Smalltalk: Requiem or Resurgence? {Dr. Dobb's Journal (05/06/06) Chan, Jeremy}

Steven W. Riggins mailinglists at
Fri May 12 16:46:25 UTC 2006

Hi folks,

I'm a long time Mac user.  Feb, 1984 to be exact.  I used to be a  
total asshole about UI.  Making our apps look/feel exactly like a Mac.

I still feel this way if I am building a Mac app.  The more  
familiarity one has with your user interface, the more productive  
they are.

However, and I have seen this so many times I can't count - If a tool  
does something the Author wants to do, the Author will adapt.  Almost  
always.  They might complain and want more integration but at the end  
of the day, if there are no other tools, they will adapt.  And to top  
that off, if your alternate UI is decent, it might not even be a  

Sophie presents some interesting challenges for us.  John has  
integrated the Mac spelling checker, clipboard, file dialogs, etc.   
We've got ideas for mapping our menus into the Mac menubar.  This is  
not just technical, but if you are going to use the default menubar,  
make it fairly similar.

I now keep an open mind.  How many times have developers come up with  
new UI elements that later made it into the OS? SuperClock anyone? :)

I concern myself more with issues such as:

* Do all of our selected objects select similarly?
* Is it clear which object has the focus?
* Is the gesture of dragging clear?
* Is the gesture of dropping clear?

Consistency within your app is very important.  Then you integrate  
with the OS and make the transition for the Author easier.

This is the second 'cross platform' application I have worked on.   
I've said both times, if we build OS clients, then those are  
completely separate projects, teams and budgets.  The file we work on  
is the same, but the UIs, while similar, are very different.  You  
either go 1000% for the best Mac app, or best WIndows app, or do your  
own thing.

Apps that try to look like a Mac but only get there 80% are the worst  
in my opinion.  What I like about Sophie is that we have our own  
look, our own feel and support bridge technologies to and from the  
OS.  But we're not using Aqua, or worse, FAKING Aqua. Like some Java  
crap I've seen in the past.  Bleh.  "Wow that sure looks like a OS X  
scroll bar but doesn't behave anything like an OS X scroll bar!"

Time will tell how well this works.  I like the FFI stuff.  What I'd  
like to see more are OS "kits" that make writing "apps" easier. 

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