Sunday, April 11, 2010

"Un-Mac-like" = Apple Apologetics

Have you ever heard a Windows user complain that a common program is un-Windows-like? I doubt it. But you've probably heard Mac users complain about un-Mac-like programs. If you follow through to his screencaps and specific complaints you'll see that they're just general complaints about lousy UI. It would be lousy on Windows or Linux as well. But the idea that Apples have special, magical UI properties has another purpose beyond shaming programmers that didn't check their designs: an excuse for Apple's iron-fisted platform control.

Since I started working on Audacity, a GPL-licensed audio editor that uses the cross-platform WxWidgets toolkit, we've received far more complaints from Mac users about un-Mac-like behavior than from any other platform. And I get out the world's tiniest violin. For the most part, when we make UI mistakes they're mistakes everywhere. And a cross-platform toolkit is what allows us to maintain feature parity across all platforms — we just don't have the resources to write independent UIs for Mac, Windows, and GTK (though the architectural changes that would make this possible would probably benefit the project). My guess is if we did the Mac UI would fall farthest behind. At the very least, Mac users benefit a lot from the common code base in terms of functionality.

So when this blogger writes at the end of his post that iPhone users will probably benefit from Apple's restrictions on development practices, and smears the cross-platform Qt toolkit, I just can't buy it. Believe me, I'm no great fan of Flash (one of the major stake holders in the iPhone/iPad dev tools debate). But the idea that users are better served by having fewer programs available is silly to me.

1 comment:

Danielle said...

I confess that I have become a Mac convert, but after years of using PCs I think I am used to UI with some problems :-)