So clear! So easy to read! So obvious what things you can click and what things you can't. Compared to this Windows Modern crap where it's not clear what's a button and what's a label, and every app (or part thereof) has its own idea about where things go.
Frankly, I don't think modern UIs are much worse than old ones. Yes, you could add visual indicators to what is clickable and what is not (3D-effect), but it's not like that was a universal rule back then either.
Perhaps it's just that people find most intuitive what they learned first and don't like adopting new paradigms.
The middle area is white and depressed because that's the content area. It's a bit like a text document or text edit control: it's normal to be able to click in it and select stuff and edit it. It's a bit unusual in that double clicking opens a new window, but that's also true if you double click a linked embedded image in a Word document.
Overall it's pretty consistent.
Think how far we’ve fallen. There was a time when as a result of human interface research, Apple put the menu bar across the top of the screen because it created an infinitely tall click target. Today, even in apps not designed primarily for touch use (e.g. Slack), we’ve buried the menu behind a randomly placed inscrutable hamburger icon.
Windows 95 buried everything under the Start menu, which was hardly a paragon of usability. There was a "Documents" menu that was pretty useless, a "Programs" menu that required several small click targets to launch anything (and regularly overflowed with applications), a "Run" button that popped up a completely inscrutable dialog box, and a "Shut Down" button that made users decide whether to restart normally or to restart in DOS mode.
I think you're giving the '90s too much of a pass. Modern mobile OS's in particular are much more usable than anything back then.
I disagree. At least Win 95 was largely discoverable to people who can read. Today’s mobile OSes are completely undiscoverable, with functionality hidden behind inconsistant gestures and iconography.
E.g. Apple Maps. How do I get directions from point A to point B? No obvious widget. Maybe search for point A. A, “directions.” But it looks like it is directions from wherever Apple thinks I am to point A. Not what I wanted. Maybe search for point B. Still directions from wherever Apple thinks I am. Maybe click it anyway. Okay, now routes. But no obvious button or text field to change the starting and ending point. Oh, I see, the “here” is blue. Maybe I can click on it. It’s hot garbage. Would it kill you to have a menu across the top with a comprehensive enumeration of functions your app supports?
And apps like Edge and Chrome are even worse for importing this lunacy into the desktop, where the screen space limitations of mobile don’t apply.
This series of blog posts from a decade ago is intresting: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/jensenh/2008/03/13/table-of...
It's extremely frustrating for me - for instance, I always have to search and scan for the "copy" button only to discover it's not on the current tab and then move to another tab which - if I'm lucky - will not suddenly close my document and replace it with a crazy menu but contain the tool I want to us. And it's crazy - if you want to save or print your document, you have to use the fake-tab that closes your document! (At the very least, they could just shrink the window and put it on the side so you know where you are.)
At least the old system had my frequently used tools easily accessible, but my rarely used tools hard to find. The current setup might have rarely used tools easy to find and frequently used tools hard to find - it all depends on what I was doing three hours and two tasks ago.
The menus buried so many features I never used or knew about. Its quite reasonable for them to replace it with a new system. But hiding the tools I use all the time annoys me me, and the silly fake-tab that hides my work when I'm trying to keep it upsets me. I would really be excited to know their logic. I hope it's explained in the blogs you linked to.
There was much to be said for hierarchical menus, now it's partially guesswork to even decide which tab the required choice is on.
Anecdotal for sure, but the old interface seemed to be missed most by the very users that the ribbon was intended for - those needing to discover, rather than already knowing, which feature to use. There was a lot more piracy of Office 2003 after 2007 came out.
Research on non-professional users run by mediocre UI "visionaries" trying to justify change for the sake of change (I am looking at you Jensen Harris).
The justification for ribbon UI is making it easy for people with tablets, with jittery hands unable to hit a menu item, and newbies -- and making it mandatory degraded the experiance of the 95% of regular users who are none of the above.
There is a good reason why my private computers still get Office 2003 installed by default, despite of all of its limitations at age 15...
I've relied on that dialog box throughout the years, as Microsoft keeps moving things around and hiding functionality.
Hitting Win+R and typing "control userpasswords2" works identically in Windows XP, 7, 8 and 10 and is far less inscrutable than divining where they've decided to hide the settings in any particular Windows version.
Compared to now when you literally just guess what's clicable. "Oh, is this thing where it says 'on: What Was the Microsoft Network' a link back to the main article? No idea, but I'll hover over it and see." Thankfully at least desktop web browsers change the pointer to indicate clickability - on my phone or in desktop apps I just have to try to activate everything to find out.
Not to say there's been no improvements in design - there's now a consistent symbol to say "there's a menu behind this" which is not exactly learnable but at least it's redeployable on multiple systems. And toolbar buttons have got more pixels in them now then before (are they larger? i don't think so but maybe), and usually a bit more spacing, so misclicks are less likely.
Use the bloated webpage several times while a learning algorithm watches which links you click. Once it's trained, it then renders the document in an invisible frame buffer, extracts the clickable links, and presents them to you on a clean UI.
Something similar could be done with news sites. Render that bloat off screen, extract the article, render it in a 1990's style page (or just a json file that can be rendered however you like, say in lynx)
A modern, clean theme, basically the epitome of modern design (I could have chosen a better color scheme but trust me, it's the same whatever colors you pick) with a monospaced font.
The damn font doesn't look out of place at all.
It looks straight out of the 1980s, complete with non-descript icons because of the low-res screens and the whopping 16 colors available for everything. We've got super-sharp high-resolution screens where you can barely tell the pixels with a magnifying glass and which can display bazillions of colour. And yet the dominating design paradigm looks like it's dragged out of an era when 640x480 was high-resolution.
I initially wrote that it has regressed back to an era when 640x480 was high-resolution, but I suppose that's a little opinionated. To each his own; I've mostly given up trying to get modern systems to look "good" - non-flat, with detailed, suggestive and beautiful icons - it's a lot of hassle, especially when some UI toolkits (e.g. GTK) don't really cater to that sort of UI anymore. But I really hope this fashion will eventually die out and we can once again have computers whose UIs don't look like cartoons.
Seriously? An animation of a cute puppy on an OS for business? How old did they think their users were anyway?
By the way, the puppy and the cop Clippy were remnants of the failed experiment "Microsoft Bob", which attempted to create user-friendly environment by imitating a whole house, instead of just a "desktop with windows". Those were wild times, full of possibilities, when (almost) no one had much idea of how personal computers ought to be used.
The first web page I made in about 1995 proudly sported an ‘under construction’ traffic cone gif. It was pretty classy.
There’s a sort of ugly/beautiful charm to the early web, a gigantic piece of outsider art.
I think 90% of those under construction icons were on geocities weren't they? :)
It was surprising that something meant for business could lookso childish. Whereas the closest the Mac got, a ‘toy’ OS that couldn’t be used for Real Work was Clarus the Dogcow.
Hang on now lets not forget the leather Calendar app, the reel to reel Podcasts app and flying through space in Time Machine.
At that time I think Calendar was still called iCal on OS X and rejoiced in a brushed-metal finish. I agree about the spacey time machine though - the animation used to judder like crazy on my anglepoise iMac.
Or maybe I was a wide eyed teen ager first exploring software development, Java 5-6 and NetBeans!
CPU usage for deepin was like 3% when idle on that slow machine.
You spelled XFCE wrong :)
Alright, I can't click the green apple, how about the thing that looks like a manilla file folder with a phone in front of it? Yes! It works!
It's not actually very consistent. It seems consistent because you learned the conventions back when you were younger.
They were still running PDP-10-compatible systems from SC up until the original Compuserve service ended in 2009.
You can still buy a brand-new PDP-10 compatible in a certain sense... XKL, another SC-like company, still exists, and they make specialized network gear. As far as I know, all the control planes still run a TOPS-20 derivative on a PDP-10 compatible architecture, even today.
File name: compus.txt
Date: 31-Aug-88 15:44 EDT
From: Sandy Trevor [70000,130]
Subj: PDP-10 History
TO: Joe Dempster
Edit: Holy shit, Compuserve was founded in 1969(!) as a subsidiary of an insurance company.
As technologists, we often wonder why new, better tech doesn't dominate. If something suffices, why change?
New regulations, new products, new markets, new acquisitions, divestment, outsourcing... these are the real drivers of change that move an organization’s technology forward - not the new tech itself.
"Microsoft, which expected that Unix would be its operating system of the future when personal computers became powerful enough, purchased a license for Version 7 Unix from AT&T in 1978"
Made me laugh. We are in such a different era. If we look at our tools from back then, we would find them savage, and our past self looking at us would see tech that is indistinguishable from magic .. although predictable .. and bloated .. and filled with ads. ... Not much has really changed has it?
I don’t know how true that is... you have tools today with the UX of then (vim, web 1.0 websites) and they’re both functional, useful, and not really that different from their modern equivalent. Software-wise, its hard to say that much has changed.
The main difference is uaage between early web and modern is web-apps (not significantly different from desktop apps) and the amount of sheer content to be found. Perhaps the centralized usage of social media too, but their usage is probably unsurprising (more surprising is how much personal info people feel fine giving away)
Hardware has become radicaly different, but somewhat in an expected way: everything got more dense. The only major shift in thinking there might be touchscreens, and google/gps available anytime anywhere, but neither are particularly surprising.
After GUIs became a major thing, I would argue most of our UX went stagnant. You could pull out a 1994 pc today and have no issue using it, and someone from 1994 would likeky have little trouble with windows 10, or even an iphone (after getting past the touchscreen).
Things got faster and smaller, but not different. Certainly not the difference of something actually “savage” (like a stone tied to a stick) to something truly “modern” (like a powerdrill), that would require a totally different mindset to use
The touch screen is a huge thing, that is like saying "after getting past the mouse" going from the 80s to the 90s.
Can you imagine trying to teach someone from 1994 about an iPhone? "So you need to tap and hold on some UI elements. No there isn't an indication which ones, you just sorta guess and get used to it. Yeah like right clicking, except slower, and the menu options aren't consistent. Oh some other elements you tap, but you tap HARD on. Some elements you tap and hold hard on, and here is the manual for all the ways you can tap, double tap, tap and hold, and some other gestures, for that one single button you have. If you get a newer iPhone, the button is gone and instead there are just magic swipes you do from off screen in different directions and distances to get different behaviors."
And then try explaining how the file system thing is all sorts of weird.
I miss having my todo list on a PalmPilot. Talk about being super organized. When it comes to being organized, today's cell phones are a joke in comparison.
Samsung ALMOST got it correct with the s-pen on the note, but they unpin notes from the lock screen after 10 minutes, and you have to do tap on the note a few times to edit it, you can't just write on the lock screen note with the s-pen.
As an aside, I am incredibly irritated at how Samsung went 90% of the way to making an amazing productivity tool and then dropped the bloody ball. :/
Also, I knew someone who continued to use Palm's Windows software as her primary calendar and organization software years after Palm had begun fading away, and despite having never owned a Palm device! It was hard to fault her for it, since it was fast and robust.
Tell them that much and toss them the phone; they'll probably figure out 80% of its usage within 10 minutes. The hard part was done with the advent of the GUI: mapping physical input to digital movement on a 2D screen. The major change is that mouse has been replaced with your finger, but UX-wise its mostly the same. The main difficulty with the game is getting used to the controller, but even then conceptually its not that big of a leap from a mouse.
Given that there is a _lot_ of room for mistakes, the fastest teaching is to just let them fuck around with it. The same as with a video game: hand them a controller and they'll figure out (most of) the rest. There's not that many things you can do with it. They'll mostly miss out on the non-essentials, as they reach a point where exploration is no longer explicitly necessary.
I can't comment on the newer iphone, as I never used it, but the general rules are the same. If I can trust someone to figure out most of a game with a controller of 16 inputs, I can probably trust someone to figure out most an iphone with some 8. Maybe not your grandmother, but otherwise.
In other words
Once you understand the mouse, you understand everything (up to today)
on the iPad:
- Notification Center: Swipe down from the center of the top edge.
- Search: Swipe down anywhere on the Home Screen, away from the top edge.
- Control Center: Swipe down from the top-right edge, but in that region a difference of a few pixels will either get you the Notification Center, Search, or pull out a secondary app from the side in Slide-Over Multitasking!
- Multitasking: Slide-Over apps can be moved to the left side, but they cannot be swiped off the screen when they're on the left side; you have to throw them to the right side then swipe them off the right edge to dismiss them.
This kind of shit is what people made (make) fun of Microsoft for. There's no way to look up the information for those controls except searching on the internet or when it [randomly] pops up in the Tips app.
However, that the "file system is all sorts of weird" couldn't be further from the truth, and is only based on comparisons with document-centric systems.
Everything is generally organized by apps, which can actually be more intuitive in many ways, especially to people who have no prior experience with computers, while iCloud Drive and the Files app still let you use document-centric workflows if you want to.
The podcast app is like a puzzle game.
I think until then I'd only ever used a Mac desktop, which didn't do the click-to-select thing.
Their ads always show off the newest interface changes, from the first iPhone ad showing off tapping and pinch to zoom to newer ads showing off force touch and swipe gestures.
EDIT: I just remembered a video I found a month ago with a mock-up of a "Windows 95 Mobile" OS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0DDQumaaCg The screens that look like they were mocked up specifically for the video (as opposed to the ones that are just screenshots of Windows 9x-era desktop applications) look like they would make for quite a nice UX.
Windows 95's taskbar was a godsend. It was IMO the first GUI approach to multitasking that worked, and on top of that you had Alt-Tab which was the icing on the cake. Mac OS tried to emulate that with Command-Tab, but it never worked as well as on Windows (IMO the only desktop to ever improve on Windows Alt-Tab was KDE, especially when they switched to vertical layout in 3.3 or so).
Now, if you started talking about merging the Win95 multitasking UI with the rest of the System 7 GUI and Mac OS 8's theme, you've got my ear.
(Also the UI elements are way too small to actually use on a touch screen without a stylus. But I wish we could get them back on our non-touchscreen PCs.)
As a teen I despised this gui paradigm, I found it too limited, I actually wanted something like a smalltalk image or an html/js thing where you could extend all the things at will. But with age, I learned that it's rarely necessary.
Indeed. The iPhone's home screen is basically a nicer looking Program Manager. Mac fans laughed at Windows users during the 90s for having only Program and File Manager instead of a human-friendly spatial desktop.
Kids today don't even know who Al Gore is, do they?
I still use the same mail tool as I did in 1993 ... (al)pine.
Same userland toolset (things like sed/awk/grep).
When I think of magic, I think of software defined radio ... that's pretty magical.
Win95 was also a giant step up from 3.1 and this being a year or two before I got on the Internet it was indeed very exciting stuff. I had left my Amiga a couple of years before, and finally the PC was getting similar level good! I somehow started receiving interim builds by FedEx as well, I must have been providing some feedback that was useful to them.
Back then, at my age, that felt like a huge deal, like I was really part of an insider group. :-)
Imagine an executable zip file with a few default files that define things like metadata, or actual data. Then imagine another zip file that can inherit this first zip file as defaults, and override them. Imagine the second one can be included in the first. Now imagine that changes to any of these files creates a new zip with just the deltas. And finally, an API wraps the zip files so that when you operate on the last one, it transparently maps the previous changes, copy-on-write style.
I think this should be an operating system extension, but the great part is, you can implement it all as libraries and ship it to any OS. You then have all the features of zip (archive, compression, encryption, etc), the simplicity of simple key-value data objects in JSON, a copy-on-write mechanism, and since it's both an executable and an archive, it can provide all its own dependencies.
This would effectively solve the need for Docker, and not impose the problems of statically compiled single-platform binaries, because everything is in a ZIP file, so you can provide all dependencies (including for multiple platforms), version them, and write changes to new versioned objects. And self-extracting ZIP files already exist.
Tie this to HTTP so you can pull objects from a remote store and you've mostly solved application deployment.
I believe the Amiga had some sort of "unversal extension mechanism" too, but it predates internet security being critical.
The only other OS to offer this feature was BeOS.
Same went for a lot of shared common features. Update the OS and every program would update look and file requesters etc. None of the strange Windows mix of software that clearly looks of the previous release, or sometimes of the next. Or half a dozen legacy file requester dialogues.
Powershell works like this, somewhat. Also, Java (.jar files are no different to .zip files).
Java JARs are zips that contain files defining code and data. Other JARs can sub-class that code and change how the data is processed or returned.
Maven is (amongst other things) a protocol for exporting versioned sets of JARs that can express dependencies on each other via a filesystem accessible using HTTP. You can specify a versioned zip with a simple coordinate like "com.example:zipname:LATEST" and it'll download and cache the zips with all their dependencies. And it's all cross platform and standardised, with multiple implementations of all these components.
It's an extreme case of inventing a technology before the support infrastructure is ready for it, like a car with no refining. In the case of COM and OLE, building an inter-application object system without a viable object oriented programming language to do it in. So developers had to build machinery by hand in C in each COM hosting application.
Microsoft WinDev always seemed a bit strange versus everyone else.
Borland had very nice high level frameworks (still do as Codegear but alas), and then DevTools also had them as VB and later .NET.
But WinDev had always to make everything low level, and if it wasn't for them we would have had AFX instead of MFC.
Even with plain C there are ways to have higher-level usable frameworks.
In any case, one of the points of April 2018 release and the upcoming Redstone 5 one is that those models are being merged.
And yes, the next Office version for Windows 10 is store only and as usual in Office tradition, is the one responsible for many new UI controls (UWP Fluent Design) in the upcoming Redstone 5 version.
Microsoft recently released a new web-view control for desktop programs which actually works by hosting Edge in its own process and blitting the page render back into your application.
Exposure to Internet and continuous use of unsafe languages has proven that in-process plugins was a very bad idea.
Objective-C + Cocoa and their predecessors on NeXT seem like they were pretty ahead of their time too, except they actually worked well and still often feel more intuitive than Microsoft's labyrinthine APIs (though I'm told MS has been improving in that area lately, usually by pjmlp :)
I still get surprised by how modular, extensible and hackable Cocoa/Obj-C is.
Check out , not the most upstanding example, but something fun nonetheless that I discovered a few days ago.
Yes, NeXT/OS X was/is the only UNIX that doesn't suck as desktop developer experience.
And I had the pleasure to get to know the NeXT Cube, when doing my final assignment, rescuing my supervisors graphics work from NeXT into Windows 95, before the acquisition came to be.
However many here don't know Objective-C + Cocoa, as they use it as pretty Linux instead, running Electron apps.
I've never seen this video so far in. Made me realise how terrible hierarchal things are, especially with a mouse. Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click.
Give me "locate", or Mac's spotlight, any day of the week.
I thought Cortana was already up and running since Windows 10?
Also, FWIW, GetOpenFileName  turns the spaghetti from the article into just few lines of code.
I bet a lot of programmers just said "lol no. 'deprecated' my arse." and stayed with GetOpenFileName, as I did. MS isn't going to break countless apps by removing it.
Firstly, it used binary paths with a complex and opaque structure. In fact there was no way to build a parser for such paths because each component was effectively a serialised object provided by each shell extension.
Now, I'm partial to binary structures myself. But as the article notes, this meant you couldn't do basic things like access it from a command line, or copy and paste a path into a text document (like, say, a SCRIPT!). And of course no existing software that used normal file APIs could understand such paths because they were all built on the expectation that paths are strings. So basically your shell extension was browseable by nothing except Explorer.
In theory you could write COM objects that would embed into Explorer and make your custom shell folders browseable. But there was virtually no documentation on how to do this, and it was extremely easy to completely screw up your entire Windows install this way because isolation in Windows 9x wasn't that great. I managed to hose my Explorer on more than one occasion trying to make this work.
Even if you got it working, what that let you do is replace the entire file viewer screen. But what if you wanted to express your plugin as a set of more files and folders? Oh, well then you needed to do even more work to re-use the standard shell views. You didn't get it by default. And of course, again, no useful examples or docs of any sort ... all in a pre-StackOverflow era.
Only very few companies ever made this work.
But was it really paranoia if it's actually what Microsoft was trying to achieve? I was quite surprised when they were defeated by the Internet, and they had to scramble to buy a web browser. That lead to the "Best viewed with Internet Explorer" days, but that's another story.
My first "proper" computer that my parents bought was running Windows 98, so will have missed this, but I remember using Windows 95 at school.
We also missed the whole walled garden thing (I'm from the UK, I think AOL tried to break into the market here but not sure if it succeeded) and made our first forays onto the internet using dialup via an ISP.
Interesting to see what a few years before my first time on the web was like.
The "everything is an object" thing sort of reminds me of Plan9 with a bit of BeOS too.
Only AOL was able to eke out a market in the UK - often the exclusive content they had was too American-centric to be of interest to Europeans, though I remember CompuServ was popular in academia. When we were in CompuServ we only used it to get on the Internet - so after subscription-free ISPs like FreeServe and LibertySurf were launched we instantly ditched CompuServe.
Well doh !
Bill Gates 1987: “OS/2 is the platform for the nineties”
beta testers were provided access through a toll-free number. exciting times for teenage me, after years of fights due to BBS-inflated monthly family phone bills.
The problem with COM wasn't COM, it was the dominant 'serious' programming language of the day.
I offer a search for “fuck,” which disproved your assertion: https://hn.algolia.com/?query=&sort=byPopularity&prefix&page...
That sounds like Gopher.
Wrong, the Internet was well and alive and anybody who had a clue was looking at it. Microsoft, with its typical arrogance thought they could build their own and supersede the Internet. It was a monumental failure and Microsoft Network became a joke and embarrassment.
This view is not even from the US, but from the outside, a place where the whole country's internet connection went via a single link.
Are you serious? Did you ever see Finder 4.3 on a MacII? Finder 6?
As a concept it wasn't terrible, but with machines of the day it was massively unstable and a resource hog, and almost every home user was on dialup, which meant that there was no access unless you were actively using the internet.