"I have a mind like a steel... uh... thingy." Patrick Logan's weblog.

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Saturday, October 18, 2003

Craving the Rich GUI

Thoughts on Jon Udell's Infoworld column on Rich GUIs... How rich, really, is that rich GUI we nostalgically crave?

What I crave, seeing developers on projects recreating significant portions of windowing systems in HTML and Javascript, what I crave is the ease of developing those rich GUIs.

When tabs appear in multiple rows, they create a problem that Jeff Johnson, author of the wonderful book GUI Bloopers (infoworld.com/453), calls "dancing tabs." Clicking on a tab not in the front row disconcertingly reorders the rows. On a Web page controlled by rows of links, that doesn't happen.

These complex interactions I think are as much of an indictment of the model as of the view. Our systems require a lot of dials, or seem to.

A GUI that doesn't embrace linking can never be truly rich.

When I think of truly rich GUIs, two classics come to mind, Hypercard and Emacs. Each exceed the restrictions of the Mac 128k GUI which we are otherwise pretty much bound to for now, albiet on 17 inch monitors.

Both of these systems featured hypertext and flexible navigation well before HTML and HTTP. Both creatively avoid the keyhole problem.

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About Me

Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.