Beating the Mac Drum

July 23, 2008

Whereas the Mac has always had one-window-per-document, many Windows apps (including Office 2003, and maybe later versions) have one-window-per-app, with documents as “sub-windows” within that window. OK, I say, it’s a different paradigm – give them the benefit of the doubt.

But now I have 2 versions of a spreadsheet I need to compare. I want to put them on two monitors, but the application window zooms up to fill just one monitor, and I can’t move the document window outside of it. I could try to manually stretch the application across the two monitors, but they’re different ratios, so it’s difficult to make it fit. I tried opening two “instances” of Excel (another concept that seems unfortunate to me as a Mac user), and that almost works – I can put one app window on each monitor. But then, when I want to copy a spreadsheet tab from one to the other, the two apps are independent and don’t recognize that the other is open.

One-window-per-document would be a nice solution!

The Qwerty Principle

July 23, 2008

Has anyone already come up with this principle?

If I understand it correctly, the Qwerty keyboard layout was designed for mechanical typewriters to slow typers down, because fast typers would jam the typewriter. When computers came along and jamming was no longer an issue, everyone already knew qwerty, so the inefficient layout was preserved (in contrast to, for example, more efficient layouts like Dvorak that nobody knew).

So the Qwerty Principle would be, usability doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If people are already used to a paradigm that is “unusable,” that fact may itself make the paradigm actually more usable, as compared to alternatives which are theoretically more usable.

You can see this in OpenOffice. Because everyone is used to MS Office, OpenOffice mimics MS Office’s poor/confusing menus and dialogs. GIMP could probably benefit from this by more closely mimicing Photoshop’s keyboard shortcuts.