more on the NeXT (48)

Sun, 16 Apr 89 21:18:38 EDT

Humanist Mailing List, Vol. 2, No. 847. Sunday, 16 Apr 1989.

Date: Sun, 16 Apr 89 14:37:19 EDT
From: "James H. Coombs" <JAZBO@BROWNVM>
Subject: NeXT interface

I have played with the NeXT machine for a few hours. I found the interface
difficult compared to the Mac interface. I got lost easily. Perhaps it's a
matter of familiarity. I'm sure that I had seen people use the Mac interface
before I tried it out. I walked up to the NeXT machine with no introduction
and with nearly useless documentation. Still, I believe that the NeXT
interface is relatively complicated without offering substantial benefits over
the Mac interface. I'm sure that my opinion will change if I start working
with the machine. I'm also sure that the NeXT machine will require more
training. Note that I base my judgment on a comparison not only with Mac OS
but also with Mac A/UX running Intermedia. I stress that this is a FIRST
IMPRESSION, very subjective, all of that. Worth stating only because I think
it will be a common first impression and because many people are wondering
about the machine.

I would like to criticize the three-dimensional aspect of the interface. The
third-dimension does not provide useful information. It simply gives me more
to process and, ultimately, to discard. I believe that this impression will
be lasting. I think the developers are clinging to the past, that they do not
recognize our capabilities to outgrow our familiarity with physical controls.

The people that I have discussed this with disagree with me, but then they
haven't had their hands on the machine. A lot of people are excited about the
graphics potentials and are happy to see the interface experimentation. I
would be happy with an option that let me remove the 3d from the interface;
give me 2d scroll bars. Let's use 3d where the third dimension represents
information not already represented in 2d.


Dr. James H. Coombs
Senior Software Engineer, Research
Institute for Research in Information and Scholarship (IRIS)
Brown University