I'm not sure I can agree with everything he says, I'm not even sure I understand it, but I know it's an interesting concept. What do you OSX users think. Like it? Hate it? Don't care either way?<br><br>Apple's horizontal alternative<br>BY JACK CAMPBELL<br><br>Apple's OS X could have been a real breakthrough in modernizing the graphical user interface. But, instead, it is merely the best of the current crop. It could so easily have been much more.<br><br>Apple's unique Aqua interface has drawn steady fire for the amount of processor resources it consumes, "just being pretty." As the sort of guy who appreciates "pretty," and usually keeps relatively current with my hardware, the lost system resources issue hasn't really impacted my work; my system's more than adequately snappy in OS X, with Aqua shining in all its candied glory. However, I do have a parallel complaint to lodge.<br><br>My complaint runs along these lines: (A) Apple chose to improve the visual user interface in OS X, (B) the decision was made allowing the improvements to use up a great deal more system power than had previously been used, so (C), they developed the ever-elegant Aqua.<br>My complaint revolves around the third component, (C) choosing elegance over functionality. Let me explain.<br><br><br>Break the 20-Year Old Tradition<br><br>Let's talk about the GUI, itself. With Apple's move to OS X, the company had a rare opportunity to truly improve the user interface. If extra processor cycles were going to be dedicated to the interface, then they could have chosen to use those precious cycles to support a true improvement, rather than a beautification effort. They could have taken today's 2D vertical desktop metaphor and gone to a 3D horizontal metaphor. And, if they had, the world would now be totally focused on the new system, Microsoft would truly be quaking in their boots, and Macland would be overflowing with joy.<br><br>Working Horizontally<br><br>Imagine having the ability to easily add tag-embedded XML-like keywords to all of your files, or to allow the machine itself to make intelligently guessed tags, and to then do free-form searches and retrievals using an uber-Sherlock type search utility.<br><br>The element of the "flat" GUI of today that truly irritates me, including the pretty Aqua, is that it forces a set of ordered mechanisms on me for creating, storing, keeping track of, and retrieving projects and documents. Going horizontal would instantly ease each of these processes.<br>I like the idea of having one infinitely sized flat work surface, where I can simply tell the computer what I want, and what I want to do. It then reaches out toward the horizon and pulls in front of me the relevant documents and tools... as well as neatly pushes away from me whatever irrelevant detritus may be covering that required work space at the moment.<br><br>The issue with today's desktop metaphor, to my mind, is its verticality. The computer displays a "desktop" as a vertical wall, ascending upward in front of our eyes. The last time I checked, a real desk top occupied a horizontal plane, not vertical.<br><br>A convincing 3D representation of a horizontal plane, stretching outward in front of me would be a much more familiar place to work. Should folders and files be thereon represented as containers, piles, and stacks of varying size, then I could easily reach out into that 3D space with my curser, and grab and drag whatever I want back to the workspace in front of me. Those piles and containers could be tagged to correlate with projects, people, activities, timeframes, and other identifying and linking information. This would enable the computer to create on the fly dialogue boxes, asking if any of a shown list of other linked material would be of interest to me, and what to do with that material.<br><br>The idea of a horizontal desktop has simply been awaiting the time when the machines were fast and sturdy enough to handle the added processing load. If the Quartz Extreme power had been invested into this evolutionary step, rather than into merely shoring up Aqua's sometimes sluggish performance, Apple would have hit a grand slam.<br><br>It's griped me to no end that the smart guys of Silicon Valley came up with the initial desktop metaphor, but then have never developed it to its next logical evolution. The processor power is there today to now support horizontalizing our vertical "desktops."<br><br>I wish Apple would do it. <br><br>
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