Comments on: Build Your Own Damn HIG Official blog of Red Sweater Software Fri, 09 Oct 2015 20:11:22 +0000 hourly 1 By: John Tue, 16 Jan 2007 16:24:03 +0000 I was reading this and thought the idea of a site to discuss and develop a “de facto HIG” was a good one. However, in order to find Brandon Walkin’s excellent project, I had to use Google; I thought it might be nice to leave a link to it ( ) here for people who are looking for it.

By: Daniel Worthington Wed, 01 Nov 2006 18:57:50 +0000 There has been a lot of focus here on making beautiful UIs, which is something I think Mac developers are getting increasingly good at. Another important drive for having a guidelines is the need for consistency. I guess you could say I’m not worried about the future of Mac UI aesthetics, but I am concerned that a lack of guidelines could lead to a lack of consistency.

Just the other day my girlfriend’s Dad asked me why I use a Mac. He’s a Windows user and is wondering what all the hype is about, and he’s considering buying a Mac. I told him the number one thing that makes me a proud Mac user is attention to detail in the UI. Isn’t this why the HIG was so important back in the OS 7 days? The Mac has pioneered a UI that is consistently usable. Things behave as you expect them to across all Mac apps. That’s the idea anyhow. Granted a lot of what makes this happen is handled by the OS—but not all of it, especially when you are talking about X11, Java, XUL/Mozilla, etc.

So I love the idea of a place in which to create an “Indy HIG.” It seems to me that for cross-platform apps—especially those built in cross-platform development environments—to look good and feel like “real” Mac apps, there are going to have to be some sort of guidelines going forward. Guidelines—not just Cocoa widgets.

In my mind XUL/Mozilla is the closest to any of the other major cross-platform development platforms of enabling developers to ship native-feeling Mac apps. But it isn’t quite there yet. I think a document or even just a community that continues to have a dialog on these issues can only help.

By: Daniel Jalkut Mon, 30 Oct 2006 15:48:38 +0000 Kevin – if I had to guess, I’d definitely assume that you’re in the minority. But I’m glad to have you and all the others in your minority on the Mac platform, instead of Linux :)

By: Kevin Walzer Mon, 30 Oct 2006 15:22:06 +0000 Daniel,

You say: “to be honest it just sounds like the things about X-Windows (and Windows) ports to the Mac that infuriate me are not that bothersome to you. You ask whether I can cite an example? I would say every single one of them. I’ve yet to see an X11 interaction or any other non-Mac-native interface presented on the Mac with anything less than hideous results.”

Fair enough. I think there’s a difference in philosophy here about what the “Mac platform” is. I perceive you defining the Mac platform as it’s always been: the most elegant, intuitive GUI environment around. And, by extension, a “Mac application” is one that reflects the best design and usability practices of that environment. From this standpoint, the user-level continuity between the old Classic Mac OS and OS X is more important than the significant “under-the-hood” technical changes.

I guess I’m in the minority here: I see OS X as the most elegant, intuitive Unix platform ever devised. For me, the golden part of OS X is not the Cocoa frameworks, but the BSD subsystem. All those command-line tools that can be called and piped together in various combinations, and called from an Aqua GUI: that makes incredible power available to the programmer.

I’m also glad that X11 is available. To me, is a native Mac application–but then, I consider X11 and the BSD subsystem to be part of the “Mac environment.” Not the only part, by any means, but an integral part. The packagers of and OpenOffice do a considerable amount of work to make sure that these apps behave with as much integration as possible in the Aqua environment.

In the end, this may be more a matter of taste and philosophy than anything else–and I’m sure more folks would agree with you than me. That’s fine.

By: Daniel Jalkut Mon, 30 Oct 2006 06:01:43 +0000 Kevin: I think there is a lot of variance in how people perceive interface “ugliness,” and to be honest it just sounds like the things about X-Windows (and Windows) ports to the Mac that infuriate me are not that bothersome to you.

You ask whether I can cite an example? I would say every single one of them. I’ve yet to see an X11 interaction or any other non-Mac-native interface presented on the Mac with anything less than hideous results.

Functional? Maybe. But not beautiful and by no means a Mac app. Yes, the Gimp and Inksacape both fall into that category, in spite of having some fair amount of consistency as X11 apps.

By: Kevin Walzer Sun, 29 Oct 2006 22:35:02 +0000 Daniel,

I find this part of your post interesting:

Developer could care less about HIG:

Leveraging X-Windows, Java, and tcl (ass-tastically ugly result).
Do your own thing with gusto (beautiful or ass-tastic result).

Speaking as one who targest both X-Windows and Aqua with my code (which is Tcl), can you cite any examples of the “ass-tastically ugly results” you are speaking of? Inkscape?

I think that you touch on an interesting issue, since in my own programs, I have to pay attention to multiple sets of HIG’s. X11 apps, despite what you say, do have some consistency in their interface conventions: control instead of command is the standard keyboard accelerator key, for instance, and “about the app” is usually located in the “help” menu instead of the application menu. Getting these details right isn’t a small task, and it’s certainly easy to tell when a Tcl/Tk app, for instance, is ported straight from X11 (or Windows) with no attention paid to some of these details. They do stick out.

An interface convention that no one seems to have mentioned is “an ugly-ass X11 application” that is nonetheless deployed as a standard Mac app bundle, and features hooks to allow some degree of integration with the Aqua environment. GimpShop and are good examples here: so is Inkscape. They are “ugly Gtk X11 apps,” but they can be installed via standard drag-and-drop, and dropping the correct file on the app icon will launch the app and open the file in the X11 environment. (AppleScript is really helpful here.)

I guess my point is that there are a wider range of acceptable interface conventions than the HIG, which Apple itself breaks on occasion. A lot of the applications that people praise here, though, are to my eyes way too busy to be useful.

By: Uli Kusterer Fri, 27 Oct 2006 21:06:31 +0000 I’ve blogged my comments, they just got too long:

By: Chris Wed, 25 Oct 2006 23:12:09 +0000 “Build your own HIG?” iTunes 7… asstastic!

By: Otto Schlosser Tue, 24 Oct 2006 16:39:18 +0000 I worked on several iterations of HIG when I was at Apple in the late 90’s. That was always my favorite assignment, because I thought the notion of HIG was at the heart of Macdom (and I had a lot of company in those days.) But I have to agree that It’s All Different Now. If Apple had made a committed, consistent effort to keep the guidelines current and relevant, we might be having a different conversation. But they didn’t and we aren’t. So it goes.

By: Jason Harris Tue, 24 Oct 2006 09:50:55 +0000 I used to be a giant proponent of the HIG. I would completely freak out on apps that used their own custom widgetry and scream stuff like “not a Mac app” and “belongs on Windows”.

To say nothing of the fact that apps that use their own widgetry tend to look like ass if you’re using ShapeShifter.

But at this point, I don’t really care about HIG compliance anymore. Apple doesn’t follow them. At all. Ever. Why should I, when shiny apps demonstrably sell better than HIG-compliant ones?