Global Inbox and the Interface of Beta 4

Photoshop is a very good example of an application that began using one particular metaphor and then had to accommodate features that didn’t fit that metaphor. (Be careful not to confuse users’ “mental model” of the system with a “metaphor” used to represent the system, though. However, if a UI is a good fit for the end users, there will be some relationship between the two. :wink: ). When photoshop was initially designed, the photographers at the time would’ve been very familiar with a darkroom and its tools so the designers developed their UI to use a darkroom metaphor. Like all metaphors it eventually reached a limit to what it could represent. So photoshop now has to offer features that don’t really fit that darkroom metaphor. If we were to invent a photoshop-like application today and began with trying to ascertain how most photographers (pro or hobbyist) thought about their workflow (their mental model) we might not end up designing a UI using a darkroom metaphor.

Thanks. That, though, is even less convenient than going to keyboard& mouse and doing it there (now that I saw it again I remember seeing it in the past and ignoring it). I’d have preferred to be able to assign shortcuts by eg option-clicking on the script. But anyway the problem is removed with either fastscripts or keyboard maestro.

Anyway, that is just a small thing. There are many small irritations like this… But most are solved by using something like keyboard maestro or fastscripts. Not all though.

Another random example: I have the two-pane view open. I am viewing something, call it A. I then click on B to view B. In the left pane, the file I clicked (B) gets highlighted. On the right, it is displayed. Then I press apple-[ (ie go->back for me, I don’t remember if that’s standard or not). The right pane shows the previous viewed file, ie, A, but the left still shows B highlighted…

Or: I click on some record, and it is selected. Focus then moves somewhere else. If I click back to the (now greyed out, but still selected) record, I enter an editing field. Now, this looks like what the finder does, but I never even noticed it in the finder, yet it irritates me several times a day in DT. I have actually developed different ways of using the mouse in DT than anywhere else to avoid this. So I got curious and decided to work out what the difference is. Well, apparently, in the finder you have to click on the text of the filename itself, otherwise you do not start editing. In DT, clicking at any point in the highlighted line starts editing. Now actually I spent around 10s on this, so maybe I’m wrong and that’s not what happens; but the fact is that this has been bothering me for around a year (or whenever I first started using DT); so it’s there, whatever it is. And navigating with the keyboard is, for some reason, really unpleasant; I don’t know why (there are keys to navigate everywhere so it should have been ok), but I find it really awkward, even though I normally basically don’t use a mouse except to move files. But I can’t put my finger on what is wrong.

And, seriously, it’s 2009. I don’t think it’s reasonable to use the filename of a script to determine the keyboard shortcut assigned to it. That would have looked like a hack in DOS 3.3. I realise it’s not such an important thing and I don’t mind it staying like this so that you can work on more important stuff, but still.

Also. When I installed PB5, it wiped off all my personal Mailsmith scripts. Tens of them. Why? Because I (apparently) have a somewhat odd script folder arrangement, with the default folder aliased elsewhere, for reasons of my own. I understand that this is unusual, but I really can’t imagine the thought process that concludes “and here I’ll just delete this folder without checking what’s in it, because I’ll assume that it’s set up the way I expect it and nobody but me uses it, even though it’s ~/Library/Scripts/Applications/Mailsmith, thus not mine”. Really, deleting folder because you expect to be the only one using them is a bad idea, especially if they’re not yours. But maybe that’s just me.

OK and finally, these forums are very interesting and useful. But, well, if the permissions on people’s Inbox folders (say) randomly change, doesn’t it occur to someone that repeatedly claiming that it’s not DT that did it does not improve one’s believability? I’ve never seen permissions change spontaneously in over a decade of unix use. That they all decided to do simultaneously and for a small group of folders on my disk (not to mention those of others), all coincidentally related to the dtpo Inbox, is a bit too much to believe (for me). Not that I care that much about such small bugs, of course.

And so on. Trust me, I could come up with many of these. It’s just that they are small enough to be outweighed by the functionality of the program (and to be forgotten) most of the time.

Actually I’m not so negative about the program, I just had some time to kill and thought I’d get some more stuff off my chest while waiting for my computer to finish running something in the background :slight_smile:

Right, but actually my whole point was that photoshop does not work using a darkroom metaphor. Adding a curves layer and changing the blend mode to screen to brighten the image has no obvious analogy to exposing less using an enlarger. Increasing contrast using blend modes or curves is rather different than using different grade paper (say). And so on.

Now it is true that the photoshop metaphor is actually much simpler to learn, precisely because one simply builds a direct model of what is going on in one’s head rather than having to build an empirical understanding of the (complicated) dependence of the final result on temperature, agitation technique, exposure time, reciprocity effects, blah blah. But that’s different.

And in fact lightroom (for instance) is supposed to work using darkroom concepts (exposure in stops, dodging and burning–yes I know photoshop can do this too-- and so on). It just feels like it was designed to emulate traditional photography (lightboxes, for example).

So anyway it is simply not true that photoshop uses a darkroom analogy.

Or, if you think it does, you used to have a very funky darkroom :slight_smile:

Mea culpa, for suspecting that the multiplying Inbox folder issue was related to the phenomenon of random Sharing & Permissions errors on some people’s computers. )

I’ve installed DTPO2 on two computers and have never encountered the multiplying Inboxes issue.

Still, checking for a Sharing & Permissions error remains a standard support recommendation for cases in which the Log reports an installation failure, e.g., of the Mail bundle, scripts, etc. in a user’s Library, or a file can no longer be updated. Typically, it’s because a folder or file no longer has read & write permissions, only read permission; less often, the user has lost authorization. This is infrequent, but it happens, and Apple provides the means to correct permissions problems.

Interesting discussion.

It’s not difficult to find examples for bad UI in the current beta. Focus and navigation things being the most distracting of them. They were much worse half year back when there were days when I lost more time by dealing with those glitches than I earned with the benefits of DTP’s power. But things are improving and I am confident that those things will get ironed out. We are still in beta.

When comparing Aperture to iPhoto my point was not so much the mental model of the editing but their way of managing images. It’s easy to get lost and find things complicated when starting using Aperture. In iPhoto it’s simple at the beginning. But you get stuck if you want a little bit more than you can do with a shoebox :wink:

And that’s my point with DTP: It’s all about filing, linking and finding – and there are thousands of approaches to do this in the real world and even more in the digital world. I suppose finding a workflow that suits “a majority” is like catching the wind. I would not want DTP to streamline the UI at the price of reducing possibilities. There are enough easy tools for simple tasks out there.


To be honest, I wouldn’t mind if this was the final form. It’s pretty good as it is, slight UI annoyances aside. I’m even used to the striped titlebar!

Yes, I played with iPhoto for a while and gave up. It’s a shoebox, basically. I don’t remember what made me give it up (I don’t use any sophisticated classification schemes, although I have tens of thousands of photographs).

I agree. However, I’d say that the best way to accomodate lots of different workflows is to simply provide tools and leave it at that; the user can build their own system out of these tools. This, I find, is what DT does very well indeed, and what Apple’s iApps don’t do that well (in my opinion). Of course some of them (eg Keynote) are spectacularly good at what they’re supposed to do, and others (iphoto etc) are really not meant to do more than they already do. iTunes, for example, has limitations, but I’d never dream of going back to organizing my music in folders like I used to do.

I imagine that there are people who find iTunes as limiting for music as I find iPhoto for photos or Yojimbo or something like that for my pdfs and so on. I guess it all has to do with your demands from the system: I just want to be able to find my albums and play them, and I don’t have that many of them, while I have thousands of pdfs and notes (scientific articles, clips from websites, notes to myself, a work journal I keep in DT, mathematica notebooks, C programs, Octave programs, Lisp programs, newspapers in PDF format etc). If I was some alternate self who had a few pdfs and whose music taste involved something other than Bach, and who also perhaps recorded his own stuff etc, maybe I’d be using Yojimbo (or something like that) for pdfs and the music equivalent to DT. Tagging for pds (which is provided by other programs) would be nice, but I’m a user of these pdfs, not a “cataloguer” (librarian, if you will), so tagging is of less importance to me than is the ability to use the search feature and “See Also”. Of course tagging is very useful, though. Now, if I could work out how to tag my pdf articles with author names, I’d be in heaven…

But anyway I have concluded that, if you have lots of text-based documents which are interrelated in complicated ways, DT cannot be beaten; so I’m perfectly willing to overlook interface problems (especially if they’re minor, as they in fact are).