With a single button mouse, it's possible to do these, it just never
feels natural to me to use the CTRL to get a context menu when most of
my hand behaviors are trained in Photoshop to use the command keys with
mouse movement. (The Shift plus drag for a straight line, or OPTION
plus drag to draw from center.)

That's just me.

As for hard core uses with not just a right mouse button but a middle
button as well, many of those occur in the CAD, 3D and Video programs I
mentioned. Constant extra uses for navigating 3D space using 3 button
mice often, and many times very much in tune with one hand on the
keyboard.

But what about simple things like the scroll wheel, still sorely lack
ing from Apple, which has great uses in many contexts where you don't
want to move the mouse and grab a scrollbar. And what about games?
Games on the Mac are nearly useless with that one button mouse. (And
games are a great source of interesting interactions to learn from,
which can't be applied to the Mac unless you assume users ditch the
default mouse that comes with the machine.) The list goes on and on
where a single button mouse makes little sense, especially given 95% of
the computing world is perfectly fine and trained now with multiple
button mice.

Why does Apple cling to this lame single button mouse when everything
else they produce is so useful and cool?

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

30 Jun 2004 - 8:36pm
Todd Warfel
2003

On Jun 30, 2004, at 7:23 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> No advanced user I know or have seen work a program can work with a
> single button mouse for anything.

Well then, come sit by me for a day. I've gone from the Apple mouse, to
a two button w/wheel, to a Kensington Turbo Mouse w/six buttons, to a
tablet, and back to the Apple mouse. Honestly, I can work faster with
the Apple mouse - but I'm a keyboard shortcut fanatic. Most Windows
user's I've watched are mouse click happy. So, for that type of
behavior, a two button mouse would probably be more productive.

However, in my case, since I'm such a keyboard shortcut fanatic, the
Apple mouse works better. And I really don't see what all the fuss is,
really. Computing is a two handed interaction. So, one hand on my
mouse, one on my keyboard to use the "control" key for the contextual
menu if I need it. But again, I usually just use a keyboard shortcut
anyway - and no, I don't use any haxies.

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
User Experience Architect
MessageFirst | making products easier to use
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
voice: (607) 339-9640
email: twarfel at messagefirst.com
web: www.messagefirst.com
aim: twarfel at mac.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

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30 Jun 2004 - 8:42pm
Todd Warfel
2003

Over the past 10 years of observing users on multiple platforms, we've
found that it's more common for novice to average windows users to run
their applications full screen. Power users on Windows are less likely
to run them full screen. But the majority of Windows users we've
observed run their applications full screen. Now, as monitor screens
increase in size, I would expect that to change, but wouldn't be the
farm on it.

Mac users on the other hand tend not to run the document windows for
their applications full screen.

This may be due to the default behavior of each environment, but I
would hate to say, as I don't have any definitive study to show this
quite yet. Would be an interesting one though...

On Jun 30, 2004, at 8:46 PM, Chris Ryan wrote:

> Is it a default behaviour? Or do you think it is it something that
> novice Windows users (or those with smaller screens) tend to choose?

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
User Experience Architect
MessageFirst | making products easier to use
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
voice: (607) 339-9640
email: twarfel at messagefirst.com
web: www.messagefirst.com
aim: twarfel at mac.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

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30 Jun 2004 - 8:44pm
Todd Warfel
2003

On Jun 30, 2004, at 8:58 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> Most well-behaved Windows apps default to not maximized.

Our observations tend to show otherwise, but that may be due to a lack
of well-behaved Windows apps by and large - not sure. I'm not trying to
slam Windows, so let's not get into an OS debate. Just stating what
we've observed over the last decade.

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
User Experience Architect
MessageFirst | making products easier to use
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
voice: (607) 339-9640
email: twarfel at messagefirst.com
web: www.messagefirst.com
aim: twarfel at mac.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

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30 Jun 2004 - 10:23pm
Josh Seiden
2003

Some interesting issues here about pointing devices.
Since I'm a former mouse weenie, (I was a product mgr
at Kensington for a while) I thought I'd comment.

1. Acceleration will certainly solve the problem of
getting TO the top of the screen. Acceleration works
like this: When you move the mouse, the driver counts
the amount of motion per unit of time, and engages a
multiplier. It uses larger multipliers when it senses
lots of movement, and smaller multipliers when less is
sensed. (We use this feature every day without noticing
it.) It may be that we'll need higher multipliers at
the high end of the curve, but this is trivial.

2. As someone pointed out, getting back is
harder--acceleration helps, but the target is no longer
infinitely tall. But there are solutions. It would be
fairly easy for the mouse driver to detect "moving to
menu" patterns, and note the location from which you
started. Then, when you are done menuing, a rapid
movement back in the previous direction could snap you
back to your starting place. We had a similar feature
in the Kensington drive called Brilliant Cursor, but it
was intended to solve a different problem. The point is
that the technology is there.

3. Regarding the RSI question: as far as I know, there
is some evidence that three button mice are worse than
two button mice from an RSI perspective--this has to do
with the stress caused by clicking with the ring
finger. The bigger issue--one that effects all mice--is
not the number of buttons, but the amount of grip force
needed to hold the mouse. Grip force is determined
partly by hand position, and partly by the shape of the
of the mouse. Remember the first iMac mouse? It was
perfectly round! It was a nightmare to hold, but the
problem was the overall shape, and not the number of
buttons.

4. As displays continue to get bigger--imagine table
sized and wall sized displays--do we really want to be
interacting by means of single-point devices? We engage
the world with two hands, our elbows, our feet, our
knees, our butts...why must we engage our computers
with the point of a single chop-stick? It will be
interesting to see if more two-handed operations become
available to us. This is another area where OS design
could be re-thought.

JS

1 Jul 2004 - 12:54pm
Anirudha Joshi
2003

> Which requires two hands. A two button mouse requires one, which frees

> up the second hand to do other things while executing certain mousing
> functions. Which is why I was skeptical of your speed claim versus two

> button users.

>I'm curious: what do you typically do, or what is possible, with one
hand on the keyboard while right-mouse-clicking with the other? Maybe
on some Windows apps there are additional keyboard modifiers for right
clicks? How are these modified for left-handed versus right-handed
users?

Do scratching heads and picking noses when one is alone qualify as
things that enhance productivity and creative abilities? That apart, the
left hand being left behind on the keyboard (for right handed people)
does something else - it leaves behind a reference for the right hand to
return to after the mouse action. (don't know of any reference that
proves this though). This might be important in some contexts.
Generally, I would believe that having a hand free has certainly got
more uses than having a hand tied up. FWIW.

Anirudha

PS: I loved macs, particularly till the early 90s. Then I could not
afford them. Then they were history.

1 Jul 2004 - 1:56am
Marcin Wichary
2004

: Hunh? This is entirely user dependent. Some users prefer to work with
: windows always maximized (which achieves this singular app
: effect), but just as many don't, using windows all over the place.

There's also another issue. Windows has a Multiple Documents Interface
which works differently than Mac OS's counterpart. In Windows, each
application (say: Photoshop) has a big application canvas (dark grey),
and each child window appear inside and ONLY inside that canvas. In
Mac OS, there is no such thing.

Therefore, in Mac OS I can have child windows from different applications
overlapping each other, occupying the same space, etc. etc. In Windows
it's downright impossible, as one click on application brings forward
not only all its child windows, but also the canvas, now occluding other
apps.

For me it's one of the biggest faults of Windows' window model, and
this explains a lot why people (incl. me) resort to one-maximized-window
solution so often.

I hope Redmond will seriously rethink that approach with upcoming Longhorn,
otherwise it's going to be a huge problem on displays like the one
from Apple. To their credit, they're already doing something about it
(the documents in Office XP/2003 are separate windows), but so far it
only created more inconsistent mess.

Marcin Wichary
e:\> mwichary at aci.com.pl
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/GUIdebook >> Graphical User Interface gallery
w:\> www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring
w:\> www.usability.pl >> Usability.pl

1 Jul 2004 - 1:56am
Marcin Wichary
2004

: I'm curious: what do you typically do, or what is possible, with one
: hand on the keyboard while right-mouse-clicking with the other? Maybe
: on some Windows apps there are additional keyboard modifiers for right
: clicks? How are these modified for left-handed versus right-handed
: users?

As someone already said, sometimes you only have one hand available.

Having said that, I still miss mouse-wheel (or something similar) more
than a second button... Even though a second button might also solve
the mouse-wheel problem, acting as a trigger for "hand pointer" -- which
originated on Mac, I believe.

Marcin Wichary
e:\> mwichary at aci.com.pl
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/GUIdebook >> Graphical User Interface gallery
w:\> www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring
w:\> www.usability.pl >> Usability.pl

1 Jul 2004 - 6:41am
Dave Malouf
2005

Marci, the behavior you are describing is
1. up to the application. E.g. office application don't do this any more.
They each get their own window and you can close one or all of them and
overlap them not just w/ each other but with other application windows.

2. I'm not so sure is a great thing in all cricumstances. I have grown to
love the new tabbed metaphor that Macromedia uses in their interface (I have
never seen it on a Mac so I don't know how it translates there).

3. I'm not sure why the windows behavior would "force" one to want to
maximize. It would and has had the opposite effect on me.

What's really funny about what you are saying is that IE for example creates
a new window for every instance, but everyone is head over heals crazy about
the Mozilla tabbing model which only has one window instance.

-- dave

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Marcin Wichary
Sent: Thursday, July 01, 2004 2:56 AM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Menu bar on Macintoshes.

: Hunh? This is entirely user dependent. Some users prefer to work with
: windows always maximized (which achieves this singular app
: effect), but just as many don't, using windows all over the place.

There's also another issue. Windows has a Multiple Documents Interface
which works differently than Mac OS's counterpart. In Windows, each
application (say: Photoshop) has a big application canvas (dark grey),
and each child window appear inside and ONLY inside that canvas. In
Mac OS, there is no such thing.

Therefore, in Mac OS I can have child windows from different applications
overlapping each other, occupying the same space, etc. etc. In Windows
it's downright impossible, as one click on application brings forward
not only all its child windows, but also the canvas, now occluding other
apps.

For me it's one of the biggest faults of Windows' window model, and
this explains a lot why people (incl. me) resort to one-maximized-window
solution so often.

I hope Redmond will seriously rethink that approach with upcoming Longhorn,
otherwise it's going to be a huge problem on displays like the one
from Apple. To their credit, they're already doing something about it
(the documents in Office XP/2003 are separate windows), but so far it
only created more inconsistent mess.

Marcin Wichary
e:\> mwichary at aci.com.pl
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/GUIdebook >> Graphical User Interface gallery
w:\> www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring
w:\> www.usability.pl >> Usability.pl

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1 Jul 2004 - 7:16am
Marcin Wichary
2004

: Marci, the behavior you are describing is
: 1. up to the application. E.g. office application don't do this any more.
: They each get their own window and you can close one or all of them and
: overlap them not just w/ each other but with other application windows.

I did not see the MS official guidelines for a different types of MDI
behaviour (except for the "canvas" one), I'm not even sure if they exist.

It's true that Office and Explorer simply launch new windows, but it really
seems a hasty workaround that creates many other problems. Sometimes icons
for *both* programs and documents appear in Alt-Tab menu. When you configure
the interface (ie. change the toolbar position or resize the window) in one
instance, it's not updated across other instances, and you never know which
setting will be remembered for the next time. The Mac OS solution seems much
more elegant and consistent in this regard.

: 2. I'm not so sure is a great thing in all cricumstances. I have grown to
: love the new tabbed metaphor that Macromedia uses in their interface

>From my experience, tabs seem to work nicely in some circumstances; ie.
when the child windows are the same size, and when you don't need to see two
or more child windows at once. This is true for web browsing, hence such a
popularity of tabbed windows there. However, I don't think it could work
in Photoshop, for instance.

Another problem is that I haven't seen a mention of tabs in either Apple
Human Interface Guidelines (March 2004 edition), or Microsoft's equivalent.
Therefore there's a great deal of inconsistency between various implementations
of tabs (the width of the tabs? tabs spanning the whole horizontal space
or not? presence and position close button? behaviour when double-clicked?
etc.).

(I'm not sure if I ever saw the Macromedia solution, by the way.)

: (I have never seen it on a Mac so I don't know how it translates there).

Apple uses this in their Safari browser [1].

: 3. I'm not sure why the windows behavior would "force" one to want to
: maximize. It would and has had the opposite effect on me.

When I work with Photoshop sometimes I work with huge print files and
need a lot of screen space, and sometimes with small web-sized icons.
At times with both at once.

I've tried having the Photoshop on half of my screen, but every so often
I had to open a big file, the canvas was too small for the work I was
doing, and I was forced to resize it further. After a while this constant
resizing became a huge nuisance (you have to resize parent window, then
child windows, then move the palettes), and the only way to get rid of it
was to have the Photoshop window as big as possible... which means maximized.

Mac OS does not at any point need me to decide up front what kind of screen
estate I'll be needing. Every application has a canvas the size of a display
(= maximized), but the canvas itself is transparent.

: What's really funny about what you are saying is that IE for example creates
: a new window for every instance, but everyone is head over heals crazy about
: the Mozilla tabbing model which only has one window instance.

Yes, but I never said I liked the IE approach. :)

What I would like to see in Windows is dropping the idea of "canvas" and
adopt the Mac OS style *and* implement tabs when needed (possibly with
an option to switch the mode? I think I've seen it already somewhere).
However, this would a) require Microsoft admitting that they were wrong
from the very beginning, and b) introduce possibly significant learning
curve.

Here's hoping for Longhorn -- since Microsoft is probably going to turn
the whole UI upside down anyway, I hope they will use this opportunity
to solve this issue.

[1] www.apple.com/safari

Marcin Wichary
e:\> mwichary at aci.com.pl
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/GUIdebook >> Graphical User Interface gallery
w:\> www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring
w:\> www.usability.pl >> Usability.pl

30 Jun 2004 - 8:18pm
Tanya Rabourn
2004

> The behavior I was referring, long known to anyone has been involved
> with interface or interaction design over the past fifteen years, is
> the fact that on the Mac, users accidentally click the desktop or other
> application window, effectively switching the app that has focus and
> changing the menu bar.

That surprises me since that's exactly my frusteration when
using the windows OS. I find myself accidentally hitting the
bar associated with a different window instead of the
desired one and therefore accidentally switching apps. So,
anyone observing me might conclude that that's a problem
with the windows OS. Of course they would be wrong -- it's
probably just a problem with switching between a mac and
windows environment. My mistake is probably the result of
learned behavior.

If apple changed the way they do menu bars to be more
windows like perhaps I'd have the same problem. Regardless
of whether they should or not, I think the more interesting
question is when do you implement a change that you've
deemed an improvement despite the fact that users will have
a difficult time because of previously learned behavior.
When is the payoff worth it? How do you know when innovation
should trump usability? Like maybe when a graphics app
changes keyboard shortcuts on ya from one version to another
;-)

-Tanya

30 Jun 2004 - 10:37pm
jcburns
2004

On Jun 30, 2004, at 7:23 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
>
> Honestly? I doubt that. Sorry.. I just don't believe you. No advanced
> user I know or have seen work a program can work with a single button
> mouse for anything. Not to mention that using a CAD, 3D or Video
> program with a single button mouse is next to impossible.
>

Oh....kay. I guess that just invalidates my 20 years of creative work
on the Mac, including hours of video, 3d, and compositing...including
untold gigabytes of work in Photoshop, Illustrator, Electric Image,
After Effects, Form-Z, and Final Cut Pro.

I believe most of those programs fit the categories you've defined as
"an impossible dream."

Even scarier...I've seen others do it! And live to tell the tale!

I'm going to resist taking cheap shots on some rather dubious user
interface 'improvements' you've perpetuated on us at Adobe over the
years, but this attitude just sorta screams "out of touch."

Care to modify your extreme dismissal of those of us with one-button
mice?

--jcburns

1 Jul 2004 - 8:34am
Todd Warfel
2003

At first, I found this a bit confusing. However, now I find this to be
one of the most useful features of OS X. I'll have a PDF in Preview
next to Illustrator next to a Word or Excel document all at once. This
gives me the ability to look at the PDF I've sent to the client, while
looking at the requirements or Task Grid, while I'm creating/updating
the TaskFlow/Wireframes in Illustrator. This is very common for me.

On Jul 1, 2004, at 2:56 AM, Marcin Wichary wrote:

> Therefore, in Mac OS I can have child windows from different
> applications
> overlapping each other, occupying the same space, etc. etc.

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
User Experience Architect
MessageFirst | making products easier to use
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
voice: (607) 339-9640
email: twarfel at messagefirst.com
web: www.messagefirst.com
aim: twarfel at mac.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

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1 Jul 2004 - 8:42am
Marcin Wichary
2004

: > Therefore, in Mac OS I can have child windows from different applications
: > overlapping each other, occupying the same space, etc. etc.

: At first, I found this a bit confusing. However, now I find
: this to be one of the most useful features of OS X. (...)

What I wrote was meant to be in positive sense, because I also very much
like and use the approach you mentioned. However, if I use Photoshop
(maximized for reasons I already mentioned), I have to resort myself
to stuff like Always On Top (which is rarely possible anyway).

Marcin Wichary
e:\> mwichary at aci.com.pl
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/GUIdebook >> Graphical User Interface gallery
w:\> www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring
w:\> www.usability.pl >> Usability.pl

1 Jul 2004 - 8:53am
Marcin Wichary
2004

A small correction...

: However, if I use Photoshop (maximized for reasons I already mentioned),
: I have to resort myself to stuff like Always On Top (which is rarely
: possible anyway).

...of course I meant Windows here.

Marcin Wichary
e:\> mwichary at aci.com.pl
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/GUIdebook >> Graphical User Interface gallery
w:\> www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring
w:\> www.usability.pl >> Usability.pl

1 Jul 2004 - 12:24pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jun 30, 2004, at 8:37 PM, J.C.Burns wrote:

>
> On Jun 30, 2004, at 7:23 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
>>
>> Honestly? I doubt that. Sorry.. I just don't believe you. No advanced
>> user I know or have seen work a program can work with a single button
>> mouse for anything. Not to mention that using a CAD, 3D or Video
>> program with a single button mouse is next to impossible.
>>
>
> Oh....kay. I guess that just invalidates my 20 years of creative work
> on the Mac, including hours of video, 3d, and compositing...including
> untold gigabytes of work in Photoshop, Illustrator, Electric Image,
> After Effects, Form-Z, and Final Cut Pro.

Then I'm happy for you. You probably fit into small minority of overly
gifted people who can do two hand-handed driving of a mousing actions
mixed with single context actions like menus. Especially if you can
Electric Image and Form-Z with a single button mouse.

My experience has been otherwise, so I'll stand by my comment, as
overly harsh as it may have sounded in ASCII.

> I'm going to resist taking cheap shots on some rather dubious user
> interface 'improvements' you've perpetuated on us at Adobe over the
> years, but this attitude just sorta screams "out of touch."

Please be my guest. If I could legally, I'd be MORE than happy to tell
everyone how things came to be, why they are the way they are, and just
how much of what I wanted done in the UI design of the apps which
didn't happen. But I'm not allowed to due to some contract I've signed.
Further, you think I'm being harsh with you? You should see how harsh I
am with my own work. Ask anyone who works with me... I look at some
things I've done and wonder what I was smoking when I did it. (But I
know the circumstances around how it happened, so I can live with
myself at night. But barely.) Sorry it rubs you the wrong way.

> Care to modify your extreme dismissal of those of us with one-button
> mice?

No. Single button mice are still inferior to two button mice or two
button mice with a wheel. As screens get bigger, mousing across large
swaths of pixel space will become more of a pain, and I think interface
designers will need to rely on unique approaches more and more. Many
of those approaches will need that extra button, as forcing people to
constantly finger dance between SHIFT, CMD, OPTION for behaviors of an
action and CTRL to get context is going to be as confusing a dance of
using your input devices as you could imagine.

But that's just my opinion.

Andrei

1 Jul 2004 - 12:44pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jul 1, 2004, at 5:16 AM, Marcin Wichary wrote:

> : Marci, the behavior you are describing is
> : 1. up to the application. E.g. office application don't do this any
> more.
> : They each get their own window and you can close one or all of them
> and
> : overlap them not just w/ each other but with other application
> windows.
>
> I did not see the MS official guidelines for a different types of MDI
> behaviour (except for the "canvas" one), I'm not even sure if they
> exist.

SDI behavior been a behavior of MS Office and Internet Explorer since
around 1997 or so. Many other apps followed suit except here at Adobe.
(I've been wanting to take Photoshop and Illustrator more SDI like for
five years now, or at least VisualStudio where it can be a mix, but
it's been deemed low on the totem, pole of work, as a lot of o"radical"
UI work for some of the bigger applications has been.) There are new MS
guidelines and documentation around SDI (check MSDN), but as with all
documentation these days, there's too much of it and it's hard to get
through any of it.

But all you have to do is use MS Office on a PC to see this behavior in
action within the past six or seven years.

> It's true that Office and Explorer simply launch new windows, but it
> really
> seems a hasty workaround that creates many other problems.

This is a vast over-simplification. There are numerous benefits of the
approach, and numerous cons, just like the Mac single menu bar system
has numerous pros and cons as well.

That's the problem we face. Both Mac OS and Windows have really good
things and really horrific things. Yet they are mixed up in such a way
as that people don't seem to see where the combination should occur for
the "dream OS." The baby gets tossed out with the bath water when all
these Win versus Mac threads get started.

> Sometimes icons
> for *both* programs and documents appear in Alt-Tab menu.

Why is this a problem? And when does this occur? (I haven't this seen
behavior in quite some time.)

> When you configure
> the interface (ie. change the toolbar position or resize the window)
> in one
> instance, it's not updated across other instances, and you never know
> which
> setting will be remembered for the next time.

Yup. True enough. (Although I thought Word did adjust the UI across
instances in this regard. I'mnot in front my PC so would need someone
else to check.)

> The Mac OS solution seems much
> more elegant and consistent in this regard.

In this regard. Inconsistent and a pain in the arse is equally other
regards.

> From my experience, tabs seem to work nicely in some circumstances; ie.
> when the child windows are the same size, and when you don't need to
> see two
> or more child windows at once. This is true for web browsing, hence
> such a
> popularity of tabbed windows there. However, I don't think it could
> work
> in Photoshop, for instance.

Oh.... it could easily work for Photoshop. But rather than get into
what will easily be a "I like chocolate" and "I like vanilla" debate,
VisualStudio from MS has one of the better solutions out there in this
regard. It can switch, for the most part, behaviorally between MDI and
SDI like interfaces, even using tabs before Macromedia did in this
regard.

> Another problem is that I haven't seen a mention of tabs in either
> Apple
> Human Interface Guidelines (March 2004 edition), or Microsoft's
> equivalent.

Who cares? At this stage, considering both Apple and Microsoft rewrite
the rules whenever it feels convenient to them, who cares what the
guidelines say? It's time to start pushing for things that work because
they work, regardless of guidelines.

> : 3. I'm not sure why the windows behavior would "force" one to want to
> : maximize. It would and has had the opposite effect on me.
>
> When I work with Photoshop sometimes I work with huge print files and
> need a lot of screen space, and sometimes with small web-sized icons.
> At times with both at once.

This is not a problem in SDI. In cases of the small icon, a lot of gray
space would buffer the canvas, just like it does when you make the
child window itself big. The SDI window stays a certain size, yet the
canvas resizes in a buffer space. Given that you *have* to have space
to use in the MDI case to show the UI mostly as well, it's
functionality equivalent, just "feels" different.

> Mac OS does not at any point need me to decide up front what kind of
> screen
> estate I'll be needing. Every application has a canvas the size of a
> display
> (= maximized), but the canvas itself is transparent.

Exactly... which is why users have notoriously been known to switch
apps on the MAc and can't figure out where the menu commands go.
Again... pros and cons equally as good and bad for both Mac OS and
Windows. Yes, I'm an equal opportunity hater in this regard.

> However, this would a) require Microsoft admitting that they were wrong
> from the very beginning, and b) introduce possibly significant learning
> curve.

This is why I get harsh on these lists. You seem to not understand how
MS Office worked in SDI mode when we were at the beginning of this
message, and without that knowledge are now accusing Microsoft of to
not admitting they were wrong, when claiming they we wrong is an
incredibly dubious point of view in the first place.

Seriously. You have to be kidding me.

Andrei

1 Jul 2004 - 12:00pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Dave Heller writes:

>I have grown to
>love the new tabbed metaphor that Macromedia uses in their interface

Which Macromedia product, Dave? I don't imagine it's Dreamweaver, as I
use that a lot and can't visualize what you're talking about.

Elizabeth

--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland
301.921.3326

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1 Jul 2004 - 12:10pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Tanya Rabourn writes:

"I think the more interesting
question is when do you implement a change that you've
deemed an improvement despite the fact that users will have
a difficult time because of previously learned behavior.
When is the payoff worth it? How do you know when innovation
should trump usability?"

I think this is the wrong question. We should be asking, "How long will
it take for the usability improvement to show?" We do not replace a
familiar interface with an innovative and *less usable* interface (I hope!
although OS X makes me doubt); we replace a familiar interface with one
that we have determined to be both innovative *and* more usable once the
users have become familiar with it. Usability is far more than what can
be assessed in one-hour sessions with people new to the interface.

In my book, innovation never trumps usability. It should be aimed at
improving usability (as well as whatever other goals it may have).

Elizabeth

--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland
301.921.3326

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1 Jul 2004 - 1:48pm
Marcin Wichary
2004

: SDI behavior been a behavior of MS Office and Internet Explorer since
: around 1997 or so.

In my opinion Internet Explorer is a proper SDI in terms of classic Windows
95 UI. However, Office is not -- from, I think, Office 2000 onwards it's
a strange mixture of SDI and MDI.

An example: contrary to Office, Internet Explorer won't let you not have
any document inside -- there's always at least about:blank, which you can
Print, View Source of, etc. -- and as such doesn't even have the "document
close" button.

: But all you have to do is use MS Office on a PC to see this behavior in
: action within the past six or seven years.

I've used every single Office version since Word for Windows 1.0 editions.

: This is a vast over-simplification. There are numerous benefits of the
: approach, and numerous cons, just like the Mac single menu bar system
: has numerous pros and cons as well.

I didn't refer to the SDI concept as it is, but Office approach to it
(see above).

: Why is this a problem? And when does this occur? (I haven't this seen
: behavior in quite some time.)

I don't know what makes it happen (that's part of it being so annoying),
but the effect is that in addition to -- say -- three document icons
you also get a Word application icon which basically doubles one of the
document icons (and you don't know which one).

: (...) But rather than get into what will easily be a "I like chocolate"
: and "I like vanilla" debate, VisualStudio from MS has one of the better
: solutions out there in this regard. It can switch, for the most part,
: behaviorally between MDI and SDI like interfaces, even using tabs before
: Macromedia did in this regard.

This was the application I was referring to in my earlier emails (being
able to switch between modes).

: Who cares? At this stage, considering both Apple and Microsoft rewrite
: the rules whenever it feels convenient to them, who cares what the
: guidelines say? It's time to start pushing for things that
: work because they work, regardless of guidelines.

This is true. But I think some sort of standardization would be in order,
as right now I'm using five tab interface-based applications and each one
behaves slightly different.

: This is not a problem in SDI. In cases of the small icon, a lot of gray
: space would buffer the canvas, just like it does when you make the
: child window itself big. The SDI window stays a certain size, yet the
: canvas resizes in a buffer space. Given that you *have* to have space
: to use in the MDI case to show the UI mostly as well, it's
: functionality equivalent, just "feels" different.

I'm not sure if I got that right, but my point is quite simple: a) in Mac OS,
SDI and tabbed interface I have one window to resize. In MDI I have twice
as much job (for child window and parent window) without any obvious
advantages in return; b) in Mac OS I can interleave windows from various
MDI applications. I can't do it in Windows.

For me it's much more than just "feeling different."

: This is why I get harsh on these lists. You seem to not understand how
: MS Office worked in SDI mode when we were at the beginning of this
: message, and without that knowledge are now accusing Microsoft of to
: not admitting they were wrong, when claiming they we wrong is an
: incredibly dubious point of view in the first place.

Quite frankly I find this harshness undeserved; this is a discussion list
after all, and I believe everyone's entitled to their point of view --
no need to get so nervous.

But let me explain my comment a little bit further. My belief is that
a rationale for certain interface solutions in first editions of Windows
was "first of all, it has to be DIFFERENT than Mac OS." After all, this
was the time of infamous lawsuits. I'll repeat that this is my personal
opinion and more a hunch than anything else. But this is the only way
I can explain some design solutions and flaws of Windows interface. (One
of them would be, for example, the look and behaviour of minimized windows
in post-Windows 95 MDI applications.)

Marcin Wichary
e:\> mwichary at aci.com.pl
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/GUIdebook >> Graphical User Interface gallery
w:\> www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring
w:\> www.usability.pl >> Usability.pl

1 Jul 2004 - 2:19pm
Tanya Rabourn
2004

On Thu, 1 Jul 2004, Elizabeth Buie wrote:

> Tanya Rabourn writes:
> When is the payoff worth it? How do you know when innovation
> should trump usability?"
>
> I think this is the wrong question. We should be asking, "How long will
> it take for the usability improvement to show?" We do not replace a
> familiar interface with an innovative and *less usable* interface (I hope!
> although OS X makes me doubt); we replace a familiar interface with one
> that we have determined to be both innovative *and* more usable once the
> users have become familiar with it. Usability is far more than what can
> be assessed in one-hour sessions with people new to the interface.

Ah, I knew that was probably the wrong way to phrase it. But
it does seem that there is some aspect of making a product
usable that leverages what the user has learned and come to
expect. Follow de facto standards and you can make use of
what the user has learned elsewhere. No doubt along the way
in the evolution of the Mac OS there were useful features
that shirked convention that weren't implemented in OS9 and
older because their benefit didn't offset the cost to the
user. I assume that's how you calculate whether or not to
implement something useful that shirks convention (or
standards) -- benefit to the user minus cost in having to
unlearn and relearn. And, as you said "how long will it take
for the usability improvement to show?" I'm not sure though
I really understand how to calculate all of that and
determine when it's worth implementing.

-Tanya

1 Jul 2004 - 3:35pm
Craig Oshima
2004

> There's also another issue. Windows has a Multiple Documents
> Interface which works differently than Mac OS's counterpart.
> (snip)
> For me it's one of the biggest faults of Windows' window
> model, and this explains a lot why people (incl. me) resort
> to one-maximized-window solution so often.
> (snip)
> I hope Redmond will seriously rethink that approach with
> upcoming Longhorn, otherwise it's going to be a huge problem on
> displays like the one from Apple. To their credit, they're
> already doing something about it (the documents in Office
> XP/2003 are separate windows), but so far it only created more
> inconsistent mess.

Since launching Windows 95, Microsoft has advised developers against
using MDI (Multiple Document Interface)...I don't have their guidelines
in front of me at the moment, but they specifically discouraged this
model specifically because of usability issues. Although the guidelines
provided ideas for other models, the OS itself didn't do much to help
developers actually build them.

I'm not sure what you would like to see as a result of "serious
rethinking" by Microsoft...they've done their rethinking already and
decided MDI is problematic. As you mentioned, they're evolving their
own applications away from MDI...there's not much they can do about
third-party applications beyond convincing developers that they should
do likewise.

(As an aside, it's been interesting to see how Microsoft has actually
moved away from MDI in various applications...IE is SDI (single-document
interface), Outlook has multiple panels and separate document windows
that aren't contained in the main window, and Word and Excel, once
kingly MDI applications, have gradually evolved away from MDI. The
latter were particularly interesting, because the evolution (and it was
a process) was initially quite illusory...in Office 2003 their mostly
SDI, though some aspects of their legacy remain. Intuit's Quicken
evolution was also interesting to watch.)

--
Craig Oshima
coshima at juniper.net

1 Jul 2004 - 4:06pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jun 30, 2004, at 6:08 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> Why does Apple cling to this lame single button mouse when everything
> else they produce is so useful and cool?

As a bit of background for where this burst of harshness came from for
me, I just realized... (Regardless of what anyone thinks, I never
intend to come off overly harsh, it's just a character flaw.)
Obviously, my harshness should be directed at Apple, and not anyone who
enjoys using a single button mouse. You folks are not Apple, and I
needn't get so heavy handed on the topic of single button for dual
button mice

Yesterday, I purchased a wicked cool, souped up, $6000 G5 system from
Apple.com with one those way cool new 23" screens. It's decked out.
It's got everything. And I mean everything... sort of.

I was happy the process on Apple.com took no less than five minutes of
time. The experience for their online store is, as far as I'm
concerned, a shining example of how to do online purchasing.

So, here I am, a loyal Mac user from since my Mac SE days in college,
buying a great, EXPENSIVE, new Apple product online in mere minutes and
loving every minute of the superiority of this aspect of Apple's
business. Except the fact I have no option for a mouse that I can use.
$6000 and I have to now go deal with someone else to get a mouse
suitable for me. (I'm pretty picky about the mouse I use.)

It just irks me in all the wrong ways.

Andrei

1 Jul 2004 - 4:06pm
Craig Oshima
2004

> This is exactly one of the reasons I don't like Windows. This OS seems
> to be a one-app-at-a-time environment, at least by default, as the
> windows always want to take over the entire screen. Sure, it's clear
> which app I'm in, but I typically can't see anything else. So what
> difference does it make whether the menu bar is at the very top of the
> screen or below the menu bar? Maybe this isn't the case on larger
> screens? Or is it a setting?

Others have responded to this, but I'd like to add a couple thoughts.

Using maximized windows goes beyond questions of novice vs. expert, or
even personal preference. Both of these are valid considerations, but
there's also the question of the task at hand. On any given day, I'll
have maybe 20 or so windows open at one time. Sometimes I want to see
several of them at once. Other times it's just too cluttered and I want
to *focus* on a specific application or task at hand. Then all the
other windows, even just sitting there in the background, can be
distracting. That is why I work with windows maximized sometimes.

Sometimes it depends on the application (I always maximize Quicken), I
almost never maximize any of my browsers. Whether I maximize an app
like Photoshop or Word depends on a number of factors (how long am I
going to be doing stuff there, am I writing or just reading, what's the
content, etc).

Regarding why people see maximized windows on Windows vs. Mac, I would
suggest that part of the reason (again, I don't claim this to be the
whole reason, but rather a part of the bigger picture) is that it's
easier to do on Windows than it is on the Mac. If I want to focus on
one application on Windows, I can easily maximize a window to
full-screen: click, done. On the Mac, I find this task to be
cumbersome. The size-toggle-button is unpredictable...I've never really
used it in 18 years (has anybody else used it?). Resizing windows on
the Mac (I've griped about this for years and years too) requires a
relatively dinky resize box, and usually requires moving the window too.
It's enough of a chore that I never really do it. Does it matter? Well,
I use maximized windows relatively often on Windows, and not because
that OS makes me, so I guess it does--at least to me.

Of course, that 30" monitor might change things considerably, so all
bets are off! There's real value in easily hiding stuff the user's not
interested in at the moment...but maybe maximizing won't be the way to
go when the displays get bigger and bigger (but, oooh, I can't wait! :-)

--
Craig Oshima
coshima at juniper.net

1 Jul 2004 - 4:08pm
Marcin Wichary
2004

: I'm not sure what you would like to see as a result of "serious
: rethinking" by Microsoft...they've done their rethinking already and
: decided MDI is problematic. As you mentioned, they're evolving their
: own applications away from MDI...there's not much they can do about
: third-party applications beyond convincing developers that they should
: do likewise.

That's true, but in many respects today's Windows itself feels like a
transitory GUI, with bits and pieces from 3.x, 95 and Longhorn mixed
together. The "Add fonts" dialog is one of my favourite examples,
and things like that basically drown the otherwise nice idea of
"learning by good examples."

I was hoping for some sort of unification across the system, providing
tabbed interface as a built-in framework (might already be done?),
maybe banning old-style MDI altogether in Aero (radical, but this would
force developers to redo their applications)... and, last but not least,
providing a good and well-thought alternative (alternatives) to MDI.

What I more generally meant by "serious rethinking" is a hope that
Longhorn will be more revo- than evolutionary, and that UI-wise
Microsoft will give a serious thought about every single interface
element and be brave enough to drop some legacy stuff already
belonging to the past.

: The latter were particularly interesting, because the evolution
: (and it was a process) was initially quite illusory...in Office 2003
: their mostly SDI, though some aspects of their legacy remain.)

A sidenote: interestingly enough, you can still switch Office 2003
to MDI.

Marcin Wichary
e:\> mwichary at aci.com.pl
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/GUIdebook >> Graphical User Interface gallery
w:\> www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring
w:\> www.usability.pl >> Usability.pl

1 Jul 2004 - 4:16pm
Jonathan Bishop
2004

Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> The 30" might prove without a doubt that the single menu bar across the
> top of the screen, even with "better mouse acceleration," really makes
> using a Mac a pain for certain tasks when compared to the menu on each
> window model of Windows and UNIX variants. (As if the accidental
> clicking and switching apps wasn't enough all these years.) Fitts Law
> might not be what its all cracked up to be as the technology advances.

Whether the single menu bar is the better solution is dependent on what
applications you're using. Presumable the reason someone would want a 30"
monitor is to run it at a higher resolution with more space to set out their
applications.

Visual Studio.NET is a perfect example of a Windows application that needs a
high resolution. You have all these floating windows that provide
functionality to the application, with dragable icons and editable fields.
These can either be aligned to part of the screen or converted into tabbed
form so they pop-out (useful with limited screen space, not very usable).

Importantly, Visual Studio only works effectively when the window is
maximised so that the menu is at the top of the screen. With this
development environment it make sense to have the menu at the top, so it is
out of the way yet still easily accessible when needed.

Perhaps for certain applications like word processing and spreadsheets the
menu at the top would not be appropriate on such a large screen. But why
would you be using a 30" screen for word processing? More likely you'd be
using it for multi-window-intensive applications, like video editing,
software/web development or multimedia authoring where the menu is more
usable when it is at the top of the screen, away from the working area.

Jonathan
_______________________________________________________________
A pioneer in educational technology and online community development,
Jonathan Bishop is always investigating new ways of using the Internet and
ICT to improve learning and understanding and enhance communities.
His web site is located at: http://www.jonathanbishop.com

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1 Jul 2004 - 4:25pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jul 1, 2004, at 2:16 PM, Jonathan Bishop wrote:

> Whether the single menu bar is the better solution is dependent on what
> applications you're using. Presumable the reason someone would want a
> 30"
> monitor is to run it at a higher resolution with more space to set out
> their
> applications.

Or windows in general. Maybe more appropriately: content?

> Importantly, Visual Studio only works effectively when the window is
> maximised so that the menu is at the top of the screen. With this
> development environment it make sense to have the menu at the top, so
> it is
> out of the way yet still easily accessible when needed.

This seems like a pretty big assumption. I don't think I'm willing to
accept the assumption that VisualStudio is best used when maximized.
there are many contexts where using it in SDI mode with other apps
running (like browser, system profiler, debugger, etc) make plenty of
sense and are optimal.

> Perhaps for certain applications like word processing and spreadsheets
> the
> menu at the top would not be appropriate on such a large screen. But
> why
> would you be using a 30" screen for word processing? More likely you'd
> be
> using it for multi-window-intensive applications, like video editing,
> software/web development or multimedia authoring where the menu is more
> usable when it is at the top of the screen, away from the working area.

Don't people using multimedia software also check email and need to
send out notes or write up thing in Word? What is to say they won't do
this when they have these other apps open?

Andrei

1 Jul 2004 - 4:57pm
Craig Oshima
2004

> That's true, but in many respects today's Windows itself feels
> like a transitory GUI, with bits and pieces from 3.x, 95 and
> Longhorn mixed together. The "Add fonts" dialog is one of my
> favourite examples,

No argument there. But it's not exactly unexpected; Linux and Mac OS
have (and will in the future) suffer from the same realities. (OS X is
a complete refresh so it's pretty consistent internally, but I expect
we'll see similar vagaries again down the road.)

> I was hoping for some sort of unification across the system,
> providing tabbed interface as a built-in framework (might already
> be done?), maybe banning old-style MDI altogether in Aero (radical,
> but this would force developers to redo their applications)... and,
> last but not least, providing a good and well-thought alternative
> (alternatives) to MDI.

Well, given Microsoft's current focus on security (which is
long-overdue), I wouldn't hold my breath for anything dramatic in the
way of UI reform.

I don't think they'll ever force-disable MDI, nor do I think it would be
a good idea. Sure, it may force (soon-to-be-angry) developers to
update, but it would also force (soon-to-be-angry) customers to upgrade
many applications, and would kill legacy applications. It's a good bet
that Office still uses MDI APIs under the covers.

That said, I also wish they would provide good alternatives. The
guidelines suggested a number of alternative approaches, but
implementation was left as an exercise for the individual developer.
Part of the problem was certainly resources, and part was probably a
simple matter of not really knowing at the time what alternatives worked
well from a general standpoint. The tabbed-document interface (Opera,
Dreamweaver, Visual Studio, FrontPage 2002+) would be a reasonable
candidate, and providing an implementation as part of the OS would be a
good way to encourage adoption and consistency.

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it though :-)

--
Craig Oshima
coshima at juniper.net

1 Jul 2004 - 5:07pm
Marcin Wichary
2004

: I don't think they'll ever force-disable MDI, nor do I think it would be
: a good idea. Sure, it may force (soon-to-be-angry) developers to
: update, but it would also force (soon-to-be-angry) customers to upgrade
: many applications, and would kill legacy applications. It's a good bet
: that Office still uses MDI APIs under the covers.

No, I don't mean disabling legacy applications altogether, but a simple
deal:

"If you want to use Avalon instead of Win32/DCE/whatever_the_name_was
-- no more MDI for you. Of course, you can stick to the old stuff, but
you'll miss on all the great new features."

I believe (somebody please correct me if I'm wrong) that Apple did the
same with Carbon/Cocoa. You could go with the former without much
effort, but in the longer run Cocoa gave you much more -- but also
demanded more.

Marcin Wichary
e:\> mwichary at aci.com.pl
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary >> Attached
w:\> www.aci.com.pl/mwichary/GUIdebook >> Graphical User Interface gallery
w:\> www.10yearsofbeingboring.com >> 10 years of Being Boring
w:\> www.usability.pl >> Usability.pl

1 Jul 2004 - 11:57pm
Ilan Volow
2004

On Jul 1, 2004, at 7:41 AM, David Heller wrote:

>
>
> 3. I'm not sure why the windows behavior would "force" one to want to
> maximize. It would and has had the opposite effect on me.
>
>

In most windowing systems (on any platform), people are already having
problems with screen real estate management and windows being obscured
not only by other windows but by the windows themselves going off
screen as well. With window-in-window MDI the issue becomes even more
problematic when you add the possibility of a window being obscured by
going out of bounds of the "view port" of the parent window that
contains it. Perhaps a way that many windows users have instinctively
learned to mitigate the third evil is by immediately maximizing the
child window when it first appears, and this maximizing process
eventually became a force of habit, no matter what style Microsoft
might now be advocating.

For similar reasons, window-in-window MDI might present problems from
the standpoint of windows as being visual targets the users must be
able to locate and hit. If a user is using a window-in-window copy of
Excel, and they want to make a change to one of several Excel documents
already open, not only do that have to find the parent window of Excel
amongst all the windows of all the other applications already running
and hit that, but they have to find one child window among several
child windows in the parent window and hit that as well. By immediately
maximizing the child window of the document they will use the most,
they reduce the number of things they have to locate and hit back to 1.

A third reason might be that a parent window by itself might be too
small to do much in. If that parent window is small, then the child
window inside it is going to be hella small. You can't do much in a
hella small window, so you have to maximize it.

For me, the jury is still out on whether tabs are good, bad, or simply
a crutch that software developers are using to help them ignore more
thornier UI issues. However, I do think that tabs are less bad than
Microsoft's abomination because they are always in the same vertical
plane with one another, which makes them easier to locate.

--
Ilan Volow
Ergonomica Auctorita Illico!

2 Jul 2004 - 12:45am
Ilan Volow
2004

On Jul 1, 2004, at 6:07 PM, Marcin Wichary wrote:

> : I don't think they'll ever force-disable MDI, nor do I think it
> would be
> : a good idea. Sure, it may force (soon-to-be-angry) developers to
> : update, but it would also force (soon-to-be-angry) customers to
> upgrade
> : many applications, and would kill legacy applications. It's a good
> bet
> : that Office still uses MDI APIs under the covers.
>
> No, I don't mean disabling legacy applications altogether, but a simple
> deal:
>
> "If you want to use Avalon instead of Win32/DCE/whatever_the_name_was
> -- no more MDI for you. Of course, you can stick to the old stuff, but
> you'll miss on all the great new features."
>

I sometimes imagine an alternate universe where Microsoft used its
monopoly power for good instead of evil; where the power and money that
was used to strongarm and bully computer companies into not shipping
Netscape pre-installed was instead used to strongarm and bully
developers and hardware makers into shipping usable products.

Quit laughing. I'm entitled to my fantasies.

--
Ilan Volow
Ergonomica Auctorita Illico!

29 Nov 2004 - 1:42pm
Christian Lagerkvist
2004

I welcome myself as a new member of this list by picking up an
interesting thread I found when googling for 'fitts law "mouse
acceleration"'.

Anyway, Jun 30 2004 Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> I think we'll all start to discover that as real screen resolution --
> of which the 30" display is only the beginning -- starts to become a
> reality, the general principles in ID that we've all come to expect to
> hold as "truth," like Fitts Law, will not be so truthful or as
> important as we have been taught.

I've written an article (which I invite you all to read) where I
address this very issue. To my knowledge, official (scientific) user
testing has only been done using different settings of mouse
sensitivity, without accounting for mouse _acceleration_ (or "Enhanced
pointer precision" as Win XP calls it).

In the article I suggest a modification to Fitts' law, unfortunately
not based upon user testing as I lack the resources...

Here it is:
http://www.re-pdf.com/?f=761&x=2af8a04ade24569f2cb539005f14ad30
(re:PDF - 162 kb)

regards,
christian.lagerkvist at gmail.com

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