Design Element
Comment on "The Year in Mac Development"
by Jose Vazquez — Jan 03
About Apple abandoning HIG, Maybe they (and other developers) just do it because they can do it now. I think we needed the HIG back in the early days. Does anybody remember the DOS days? Wordperfect? Wordstar? You had to remember if orange letters were bold and yellow was underline. That was why WYSIWYG was such a big deal when the mac came out. But the biggest problem was consistency... every program did things their own way.

Back then, I was fortunate enough not to use a DOS machine. I had an Amiga 500 (a Timex Sinclair 1000, a VIC-20, and a Commodore-128 before that). And it was an incredible machine. I actually choose it over a Mac (and never regreted it). But as great as the Amiga was, it had a major problem for the average user. User interfaces were absolutely inconsistent. Every one drew their own buttons, and had their own slider, and made their own file dialogs and print dialogs... I was a teen age geek and I could figure it out, but even for me it was a relief when I started using a Mac in college and saw all the file dialogs were pretty much the same. Printing was SO Consistent. (In the amige you had rectangular pixels on the screen yet the dox matrix dots were still squarish)

Any ways the point is that the notion of consistency in user interface was crucial. But guess what... we are a lot closer to achiving wide-spread computer literacy. I mean... most people have now been using computers for years now. A lot of people (most people?) have jobs that depend on computer interaction to some extent. People are a lot more comfortable with computers now than back then. My grand parents never figure out computers, but they never needed them, probably never will (yes, I have to share pictures in paper with them...) Baby boomers I think had the hardest time adapting, but most of the got it, but even they are now retiring. We now have a new generation of user who can figure it out.

Users now a days have been using mice for a while. They have srfed the web, they have a notion of what computers can do. Sure, some are better than others, but the average is a lot higher than just 10 years ago.

So now we can let go of the HIG. At least we can stray away from it a little. Our users are smarter... not only that... developer are more in tune with GUI design now. It is now so easy to slap together a decent GUI. You no longer have to do custom everything. So that means that when you do want to create a custom GUI element that might stray from the HIG, you are (probably) doing so willingly, not out of necessity. You create a custom widget to facilitate some aspect of your software not because you had to reinvent the wheel.
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