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[DotGNU]flexible for users, or flexible for developers? (was Re: User In

From: S11001001
Subject: [DotGNU]flexible for users, or flexible for developers? (was Re: User Interfaces)
Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 00:21:26 -0500
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.1a) Gecko/20020608

Adam Theo wrote:
I've been thinking about user interfaces today, dredging up alot of my old ideas. Here's what I think the best option is for user interfaces of the future to be built on.

I think there needs to be a universal, platform-independant was of defining a user interface. Probably using an XML document to define it for each application, and they all share the same XML vocabulary so they can be interchangeable. This is what Mozilla has done, I believe, although I forget the name or the details.

It is XUL, the XML-based User Interface Language. However, IIRC, it was designed for a rendering system like Gecko (all the UI in Mozilla is rendered just like pages). I don't think this is the best way to go about it.

However, while this spec should remain simple and easily learnable/implimentible, it should also be increadibly flexible in what it allows application and skin/theme developers to do. I think the best example we have today of a very flexible interface is the web with HTML.

XUL is very flexible, but that is a result of its implementation.

However, HTML sucks, and as many have stated was never meant to deliver applications. HTML cannot be used. But a HTML-inspired, XML-improved, well thought out spec could be created that used a web-like interface to allow maximum flexability to developers and users.

It would be better than HTML because we would make it that way.

Just another out-of-the-blue thought from Theo.

Easier said than done, unfortunately for DotGNU ;)

I think this is very viable for the future. However, today I think that two of your requirements are mutually exclusive. You say universal, platform independent, yet you want it to be very flexible. This is excluded simply because of the types of platforms there are.

Perhaps this is possible when `platform-independent' means working on all different OSes, but expecting the same thing when it comes to a computer (screen, keyboard, mouse, proc, HD, filesystem, software can be installed), in the sense that most people say `computer' (after all, most people don't think of their TVs as computers, or their calculators, etc. But when you start going as far away as a PDA, things change. The expected user interface changes. Or what about accessibility devices? So you have to let the implementation (of the UI displayer) decide alot of what should be happening. However, this preempts the whole "flexible for developers" thing. To allow the platform to be flexible, we must limit what the developer can create, so as to guarantee a consistent (and uncomplicated!) user experience.

That's why the flexibility of XUL won't do.

Stephen Compall
DotGNU `Contributor' --

The GNU GPL is not Mr. Nice Guy. It says "no" to some of the things
that people sometimes want to do.
        -- RMS, "Copyleft: Pragmatic Idealism"

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