tal00r at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Wed May 14 14:00:08 EEST 2003
On Tue, May 13, 2003 at 08:04:58PM +0100, Mike Hearn wrote:
> > In fact I think you're 100% right about that - you've more or less
> > explained how OS X works. See also my previous posts with extended
> > rants about how a menu of all apps is doomed, broken, and hosed from a
> > usability point of view.
> I'd note that the MacOS "native" approach to packaging and menus is
> basically broken at this point - the last time I chatted to my local Mac
> zealot about it he told me the majority of apps used some kind of
> installer service nowadays - they don't even all use the provided Apple
> installer, some of them use Wise which is a name familiar to many
> ex-Windows users.
> It's also not applicable to Linux, as todays filing system technology
> can't cope with representing abstract things like dependancies. One
> approach to this is shown at http://zero-install.sf.net, but I'm not
> convinced it's workable in the real world yet.
Thanks for the plug ;-)
> Besides, there's no reason IMO an intuitive UI couldn't be placed on top
> of this system. I've pondered it quite a bit - my favourite so far
> (though it changes every other thursday) is the idea of dragging the
> application [icon/launcher] out of a webpage [using a simple browser
> plugin] and onto a panel, the desktop, the Applications/K menu or
> whatever. What you're dragging is actually a .desktop file, but the user
> doesn't need to know that. The icon goes gray until the package has
> fully downloaded and resolved its dependencies behind the scenes, at
> which point it lights up and clicking it starts the program.
Yep. This is the interface you get automatically with zero install, except
that rather than showing the icon shaded until it's downloaded, you can
run it at any time and you get a progress bar if it needs to be fetched.
Essentially, rather than removing the need for users to edit menus, it
makes editing menus the *only* activity involved in installing software
(system tray applet, anyone?).
The nice thing about the whole system (from a computer scientist's point
of view ;-) is that the conceptual model (running stuff from the net) is
very simple, and the rest is just optimisations (caching / garbage
But of couse, it's very new and needs lots more testing and refining
(although I'm running XFree86 4.3 through it quite nicely at the moment).
It would also benefit from better binary compatibility between distros,
although that's probably a good thing anyway.
Thomas Leonard http://rox.sourceforge.net
tal00r at ecs.soton.ac.uk tal197 at users.sourceforge.net
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