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You are here: MacNN Forums > Software - Troubleshooting and Discussion > macOS > Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini on Panther: "The Mac Is Back!"

Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini on Panther: "The Mac Is Back!" (Page 2)
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clarkgoble
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Jan 16, 2004, 02:00 PM
 
I thought that TOGs wasn't knocking OSX either, although I'd hardly consider him an apologist. Panther is definitely better than Jaguar and Jaguar was the first really usable OSX. (IMO)

However it still has problems. I think a little more UI consistency is a must. (i.e. the weird selections in the Finder that are different from every other application and the confusion about "is it a button or a selected object" in the side bar. Not to mention the brushed wood in GarageBand...)

Tog also pointed out third party apps that could do a lot of what he wanted. I disagree with him, but I do think a quick launcher in addition to the dock is a must for most powerusers.
     
ApeInTheShell
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Jan 16, 2004, 05:07 PM
 
Haven't most people put folders in their Dock to make it similar to the Mac OS 9 and Windows file navigation? Color your folders if you get confused. Save web addresses in the web browser. If you don't know what an icon stands for look in Finder and figure it out, it's common sense people.
Tog is a perfectionist and sometimes that is bad.
     
brink
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Jan 16, 2004, 06:51 PM
 
Originally posted by Chuckit:
The Dock was at least designed to be a place to manage active applications, minimize windows, get data from applications and keep frequently-used programs, files and folders. Apple stated as much in their promotional materials for Mac OS X, as I recall. That sounds a lot like a catch-all to me, and most relevant, it was intended to keep frequently-used files and folders. So putting several files or folders in there? That's the intended use. It isn't some wacky misuse dreamed up by anarchists just to criticize the Dock.
I'm still going to have to disagree. The way I see it, the Dock is first and foremost an application launcher/switcher. The fact that it can hold other objects like documents and URL links is nothing more than an occasionally handy perk -- icing on the cake -- and doesn't mean that the Dock is meant to be the optimal place to store large numbers of them, no matter what Apple's marketing hype might suggest.

If you regularly need quick access to lots of items with identical icons, there are better ways of accomplishing it than to dump them directly into the Dock, where space is at a premium anyway. There are for example aliases, popup folders, spring-loaded folders, folders in the toolbar, etc. If you find yourself running into usability issues using the Dock to store lots of non-application objects -- which is not its primary function anyway -- the fault lies less with the Dock and more with you for not making the most intelligent use of the tools available to you.

For the record, I don't think the Dock is perfect -- I just think a lot of the criticism leveled against it is unfair.

Originally posted by Chuckit:
But organizing files with identical icons into folders would likely just bring the issue back only with folder icons instead of link icons.
How so? This is what I had in mind:

     
Chuckit
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Jan 16, 2004, 07:21 PM
 
Originally posted by brink:
The way I see it, the Dock is first and foremost an application launcher/switcher. The fact that it can hold other objects like documents and URL links is nothing more than an occasionally handy perk -- icing on the cake -- and doesn't mean that the Dock is meant to be the optimal place to store large numbers of them, no matter what Apple's marketing hype might suggest.
I don't see how this even qualifies as an argument. "Yes, Apple did state that its intended purpose was one thing, but I like to imagine it's another, so let's just go with that, shall we?"
Even if the Dock was not intended to store "large numbers" of documents, it doesn't even work very well with three. For instance, at the lab I work at, we have a couple of commonly-used servers. Links to those servers are kept in the Dock. However, they all show up with the generic server icon, so it is impossible to tell what you want to click at first glance. It doesn't render the Dock unusable (in the same way that Windows' UI problems don't render it unusable), but it is an imperfection, and it would be good if they solved the problem.
Chuck
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brink
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Jan 16, 2004, 09:22 PM
 
Originally posted by Chuckit:
I don't see how this even qualifies as an argument. "Yes, Apple did state that its intended purpose was one thing, but I like to imagine it's another, so let's just go with that, shall we?"
I'm not arguing that the only purpose of the Dock is to be an application launcher/switcher, only that that's its main purpose and the usefulness and sophistication of its secondary features are understandably going to take a back seat to the need to make its main feature work as well as possible. (Hence the lack of text labels without a mouseover -- unlike other items, applications are virtually guaranteed to have unique icons, so constantly visible text labels would only add visual noise.) This isn't just my imagination -- you can see it not only in the details of the Dock's design but in the fact that the Dock is the tool for seeing what applications are running and switching between them, while there are many other, more sophisticated tools for setting up quick access to documents and other items.

Originally posted by Chuckit:
Even if the Dock was not intended to store "large numbers" of documents, it doesn't even work very well with three. For instance, at the lab I work at, we have a couple of commonly-used servers. Links to those servers are kept in the Dock. However, they all show up with the generic server icon, so it is impossible to tell what you want to click at first glance. It doesn't render the Dock unusable (in the same way that Windows' UI problems don't render it unusable), but it is an imperfection, and it would be good if they solved the problem.
I think you're exaggerating the problem -- server links are still identifiable by mouseover, relative position and optional custom icons. If Apple can make stuff like this more useful, great -- but it's unreasonable IMO to judge the Dock a failure like Tog does if it isn't always the best choice for this sort of secondary, icing on the cake stuff. If you approach the Dock as a value-added app launcher/switcher, it's well designed and works like a charm.
     
theolein
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Jan 17, 2004, 10:00 AM
 
Originally posted by brink:
...

How so? This is what I had in mind:

The ironic thing about your image, which would, for instance, solve Spheric's problem about using the Dock as a place to store bookmark URLs from Safari is that the Dock, unlike the Finder, doesn't treat URLs as it does directories or documents i.e. objects which can be nested within other directories. You can't drag a URL from Safari into a folder on the Dock to give you what you pictured above. You have to drag it to the folder in the Finder, whereupon it pops up in the folder on the Dock when you right click it.

I know that the Finder could originally also not do this, and that Apple added that funcionality along the way (Dragging a file, or an alias with cmd-opt to a folder on the Dock). Perhaps Apple will introduce this functionality in a future version of Safari.

I also got the feeling from Tog's article that he is pining for Mac OS9. His article was from a very egocentric point of view i.e. his point of view and not that of users in general. I got the feeling that he wants the Dock to be like the classic control strip, with a click to enlarge and click to minimise functionality, even though the Dock does this very well with its automatic hiding feature for those who use that.

On top of that the Dock does emulate pop-up folders very well in that any folder in the Dock can contain aliases or files as it is itself an alias to a Finder folder. A simple right click on tha folder in the dock reveals all the contents with all their names in full, whereupon one can click on one of those items to launch it or its application.

Whether all this is intuitive I don't know. The Mac has always been an OS that, in the UI at least, is very dependant on combinations of modifier keys- shift, command, option, control and the space bar- and even that has increased dramatically with OSX and Panther, especially with full keyboard access requiring you to memorise quite a lot of extra keys. One could find out about dragging, copying, spring loaded folders etc without using a manula or the help, but I doubt that the rest is really intuitive.

Noentheless, I still find it much more organised and consistent than Windows, even if they have closed the gap in recent years.
weird wabbit
     
Orion27
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Jan 17, 2004, 03:26 PM
 
I keep my home folder on the dock. One click opens the Finder. You can keep folders in the sidebar. One click opens folder. Docs with same icon apear with file names. I think the dock is meant primarily for application launch. I keep my volumes and home folder right down there by the trash. Personally, I never liked the trash in the dock. I think it's better served on the desktop. The dock doesn't intrude like the menue bar did. I find the doc much more functional. I keep mine hidden on the left side of desktop. My doc is is pretty full, hence the trash implementation
is slighty awkward, having to nudge it occasionally from under the bottom of the screen.
     
Visnaut
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Jan 17, 2004, 05:55 PM
 
Originally posted by Chuckit:
Links to those servers are kept in the Dock. However, they all show up with the generic server icon, so it is impossible to tell what you want to click at first glance. [...] it would be good if they solved the problem.
How exactly should the problem be fixed?
  • There has yet to be anyone who can demonstrate how constant text labels would work in the context of the Dock.
  • Should the dock paste number badges on identical items? Would that even help at all?
  • Should the dock ask you what icon you want to paste on an item if it is identical to another already in the dock? Imagine dragging ten folders to the dock and having to click and select icons for each one. And even then, how many custom icons does Apple have to include to practically satisfy a reasonable contingency of uses for a folder?
  • Should folders in the dock automatically have badges of four icons present in the folder? (Similar to Windows XP thumnail view) Would the dock have to mount those servers and waste network traffic to find out what icons to paste onto itself? What happens if there's just folders inside that dock item? How far do you go?
Honestly, I think you have to draw the line between practicality and user competence. If 3 folders in the dock confuse you, and you refuse to change and customize them, don't use the dock for that. If your lab needs to use three aliases of servers, put them on the desktop. Even if the Dock had a nice way of differentiating them visually, most likely half of your users would still need to see a text label to instantly recognize it. And putting multiple URLs in the dock? Whatever happened to bookmarks?

There is NO perfect interface. And simply adhering to a method of organization that is impractical to you is as impractical as wishing for a perfect solution to an indefinite problem.

And lastly, I have yet to see any practical suggestion on HOW to fix the Dock. Really, what needs to be done? I bet there are as many trade-offs with a particular solution as there are to keeping the dock as-is.
     
Spheric Harlot  (op)
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Jan 18, 2004, 07:02 AM
 
Originally posted by Visnaut:
How exactly should the problem be fixed? [list][*]There has yet...

[...excellent points snipped...]

And lastly, I have yet to see any practical suggestion on HOW to fix the Dock. Really, what needs to be done? I bet there are as many trade-offs with a particular solution as there are to keeping the dock as-is.
Exactly.

You've basically perfectly validated Tog's fundamental criticism of the Dock:

It is *fundamentally* broken, meaning that it is probably as good as it *can* be, given its inherent limitiations. The problems are conceptual in nature and *cannot* be fixed without trashing the current Dock in its entirety.

Personally, I think it's "good enough" for most, but I do agree that this is a shame, because the Macintosh interface has never been about being "good enough" - that's Microsoft's job.

-s*
     
stew
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Jan 18, 2004, 08:59 AM
 
Fighting about whether the Dock is good or evil is IMHO pointless. It's just one tiny aspect of a WIMP interface, and we should not question that simple aspect but the whole concept: WIMP is an idea from the 70's, designed for 70's hardware. The fact that we're using essentially the same interfaces on 21st century computers does not necessarily indicate that the idea is so good but instead that the whole industry has been ignorant towards alternative ideas and just sticks with "good enough".

I find it a bit laughable that Tog is trying to reintroduce parts of the OS 9 UI to OS X, when he himself presented a completely different idea of how a UI in 2004 would look like:
http://www.asktog.com/papers/videoPrototypePaper.html

Applying the original MacOS UI principles to a 21st century computer is completely ignoring the changes that happened in the last 20 years, and a promising approach has been presented in 1995 with the "anti-mac" interface:


For anyone who's refusing to even consider any approaches other than windows, icons and lots of mouse clicks because they're not what people are used to, I have only one advice: Think outside the box. Think f***in different. The original Mac was good because it ignored the previous ideas of how a computer should work. If we want another leap forward in common computing, we should accept that it might as well require a break with previous habits.


Stink different.
     
ryaxnb
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Jan 18, 2004, 11:58 AM
 
Originally posted by xi_hyperon:
I found his linked article, "How to make your Mac a monster machine", quite amusing. He lists 4 pieces of shareware which will "Turn your Mac into a power-user, high-productivity monster". Of those, all but one bring back old OS 9 functionalities (system menu, apple menu and window shade). Do ya think he might still be, just a bit, stuck in the past?
Well, WindowShade X also supports Minimize in Place.

Some of his Dock things are right, though: unlike him, I think the new labeling method is better then the old one (because it works well with 16x16 icons and in List and Column view,) but I agree that the Dock should label themselves the traditional way, because it would not work to label them the way the Finder does.
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ryaxnb
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Jan 18, 2004, 12:07 PM
 
they should call Secure Empty Trash "shred?" WTF? I'd have to check the Help file to see what that means!
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Visnaut
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Jan 18, 2004, 07:22 PM
 
Originally posted by Spheric Harlot:
Personally, I think it's "good enough" for most, but I do agree that this is a shame, because the Macintosh interface has never been about being "good enough" - that's Microsoft's job.
Good Point. However, the Dock's current state of "good enough" is (arguably) already better than what Windows has to offer. And that's without throwing in niceties such as Exposť.
     
P
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Jan 21, 2004, 06:57 PM
 
Originally posted by Spheric Harlot:
Exactly.

You've basically perfectly validated Tog's fundamental criticism of the Dock:

It is *fundamentally* broken, meaning that it is probably as good as it *can* be, given its inherent limitiations. The problems are conceptual in nature and *cannot* be fixed without trashing the current Dock in its entirety.

Personally, I think it's "good enough" for most, but I do agree that this is a shame, because the Macintosh interface has never been about being "good enough" - that's Microsoft's job.

-s*
Of course there's still room for improvement. My favourite idea that no shareware has yet implemented is to have all dock labels show when you move your mouse into the Dock area. No more scrubbing, Problem 7 solved. 8 becomes less relevant (and was always a bonus feature anyway), and 6 is fixed provided the labels are colored. 3 down in under a minute. Want me to go on? OK, remove that cloud animation (1); stop hiding the damn thing already, it isn't even the default (3,4) (Note that Tog also gives hints on how to improve hiding behavious right in that article, so it can certainly be improved); and pull the size down to something civilized (9). Put it on the right while you're at it.

As for the others, 5 is a matter of opinion, and also a bit related to not hiding the Dock in the first place (he seems to be so annoyed with everything related to hiding it - why did he turn hiding on in the first place?). The Trash in the Dock is actually system-wide delete, because you can drag and drop test to it and have it deleted, but that needs to be clear.

I'll grant 2 though, but that is not really a problem inherent in the Dock but a problem of not having enough other things around. I fix this by filling my desktop with the files I work with and using Drop Drawers for a couple of nifty shortcuts to applications and folders throughout the system, but I agree that this is a valid point with the OS X UI.

I think Tog should stop hiding the Dock and just reduce the size and he'll be much happier.
     
Spheric Harlot  (op)
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Jan 21, 2004, 07:32 PM
 
P, I had a long post composed and destroyed by a Safari crash, so I'll just give you the short version:

All of your points have been previously addressed and refuted - hiding was introduced and is necessary partly *because* the Dock is so hideously ineffective and inefficient in its use of screen real estate.

I agree that the Trash belongs on the Dock rather than on the Desktop, though.

-s*
     
clarkgoble
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Jan 21, 2004, 07:37 PM
 
I really like that idea of labels appearing when you are over the dock. They'd have to be rotated somewhat. (I think 30 degrees rather than 90 degrees would be best though -- but perhaps make that optional)

I still think showing label color on folders in the dock is a good idea.

I agree about the size of the dock too. Having it fixed and right pinned wiht a small size works great even on my 17" monitor. (Unlike XP, for some reason Expose makes it so I don't mind the small monitor that much. Of course I wish I had a 21" on my Mac like my XP box.)
     
stew
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Jan 22, 2004, 03:46 AM
 
Originally posted by Visnaut:
Good Point. However, the Dock's current state of "good enough" is (arguably) already better than what Windows has to offer. And that's without throwing in niceties such as Exposť.
If Windows is the reference for our comparisons, we have very low standards.


Stink different.
     
CharlesS
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Jan 22, 2004, 04:33 AM
 
Originally posted by clarkgoble:
I agree about the size of the dock too. Having it fixed and right pinned wiht a small size works great even on my 17" monitor. (Unlike XP, for some reason Expose makes it so I don't mind the small monitor that much. Of course I wish I had a 21" on my Mac like my XP box.)
17" is small? Jeez...

I've got a 15" LCD monitor. Many laptop owners have 12" screens.

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Spheric Harlot  (op)
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Jan 22, 2004, 06:59 AM
 
Originally posted by stew:
If Windows is the reference for our comparisons, we have very low standards.
That's the problem with "good enough".

-s*
     
Charles Reader
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Jan 22, 2004, 04:12 PM
 
...would be to allow users to "hide" the dock by pressing one of the function keys and have it stay hidden until that function key is pressed again. I know this feature wouldn't appeal to everybody but in a lot of cases the dock gets in the way of controls or tool palettes, since many programs don't have the sense to avoid overlapping with it. Window controls and tool palettes are scattered all around windows-I eventually settled on putting the dock on the left-hand side of the window. I don't like the current "hide" feature since sloppy mousework will cause it to pop out at the worst possible times. If I could press, for example F8 to cause the dock to show or hide itself I'd be a very happy camper.
     
 
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