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

Michael Latta lattam at
Mon May 15 22:23:30 UTC 2006

There was this period when UI consistency was the holy grail.  But, the web
blew that to pieces.  Now there are so many different looks that users are
more adaptable.  Having a relatively consistent feel is still very
important.  Switching between applications that respond to the right mouse
button on mouse down, on mouse up, or on left butt with option down can
drive a user nuts.  Having the shadows going different ways does actually
drive those who have a design esthetic nuts.  If you are going to be
different be enough different that it does not clash.

A Mac user is not going to be as happy with a window level menu as with a
menu that integrates with the menu bar.  A Windows user is not going to want
an application to create a global menu bar for just that one application.
There are some macro conventions for a platform that should not be broken
just to be different, and will cost you users if you break them without a
really good reason.  The problem with the Squeak UI is not the colors, but
that the user needs to learn a whole new window management method, that is
not sufficiently better to justify the effort.  The window borders, scroll
bars, and title are also much thinner which makes them harder to hit with
the mouse.

There are counter examples also.  In using Dolphin Smalltalk I really miss
the ability to click on the start of a text block to select the block, or a
line to select the line.  Because it uses native widgets it does not have
that Smalltalk "feel" that I am used to and like for editing code.


-----Original Message-----
From: squeak-dev-bounces at
[mailto:squeak-dev-bounces at] On Behalf Of Chris
Sent: Monday, May 15, 2006 2:46 PM
To: squeak dev
Subject: Re: Smalltalk: Requiem or Resurgence? {Dr. Dobb's Journal
(05/06/06) Chan, Jeremy}

Nicolas wrote:
 > If you try to mimic the OS native interface, it's only a defensive
> by construction something imperfect and always one version late...
> You're wasting development forces to follow the leaders, and don't invent 
> anymore in this domain...

 +1  thank you Nicolas for nailing my sentiments about native widget
 The goal should be good looking, easy-to-use interfaces.  Innovate, don't
 I must admit, I've never understood why some are so concerned with native
look and feel anyway.  Why is it such a big deal if the drop-shadow on my
buttons appears lower-left instead of lower-right (this is a made up
example, is there a better one)?  If Microsoft does it in their new version
of Windows, THEN its ok.  It suddenly becomes (gong please) "the new
standard" that we all must "conform" to.  Please..  The only way to break
this cycle of following is to break it.
 Frankly, I also wonder about those who feel "blocked" by Squeaks "weird"
look and feel.  It's basically the same as anything else as far as I can
tell.  You have lists, buttons, scroll-bars, text editors, etc.  They're
styled a bit differently than native windows but operate pretty much the
same.  These widget differences are like the differences between driving a
Ford vs a Chevy, not much, and most anyone is able to figure it out.
 The fact is, going forward, new-and-refined UI's *will* be designed, both
in and out of Squeak.  The only thing any user can do is adjust, get used to
it, and develop an exploratory nature when working with computers.  Either
that or stay with MS Word and MS Excel forever..   :)
  - Chris

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