My UI principles was: (Re: [squeak-dev] Re: Simple Frame Adornments - default value...)

Chris Muller asqueaker at
Thu Mar 4 02:02:57 UTC 2010

I think Preferences are a good tool for reconciliation of our UI
differences.  However, another good tool is if we can establish a
constructive dialogue about UI.  Such a dialogue could perhaps
occasionally spare us a new preference in favor of a slightly more
cohesive result, because it was a solution that was good enough for
the overwhelming majority.  Let's talk about it!  Of course
preferences are great because they allow our users to heavily
customize the system..

I hope, my having gone through Maui and forced myself through dozens
of painstaking design and usability choices, at least illustrates my
own _interest_ in this subject.  I'm interested, in talking about
these ideas with those interested in making Squeak look drop-dead
gorgeous not just on the surface, but in the details too.

Understanding each others' core-UI principles I think would be very
helpful in establishing a constructive dialog.  Here are mine:

1) That, at least the a software dev-environment (which is about what
we're talking about), that this software, Squeak, expects users to
have Basic Computer-Literacy before attempting to use Squeak.

  "Basic Computer Literacy" is defined as:
    - Use of the keyboard, including the Enter or Return key, arrow
keys, page/home/end.
    - Use of the mouse as a pointing device.
    - Use of the (red/left/primary) mouse button as a means to
"select" or "activate".
    - Use of the (yellow/right/alternate) mouse button, and
understanding that is how to ask an object for options or information.

2) A user with Basic Computer Literacy, will be able to, at least,
_discover_ how to operate a system with merely those skills.  If the
system requires further skills, it should be discoverable via help or
guidance-elements accessed only with BCL.  Typically, users learn
about UI-elements not already obvious to them by yellow-clicking for
interrogation and discovery.

3)  Humans direct, software responds.  Software should take care not
to interrupt human.  Software should no't ask "are you sure?",
instead, provide undo.

4)  Ensuring not to break rule 2, give the user the most powerful
gestures possible to efficiently operate the software.  This typically

   - minimize the demands of the users fine motor-skill (i.e.,
small-area left-clicking)
   - employ high-traction strategies, such as the power of pointing
   - good keyboard support is almost always, really necessary.

That's it, those are my UI principles.  If software requires user to
be "frantic" to go fast, then it does not provide enough

The principles I heard from rado are:

  - favors practicality over aesthetic
  - that the machine should make it easy on him, not force his eyes to
"search for the corner" to see the status (and not forgetting, there
may be several dirty windows with their corner exposed)

I understand these.  The principles from Igor are:

  1. friendly for newcomers
  2. convenient for citizens.

however, I am not sure what he meant by "friendly" and "convenient".
Igor, I am very interested in your ideas in a constructive dialogue..

 - Chris

On Wed, Mar 3, 2010 at 5:56 PM, Igor Stasenko <siguctua at> wrote:
> On 4 March 2010 01:21, radoslav hodnicak <rh at> wrote:
>> I do not care whether a feature is ugly as long as it's practical and making
>> it less ugly means making it less practical. I also do not care if a feature
>> is counterintuitive to newcomers, if making it less counterintuitive means
>> making it less practical too.
> Practical is to use cell phone for calls. This means that your iPhone
> is not much more practical than
> 10-year old cell phone with tiny monochrome display. So, why people buying it?
> I know people who still prefer using a unix command line and feel very
> distracted, when they need to switch to graphic mode to look something
> on the web. But let us be realistic: user interface is User Interface,
> meant for humans, not for robots which doesn't have any sense of
> aestetics or any use of good look and feel.
> A good UI is one which is
> 1. friendly for newcomers
> 2. convenient for citizens.
> remove either of above, and you don't have good UI. You will have crap.
> We should always care about both of these.
> Just my 2 cents..
>> Sure a red frame is not very pretty aesthetically speaking (although I'd be
>> hard pressed to rate an orange rectangle in the corner as a dramatic
>> improvement), but it provides a very clear visual clue that is accessible
>> *immediately*, without focusing on a window corner with my eyes.
>> Substance > Style
>> That said, as long as it's a preference, I don't mind what the default value
>> is.
>> I'd like to ask all folks messing with the user interface to always add
>> preferences for the the changes you do - in other words: add features and
>> keep the old ones. Don't replace. I'm open to trying out new things and see
>> if they speed up my workflow, but chances are they won't.
>> rado
>> On Thu, 4 Mar 2010, Igor Stasenko wrote:
>>> Chris,
>>> i add -1 to red outline too. This is a counterintuitive and ugly.
>>> I still remember when i first opened squeak and i were unable to
>>> figure out what this red herring means. :)
>>> On 4 March 2010 00:22, Chris Muller <asqueaker at> wrote:
>>>> Ok, thanks for speaking up, I just didn't know whether there was any
>>>> voice at all for the new look.
>>>> And please don't get me wrong, I am *all for* better form.  And I even
>>>> agree, this one "looks" better, artistically.  It's just that some of
>>>> the 3.11 improvements to form have come at a cost to function, and
>>>> THAT, in itself, can sometimes detracts from form somewhat (i.e.,
>>>> greater function has implicitly better form).  Perhaps we considered
>>>> making the ugly solid-line red-frame simply look better, like with
>>>> three progressively-more translucent rectangles, each inset one pixel
>>>> of the outer?  Or maybe a combination of the two looks, one
>>>> (translucent?) line combined with the new (corner) look.
>>>> Since your -1 is big and fat, I consider it the winner of the vote and
>>>> I'll adjust my own Preference file accordingly.  Going forward, if we
>>>> can find ways to have our cake and eat it too, it would be better than
>>>> having introduce a yet another Preference that forces one to choose
>>>> between form and function.
>>>>  - Chris
>>>> On Wed, Mar 3, 2010 at 3:49 PM, Andreas Raab <andreas.raab at> wrote:
>>>>> On 3/3/2010 12:40 PM, Chris Muller wrote:
>>>>>> Thanks for adding the preference, but unfortunately the default is
>>>>>> false such that the new way still presses in for each new image.
>>>>>> In the original thread, there were two people who expressed this was a
>>>>>> "step backward" for them, but there were no proponents for the change
>>>>>> voiced.  Therefore, unless there are strong objectors who can make
>>>>>> some arguments for, I'd like to put the default value for this to
>>>>>> restore the default functionality that has been there for years.
>>>>>> 3.11 has suffered several usability degradations over 3.9 in terms of
>>>>>> the UI.  I would like to begin addressing them, starting with this
>>>>>> one.
>>>>> A big fat -1 from me. From my perspective the rectangular frame is ugly.
>>>>> Simple as that. It's visually unpleasant and in conflict with the rest
>>>>> of
>>>>> the window and the default shouldn't be that. If the new cue is too
>>>>> subtle
>>>>> to be of use for you personally, that's what we got preferences for, but
>>>>> I
>>>>> think we should at least *try* to get a teenie weenie bit less heinous
>>>>> in
>>>>> the default L&F.
>>>>> Cheers,
>>>>>  - Andreas
>>> --
>>> Best regards,
>>> Igor Stasenko AKA sig.
> --
> Best regards,
> Igor Stasenko AKA sig.

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