straw-man 3.2 default preferences

Gary Fisher gafisher at
Sat Apr 20 12:06:28 UTC 2002

> the whole window be the same color. I don't believe that I should have
> to make the point again that users often have Squeak for months before
> they ever discover the Preferences, let alone get up the nerve to go
> through the whole list to find something relevant and know what it is
> and fix it.

This is a good point.  Squeak as a learning tool depends much on the user's
curiosity and on a degree of serendipity, even among experienced users.  How
often haven't we seen experienced Squeakers on this list gleefully reporting
some new "discovery" of a feature that's been in Squeak for perhaps years?
New users, especially those working independently, may well find it very
frustrating to have to sleuth out even such basic functions as system
preferences.  A balance must be struck between serendipity and simplicity;
Maarten's recent proposal re tutorial active essays may be the most
promising answer.

Setting the image defaults to resemble the most familiar existing windowing
software would tend to stifle the "discovery instinct" Squeak is meant to
foster, as new users would be encouraged by this to retain their old mindset
rather than adopting the fresh viewpoint Squeak offers.  In fact, an
argument could be made that default preferences which users will WANT to
change would do more to encourage than to discourage learning.
Nevertheless, new users are less likely IMHO to be confused by a consistent
color scheme than by a profusion of seemingly identical windows.

> This argument should start and stop at usability. Back in the early 80's
> in Apple's Lisa and Macintosh research, no prototypes ever came out with
> colored backgrounds, and partly for this very type of reason.

Very "partly" indeed.  All Lisa models and Macs prior to the Mac-II (1987)
were monochrome only, so colored backgrounds couldn't have been seen as such
anyway.  The reason for this was not "usability" so much as technology --
for example, high resolution bitmapped color displays require several times
as much memory as high resolution monochrome displays, and memory was
=expensive= at the time.  Apple's claim to fame pre-Mac was color (look at
the logo!) so leaving it out of the Lisa and Mac must have been a bitter
pill to swallow, but it would have raised these machines from merely
expensive ($2500 for the basic Mac, $10K for the Lisa) to unmarketable.

Gary Fisher

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