TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Apr 97 Viewpoint

Volume Number: 13 (1997)
Issue Number: 4
Column Tag: Viewpoint

Viewpoint

By Eric Gundrum

Just How Easy Is It?

With all this talk of a modern OS for Macintosh, I am becoming concerned that we may be forgetting what made Macintosh so successful in the first place. Sure, we have many state-of-the-art, interesting technologies, but the single most defining attribute of a Mac is that it is so easy to use it is fun.

Unfortunately, as Apple piles on new technologies, our Macs become less easy to use. I find that I, like many users, spend a significant amount of time configuring and tweaking our systems to make them work better, or keep them working.

Everyone says this will be fixed in the new OS, Rhapsody, but I don't think Rhapsody will be the second coming for the Macintosh world. No operating system, including NEXTSTEP, is as easy to use as the MacOS. No other OS truly supports plug and play at its core. With many years of brain drain, has Apple's ease-of-use expertise drained away?

What's in a name

Do you recall the origin of the name "Finder"? The Finder was so named because, when we double clicked a document, the Finder located the application that created the document and use it to open the document. Macintosh users seem to take this for granted, but no other OS does this, even today. All other operating systems rely on filename extensions such as ‘.txt' and search paths which tell the OS in what directories to look for applications. This capability of the Finder was a big revolution in ease of use since the advent of personal computers; possibly even bigger than graphical interfaces.

What the Finder does for applications is very much like the plug the play capabilities of Macintosh hardware. Just drop a new application on a disk, and it is ready to use, no configuration required; at least, that's the way it used to be.

Plug and play software

Over the years Apple's plug and play approach to software has eroded. Some software, such as OpenDoc part editors, Apple Guide files, and system extensions, must be placed on the appropriate "command path" for the OS to find and activate them. If that description sounds a bit DOS-like, that's because it is. DOS and Windows require the "PATH" variable contain a list of directories to search for applications; so does unix.

Application developers are no better. Many applications won't run if their necessary files aren't found in the Preferences folder, or some other part of the Mac that doesn't belong to them.

What ever happened to plug and play? What ever happened to this being my Macintosh, configured the way I like it, with files organized in a way that makes sense to me?

Make it easier

I'd like to see Apple assign some engineering and design resources to making the Mac easy to use again. The rumors I've heard about the upcoming MacOS releases are not encouraging. The idea that I will have to use a multi-button mouse, or control-option-command-click, is horrendous. It makes sense as a little-used menu short-cut, but not as the primary interface.

Printers should be plug and play. If I connect another printer to my Mac, it should automatically appear as a choice in the Print dialog; even if it is a serial-based printer. Forget the Chooser, and forget other configuration files. I want it to just work so I don't waste any more time on the phone talking my friends through setting up their Macs.

Most of all, I want a plug and play file system. If Apple were to design a system-level mechanism to link all files sharing the same signature, we could have some significant improvements. When I trash an application, the Finder could automatically delete all support files related to the application, or it could warn me if I still have documents that require that application, and it could warn me to not trash any necessary support files. Application developers could keep their stuff out of my System Folder if the OS would automatically find the files for the application. OpenDoc part editors, or even fonts, could be placed on any volume and still be found by the OS. Gosh, it would be so Mac-like.

Has the ease-of-use of the Macintosh degraded in these past thirteen years? On balance, probably not, but overall it doesn't seem to have improved much. Apple certainly has their work cut out for them to bring this new OS to market. I hope they don't lose sight of how important ease-of-use and plug-and-play has been to the success of the Macintosh and will be to its continued survival.

So Long Old Friend

For many years Symantec's Top Ten has been a part of MacTech Magazine. Through this column, Symantec's support staff have provided us with tips and suggestions to help us get the most out of Symantec's development tools. With the emergence of the Internet as such a strong vehicle for communicating with customers, we found it difficult to keep the Symantec Top Ten filled with timely information. After many years of service, we bid adieu to the Symantec Top Ten column. This will be its last issue. We are working with the Symantec staff in hopes to find new ways to provide you with more interesting information from this long-standing Macintosh developer tools publisher. Thank you, Symantec.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Smultron 10.0.2 - Easy-to-use, powerful...
Smultron 10 is an elegant and powerful text editor that is easy to use. You can use Smultron 10 to create or edit any text document. Everything from a web page, a note or a script to any single piece... Read more
Capto 1.2.5 - $29.99
Capto (was Voila) is an easy-to-use app that takes capturing, recording, video and image editing to the next level. With an intelligent file manager and quick sharing options, Capto is perfect for... Read more
Cocktail 11.0.1 - General maintenance an...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for macOS that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
Sketch 47.1 - Design app for UX/UI for i...
Sketch is an innovative and fresh look at vector drawing. Its intentionally minimalist design is based upon a drawing space of unlimited size and layers, free of palettes, panels, menus, windows, and... Read more
Slack 2.8.2 - Collaborative communicatio...
Slack is a collaborative communication app that simplifies real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern working teams. Version 2.8.2: A small release containing nothing but another Electron... Read more
Path Finder 7.6.1 - Powerful, award-winn...
Path Finder makes you a master of file management. Take full control over your file system. Save your time: compare and synchronize folders, view hidden files, use Dual Pane and full keyboard... Read more
Sketch 47.1 - Design app for UX/UI for i...
Sketch is an innovative and fresh look at vector drawing. Its intentionally minimalist design is based upon a drawing space of unlimited size and layers, free of palettes, panels, menus, windows, and... Read more
Cocktail 11.0.1 - General maintenance an...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for macOS that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
Path Finder 7.6.1 - Powerful, award-winn...
Path Finder makes you a master of file management. Take full control over your file system. Save your time: compare and synchronize folders, view hidden files, use Dual Pane and full keyboard... Read more
Slack 2.8.2 - Collaborative communicatio...
Slack is a collaborative communication app that simplifies real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern working teams. Version 2.8.2: A small release containing nothing but another Electron... Read more

Dune! guide - how to toe the line and ge...
Publisher Voodoo is at it again with an all new high score chaser -- Dune! In this fast-paced arcade game, you have to propel yourself along sand dunes, gaining enough momentum to jump above the line to score points, while making sure you have... | Read more »
The best deals on the App Store this wee...
Happy Tuesday, dear readers. Your favorite part of the week as officially arrived. It's time to take a look at the best deals in games. Things are admittedly a bit sparse, but there are a few diamonds in the rough to see you through if you're... | Read more »
Be the last person standing in Legacy of...
Yoozoo Games’ popular action MMO Legacy of Discord is getting a huge new update to celebrate its first anniversary. Perhaps the biggest change is the addition of an exciting survival mode titled Last Guardian. This new survival mode will pit you... | Read more »
Home Street guide - how to make friends...
From the creators of Food Street comes Home Street, a new simulation game that tasks you with building a social network and designing a beautiful home. It's a bit like The Sims, but you won't have to worry about the daily chores involved (feeding,... | Read more »
Color Ballz guide - how to bounce to the...
Color Ballz is an addictive new arcade title from Ketchapp Studios. It takes old school mechanics from games like Brickles and puts a fun twist on it. Your job? To catch balls with a paddle and send them back into a chute to be carried back to... | Read more »
Q&A: A-33 Studio explains why Combat...
When it comes to mobile FPS, it’s often tricky to get the fundamentals right on a platform lacking a physical controller, large display and hefty RAM. With Combat Squad: Project Wednesday, A-33 Studio bravely took on the challenge of making a... | Read more »
Taichi Panda 3: Dragon Hunter guide - ti...
Taichi Panda 3: Dragon Hunter launched this week to players all over the world. It's a beautiful mobile MMORPG that blends elements of Eastern and Western fantasy. It reminds us of a mix between World of Warcraft and Jade Empire. MMO's can have a... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week -...
Phew. It has been a week, but now it's time to relax, put your feet up, and enjoy some brand new mobile games. It was a bit of slow week, but there's still plenty of new titles to add to your collection. Here are four of our favorites. [Read... | Read more »
Yoink - Improved Drag and Drop (Product...
Yoink - Improved Drag and Drop 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Productivity Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Yoink for iPad and iPhone lets you easily and quickly store items you drag, copy or share, for later use... | Read more »
Cottage Garden (Games)
Cottage Garden 1.11 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.11 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

13″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $120 off M...
B&H Photo has 2017 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $120 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray MacBook... Read more
15″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $200 off M...
B&H Photo has 15″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (MPTR2LL/A): $2249, $150... Read more
Roundup of Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs,...
Apple has a full line of Certified Refurbished 2017 21″ and 27″ iMacs available starting at $1019 and ranging up to $350 off original MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free... Read more
Sale! 27″ 3.8GHz 5K iMac for $2098, save $201...
Amazon has the 27″ 3.8GHz 5K iMac (MNED2LL/A) on sale today for $2098 including free shipping. Their price is $201 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model (Apple’s $1949... Read more
Sale! 10″ Apple WiFi iPad Pros for up to $100...
B&H Photo has 10.5″ WiFi iPad Pros in stock today and on sale for $50-$100 off MSRP. Each iPad includes free shipping, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 10.5″ 64GB iPad Pro: $... Read more
Apple iMacs on sale for up to $130 off MSRP w...
B&H Photo has 21-inch and 27-inch iMacs in stock and on sale for up to $130 off MSRP including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 27″ 3.8GHz iMac (MNED2LL/A): $2179 $... Read more
2017 3.5GHz 6-Core Mac Pro on sale for $2799,...
B&H Photo has the 2017 3.5GHz 6-Core Mac Pro (MD878LL/A) on sale today for $2799 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only . Their price is $200 off MSRP. Read more
12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray MacBook on sale for $11...
Amazon has the 2017 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free: 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray MacBook: $1199.99 $100 off MSRP Read more
Bare Bones Software Releases macOS High Sierr...
Bare Bones Software has announced the release and immediate availability of BBEdit 12.0, a significant upgrade to its professional strength text and code editor. BBEdit 12 introduces a new foundation... Read more
Yale Announces Availability of Apple HomeKit-...
Yale Locks & Hardware has announced that Apple HomeKit support for its Assure Lock family is available this month. The new Yale iM1 Network Module, which provides support for the Apple Home app... Read more

Jobs Board

Fraud Analyst, *Apple* Advertising Platform...
Job Summary Apple Ad Platforms has an opportunity to redefine advertising on mobile devices. Apple reaches hundreds of millions of iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad Read more
*Apple* Information Security - Security Data...
Job Summary This role is responsible for helping to strengthen Apple 's information security posture through the identification and curation of security event data. Read more
Lead *Apple* Solution Consultant - Apple In...
…develop a team of diverse partner employees focusing on excellence to deliver the Apple story. Even when you're not present, you will maintain a consistent influence Read more
watchOS Frameworks Engineering Manager, *App...
Job Summary Join the team that is shaping the future of software development for Apple Watch! Apple is looking for an exceptional software engineering leader to Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.