Interfacing To The Future
By Fred Stauder, HyperChat Editor
InterFacing to the Future
Many people talk about and praise the Macintosh graphic interface. Well I have news for them, the Macintosh has a great TOTAL interface, the graphic part is only a small portion. There was an interesting panel, at SIGCHI (Association of Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Computer Human Interaction) at the end of April in Austin Texas; it consisted of Tom Erickson / Apple, Tony Hoeber/Sun, Ted Wilson/HP, and Bill Parkhurst/NeXT. The title of the panel was My user interface is best because.... All the panelists except for Tom talked about features and flexibility, Tom in turn talked about the total user experience and how at Apple it is important to have a central goal of making the every part of the task of using a computer simple. From unpacking the machine to plugging in the cables. His presentation was warmly received by the audience.
Anyone that is involved in human interface should attend SIGCHI. Some of the topics covered were:
- New Directions in Theory for Human-Computer Interaction
-Tools for Collaborative Work
-New Paradigms for Programming
-Interacting with Computer Advisors
-Performing Prediction: Predicting Performance
-User InterFace Management Systems
-Pointing and Painting
-Notation for Specification
-Design as Organizational Activity
-User Interface System Evaluations
-Gesture and Language
-Issues in Interface Design Methods
-Innovations in Graphical Interface Design
-Tools and Environments for Interface Design
-Using Auditory Output
-Innovative Designs for Information Systems
-Interfaces to Mathematical Systems
It would take a whole issue of MacTutor to cover parts of the conference so I wont. However the proceedings are available from the ACM. I will encourage you to go to next years CHI conference April 1-5 in Seattle, Washington. The theme is EMPOWERING PEOPLE. The question asked is How can interactive systems and interfaces empower individual and group creativity, productivity, and satisfaction while fostering innovation and cooperation? If you are interested in submitting a paper, panel, tutorial, interactive poster, workshop, video, lab review, demonstration, or exhibit please send me an AppleLink as I am on the committee.
Spring Developers Conference
The Apple Spring Developers Conference brought a lot of new innovative tools for us to work with. I will be discussing the new features in the finder etc later in a full article. One of the most exciting things that was announced at the conference was the development of AppleScript.
AppleScript is the second major step to integrate user tasks across applications. The first step was the clipboard with cut, copy, and paste. What is AppleScript? AppleScript is a system wide scripting language that is a superset and subset of Hypertalk. It will allow the user to create their own interprocess communications in a relatively simple manner. A number of programmers dont like Hypertalk, but we must not forget that it is designed so that the user can do simple tasks simply. Many people have done complex tasks with Hypertalk, and it is very difficult to write.
Apple has many layers of IAC (Interapplication Communication Architecture). It is basically a framework for applications to exchange commands and data, both locally and over networks.
- PPC (Program to Program Communications) is a low level tool with a consistent programming interface.
- Event Manager PPC a high level tool.
- AppleEvents is an Apple defined protocol of standard messages that applications can send to other applications.
- AppleScript utilizing AppleEvents
- Live Copy/Paste allows links between documents
- Clipboard works like usual.
The overall architecture allows the user an easy to use method to talk to other applications, yet allows the programmer the flexibility and power to do sophisticated fast IAC.
I suggest that you start experimenting with scripting in your applications and analysing what syntax you need. Wingz has already incorporated a scripting language into their spreadsheet, look at their implementation. we will bring you examples and an article on AppleScript in later issues so stay tuned.
Send articles ideas, comments etc to Applelink: STAUDER