Origins of the Apple Human Interface - part 3

From: Shirl <shirlgato_at_email.domain.hidden>
Date: Wed, 11 May 2005 07:20:31 -0600

Now, we talked about testing. We said that the design's already based on studies of user reactions to various models; as you saw, we did three or four hours of testing. [Laughter] And we're going to do more testing, and avoid any glaring design flaws. I was happy that that was put in, because that meant we could go and fix some more problems that I was sure were there, because we hadn't done enough testing yet.

So, what did it come down to? This is what it looked like: the basic model was overlapping windows, which is right from Smalltalk. There was that box at the top, just like in Smalltalk, that little title bar. The scroll bar was on the left, just like in Smalltalk, only instead of just that little box, there were the scroll arrows there. We thought it would be nice to have something to point to. In Smalltalk, you push the button and then the arrows appeared, and we thought that was a little weird. And there was this menu at the bottom. Now, if any of you -- who's ever used the system called UCSD Pascal? If you remember, there were menus in UCSD Pascal, and you would type the first letter of the menu name, and it would bring up a sub-menu, and you'd type the first letter of menu name, and you go through a hierarchy of menus.

Now, also there was a machine -- I'm going to forget the number -- a Hewlett Packard computer, 2000? [Inaudible comment] No, it was a later model than that. HP something thousand, that had a row of function keys on the top of the keyboard, and at the bottom of the screen, under each key [comment: still have it?] Still have it. And you'd hit that key, that would activate that menu item. These were the two products that the authors of this interface knew the best. They used UCSD Pascal to do their software development, half of them came from Hewlett Packard, and so this was kind of a blend. And so they had function keys at the top of the keyboard that you could hit that would invoke the corresponding things, and they also had these hierarchical menus that were straight out of UCSD Pascal. Not the little pop-ups that were in Smalltalk. So that's where it was in August.

Cut and Paste were two of the commands in the menu; that came from Smalltalk. And, as you see, there was a wastebasket. That's what you call the clipboard today. We used to call it the wastebasket. Different from the trashcan, which was a confusion we had later, and that's why we changed the name. But when you cut something, it went in the wastebasket, like in the office, you cut something and throw it in the wastebasket. But then you could take it and paste it somewhere else, and it was sort of a weak metaphor. And so you'd select it with a mouse. Notice that when you selected, there's this little arrow here. That turns out to be a significant point later.

I'm moving fast because there are a lot of slide here. Now, Ken Victor, remember -- is Ken here today? No? Ken was one of the reviewers of the document, and he provided some input, very quickly. And he said, "Why can you only select with a mouse?" He must be someone who used EMACS or something; he wanted you to be able to select from the keyboard. You know, fourth line, third word, seventh character -- should be able to specify what you want. And fourth occurrence of the word Lisa, you should be able to say things like that. And he was maybe either -- he sort of didn't get it, or he was years ahead of his time, whichever way you want to look at it. But this is what he would like to use, and we had to sort of explain to him that our target market didn't want to find the fourth occurrence of Lisa in the third paragraph. They could see it with their own eyes, and select it with the mouse, and that was just fine.

Now, here was something I wish we had listened to. At this point, it said that you were growing windows from the lower right. I showed you something before showing that it grew at the top. I think in this document it was sort of ambiguous, whether you grew it from the top or the lower right. And he didn't like that idea. He wanted to be able to grow from any side. I do think that's better, and we didn't pay any attention to him. They were worried about the screen space being too tight, or something.

Moving a document within a window: he wanted to know, whether we could do what we now call live scrolling. As you move that elevator up and down the shaft, he wanted the text to move continuously. Problem was that the Lisa processor ran at, what, a quarter? [Comment: Five megahertz.] Five megahertz? It didn't even seem that fast, to me. Couldn't do it. So, some things were just pragmatic.

He didn't like the idea of Cut and Paste. He wanted us to use Move, Copy and Delete, and Transpose. In other words, say you have two things you would select, move this to there, copy this to there, transpose these two things. Well, this wasn't the first time I'd heard that argument, and in fact this is one of those religious arguments like one button or -- one versus two buttons. Do you want Cut, Copy, Paste? Do you want Move, Copy, Delete? The reason we went for -- well, you can argue for either one. It is two steps to do Cut and Paste. But there are a lot of advantages to it. One is that Move and Delete sort of start with the same thing. Some people think that's good, some bad. Another reason is that you don't have to be able to see the destination when you are copying or cutting the source. That's the most important thing. And on a screen of limited size, when you have windows overlapping, it's sometimes very hard to get them all lined up, so you can specify two targets. Where you have windows popping up and down, you get very confused.

The other thing is, that I had a secret agenda, which is, I thought the machine should be used not for what they talked about, office systems. I thought, well, that was good, but I don't want it to be used just for that. I thought it would be a great machine for publishing, and that we'd be able to do Cut and Paste to do page layout, which was my own personal interest. And so I was advocating that because that's definitely the way you'd want to do page makeup.

But we did user testing, and the users slightly preferred the cut and paste model. The wastebasket window was able to not only have one thing you cut out, but multiple things you cut out, and he had some comments about how to deal with the multiple items. Some of us thought it should only hold one; he thought it was okay to have multiple ones, and he lost in the end.

Okay, here are some comments from me. I was complaining because nowhere in the spec did it say what the response time should be. It said all about the user, what they'd do with it, but it never said that this needs to respond within half a second, this needs to respond within two seconds, that needs to respond within ten seconds. It never said it anywhere, and I was worried if it didn't say it, the engineers wouldn't do it. And if any of you have ever used a Lisa, well, it was really slow. I lost that argument. They said "It'll be as fast as we can make it." And that was too slow.

And then it talked about a really interesting question, which was, well, we want hierarchical menus, and we want keyboard accessible commands, so we seem to be fixated on the way they do it in UCSD Pascal: you type a key, get another menu, type a key, get another menu. And that just bothered me, and I thought there's a lot of mistakes going to be made. People are going to forget which level of the hierarchy they're in, how they get back out of it again, it's just going to be too complicated. And I didn't like it.

So -- we'll come to how that was solved later. The other thing I was complaining about was the two-button mouse. We didn't use the second button for much else for a lot of different things. We didn't use it for much. And when we did, there was no way to remember which button did what. And so, I wanted to eject the second button and just have one. And that's August 13th.

Operations on windows. I proposed here that we have this box in the lower right hand corner, that we used for growing the window, instead of doing it from the top. And also I thought there ought to be a way to split a window into panes. And then I had a whole section here about moving a document within a window. I go and talk about the scrolling and why I don't like the way it is. And then I said, "Why don't we put one arrow at the top of the scroll bar, one at the bottom of the scroll bar?" And I actually prototyped it.

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Received on 2005-05-11 06:33:59

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