are mac users "handicapped" computer users?

4 Nov 2004 - 11:57am
9 years ago
32 replies
758 reads
mtumi
2004

Ok -

here's a real bomb of a discussion topic (or subject title at least).
Let me start this off by saying that I myself prefer macs, so this
isn't meant to be inflammatory towards apple users.

I just finished reading About Face 2.0 cover to cover though, and I
found myself thinking in some instances - "gee, I'm using the computer
wrong".

In particular, as he points out, the mac lacks the application
workspace, and so I probably had a habit of using apps that should be
sovereign in less than full-screen mode, with windows of other apps or
the desktop visible below.

Also, I believe that, in general, I use the mouse and menus more often
than many windows users I know. When you consider that even since
windows 3.1 there were alt-key combinations for manipulating menus,
whereas these commands are still hidden on the mac, this isn't that
surprising. (I'm not talking about command-c to copy, I'm talking
about a key command to open the file menu itself, which I believe you
have to enable in the accessibility preference panel).

I found it interesting that although I'm a veteran user of both OS's, I
wasn't naturally understanding some of these basic assumptions made by
UI designers (that I would want an application I'm working in for an
extended period of time to take up 100% of my screen real estate for
example). I'm wondering if it was because I've been, in essence,
trained incorrectly, and have since tried to change the way I work
somewhat to see what difference it makes.

So I found myself wondering - in addition to whether I'd been
handicapped by starting out on OS 7 or 8 - if some of these
foundational assumptions have to be taught to users as well as UI
designers. I've never seen any source teaching people to maximize an
app they'll be working in for a while. Does anyone know why Apple
still avoids the use of the surrounding workspace for applications -
what's the counter-argument? I guess one could also ask on the other
side why windows doesn't reverse its ok and cancel buttons...

I'd be interested in opinions or related articles...

MT

Comments

4 Nov 2004 - 12:44pm
mtumi
2004

yeah, I use quicksilver (quicksilver.blacktree.com). also a logic user
- I think screensets are a great UI feature that I'd like to see in
other apps. I look forward to seeing what happens with spotlight. I
think this is an interesting move in the right direction - eliminating
the need for the user to deal with folder hierarchies at all.

good points, both about drag and drop, and putting the menu inside the
workspace window. I forgot what a drag that is - you have to maximize
to fix your menu at the top of the screen, so that's probably driving
that behavior to a degree.

thanks -

MT

>
> Besides the issue of "infinite target" top-of-screen menus that has
> been debated here before, I'd flip the argument around: it seems to me
> that the main reason for full-screen apps in Windows is perhaps a
> result of the decision to put the menu bar within each window.
>
> [1] http://www.obdev.at/products/launchbar/
> [2] http://www.apple.com/logic/
> [3] http://www.konfabulator.com/
>
>
> Chris
>

4 Nov 2004 - 12:59pm
Todd Warfel
2003

On Nov 4, 2004, at 11:57 AM, Michael Tuminello wrote:

> Also, I believe that, in general, I use the mouse and menus more often
> than many windows users I know.

Possible, but I find it hard to believe. Having done a significant
amount of observation on users of both platforms, more and more in
recent years, we've observed that Windows users tend to be much heavier
users of mice and menus than Mac users. As to why, well, we're not
quite sure yet, but we have some ideas.

> Does anyone know why Apple still avoids the use of the surrounding
> workspace for applications - what's the counter-argument? I guess one
> could also ask on the other side why windows doesn't reverse its ok
> and cancel buttons...

I guess I wonder why document windows need to run inside an application
window - that never made any sense to me. To me the extra window just
seemed like a hassle, a waste of screen real estate. Now, in theory, I
understand that it's meant to "contain" the windows for the
application. And that kinda makes sense. But I don't personally know a
lot of people that only use one application at a time, nor have I
observed many people using only one application at a time.

It's the argument of 6 of one, 1/2 dozen of the other.

Perhaps the MS camp feels that "containing" documents in an application
window helps users "focus" and be more organized. And perhaps the Apple
camp feels like people don't need that kind of regulation and are smart
enough to figure out what document windows go with what application.

Either way, there are (dis)advantages to both camps.

For example:
A benefit to Apple over MS is that it's easier to have an Illustrator
document next to a Word document and simply drag and drop text over.
Since they're not bound by an application window, you can have
documents from two different applications next to each other easier.
Right now, I have a message window from Mail next to my browser and
iChat window, but the actual Mail inbox window is below my browser.

On the flip side, we've observed people clicking (missing) next to a
document window on the Mac OS and ending up on the desktop - not the
expected action.

> I'd be interested in opinions or related articles...

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
Partner, Design and Usability Specialist
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.

4 Nov 2004 - 1:25pm
mojofat
2004

Very interesting question, something I've thought about myself since I'm a mac and windows user. For what it's worth, I know I personally like having the application window. I use photoshop a lot and I find having the window helps a great deal as it cuts out the noise of my desktop and presents me with that nice neutral gray to work off of. On my mac, I find that it's a constant source of frustration that I do not have that application window. I always have several applications open at the same time, but I can only work on one thing at a time...you know, I can't be creating a graphic in photoshop while at the exact same time writing an e-mail...even though I may have them both open.

I also find that I do use my mouse more on my mac (something I hadn't realized till you mentioned it here). This probably has more to do with me being a windows user for so long prior to getting a mac than anything else....although, from a typing perspective it's always been much easier for me to hit the CTRL key with my pinky than it is the Apple Command key. I wish they would just give up the apple key and use CTRL, or else switch the keys around to make it easier to hit.

Can someone educate me as to what the argument of 6 of one, 1/2 dozen of the other is?

Thanks!

---------- Original Message -------------
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] are mac users "handicapped" computer users?
Date: Thu, 4 Nov 2004 12:59:35 -0500
From: Todd Warfel <lists at toddwarfel.com>
To: Michael Tuminello <mt at motiontek.com>

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

On Nov 4, 2004, at 11:57 AM, Michael Tuminello wrote:

> Also, I believe that, in general, I use the mouse and menus more often
> than many windows users I know.

Possible, but I find it hard to believe. Having done a significant
amount of observation on users of both platforms, more and more in
recent years, we've observed that Windows users tend to be much heavier
users of mice and menus than Mac users. As to why, well, we're not
quite sure yet, but we have some ideas.

> Does anyone know why Apple still avoids the use of the surrounding
> workspace for applications - what's the counter-argument? I guess one
> could also ask on the other side why windows doesn't reverse its ok
> and cancel buttons...

I guess I wonder why document windows need to run inside an application
window - that never made any sense to me. To me the extra window just
seemed like a hassle, a waste of screen real estate. Now, in theory, I
understand that it's meant to "contain" the windows for the
application. And that kinda makes sense. But I don't personally know a
lot of people that only use one application at a time, nor have I
observed many people using only one application at a time.

It's the argument of 6 of one, 1/2 dozen of the other.

Perhaps the MS camp feels that "containing" documents in an application
window helps users "focus" and be more organized. And perhaps the Apple
camp feels like people don't need that kind of regulation and are smart
enough to figure out what document windows go with what application.

Either way, there are (dis)advantages to both camps.

For example:
A benefit to Apple over MS is that it's easier to have an Illustrator
document next to a Word document and simply drag and drop text over.
Since they're not bound by an application window, you can have
documents from two different applications next to each other easier.
Right now, I have a message window from Mail next to my browser and
iChat window, but the actual Mail inbox window is below my browser.

On the flip side, we've observed people clicking (missing) next to a
document window on the Mac OS and ending up on the desktop - not the
expected action.

> I'd be interested in opinions or related articles...

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
Partner, Design and Usability Specialist
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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4 Nov 2004 - 1:36pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Interesting comments!

Whenever I find myself using Windows (usually with lots of cursing and
shrieking), I find myself wishing they'd move the Control key closer to
the space bar so it'd be easier to reach!

Allen Smith writes:

<<I wish they would just give up the apple key and use CTRL, or else
switch the keys around to make it easier to hit.>>

They'd have to go to a two-button mouse design. Many apps use the Control
key to get right-button functionality from the single mouse button.

I use the keyboard heavily, regardless of which platform I'm using.

<<I use photoshop a lot and I find having the window helps a great deal as
it cuts out the noise of my desktop and presents me with that nice neutral
gray to work off of.>>

At home I use Photoshop a lot, and when I need a solid gray background I
hide the other apps I've set 18% gray as my desktop pattern (that's
"wallpaper" for Windows users :-).

I detest application windows.

For me, the reason to consider myself handicapped is that so many apps are
Windows-centric designs and ignore us Macophiles altogether.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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4 Nov 2004 - 1:58pm
Listera
2004

Michael Tuminello:

> here's a real bomb of a discussion topic (or subject title at least).
> Let me start this off by saying that I myself prefer macs, so this
> isn't meant to be inflammatory towards apple users.

Well, unnecessarily, it is.

In one of the very early version Mac OS X there was an option essentially to
run a single-app-at-a-time windowing option, with a dedicated Pref and a
button. It was later abandoned, most Mac users never cared for it.

Even today, you can hide all windows/apps other than the one you're working
on with a single click/key. You also have the option of bringing all windows
of a particular app or just the window you clicked on to the foreground.

Allen Smith:

> I always have several applications open at the same time, but I can only work
> on one thing at a time...you know, I can't be creating a graphic in photoshop
> while at the exact same time writing an e-mail...even though I may have them
> both open.

One of the best aspects of Mac OS X is the fluidity with which you can
multitask among multiple apps. Lots of Mac users have large monitors and
actually have multiple apps open to observe, drag&drop, copy&paste,
etc.,among apps. This will get even more interesting as Apple begins to
deploy its patent on the gradual translucency fading of windows based on the
"freshness" of their content, among others.

Elizabeth Buie:

> <<I wish they would just give up the apple key and use CTRL, or else
> switch the keys around to make it easier to hit.>>
>
> They'd have to go to a two-button mouse design.

You have been able to use a multi-button mouse on Mac OS X for years. My
trusted old 5-button mouse which I'm using right now is from Microsoft.:-)

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

4 Nov 2004 - 12:34pm
Chris Ryan
2004

On Nov 4, 2004, at 8:57 AM, Michael Tuminello wrote:

> In particular, as he points out, the mac lacks the application
> workspace, and so I probably had a habit of using apps that should be
> sovereign in less than full-screen mode, with windows of other apps or
> the desktop visible below.

Why "should" ANY app be sovereign? I think this is one of the big UI
limitations of Windows--it's much less of a multi-tasking system from a
task point of view, more of a one-app-at-a-time environment. In my
observations, and I assume this is related, Windows users seem to use
drag and drop a lot less.

> Also, I believe that, in general, I use the mouse and menus more often
> than many windows users I know.

This is certainly not true based on my own casual observations and
experience. There may be Windows power users who like to open menus
with the keyboard (which is definitely possible on Mac OS X), but I use
the keyboard far more than most Windows users I've encountered
(admittedly partly via add-ons such as LaunchBar [1]).

> I found it interesting that although I'm a veteran user of both OS's,
> I wasn't naturally understanding some of these basic assumptions made
> by UI designers (that I would want an application I'm working in for
> an extended period of time to take up 100% of my screen real estate
> for example).

Again, I'm not sure this is a valid assumption. Based only on my own
experience (as an adept Mac OS X user at work and at home) the only app
I can think of where this might be even close to true would be Logic
Pro [2]. However, this may be more because I need a bigger screen than
anything else!

But I think the most significant issues are these:

(1) Many apps I work in are related to what is going on in one or more
other apps. For instance, I am writing PHP code in BBEdit and Safari is
open behind/beside it to preview my work.

(2) If I am doing something that simply does not require the whole
screen, why take up the whole screen? For instance, while I am writing
this e-mail. If it was full-screen, I would either (a) have a huge
wasted blank space to the side of the text I'm writing; or (b) the
lines would be so many characters wide it would be difficult to read.

(3) There are numerous status widgets that I may want to see, and
information to which I may want to have access. Again while writing
this e-mail, I can directly access my current work on the desktop; see
other e-mails as they come in; see the weather widget in Konfabulator
[3]; see my upcoming appointments in iCal; and on and on. I do not want
the current task to obscure all others.

> So I found myself wondering - in addition to whether I'd been
> handicapped by starting out on OS 7 or 8 - if some of these
> foundational assumptions have to be taught to users as well as UI
> designers. I've never seen any source teaching people to maximize an
> app they'll be working in for a while. Does anyone know why Apple
> still avoids the use of the surrounding workspace for applications -
> what's the counter-argument?

Besides the issue of "infinite target" top-of-screen menus that has
been debated here before, I'd flip the argument around: it seems to me
that the main reason for full-screen apps in Windows is perhaps a
result of the decision to put the menu bar within each window.

[1] http://www.obdev.at/products/launchbar/
[2] http://www.apple.com/logic/
[3] http://www.konfabulator.com/

Chris

4 Nov 2004 - 1:42pm
Chris Ryan
2004

On Nov 4, 2004, at 10:36 AM, Elizabeth Buie wrote:

> At home I use Photoshop a lot, and when I need a solid gray background
> I
> hide the other apps I've set 18% gray as my desktop pattern (that's
> "wallpaper" for Windows users :-).

Photoshop (at least on the Mac) has two full-screen modes (which, of
course, I never use!): type the F key to cycle between normal, full
screen with menu bar, and full screen without. These are available near
the bottom of the tool palette.

Chris

4 Nov 2004 - 1:58pm
James Melzer
2004

I use OSX and Windows on two roughly equivalent laptops right now. I
have come to the conclusion that Windows is better adapted for small
resolutions than OSX. But the converse is also true - running multiple
apps on a huge-resolution screen is far more satisfying and productive
for me in OSX. This has implications for who will be more comfortable
on each OS. Is it safe to generalize and say that less experienced
users are less likely to change their default screen resolution and
thus will use a relatively small resolution? And conversely, is it
safe to say that the users who are more likely to want four apps
running on the screen simultaneously are also the most likely to have
the desire and skills to run at very high resolutions?

If this is the case, then Windows is best adapted to beginners running
one app at a time in a small resolution environment; whereas OSX is
most effective for advanced users running a tiled and layered series
of apps in a very large resolution environment.

~ James

--
James Melzer
Information Architect
james_melzer at sra.com

SRA International, Inc.
Environmental and Organizational Services (EOS)
Engineering and Technology Group (ETG)

On Thu, 04 Nov 2004 18:25:43 -0000, Allen Smith <al at mojofat.com> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> Very interesting question, something I've thought about myself since I'm a mac and windows user. For what it's worth, I know I personally like having the application window. I use photoshop a lot and I find having the window helps a great deal as it cuts out the noise of my desktop and presents me with that nice neutral gray to work off of. On my mac, I find that it's a constant source of frustration that I do not have that application window. I always have several applications open at the same time, but I can only work on one thing at a time...you know, I can't be creating a graphic in photoshop while at the exact same time writing an e-mail...even though I may have them both open.
>
> I also find that I do use my mouse more on my mac (something I hadn't realized till you mentioned it here). This probably has more to do with me being a windows user for so long prior to getting a mac than anything else....although, from a typing perspective it's always been much easier for me to hit the CTRL key with my pinky than it is the Apple Command key. I wish they would just give up the apple key and use CTRL, or else switch the keys around to make it easier to hit.
>
> Can someone educate me as to what the argument of 6 of one, 1/2 dozen of the other is?
>
> Thanks!
>
>
>
>
> ---------- Original Message -------------
> Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] are mac users "handicapped" computer users?
> Date: Thu, 4 Nov 2004 12:59:35 -0500
> From: Todd Warfel <lists at toddwarfel.com>
> To: Michael Tuminello <mt at motiontek.com>
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> On Nov 4, 2004, at 11:57 AM, Michael Tuminello wrote:
>
> > Also, I believe that, in general, I use the mouse and menus more often
> > than many windows users I know.
>
> Possible, but I find it hard to believe. Having done a significant
> amount of observation on users of both platforms, more and more in
> recent years, we've observed that Windows users tend to be much heavier
> users of mice and menus than Mac users. As to why, well, we're not
> quite sure yet, but we have some ideas.
>
> > Does anyone know why Apple still avoids the use of the surrounding
> > workspace for applications - what's the counter-argument? I guess one
> > could also ask on the other side why windows doesn't reverse its ok
> > and cancel buttons...
>
> I guess I wonder why document windows need to run inside an application
> window - that never made any sense to me. To me the extra window just
> seemed like a hassle, a waste of screen real estate. Now, in theory, I
> understand that it's meant to "contain" the windows for the
> application. And that kinda makes sense. But I don't personally know a
> lot of people that only use one application at a time, nor have I
> observed many people using only one application at a time.
>
> It's the argument of 6 of one, 1/2 dozen of the other.
>
> Perhaps the MS camp feels that "containing" documents in an application
> window helps users "focus" and be more organized. And perhaps the Apple
> camp feels like people don't need that kind of regulation and are smart
> enough to figure out what document windows go with what application.
>
> Either way, there are (dis)advantages to both camps.
>
> For example:
> A benefit to Apple over MS is that it's easier to have an Illustrator
> document next to a Word document and simply drag and drop text over.
> Since they're not bound by an application window, you can have
> documents from two different applications next to each other easier.
> Right now, I have a message window from Mail next to my browser and
> iChat window, but the actual Mail inbox window is below my browser.
>
> On the flip side, we've observed people clicking (missing) next to a
> document window on the Mac OS and ending up on the desktop - not the
> expected action.
>
> > I'd be interested in opinions or related articles...
>
> Cheers!
>
> Todd R. Warfel
> Partner, Design and Usability Specialist
> 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.
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at ixdg.org
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>

4 Nov 2004 - 2:03pm
Gerard Torenvliet
2004

Michael:

I wonder if the reason why Apple chose *not* to have application
windows was to ensure that the menu bar is always across the top of
the screen. It should be common knowledge by now that this design
feature of the Mac radically reduces the amount of time it takes to
home in on a menu with your mouse when compared with application
window menus that just sort of 'hang out' in the middle of the screen.

Regards,
-Gerard

--
Gerard Torenvliet
g.torenvliet at gmail.com

4 Nov 2004 - 2:01pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Ziya writes:

>You have been able to use a multi-button mouse on Mac OS X for years.

Yes, I know. I meant they'd have to *design* for two buttons, thereby
abandoning those of use who use a single-button mouse.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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4 Nov 2004 - 2:11pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

James Melzer writes:

<<And conversely, is it
safe to say that the users who are more likely to want four apps
running on the screen simultaneously are also the most likely to have
the desire and skills to run at very high resolutions?>>

Only four?

Oh ye of little ambition...

Elizabeth, who regularly runs at least five, and who has 1600x1200 at home
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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delete without copying and kindly advise us by e-mail of the mistake in
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4 Nov 2004 - 2:16pm
Chris Ryan
2004

On Nov 4, 2004, at 11:03 AM, Gerard Torenvliet wrote:

> I wonder if the reason why Apple chose *not* to have application
> windows was to ensure that the menu bar is always across the top of
> the screen.

From what I've read, this was more a happy accident than anything else:
does anyone remember Switcher? It was the initial multi-application
interface on the Mac, and "slid" one app off the screen while the next
slid in. I think Bruce Tognazzini wrote something about someone
visiting Apple who had come up with the idea to simply layer the
applications and retain the top-of-screen menu bar, which in the
single-tasking UI was part of a "full screen" interface.

Chris

4 Nov 2004 - 2:26pm
Gerard Torenvliet
2004

Chris:

It may be true that the top menu bar was not a deliberate design
feature, but I do know that it was later justified by real performance
data.

This real performance data - that this menu bar is superior in terms
of homing tasks when compared to menu bars that float with an
application - is one of the reasons Apple has kept this design
(AFAIK).

Cheers,
-Gerard

--
Gerard Torenvliet
g.torenvliet at gmail.com

4 Nov 2004 - 2:30pm
Alain D. M. G. ...
2003

Bruce Tognazzini has often given explanations gor the Mac windowing
choices. Most of his stuff is collected in the archives of his stie,
asktog.com.

I do not have the impression that Mac users are handicaped, just that
they are put in a straightjacket, for most interactions except a few,
like the functions making it possible to change any individual document
icon.

I have been an Amiga user, a Unix X-windows OpenLook and Motif Users,
and more recently a Microsoft Windows user. Now and then I have been
forced to use a Mac, to study the ways its users employ (but in fact
mostly do not employ, since they are unaware of the possibility) the
unique icon changing function. Of these 5 windowing systems the Mac is
the only one where I have known intense frustration and the feeling I
was forced into a single direction, as if I were living in a
totalitarian state, most of the time. Some designer at Apple has
chosen the best way for everybody to do something, and no alternatives
are permitted, save by using unauthorized interface add-on software.

This was true before OSX, and it is still true with OSX, if we can
beleive what Tognazzini writes on his site about how to make the Mac
perfect by buying so many interface add-ons.

Alain Vaillancourt

__________________________________________________________
Lèche-vitrine ou lèche-écran ?
magasinage.yahoo.ca

4 Nov 2004 - 2:30pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Chris Ryan wrote:

>From what I've read, this was more a happy accident than anything else:

I'm not so sure.

Originally, of course, they had the menu bar at the top of the screen
because the screen was so small (9") that it was pointless to have more
than one window showing at one time. (The app window wasn't always the
only thing on the screen, though -- MacDraw had tool palettes, for
example.) I can't recall when the Application menu entered the design,
but at some point, before large screens, we became able to run multiple
apps without having to resort to Switcher to cycle through them. Then
when larger screens came along and windows were no longer "maximized", the
menu bar stayed at the top. I've heard Tog say so much about the
infinite-height advantage of this, and I'm pretty sure he was involved in
the Mac HCI design at the time, that I would have to believe he
intentionally made sure it was kept there.

>does anyone remember Switcher?

I do I do! I was in heaven when I learned I could run two apps at once.

Elizabeth, who wrote her master's thesis on a Mac SE with a 9" screen
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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4 Nov 2004 - 3:47pm
Chris Ryan
2004

On Nov 4, 2004, at 11:30 AM, Elizabeth Buie wrote:

>> From what I've read, this was more a happy accident than anything
>> else:
>
> I'm not so sure.
>
> Originally, of course, they had the menu bar at the top of the screen
> because the screen was so small (9") that it was pointless to have more
> than one window showing at one time. (The app window wasn't always the
> only thing on the screen, though -- MacDraw had tool palettes, for
> example.) I can't recall when the Application menu entered the design,

MultiFinder appeared with System 6 (1988) according to [1] (I had
thought it was also in System 5) as an option. It became built-in for
System 7 (1991).

> but at some point, before large screens, we became able to run multiple
> apps without having to resort to Switcher to cycle through them. Then
> when larger screens came along and windows were no longer "maximized",
> the
> menu bar stayed at the top.

But Mac application windows never had enforced sizes, even in "single
Finder" mode. The only exception I can think of was MacPaint 1.x.

> I've heard Tog say so much about the
> infinite-height advantage of this, and I'm pretty sure he was involved
> in
> the Mac HCI design at the time, that I would have to believe he
> intentionally made sure it was kept there.

Probably. The demo he wrote about proposed layering the current app(s)
over the Finder.

>> does anyone remember Switcher?
>
> I do I do! I was in heaven when I learned I could run two apps at
> once.

How about MiniFinder? :)

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MultiFinder

Chris

4 Nov 2004 - 4:36pm
Dan Zlotnikov
2004

So let's see if I can summarize this to unconfuse myself...

Windows documents are application-centric, using a separate window for
the app in which the document window is loaded. This means that the
control buttons, menus, and icons are loaded at the top of the app
window, which may be at any point on the screen.

Maximising the app window puts these controls at the top of the
screen, utilising the Mac advantage of "infinite" space above the
screen.

Mac documents (sorry if inaccuracies happen here, I haven't used an
OSX machine in a while) are document-centric, with the always-on-top
menu bar changing to match the document currently in focus. No "white
space" around the document (Windows Photoshop being a counter-example)
occasionally results in missed clicks, with the user ending up in
other documents or on the desktop.

Possibly because of the whole infinite space advantage, Windows users
tend to maximise their work windows, which decreases the likelihood of
them using the drag-and-drop functionality that Mac users like so
much.

There seems to be lots of disagreement as to which system drives the
users to use the mouse more.

Now the comments and questions:

First of all, I personally have a problem with any application that
forces me to constantly move from the mouse to the keyboard and back.
GOMS analysis for opening a file in a word processor under Windows vs.
one on a Mac produces this: [1]
Windows: Alt-F, O
M K K K, total time is 1.95 sec.

Mac: Click on "File," click on "Open"
M H P P, total time is 3.95 sec.

This isn't even taking into account the direct shortcuts that are
rather common under Windows, such as "Ctrl-O" to open.

I wonder if anyone has statistics on what apps are most commonly used
on each of the two platforms -- it could be that with Windows
encouraging maximised windows and Mac encouraging multiple
neighbouring windows, the users have adjusted accordingly and either
used each platform for what it's best in, or (I'm guessing the more
likely of the two) developed completely separate work approaches.

If I'm writing something in a word processor, I may frequently refer
to a web page for information. I can do so by either clicking over to
it or by alt-tabbing briefly to hide my text document. I'll get there
faster by using the keyboard shortcuts.

I can't think of any examples (I'm very text- and keyboard-centric),
but I'm sure there are applications that require a whole lot of
dragging and dropping of elements from other documents. Those would do
much better when the two windows are side by side.

Also, if I understand this correctly, icon bars rely on spatial
memory; I'm clicking roughly at the spot I remember the needed icon
being, not on a specific symbol. Shortcuts are semantic, for lack of a
better word -- I have a completely arbitrary association in my mind
between "Shift-Ins" and "paste." The problem I see is that menus are
both -- semantic if I'm using keyboard shortcuts and spatial if I'm
using the mouse. But, like so many compromises, they're bad for both!
Spatially, they are much smaller targets, they aren't constant
(sometimes with insanely short delays before collapsing), and their
contents aren't obvious without being clicked on first.
Semantically, they take twice or more the number of keystrokes as
compared to a direct shortcut.

The only advantages I see to menus are that they cut down on icon
clutter while retaining the freedom to explore the available options
and that they aren't as ambiguous as icons.

Am I missing some advantage to menus? Has anyone done something
better/more effective? I recall the approach they used in DENIM [2],
which was rather neat, but didn't really allow for large numbers of
options. Has anyone seen other examples?

[1] GOMS numbers from
http://cse.stanford.edu/class/sophomore-college/projects-01/human-computer-interaction/goms.htm

[2] DENIM, the rapid web page prototyping tool.
http://guir.berkeley.edu/projects/denim/

Dan

--
WatCHI
http://www.acm.org/chapters/watchi

4 Nov 2004 - 4:49pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Dan Zlotnikov writes:

<<Mac: Click on "File," click on "Open"
M H P P, total time is 3.95 sec.>>

Eh? How about command-O?

Or control-O on Windows, for that matter.

They seem pretty comparable to me.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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4 Nov 2004 - 4:52pm
Listera
2004

Dan Zlotnikov:

> Mac documents (sorry if inaccuracies happen here, I haven't used an
> OSX machine in a while) are document-centric, with the always-on-top
> menu bar changing to match the document currently in focus.

The *application* currently in focus. The menu is app-centric. You have the
option of foregrounding just a single window from a backgrounded app or all
of the windows to that app.

> No "white space" around the document

This is app specific on Mac, and mindlessly easy to implement if the
developer chooses to do so. Some apps do it by default. You can maximize a
Mac window with a dedicated button as well.

> (Windows Photoshop being a counter-example) occasionally results in missed
> clicks, with the user ending up in other documents or on the desktop.

Perhaps you haven't read it, but I mentioned that one-app-at-a-time
windowing was tried early on with Mac OS X, users didn't warm up to it.

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

4 Nov 2004 - 4:52pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Dan Zlotnikov writes:

<<This isn't even taking into account the direct shortcuts that are
rather common under Windows, such as "Ctrl-O" to open.>>

I *think* Apple invented these.

If not, then Xerox did, and they came to the Mac with the Star interface.

But the Mac interface had them substantially before Windows adopted them.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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4 Nov 2004 - 4:55pm
Todd Warfel
2003

Why does GOMS compare different methods based on platforms? Why not
compare File/Open on both Windows and Mac, or Alt-F, O on Windows with
CMD (Apple) +O on Mac?

On Nov 4, 2004, at 4:36 PM, Dan Zlotnikov wrote:

> GOMS analysis for opening a file in a word processor under Windows vs.
> one on a Mac produces this: [1]
> Windows: Alt-F, O
> M K K K, total time is 1.95 sec.
>
> Mac: Click on "File," click on "Open"
> M H P P, total time is 3.95 sec.

Cheers!

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

4 Nov 2004 - 5:00pm
Peter Trudelle
2004

Dan Zlotnikov wrote:

>Maximising the app window puts these controls at the top of the
>screen, utilising the Mac advantage of "infinite" space above the
>screen.
>
>
No, the Mac has an advantage in time to select menus due to their being
an infinite sized target (i.e., Fitt's law), maximized Windows apps
have the title bar at the top of the screen, completely wasting its use
as a rapidly acquired target area. Even the controls in the titlebar
don't take advantage of this.

>Windows: Alt-F, O
>M K K K, total time is 1.95 sec.
>
>Mac: Click on "File," click on "Open"
>M H P P, total time is 3.95 sec.
>
>This isn't even taking into account the direct shortcuts that are
>rather common under Windows, such as "Ctrl-O" to open.
>
>
Nor that the Mac has had these same shortcuts since well before Windows
existed. This comparison holds for less-used commands, but why compare
keystrokes to mousing using this common example?

Peter

4 Nov 2004 - 5:01pm
Chris Ryan
2004

On Nov 4, 2004, at 1:52 PM, Listera wrote:

>> No "white space" around the document
>
> This is app specific on Mac, and mindlessly easy to implement if the
> developer chooses to do so. Some apps do it by default. You can
> maximize a
> Mac window with a dedicated button as well.

But the Mac OS X Human Interface Guidelines, I believe, define zooming
as zooming to fit the content, not cover the screen.

Chris

4 Nov 2004 - 5:03pm
Chris Ryan
2004

On Nov 4, 2004, at 1:36 PM, Dan Zlotnikov wrote:

> First of all, I personally have a problem with any application that
> forces me to constantly move from the mouse to the keyboard and back.
> GOMS analysis for opening a file in a word processor under Windows vs.
> one on a Mac produces this: [1]
> Windows: Alt-F, O
> M K K K, total time is 1.95 sec.
>
> Mac: Click on "File," click on "Open"
> M H P P, total time is 3.95 sec.

This kind of analysis, though, presumes that a similar method will be
used on either platform. It ignores issues such as how easy it is to
navigate the file manager; how easy or common it is to define and use
shortcuts (on Mac OS X, for example, the sidebar or Dock); etc.

Chris

4 Nov 2004 - 5:04pm
Peter Trudelle
2004

Peter Trudelle wrote:

> Even the controls in the titlebar don't take advantage of this.

Whoops, I have to retract this part. Although they don't appear to
visually, the controls do respond to clicks on the top of the screen, so
Microsoft is apparently aware of the value of that real estate, just
preferring to use only a tiny portion of it.

Peter

4 Nov 2004 - 5:04pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Chris Ryan writes:

<<But the Mac OS X Human Interface Guidelines, I believe, define zooming
as zooming to fit the content, not cover the screen.>>

It was that way in previous Mac OSs as well -- for most apps, anyway. In
my experience, anyhow. :-)

Elizabeth

--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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4 Nov 2004 - 5:23pm
Dan Zlotnikov
2004

> > Mac documents (sorry if inaccuracies happen here, I haven't used an
> > OSX machine in a while) are document-centric, with the always-on-top
> > menu bar changing to match the document currently in focus.
>
> The *application* currently in focus. The menu is app-centric. You have the
> option of foregrounding just a single window from a backgrounded app or all
> of the windows to that app.
>
> > No "white space" around the document
>
> This is app specific on Mac, and mindlessly easy to implement if the
> developer chooses to do so. Some apps do it by default. You can maximize a
> Mac window with a dedicated button as well.
>
> > (Windows Photoshop being a counter-example) occasionally results in missed
> > clicks, with the user ending up in other documents or on the desktop.
>
> Perhaps you haven't read it, but I mentioned that one-app-at-a-time
> windowing was tried early on with Mac OS X, users didn't warm up to it.

I have read it, but I can't really comment. Were the users being
polled already experienced Mac users who were used to the old way? OS
X is damned late in the running to try and re-educate the userbase.
How did Windows users converting to OS X feel about that approach? How
did users new to all computers feel when given the option to try both?
I'd have to account for emotional attachment to the "traditional" way
of doing things before I could say that the rejection was because this
is an inferior approach.

* * *

Also, to everyone who pointed out that Mac had the shortcuts first,
you're absolutely right. I slipped into the "everyone knows" state of
"everyone knows that Mac has fewer menu shortcuts."

Peter Trudelle said
"maximized Windows apps have the title bar at the top of the screen,
completely wasting its use as a rapidly acquired target area."

grumblegrumbleIshould'velookedupatmyownscreengrumble
I blame my trackball, which can't be slammed towards the screen edge
anywhere as rapidly as a mouse.

Dan
Newbie in training

--
WatCHI
http://www.acm.org/chapters/watchi

4 Nov 2004 - 5:41pm
Listera
2004

Dan Zlotnikov:

> Were the users being polled already experienced Mac users who were used to the
> old way?

I won't presume to tell Apple how to test their own user base.

> OS X is damned late in the running to try and re-educate the userbase.

"Re-educate"? Becoming more Windows-like wasn't one of the defining goals of
Mac OS X, though they did a pretty heroic job of trying to accommodate them.
I'm not convinced for a nanosecond that there's any rational superiority
attached to one-app-at-a-time approach, especially for 25 million OS X
users.

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

5 Nov 2004 - 12:46pm
Kevin Cheng
2004

It seems any discussion where the word "Mac" comes up turns into a
discussion on one button mice and Fitts's law.

To go up a level from the original question, I'll simply say this. A
friend of mine is a heavy Mac user and recently joined a company that
primarily uses Windows machines. Every other day, I receive a message
from him complaining about the idiocy of this or that design in
something I never took any issue with and in fact, liked.

There's a possibility I will end up working at a place that is Mac
centric. Being a Windows person most of my life with a Tablet PC as my
primary machine at the moment, I promised him that I would definitely
send him similar messages complaining about the nonsensical design
choices Apple made.

In the end, it's about learning - or relearning. I think they both
suck.

Kevin Cheng (KC)
OK/Cancel: Interface Your Fears
kc at ok-cancel.com
www.ok-cancel.com

5 Nov 2004 - 1:30pm
Gerard Torenvliet
2004

Kevin:

I think that learning is only a part of the equation: it impacts the
cognitive aspects of the interface (where do you find things, how do
you do things, etc.). In this regard, a huge aspect of a person's
efficiency when using any system comes down to how well they have
learned it.

But, when it comes to just the small factor of using application
menus, Macs are clearly superior. No amount of learning will make you
able to home in on menus on a Windows application more quickly than on
a Mac.

...but a better menu bar does not make a better OS. Menu bars are only
a small, but frequently used, piece of the puzzle.

(As an aside, I would be really interested to know why Microsoft has
never chosen to design for infinite-height advantage, even on the
Win95+ task bar. I don't know all the constraints that they are
working under, but from my perspective this choice borders on the
moronic.)

Cheers,
-Gerard

--
Gerard Torenvliet
g.torenvliet at gmail.com

5 Nov 2004 - 1:44pm
Kevin Cheng
2004

No offence Gerard, but your last few posts have been regurgitations of
Tog articles from *1999* and frankly, it's a done discussion. We get
it.

Yes, Mac has infinite height menus. Win 95 snatched defeat from the
jaws of victory, etc etc. But that's Win *95*. It's fixed. The taskbar
IS flushed and I get to switch apps quickly. Yay. Something, btw, the
Dock doesn't do too well in (Ask Tog).

We could argue the app centric top bar until we turn blue. One lets us
accessing menus fast all the time, the other lets us know what menu
we're accessing. Really, I think you expressed my point:

---
....but a better menu bar does not make a better OS. Menu bars are
only a small, but frequently used, piece of the puzzle.
---

Exactly.

Kevin Cheng (KC)
OK/Cancel: Interface Your Fears
kc at ok-cancel.com
www.ok-cancel.com

5 Nov 2004 - 4:22pm
Craig Oshima
2004

> (As an aside, I would be really interested to know why
> Microsoft has never chosen to design for infinite-height
> advantage, even on the Win95+ task bar. I don't know all
> the constraints that they are working under, but from my
> perspective this choice borders on the moronic.)

Windows XP actually does take advantage of this, although the visuals of
the UI elements (with the exception of the Start button) do not reflect
it. Buttons on the taskbar are responsive to mouse actions when the
pointer is driven all the way to the edge, and when a window is
maximized, the window control buttons (close, minimize, etc.) are also
considered to go right up to the edge of the display (though again, they
don't look like it). The menu is still hobbled by the window's titlebar
though, so nothing's changed as far as menus themselves are concerned.

--
Craig Oshima
coshima at acm.org

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