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Re: [olpc-software] AbiWord, HIG



> Andy Herzfeld (the early Mac designer, then etc., now at Google) did several terrific UIs along these lines about 10-15 years ago (one for General Magic and the other for Frog Designs).

Not everyone thinks that the approach of trying to duplicate physical
methaphors in UI is such a great idea:
http://www.cooper.com/articles/art_myth_of_metaphor.htm

I tend to agree with Alan Cooper on that.

Incidentally, General Magic was a spectacular failure. Wheter it was
because their UI was weak or despite the fact that their UI was great
- I don't know (I would like to know what Andy thinks about Magic Cap
UI today)

I do know that the only succesful PDA (Palm Pilot) didn't use "force
physical methapors in UI" but rather is designed to accomodate
weaknesses and strengths of hardware. If you read/listen to what Jeff
Hawkins and other key designers of Palm say, that was a conscious
decision (and it doesn't look like Hawkins thought that Magic Cap was
a good idea: http://www.pencomputing.com/palm/palmnews/palmnews-11-14-01.html)

I also know that Andy Rubin after working on Magic Cap started Danger,
Inc. and the Sidekick OS (which is quite beautiful design, at least
technically) that Danger did looks much more like Palm OS than Magic
Cap. It's also tightly optimized for the hardware they designed.

Of course, there are people who think that Magic Cap was the best
thing ever: http://multipart-mixed.textdriven.com/magiccap/magic_cap_developer_docs.html

Which does show that there's actually little consensus about what is
good software design (especially UI), which might partially explain
why good ideas get lost and are badly re-implemented. While it's hard
to argue that an earth is flat or that linear search is better than
binary search, for any topic of sufficiently great complexity (e.g.
rpm vs. pkg vs. windows installer vs. mac os x packaging or Palm OS UI
vs. Pocket PC UI vs. Magic Cap UI vs. X windows UI) you'll find plenty
of intelligent people willing to defend their point of view.

And relating to "people can't even copy good designs of the past"
thread: its worth noting that all attempts so far to shoe-horn linux
onto a PDA (Zaurus, QTopia, Nokia 770, GPE, OPIE) don't even come
close to usability and brilliance of Palm Pilot (released 10 years
ago). So I think the reasons for reinventing a wheel, and badly, are
deeper than just not being aware of the better designs from the past.

-- kjk


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