Rather than use the status bar display dependent method currently implemented in OS X, how about using some of the Quartz engine’s compositing features to display an overlay graphic of the number of items currently selected in a window?
My idea is this:
As a user moves through a window selecting items, a counter would appear inside the window, dynamically displaying the number of items selected. Ideally, this would include both the number of total items in a content area and the number currently selected by the user.
This would have to be rendered one of two ways, based on continuity of selection:
- If the selection was contiguous, the counter would appear beneath the highlighted items. This would make the meaning of the counter more obvious.
- For non-contiguous selections, the counter would be rendered in an appropriately contrasting color scheme against the background of the window.
In both instances, the counter graphic would have to be transparent enough to allow the user to read all text (file names, list-view column information) below it with ease.
Advantages over current implementation:
- Not dependent on the user enabling the status bar in the Finder (which is off by default, at least in Jaguar). This appears to have changed in Panther due to the new design of the Finder.
- Directly related to that, this method does not use additional screen space, using the window as its display canvas.
- Maintains user focus on the selection area and the actual task of selecting; does not force their eyes to move to the status bar, a rather small target, then back to the items they are selecting.
- Looks spiffy!
- Counter could become obscured in very small windows.
- Potential visibility problems for Finder windows in which the user has set a custom background color or picture.
- Placement of the counter in the Finder’s column view.
Ultimately, I think this sort of thing could replace the status bars of a number of applications. The status bar in Mail is particularly wasteful – it uses the entire width of the main window simply to display “xxx messages (xxx KB).” While it does also display the information related to sending and receiving mail, this could be displayed in a status bar such as that used in OmniWeb, only appearing when information needs to be displayed. The persistent information could be displayed in a floating counter/status item.
- Should the counter float on top of the window’s content for a moment, then fade into the background? It would stay in the foreground while selecting items.
- How would the desktop be handled? Currently, there is no counter for the desktop unless it is viewed as a window. Perhaps a counter should appear only when selecting multiple items?
- Would it make sense for the counter to follow the mouse as long as it remained within a selection area?
A mock up of this idea would illustrate the concept far better than any written description. I should learn how to use Interface Builder anyway.
In the interim, I’d appreciate it if iTunes would display the number of selected items rather than just the total.
Why do so many OS X applications place data files that are not directly user-modifiable in the “Documents” folder rather than in “~/Library/Application Support” where they belong? This is annoying clutter. The Documents folder is for things that I WANT in there, things that I can edit, things I have created. This is not the place for files which are only meant to be manipulated by the application (itself) that created them.
Sadly, AppleWorks is guilty of this violation. It also appears that F10 Launch Studio is guilty of this. Bad.
I’ve been using F10 Launch Studio a bit. While I think the concept is very solid, there are some issues with the interface that prevent me from using it full time.
1. The order of the groups cannot be rearranged. Why?
2. Items cannot be sorted into rows – they can be ordered, but that order is used for a continuous left-right, top-bottom layout. This makes it hard to subdivide a group. For example, the Internet pane would much more useful if I could create several rows (or columns) in which similar items were placed.
Row A: Browsers – OmniWeb | Mozilla | Safari | iCab | Opera
Row B: Chat clients – iChat AV | Proteus | AIM | Fire
Row C: FTP/SSH – RBrowser | Transmit
Row D: P2P – Poisoned | XNap | mlMac
Row E: Misc. Utilities – URL Manager Pro | Safari Bookmark Exporter
I imagine one of the problems the designers encountered was with icon sizing and horizontal scrolling – the app is designed to offer scalable icon sizes and ONLY vertical scrolling, a la iPhoto. This would create a problem if a group of icons were confined to one row. The solution: limit the maximum icon size when using grouped rows!
One of the features I’ve found very useful is the hot-corner activation – I’d like to see the corner be used to both show AND hide the launch window, saving a bit of mousing if it is accidentally activated.
I think these changes would make a good product great. Then again, what do I know?
Having used Gnome a bit, one of the features I found much to my liking was the method used to show the progress of file copying. Rather than using a chunky, clutterific progress window, the file’s icon label updates (in real-time) the filesize until the copy is complete. On completion, the filename is displayed as normal.
I think this would be a welcome addition to OS X. A number of the Eazel people who created Nautilus are (back, in some cases) at Apple. They may well have ideas about how to improve this feature, possibly taking advantage of the graphical features of Quartz to give the user additional visual feedback. Perhaps a gradual fade-in of the icon?
I would not advocate using this method in all cases – it is best used ONLY for file copies initiated in the actual file manager. Downloads started from FTP clients or browsers would have no easy way to indicate that a download has begun as requested. This is how it works in Nautilus/Gnome.
Apple appears to be implementing (for Panther) a suggestion of mine (I doubt I am the only one who thought of it) — driving directions from within the Sherlock web services application. What I would like to know is if they will implement the other part of my idea — making those directions available on the iPod…
There was a rumor a while ago about Apple possibly developing a movie equivalent of their iTunes Music Store. These are my thoughts on implementation of such a thing.
- The boogey man of digital media: Digital Rights Management.
- What kind of burning and copying restrictions would Apple place on downloaded movies? Blocking burning altogether would not be a good idea, as many people would have no idea how to hook their computer up to their television. Then how do you display the movie on something larger than a computer screen? The SuperDrive would seem to be the obvious solution. Then comes the question of third-party external burner support… I imagine Apple would only officially support DVD-R drives shipped by themselves, leaving add-on support to OEMs or enterprising users, much like the iTunes CD-R drivers. Three burns per movie?
- Would the movies be transferable to multiple machines as songs are with the iTunes Music Store? A mechanism to authorize movies on multiple machines would seem to be a good idea. The advantage (and dis-advantage, depending on how you look at it) of using the .Mac login/password for authorization is that due to the number of services those can be used to access, they are not something people are going to be willing to give out freely to those they do not know and/or trust.
- Who can access the store: broadband only.
- This would cut off a portion of the potential customer base, but also ensure that movies could be delivered speedily, a boon to both provider and consumer. Modem connections are too easily broken (not to mention slow). Oops, Billy picked up the phone before the last two megabytes of "Plan 9 From Outer Space" finished. I suppose this could be worked around by using a resume feature. Do you really want connection sockets taken up by someone downloading "Ishtar" on a 33.6K modem?
- If done right (reliable, high quality, good selection), such a service may well increase the adoption of broadband (assuming multi-platform availability).
- Fee structuring: who gets the $$?
- What would the pricing model be? Rentals would be welcomed by consumers, but are just not practical from a content-provider standpoint. If the media can be transfered to a computer and played, it can be recorded. A rental model would also limit the possible use of the available SuperDrives for burning to DVD for playback on a home theater system. $10-$15 USD per movie?
- As for the division of the fee, Apple and the studios would have to work that out.
- The Content Itself: Codecs, compatibility, extras.
- What codec would deliver the best quality/size ratio? H.263 is supposed to be quite good (Update 10/27/04: H.264, which will be supported in 10.4, would be better) and is already supported by QuickTime 6.3. In addition to the quality and size considerations, there is the matter of adding DRM atop them.
- Use the Mac market as a testbed or simultaneously release Mac and Windows clients?
- Extra content? Would the file include all the extras included with a DVD or should they be available as a separate, but free download?
- Interface: making it easy to use and as addictive as the iTunes Music Store.
- For movies, a genre browser similar to that available in iTunes would make sense. It would be great to be able to browse by actor, director, or genre.
- Previews - trailers or actual film segments? Using the trailers would best capitalize on Apple's existing movie trailer service.
- Including movies of interviews with those related to the film (director, actors) would add some interest.
- Online reviews available? Professional film reviews or user contributed?
- Meta-data aplenty: Add "tags" for (many that apply to music can also be used to organize movies):
- Personal rating
- Movie poster/art
- Links to the iTunes Music Store where applicable: soundtrack and possibly individual track listings.
- The ability to give a movie credit as a gift (something that has been requested for the iTunes Music Store). There would be too many issues with people being given movies they don't want. There is no easy way to refund them, so a gift certificate would make more sense.