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Fwd: NSMenu* and NSPopuUp* issues

From: SW Developmment
Subject: Fwd: NSMenu* and NSPopuUp* issues
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2003 12:14:22 +0100

Begin forwarded message:

From: Philippe C.D. Robert <address@hidden>
Date: Don Mär 27, 2003  11:03:56  Uhr Europe/Zurich
To: Chris Hanson <address@hidden>
Cc: address@hidden
Subject: Re: NSMenu* and NSPopuUp* issues

On Thursday, March 27, 2003, at 02:04  Uhr, Chris Hanson wrote:
At 1:03 AM +0200 3/24/03, Serg Stoyan wrote:
  I suppose, that horizontal menus in OS X is for MacOS compatibility
rather than usability. That is, for easy moving old MacOS users to OS X.

I think you suppose incorrectly.

The screen-edge menu bar is one of the most significant usability achievements of the last 25 years. Apple's not going to throw it out unless the alternative is *very* substantially better. While OPENSTEP's menu palette has some of the same usability advantages when it's bound to a screen edge, it isn't substantially better.

This has been discussed a lot, and I am not sure we want this thread to come up again here, but I cannot resist replying...:-)

Apple's horizontal menu bar works good on small screens (even on my 12" iBook it is a pain to use, for me at least), but if you use large resolutions and/or multiple screens it becomes horrible to use. It is no wonder that most of the new GUIs which have been developed later in time targeted for systems with larger screen sizes used to avoid this kind of menu style. Irix comes to my mind or BeOS or even Windows (menus attached to single windows suffer from other issues). Other systems which had a Mac like menu moved partially away from it, like TOS for example. So I guess Apple could just not drop all of their well known UI elements which "define a Mac" (the 1 button mouse falls into the same category), and from a PR and marketing perspective this might even be correct.

But this is just my $0.02 ...:-)

Philippe C.D. Robert

Here are my $0.02 as well....

For me it is much a question of screen real-estate. We deal constantly with documents in Letter or A4 size (or an approximation thereof), and long source code files, and for these very often used items we already have plenty of space in the horizontal directions (left & right); our screens are wide enough to allow their display and allow for horizontal positioning/centering. However in the vertical direction most screens cannot display a full page from a Letter or A4 document (check out your Apple screen's vertical resolution), and the addition of a horizontal menubar only steals more space from the document. The advantages (if there are any) of the horizontal menubar are IMHO truly out weighed by the disadvantages of having to constantly vertically scroll through the document. With the adoption of the wheel-mouse on Windows systems, this has been made less of a problem, but it is still a problem.

Just look at the the typical X11/Motif based program that has that big fat menubar above the text widget in the main window. The majority of these programs are not multiple-document architectures, therefore if you want to edit three files you open three main windows each with its own horizontal menubar. This is maybe an bad comparison, but it still almost makes me cry every time I start such a program. And then you have something like the Common Desktop Environment (CDE) than takes away another 3 centimeters of vertical space. In any event there is just a lot of wasted screen space out there.

A similar discuss can be started regarding where to put a vertical scrollbar. NeXT had it on the left side of the text object, the defaut X11 xterm has it on the left side, and if I remember correctly even Rhapsody had it on the left. This would IMHO seem logical because we spend most of our time near the left margin in text documents and the menu File and Edit pulldowns/popups are also on the left side of most menubars. So why then, do all systems now have the scrollbar on the right? Who's study proved that this design/architecture is better? Are they the same ones that want to determine the menubar layout too?

And what to you do if your main menubar has, let's say, 20 main menu items (it's possible)? With a vertical menu structure you have enough space to display them all. With a horizontal menubar you have abolutely no chance unless you start to abbreviate some of your names or have a monster screen. And for those of us/you that plan on providing your appilcation in a different language, good luck. When you begin to translate your menu names you'll find that small words in english, e.g. View, can become very long in another language, e.g. Darstellung (german). I don't believe anyone is capable to see far enough ahead to begin to image how language translations will affect the size/length of a horizontal menubar.

To make a long story short....Please give it some more thought before making the ultimate decision.

Ok, that was a bit more than $0.02.... Thanks just the same!!!!

Chris Beaham


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